Rights of Relatives

Besides parents, a great emphasis is, also, laid on the rights of other relatives, and the special terms used for it, in Islamic ethics, is Salah-i-Rahmi which denotes “loving and treating one’s relatives well.” In the Quran, where it is enjoined upon the Believers to show kindness to parents, they are required to treat the other relatives with love and sympathy and pay a due regard to their rights as well by including Wa zil qurba (meaning “and unto near kindred”) in the commandment. Of course, there is the famous tradition in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim which reads: “The foremost claim to loving kindness and thoughtful attention on you is of your mother, and, then, of your father, and then, grade by grade, of the other relatives.”

1. Abdul Rahman bin ‘Auf relates that he heard the Apostle of God say: “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 Ra-him- which I have obtained from the root of My Name, Rahman. Thus, whoever will join it, I shall join him, and whoever will break it, I shall break him.” – Abu Dawood

Commentary

The Almighty, in His Infinite Wisdom, has designed the system of birth in such a way that whoever is born is tied to bonds of kinship, and these bonds carry certain rights and claims which the Lord has been pleased to classify under the title of Ra-him. It is derived from His own Name of Rahman. Thus, whoever will fulfill these claims, i.e., show kindness to his relatives and treat them well the promise for him is that God will join him, i.e., make him His own and bestow His favour and mercy upon him, and whoever will violate the bonds of relationship, God will break him, i.e., have nothing to do with him.

The unhappy circumstances in which we find ourselves today and the spectacle of the denial of Divine Benevolence we present is, of course, due to our negligence and want of principle in the different spheres of life, but in the light of these Traditions, it can be confidently said that apathy and indifference as regards the rights of relatives is, to a large extent, responsible for our misfortune. There is, in fact, little to choose between our conduct and the conduct of non–Muslims where the rights of kinship are concerned.

2. It is related by Anas that the Apostle of God said: “Whoever wants an increase in his sustenance and that the marks of his feet remained for a long time in the world, i.e., he lived long should be kind and helpful to his relatives.” Bukhari and Muslim

Commentary

As it has been stated repeatedly in the Qurán and the Traditions, God bestows His favour on some good actions in this world as well. In the above report, it is told that to fulfill the rights of relatives and treat them with kindness is such a virtuous deed that, in return for it, God multiplies a person’s wealth and prolongs his life.

There can, on the whole, be two ways of being good, kind and considerate to one’s relatives. One is by giving them monetary help, and the other by devoting a part of one’s time and energy to their service. An increase in one’s life-span and sustenance, in recompense for it, is not only understandable, but, also, corresponds wholly with the Infinite Wisdom and Benevolence of the Lord.

From the point of view of the ordinary operation of cause and effect, too, there is nothing improbable in it. Family quarrels which, generally, arise from the violation and disregard of the rights of relatives tell upon a man’s health and make it difficult for him to concentrate on his work while those who treat their relatives well and are sympathetic and helpful to them are, comparatively, free from tension of this kind, and their circumstances, on the whole, are happier and more peaceful.

3. It is related by Jubair bin Mot’im that the Apostle of God said: “Whoever violates the rights of kinship shall not go Heaven.” Bukhari and Muslim

Commentary

This one Tradition should be enough to make us realize the importance of Silah-i-Rahmi in the Islamic scheme of things. It shows that violation of the rights of relatives is so greatly abhorrent to God that, with its filthiness, no one will be able to enter Heaven. It is only when a person has been cleansed through punishment or forgiven owing to some reason that the Gate of paradise will be opened for him.

4. It is related by Abdullah bin Omar that the Apostle of God said: “He does not fulfill the claim of Silah-i-Rahmi who shows kindness to relatives in return for the kindness shown to him (by them). The person who, really, fulfils the claim is he who treats his relatives well (and does this duty) even when they are mean and unjust to him (and infringe on his rights).”  Bukhari

Commentary

When violation of the rights of relatives is returned in the like manner, the evil will, naturally, spread in the society, while if those who are ill-disposed are treated with kindness and affection, it may lead to their correction and be conducive to the promotion of Silah-i-Rahmi in the life of community.