(5) The Rights of Relatives

All relatives, immediate or distant, enjoy certain rights upon believing Muslims.  Each relative has certain level of rights according to the Islāmic teachings.  Such levels are hinged upon close relationships of the individual, as it is set forth by Allāh and His Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam).  Sound social ties and fruitful relationships are extremely valuable in the sight of Allāh.  It is therefore important to study such ties from an Islāmic perspective, observe them and maintain sound and cultivated relationships which lead to a better society, close relationships, more harmonious community and a better environment.  Allāh stated in the glorious Qur’ān:

And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveller, and do not spend wastefully (i.e., on that which is unlawful or in disobedience to Allāh).  [17:26]

Worship Allāh and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives...  [4:36]

It is required by every Muslim individual, male and female, young or adult, poor or rich, close or distant, to be good to their relatives in every possible way by every affordable means whether physical, mental, spiritual, moral or financial.  The amount of support is proportional to the status or level of the relationship of the relative and is evaluated based on the need of such relative.  This is a matter that has its own merits based on religious teachings, moral obligations, mental judgment and pure innate requirements and obligations.  This, on the other hand, reflects to what extent Islām agrees with the pure, innate (fitrah) and natural demands of man on the face of this earth.

Believing Muslim individuals who are committed to Islām and its sound, pure and accurate teachings are urged and constantly reminded with the value of such noble deed to a relative.  Many statements support this fact from both the glorious Qur’ān and the sunnah of the prophet Muhammad (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) as we will illustrate in the following paragraph.

Abu Hurayrah (radhi Allāhu 'anhu) narrated from Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam): “Allāh the Almighty created all creations. Upon finishing his creations, the womb stood up and said: “O Allāh, this the place of one who seeks refuge with You from boycott and being banned or ex-communicated", Allāh the Almighty said: “Yes indeed. Do you accept that I (myself) will befriend whāver befriends you (the womb, or rather the relatives generated and tied together due to the ties and relationships of the womb) and I shall discontinue My relations and ban who ban you?"  The womb said: “I accept."  Allāh the Almighty said: “I assure this for you”.  Then Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said: “Read if you wish the revelation of the glorious Qur'an:
"So would you perhaps, if you turned away (from Islām or from jihād), cause corruption on earth and sever your [ties of] relationship?
Those [who do so] are the ones that Allāh has cursed, so He deafened them and blinded their vision."  [47: 22-23]
(Reported by Bukāhree and Muslim).

Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) also is reported to say: “He/she who believes in Allāh the Almighty and the Day of Judgment must communicate, be good, courteous and kind to his kith and kin or relatives.”  (Reported by Bukāhree and Muslim).

It is unfortunate to notice that many people neglect such important social rights and religious obligations.  Many Muslims unfortunately do not care to be kind to their relatives neither financially, if they are rich and their relatives are poor and needy, or by social relations or even any help that they may be able to render at no cost.  At times you may find a person, on the contrary, being harsh, mean, disrespectful, jealous or miserly to his own relatives, while being the opposite towards others who are distant.  Some people unfortunately do not even visit their relatives, offer them occasional gifts and presents, look after them when in need, help them or even extend a helping hand if really in desperate need or help.

On the other hand, there are another kind of people who establish good relationships with their relatives only for the sake of relationships, not for the cause of Allāh.  Such a  person in reality is not doing what he is doing for the fulfilment of the commands of Allāh, but is paying back those relatives what was paid to him in advance.  Such an act is applicable to both relatives, friends, and distant people.  A true good person is the one who establish good rapport with his relatives for the noble causes of the pleasure of Allāh only, and hoping to improve his ties with Him, the Almighty, regardless if they did the same or not.

Bukhāree reported from Abdillah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘Anas (radhi Allāhu 'anhu) who said: “A person who is good to his relative is not a person who rewards them, or repays them equally for what they do to him.  A good person is the one who dās good to his relatives even if they do not do that to him.  Visit them even if they do not visit him, give them even if they do not give him and so forth.”  A man asked Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) "O prophet of Allāh I have some relatives whom I visit, am kind to and give whatever I can, but they do the opposite to me.  I try to be extremely patient with them regardless of the harms, inconsiderateness and troubles they cause me.  What should  I do in such case?"  Allāh’s apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said: “if you are truly what you describe, then you are as if you let them eat ashes (as a result of their own doing) so long you continue to do good to them.  Yet Allāh the Almighty continues to support you, aid you and help you over them as long as you continue being good to them.”

It is a real pleasure that one gains from being good and kind to his relatives at large.  If the only thing man gets from such a noble social act is the pleasure of Allāh, it suffices man in his life.  But it is most likely that man will get tremendous benefits from fulfilling commands of Allāh in his life.  One definitely grows socially, matures ethically and feels at ease and at peace with himself and with the community around him.

Man is weak without the support of his immediate family members or the moral support of his extended family members.  Islām agrees with the norms of life.  It coincides with the basic requirements of man in his social life.  Establishing such rights by Allāh to govern the Islāmic life and society is but a blessing of Allāh to man all over world.  Such a relationships will produce a close-knit society, better relations amongst the various individuals and components of various units of society.
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