By Khalid Baig
August 31, 2018
THE young man went to attend the weekly
Dars-i-Hadees of Sayyidna Abu Huraira (RA), but the routine opening
announcement stopped him.
“If anyone sitting here has severed any ties
of kinship, he should leave.”
recalled that an aunt lived in the town with whom he had not been on speaking
terms. The young man quietly left the gathering and went straight to his aunt’s
home. He asked for forgiveness for his past behaviour and sought rapprochement.
When the aunt inquired about the reason for this change of heart, he narrated
the entire incident. She accepted the apology but asked him to inquire from Abu
Huraira (RA), the reason for this unusual announcement. Why did he leave all
the other major sins and focus only on this? What was so special about ties of
kinship? Sayyidna Abu Huraira replied that he had heard from the Prophet (PBUH)
that our deeds are presented to Allah every Thursday night and anyone who has
severed family ties has all his good deeds rejected. He did not want any such
person sitting in his gathering, which was held on the same night; for fear
that it could deprive the entire gathering of blessings.
Another Hadees explains further the reason for
this fear: “Allah’s mercy will not descend on people among whom there is one
who severs ties of kinship.” (Baihaqi, Shuab Al-Iman). “Whoever believes in
Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship” (Bukhari)
Maintaining the bonds of kinship (Silah-i-Raham)
indeed enjoys extraordinary importance in Islam. Conversely, severing the ties
(Qata-i-Raham) is very high on the list of enormities. At two places in the
Qur’an, Allah has cursed the one severing family ties.
who break the covenant of Allah, after its ratification, and sever that which
Allah has commanded to be joined (i.e. they sever the bond of kinship and are
not good to their relatives) and work mischief in the land, on them is the
curse, and for them is the unhappy home (i.e. Hell)”
(Ar-Rad 13:25. See also Muhammad,
A cursed person is one who is deprived of
the mercy of Allah. It is an indication of this deprivation that this sin is
punished in this world as well as in the Hereafter. “There is no sin more
deserving of having punishment meted out by Allah to its perpetrator in advance
in this world along with what He stores up for him in the next world than
oppression and severing ties of family.” (Tirmizi) Another Hadees highlights
the high stakes involved here in a compelling way: And Allah says: ‘I shall
keep connection with him who maintains you and sever connection with him who
severs you.’” (Bukhari)
Silah-i-Rahmi has been defined as politeness, kind treatment, and concern for all
one’s relatives even if distantly related, corrupt, non-Muslim, or
unappreciative. (Shaikh Abdul Wakil Durubi in Reliance of the Traveller) While
nearly every religion has emphasized good family relations, Islam has taken it
to unprecedented heights. It is a duty to be discharged without an eye for
reciprocity. A Muslim is required to be kind even to his non-Muslim relatives.
Similarly he is required to be kind to even those relatives who are harsh to
most telling example in this regard is that of Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA). Among
the many people who benefited from his generosity was a relative Mistah (RA).
The latter, unfortunately became involved in the scandal about the Mother of
Believers, Sayyida Aisha (RA), which was started by the leader of the
hypocrites. It was a whole month of torment and torture for all involved, after
which verses of Surah Noor were revealed exonerating her and prescribing
punishment for those involved in the false accusation. Feeling hurt and
betrayed, Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA), vowed never to help Mistah again. Yet
the Qur’an asked him to forget and forgive and continue helping his relative,
which he did. Is there another society that can even come close to this
standard in maintaining family ties?
Islam came to set all our relationships
right. This includes our relations with Allah as well as with other human
beings. Today, unfortunately, these teachings can mostly be found in Muslim
societies in their violation. The best we do today is reciprocate; more
commonly we backbite, cheat, and hurt our relatives and continue the spiral of
hurt and humiliation as they respond. And we just abandon those of our
relatives who are economically unfortunate. There are three reasons for this
First is the widespread ignorance about
Islamic teachings in this regard. Even in various Islamic groups the subject
hardly gets the attention it deserves.
Second is the rampant materialism. While
materialism hurts all aspects of our life, it is especially damaging to family
ties for they require sacrifice of time, money and personal comfort.
The third reason has to do with recent history.
It is a “gift” of the transformation of Muslim societies under colonialism.
Poet Iqbal pointed to this when he said in his famous line: The rule of
machines is death for the heart. Machine tools crush compassion. Later, under
the influence of colonialism, urban centres throughout the Muslim world
faithfully duplicated all of these problems. This was just what a blind
following of the West promised. Relations between husband and wife, between
parents and children, between workers and managers, between neighbours, between
relatives, in other words between all segments of society were dealt a