our families are strange aren’t they? In many cases we would avoid, the constituents of our families, if we were to randomly meet on the street and not bound by the ties of kinship. We have different interests, different temperaments, different ways of handling a situation and still we are brothers, sisters, brother and sister, cousins etc.
We didn’t choose our family, they were divinely ordained for us. There were given to us and we to them, but for what reason? I believe it is to love each other, to guide each other, to be there for one another and to learn from one another.
When reading the Story of Moses as. in the Qur’an we get to know Aaron as. (Harun) his brother. He was given Prophet hood as a Mercy to Musa (as.) as we have been told by Allah (swt.):
“And We gave him out of Our mercy his brother Aaron as a prophet.” [19:53]
“And indeed We gave Musa (Moses) the Scripture [the Taurat (Torah)], and placed his brother Harun (Aaron) with him as a helper;” [25:35]
So that Harun (as.) could help, support and stand beside Musa (as.) in his magnanimous task of opposing Pharao. The person who thought of himself as the Lord of all Lords, as god.
We learn siblings are supposed to help one another, to stand up for and to support each other. They are there as a mercy to us, to make things easier, to advance each other in life and in religiosity, to compete against each other in doing good.
Conflict and small rivalries are normal between siblings however they should never degenerate to outright hostility. To my recollection there are two cases in particular in the Qur’an where we can learn to what hostilities between siblings can lead to. In the case of Yusuf (as.) his older brothers banded together to throw him into a dried out well and in the case of of Cain and Abel or as the Qur’an refers to them as Ibnu Adam it ends in one killing the other.
These are extreme situations but are there for us to learn from them, to show us where jealousy and rivalries can lead us, even between siblings. Especially then when they are always compared against each other. They are different, don’t expect them to be exactly the same even if they are twins.
Back to Moses and Aaron (as.), enraged by the sons of Israel’s worship of the calf Moses turns on his brother as the one he left in charge. Musa (as.) grabs Harun by his collar demanding to know, how he could have allowed this to happen. To which…
“He said, “Son of my mother – let go of my beard and my hair! – I was afraid you would say, “You have caused division among the children of Israel and have not headed what I said.”” [20:94]
O son of my mother, reminding him gently, lovingly that they are siblings. Soothing him before asking him to not hurt him, then explaining what would have happened if he had done something. This is the recipe of talking to anyone who is enraged, beginning with something disarming before going into whatever needs to be said.
Let’s talk about sisters, off the top of my head the story of Safurah and her sister come to mind. We meet these two in the story of Musa (as.) as he flees from Pharao having accidentally killed a person while trying to diffuse a fight. As he takes rest under a tree and desperately makes dua’, he notices two sisters struggling with keeping their herd of sheep from the water as a direct result of the dua’ as the Qur’an tells us. He approaches them to ask what is wrong with them. They in a confident unified front tell him, that they would not mix with the men while tending to their sheep so would rather wait further back until they finished. They end with saying that he should not try anything with them, that their father is a big sheikh. Here we see the sisters confident, strong and not to be messed with. Later on however we see as one sister returns, that she is as the Qur’an described walking shyly. It may even be inferred that she was stuttering slightly, repeating herself , rambling.
We learn that sisters are to give each other strength and confidence, they should back each other up and protect each other.
The Qur’an talks a lot about mothers and the respect and obedience that is owed to her as the vehicle of Allah (swt.) bringing us into this world. The Qur’an mentions the pain with which she bore us, the times she fed us in some case to her pain. We can never repay our mothers for what they have done for us, sacrificed for us. In all of our love and obedience to our parents it is however forbidden to obey their call to Polytheism (Shirk) or anything that is Haram. As we have seen from Abraham (as.) and his father. Even in this case, Allah (swt.) teaches us to be kind and loving to them as Abraham (as.) was in his reply to his father. Allah (swt.) also records another conversation between a father and his son, this one between Luqman (as.) and his son. In which he gives his son advice, the Qur’an highlighting his title as Luqman the wise. We learn that fathers especially are to guide their children, to be there for them, to give advice to them and be on good terms with them so that that advice is taken.
Throughout the Qur’an we see how family members should or shouldn’t interact. Where our actions can lead us, and how to diffuse situations. At the heart of a family is the love that Allah (swt.) put there, about his grandson the Prophet saw. said: “Oh Allah, I love him, so love him and love those who love him.”