Nov 26, 2012

One Big Happy Family

By Amatullah Aminah


"Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship" [Bukhari] 

I was going through someone’s picture on facebook; you must be aware of one of those where there are several characters in the picture and they tag their friends and family who fit the character. This one, interestingly, had characters from Harry Potter. ‘Bellatrix’ was aunt Sarah, ‘Draco Malfoy’ was given to cousin Hamzah, and ‘Voldermont’ was the unfortunate cousin Saad whereas the detestable ‘Dolores Umbridge’ was the elder sister, Haya. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the world of Harry Potter, all these characters are described as dark, sinister, mean and arrogant who are exceptionally sadistic in nature.

All the good characters, in the picture, were claimed by friends, of course.

We live an era where we, haughtily and unflinchingly, flaunt lines like: “God gave us relatives; thank God we can choose friends”. It is a very popular one. Most of us use it to mock our relatives, not realising we are mocking ties given by Allah, we are mocking people Allah joint us with for a very good reason.

Allah ta’ala reminds us in the Quran at several places,

So would you perhaps, if you turned away, cause corruption on earth and sever your [ties of] relationship? Those [who do so] are the ones that Allah has cursed, so He deafened them and blinded their vision. [Surah Muhammad 47:22-23] 

Be careful of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship; surely Allah ever watches over you. [Surah an-Nisa 1] 

There are numerous compelling ahadith highlighting the stakes of severing the ties of kinship. Here are few to give a much needed jolt (starting with me):

The Messenger of God (may peace be upon him) said: “Among those not graced with God’s glance on the Day of Judgment are a severer of bonds of kin and an obnoxious neighbor.”[1]

In another Hadith which has several narrations one of which says: "A man asked the Prophet, upon him be peace, who are the people most entitled to good companionship from me? The Prophet said: 'Your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives and then the next nearest." [2]

It is reported that the Messenger of God (may peace be upon him) said: “The one who cuts family ties will not enter the Garden.” [3]

A’isha reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said “Kinship (rahim) is derived from Allah. If anyone maintains ties of kinship Allah maintains ties with him. If anyone cuts them off, Allah cuts him off" [4]

Anas ibn Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “ Anyone who wants to have his provision expanded and his term of life prolonged should maintain ties of kinship" [5]

Whoa! Did you just read all that gripping data from the Quran and Hadith? Did you process it yet? Read it again, slowly. That information toppled me. I sit here wondering why Allah wants us to connect with our relatives. Why? Why do we have to be nice to them even when some of them get on our nerves? 

Every family has its black sheep, the prodigal son/daughter, the rebel and the one who has brought shame to the family. We all are familiar with such characters; some of them make our life. There are ones who hurt us with their condescending remarks about our academic choices or our weight, there are ones who pretend we do not exist, there are ones who are always competing with us, there are ones who are harbouring issues, from the gramophone era, with our parents hence shoo us away for no mistake of our own, then there are those who are the moles, they bury their nose in our affairs, extract information then go about the town divulging the family affairs only exaggerating it a bit. Yet we are told to play the one big happy family game. Give them salams, be there for them in times of need, visit them when they are sick, forgive them, be happy for them when Allah blesses them with something, genuinely wish them good and most of all reconcile.

Ugh! Really?
Yup! Really.

And for a very good reason - to learn and condition ourselves to live and love for the sake of Allah and to perfect our character.

The believers are nothing else but one brotherhood. So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear ALLAH, that you may receive Mercy.  [Surah Hujuraat 49:10] 

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I have only been sent to perfect good characteristics.”[6] 

Hmmmm...but how does ‘One Big Happy Family’ perfect our character?

It is very easy to smile back at someone who smiles at you. It is very easy to be good to someone who is good to you. It is very easy to hang out with someone who does not judges you, misunderstands you or ridicule you and then equally easy to claim that you love them for Allah’s sake.

What is hard is to step on your nafs for Allah’s sake. Doing good to someone when you know they don’t like you, they don’t recognise your feelings; they don’t bother to acknowledge that you are family. It is hard to swallow your pride and say salam to then any ways.

Think of them as an opportunity to perfect your character. You can practice so much by hanging around them. You get real life scenarios to perfect yourself and not where you mentally practice by reading how-to books. You learn:

1. To swallow your Anger and Pride [It keeps you humble]
2. Forbearance
3. Forgiveness
4. Tolerance and Patience
5. Kindness

These people bring out the real you, they teach you to soften your hearts and most of all with time and practice you learn to shut out the whispers of shaytaan. Eventually they come around and even if they do not you are not losing anything. You are learning the qualities of people of jannah, qualities Allah loves.

Once we learn to reconcile, we have another task at hand.

We have to stay with them, be around them. We should not shun them or ignore them. Allah joint all of us for a reason, if all the good people were grouped together who would look out for the obnoxious ones? They are our brothers, and we don’t forsake brothers. We help them by repelling evil with good and by bringing them around

"Help your brother whether he is an oppressor or an oppressed," A man said, "O Allah's Apostle! I will help him if he is oppressed, but if he is an oppressor, how shall I help him?" The Prophet said, "By preventing him from oppressing (others), for that is how to help him." 

So do not hesitate to play the One Big Happy Family card, you may find it hard in the beginning, but do not give up. Pick up the phone and call an ignored relative, forgive someone who has hurt you, email a cousin telling them you miss the good old days, throw a family dinner and if they make themselves unreachable, at least, keep them in your duas.

Do your part!


[1] The above Hadith was narrated Ad-Daylami. Translation by Hamza Yusuf. Taken from the book: "The Content of Character"
[2](See Riyad al-Salihin, p. 194).
[3]Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Jubair bin Mutim
[4] Al-Adab Al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari-55
[5] Al-Adab Al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari-56
[6] Narrated by al-Bukhaari in al-Adab al-Mufrad (273) and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


Loved it!! MashaAllah.. very well put!
May Allah bless you in abundance! :)

sis, May Allah reward you with the best in this world and the next for writing this great reminder! I loved how you addressed the issue by using the question that grazes most people's minds "WHY?" When I reflected on this post, I realized that it really does teach us kindness, tolerance and forgiveness. Uhibbik-fi-Allah! Keep writing :)

Beautifully written jazakAllah khayr. I personally needed it in my life :)

wa iyya kum sis. Believe me I needed it too

Ameen ya rabbi! jazakAllah khair sis

ameen ya rabbi, and may Allah bless you too :)

mashAllah sis, such a wonderful and very necessary reminder. Sometimes it is easy to avoid family and relatives with the reason that they hurt us, but we should love them for the sake of Allah anyways. Indeed these tribulations help perfect our characters. May we all be guided, Ameen

Brilliant reminder, mashaAllah!!
May Allah swt reward you sis!! <3

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