My greater family has always been spread over the continents. I’m a little jealous of the kinds of family gatherings some of my friends and brothers have. The roots of most of my family lie in Africa, in Nigeria to be specific. My maternal grandparents are Nigerians and my paternal grandfather was Nigerian. (May Allah have mercy on him)
My paternal grandmother however was German and as the daughter of a mother who had 8 children (if I remember right) my German side of the family is pretty big. While they are centred in Frankfurt am Main it’s spread all over Germany and maybe even abroad. The thing is, I don’t really know any of them. I met them once at a funeral, it was bizarre to me to have and see third cousins, cousins first removed and so on. A couple of years ago my father showed me some pictures of my grandmother, I don’t remember what she looks like any more.
Actually I don’t know much about any part of my family in general and that is something I hope to rectify soon. For my own curiosity, but also as Abu Hurairah (ra.) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw.) said:
“Learn enough about your lineage to facilitate keeping your ties of kinship. For indeed keeping the ties of kinship encourages affection among the relatives, increases the wealth, and increases the lifespan.” [Tirmidhi | Hasan]
Family and keeping the ties of kinship is important in Islam, granted we are talking here more about the family that is nearest to you. About your mother and father of course, then your siblings, aunts and uncles. Especially the maternal aunt is to be treated with kindness as the Prophet saw. said, narrated by Al-Bara’ ibn Azib:
“The maternal aunt holds the same status as the mother.” [At-Tirmidhi | Sahih]
In a Hadith Qudsi Allah swt. warns us and tells us what the fate of a person not maintaining the ties of kinship is. Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (ra.) narrates that he heard the Prophet (saw.) saying:
“Allah, the Almighty and Exalted, said, ‘I am the Merciful (ar-Rahman). I have created ties of kinship and derived a name for it from My Name. If anyone maintains ties of kinship, I maintain connection with him, and I shall cut off anyone who cuts them off.’”
[Al-Adab Al-Mufrad | Sahih]
This Hadith also shows us the importance that Allah (swt.) gave the womb which He named after Himself and the ties that bind us through it. It is the vehicle of our coming into this world. The mother is the one that nurtures us, as Allah (swt.) wills it, within the womb and outside of it.
There are so many Ahadith in relation to keeping family ties such as:
‘Abdullah bin Amr (ra.) narrated that: the Prophet said: “Merely maintaining the ties of kinship is not adequate. But connecting the ties of kinship is when his ties to the womb are severed and he connects it.” [At-Tirmidhi | Sahih]
Jubair bin Mut’am (ra.) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw.) said:
“The one who severs the ties of kinship will not enter Paradise.” [Bulugh ul Maram, Agreed upon]
Disagreements are normal within a family but they should never reach the level of these splitting the family. It is the duty of each member of the family to try and reconcile the parties in such a case. In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra.)
It is of utmost importance to make all the the effort one can to reconcile families, siblings and brothers and sisters in Islam. Here we aren’t talking about our relationship to our parents. If these are terse, we should do everything possible to fix that relationship as soon as possible. The love and reverence towards once parents is second only, to the love due to God and the Prophet (saw.). In the Qur’an kindness to the parents is often mentioned right after the obedience to Allah (swt.).
“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment.” [17:23]
Parents, for the most of us are the first and most authoritative people in our lives. Obedience to them, of course in everything that does not contradict Islam, is linked to the obedience of the most authoritative being in our existence, our Creator. If we can not be obedient, respectful, loving and kind to our parents, what is our relationship to God going to be like? It is like a training ground if you will.
As much as Allah (swt.) has given massive rights towards our parents. They, according to Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, they are supposed to be applied to ourselves and not weapons against children. Allah (swt.) didn’t say that parents are always right, but that we have to respect them. Part of having a good relationship with your parents is having good conversations with them and being able to ask them and question them. Yusuf as. is the best example of that. A child willing to ask his father for advice, talk about his dream of all things. He wasn’t afraid of being written off by his father.
Today we are afraid of talking to our parents, afraid of asking for advice, talking about myself here mainly being afraid that they would kill you in the most imaginative ways you could think of. We need to be able to have meaningful conversations with our parents about anything. Conversations, that last longer than 5 minutes. May Allah (swt.) help us with that and keeping the ties of kinship. May Allah (swt.) strengthen our relationships with our parents, our spouses, our siblings, our extended families and our brothers and sisters in faith. Amin.