May 19, 2011

Keeping Ties

By Ni'mah Ali

My heart aches when I see the way some Muslim families and communities, including my own are towards each other these days. We have severed the ties of kinship without even realizing it. How do we then expect to receive Allah’s love and mercy when we have abandoned the most important of Allah’s commandments and advice?

Yesterday, I saw a cousin of mine who I didn’t see in long time. Several months earlier, my sister told me that she was sick, but all I did, was say, “Oh Allah cure her” and went about my business. I didn’t bother to call or visit her. I didn’t bother to ask if she needed any help with her young children and home. I didn’t give her the support and company she needed in her time of sickness and loneliness. It wasn’t because I didn’t care, I just thought maybe it didn’t really matter all that much. Plus, I told myself, I’m just too busy running around between work, school, and home. Honestly, I just didn’t make the effort.

When I saw her yesterday at the masjid, she definitely looked weakened from the illness but recovering Alhamdulilah. At the moment, I didn’t remember right away that she got sick, and I thought to myself, she looks like she got sick or something. I said Salaam to her and extended my hand. She looked at me for a brief moment, almost with disappointment and surprise, then shook my hand and returned my salaam. Before I could say anything else, I remembered. I couldn’t even give her a second look. Immediately, a wave of guilt came over me. She didn’t say much to me. She just looked away and went back to reading the Quran. I almost broke into tears. I felt ashamed of myself. It’s too late I thought. There’s absolutely nothing I can say to her now. I didn’t know what else to do. So I just left without saying another word.

Ever since yesterday, she has not left my mind. Every time I remember that look she gave me, the look of sadness and questioning, not to mention disappointment; I just feel guilty and sad all over again. This incident sparked many important questions in my head. I wonder why and how keeping ties with family, relatives, neighbors and friends has become so difficult to the point that now it is almost un-important to many people including myself. Everyone has their excuses, but the bottom line is, we are severing the ties of kinship and we don’t even realize it.

There’s no denying that there are families who are very close, who share the good and challenging times in life. But the majority of Muslims these days don’t have those tight-knit family relationships. And those who do have a good relationship with their families, relatives and communities should praise and thank Allah everyday because it is a blessing from Allah Himself!

So this brings me to my main question: how does one bring people in their families, relatives, and even communities not only together but to have them be open and loving to each other? Clean from hatred, grudges, and bad feelings. We have to remember, the challenges are many in bringing families and people in general, together.

I believe there are a number of reasons why families and relatives are usually divided or simply put, don’t keep contact with each other—and I speak from my own experience coming from a large family but with little contact with many of them. There are a number of things that usually push people apart and those things are the following:
  1. Lack of trust: If there’s no trust between people, it’s hard for people to be open with each other.
  2. Grudges! Grudges will destroy any relationship especially between families. Sometimes people just don’t want to let go of damages done to them. This will create long lasting enmity between people.
  3. Not growing up together or around each other: in other words not seeing each other enough! When relatives, even siblings don’t grow up together or around each other, there will be no familiarity, which means even brothers and sisters from the same womb will not be comfortable with talking to each other openly; there’s always going to be a sense of awkwardness in the air and to avoid that, people will just avoid each other.
  4. Fear of rejection: When someone goes out of their way to be nice to someone, to try to get close to them, to welcome them to their homes and lives, and the other person wants none of it, it hurts! Some people don’t know how to deal with this kind of rejection, and they just quit all together and never try again.

So how does one get the courage and strength to try to bring their families and relatives together and to accept each other with flaws and all even though are all the above mentioned challenges? Even more important, how does one get over all of these obstacles and try to change their own mindset and abilities? I certainly don’t have the answers, but we have to start somewhere. We should start by understanding how important keeping ties with kin is in Islam. Keeping ties with family is mentioned in the Quran more than once or twice, and the prophet SalAllahu aleyhi wa sallam has talked about it in many hadiths narrated by the companions. It takes strength and courage to even make the effort of keeping family ties, but the more we make the effort the more it will become easy and Allah will certainly love us for it. May Allah keep our hearts and minds clean of bad thoughts and feelings for the people that matter most: our families, relatives and brothers and sisters in Islam.

Allahuma Amin
I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)


Ameen. What a touching article, jazaki Allahu khairan sister Ni'mah. I pray you are able to reconcile with your cousin. I am sure you can make it up to her by extending love and mercy out of the blue/randomly. :)

Barakalaahu Fiiki sister Zahra, thanks for the advice. 

Keeping ties becomes an even bigger challenge when one of your parent forbids you from maintaining ties and shows hostility towards you when you do. As a result, you just stop trying.
Also, from what it seems, we have become self-involved people. It reminds me of the "bystander effect" where we know we should do something but then just wait around for someone else to do it.
May Allah (swt) give us the strength to bring our families together, bless us and put sakeenah amongst our hearts. Ameen.
I would like to see if there are any suggestions for bringing families together. JazakaAllah khairun for the wonderful article :) 

Waiyaaki ukhti, Amin to your wonderful Du'a! I would love to also see suggestions because I really do need those! I know exactly what you're talking about with the 'bystander effect.'

Assalamu alaikum sister,

I feel as a first step we call make it a point to call loved ones on a regular basis instead of waiting for them to call first.
And if they are in the same city, then we can try to arrange a gathering or invite them over for dinner.
InshaAllah this can bring about closeness into families.

well a very nice article indeed ! i myself was thinking about this for a long time, as for the problems with our family that u have mentioned above we can find a solution; first of all we need to remove any kind of rancor against any muslim ; u know this is a quality of people of jannah that when they go to bed at night they remove from their hearts all the grudges against their fellow muslims,once when we learn to forgive people we can easily hook up to them. LESSON:FORGIVENESS .We should spare a part of day where it is ensured that  we do something to strengthens the ties of kinship ; it can be as least as making a phone call; buying a gift for some family member etc.We can  make some other schedule (if not daily based)for  ourselves. and lastly if we build a true muslim personality then the fear of rejection would sound sweet to us because Allah is appreciative if  we experience something bad in His way , then He will inshallah replace our grief with the sweetness of Iman Inshallah ,and then there is no point of doing good to those who are good to you the real virtue lies in doing good to those who acts ignorantly ......
May Allah helps us all to keep the ties of Kinship 

Salaam dear sis, if you want to reconcile with your cousin get up tommorrow in sha Allah and visit her and do not care about her being disappointed in you when you go to her place cos deep down in her heart she will be happy and she will be thinking of forgiving you, cos putting off again and thinking about how to face her will only keep you from doing the right thing on time. If you think she will be mad at you or something just tell her you are sorry and you were wrong.

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