Family has been essential for the advancement of civilisation, many cultures around the world value close ties of kinship and try their utmost to safeguard these ties. In the past, being without a family would mean that an individual could not survive in society, as the family would share resources and protect their own. This bond of kinship was even more relevant in the Arabian peninsula during the time of the Prophet (SAW), this was a tribal society and the most powerful would be those with the noblest of families. Tribes relied on strong familial relations in order to function, it did not serve the wider tribe if the members severed their family ties, this would weaken the tribe and lead to the destruction of many lives.
Muslims today, place less value on their family, they have been influenced by the idea of individual success. On the surface this is very inviting, however, this virulent ideology harms the many to fulfill the greed of the few. It promotes vanity and selfishness, leading to a person forsaking others in order to fuel his own ego. Islam allows the development of the individual, but it commands that a person help his fellow-man instead of thinking solely of himself.
The people who have the most right over an individual from all of mankind is his family. Allah orders the Believers in the Quran: “Believers, guard yourselves and your families against a Fire whose fuel is men and stones, and over which are harsh, terrible angels who disobey not God in what He commands them and do what they are commanded.” (66:6) This verse indicates the true value of a person’s family in the sight of Allah. Not only does the Creator demand we save ourselves but He mentions we save our families, showing their connection to us and the importance they hold.
It is for this reason that we should not sever our ties with family. How can one expect to save someone he does not interact with? For this reason, the Prophetic traditions are replete with severe warnings against cutting one’s ties.
It is related that Abu Huraira (RA) quoted the Prophet (SAW) saying, “Ties of relationship (Rahima) is a word derived from the Compassionate One (Ar-Rahman). And Allah said, ‘I shall keep connection with him who keeps you tied and sever connection with him who severs you.'” The world for Relation here has been derived from one of Allah’s beautiful Names, this shows how sacred a person’s relations truly are. Here, piety has been directly associated to maintaining links to kin. As personal closeness to Allah has been fused with closeness to family.
A person does not choose his family, rather Allah in His infinite wisdom allocates them to a person upon birth. If a person is blessed with a pious and upright family then it is a blessing of Allah and he should be grateful. If a person is given a difficult family then it is only a test from Allah that an individual must endure with patience.
The question arises: who is a person that enjoins ties? The answer has been given by the greatest of creation, “The one to join ties is not truly the one who reciprocates a kind act of relatives but the one to join ties is he who joins ties even when others sever them” (Bukhari) It is a tremendous test of character to be civil with a person who is acting barbaric with you. That is why Islam demands we act righteously with those who do not necessarily want cordial ties with us.
In another Tradition the Holy Prophet (SAW) relates that: “Allah, the Most High, says: ‘I am Allah; I am Al-Rahman (the Merciful); I have created the bond of kinship and given it the name of Rahima which I have obtained from the root of My name, Rahman. Thus, whoever will join it, I shall join him, whoever will break it, I shall break him.” Again, the concept of safeguarding ties has been bound to Allah’s name. The bonds that a person has have been bestowed by Allah, so it is imperative that they be cared for justly. We should not sever ties over the smallest slight, it is a testament to a person’s lack of understanding and weak emotional control.
It has become commonplace that individuals in their fits of hysteria sever ties, and even after they calm down due to their ego they do not reconcile and ask for forgiveness. Many relationships between immediate families have been ended over trivial matters. For those people who take severing ties lightly, and who ardently defend their actions (due to hubris) know that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) has stated: “Whoever violates the rights of kinship shall not go Heaven” (Bukhari) (Muslim) I ask those who no longer keep ties because of petty reasons, is it truly worth it? You can be the most dedicated worshiper, but Heaven will not be yours if you sever ties.
The reward for enjoining kinship is not only a close connection to Allah, but there are many benefits which will be seen in this world. The Prophet (SAW) has said; “Whoever wants an increase in his sustenance and that the marks of his feet remain for a long time in the World (i.e., he lives long) should be kind and helpful to his relatives.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) There is no person who does not desire an increase in his wealth or life, the way to get it is simple: maintain ties and act amicably. Being helpful means to assist one’s relatives in times of distress, be it through monetary help, emotional support or physical assistance.
May Allah give us the ability to maintain our ties. May He protect our relatives and give them the best of both worlds. Ameen.