As Muslims, we learn early on the importance of maintaining positive relationships with individuals in our community and in our family. Islam places a lot of stress on the act of being kind to the people we are related to or surround ourselves with. We frequently ponder why establishing excellent relationships with our families, neighbors, friends, community members, and even enemies is vital in Islam.
why it is important?
Humans are social beings, and we need some form of interaction in our lives to function. Being kind and good to the people we interact with on a regular basis not only gives us a form of social satisfaction but also boosts our morale and makes us happier. In Islam, we have compulsory obligations to fulfill, like making sure we pray our five daily prayers, fast during Ramadan, give our obligatory charity (Zakah), etc. However, there are also some obligatory acts that we have to complete related to kinship that isn’t so talked about.
In the Quran, Surah An-Nisa, Ayah 36, Allah (SWT) says:
“Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those under your authority; indeed Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious.”
In the verse above, after telling us to have a firm belief in Him alone, Allah (SWT) tells us to do good to the following people: our parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors, companions, travelers, and those who work for us. These people encompass some if not all the people we end up being surrounded with. Allah (SWT) isn’t telling us to serve these people or give them thousands of dollars but instead, He uses the words “do good,” which means to be kind to, look after, and be there to support.
our blood relatives
One of the first groups of people we should endeavor to maintain contact with is our immediate kin and those with whom we share blood. We should always honor, and treat with kindness and respect those in our relatives with whom we share blood.
“Oh, humanity! Be mindful of your Lord Who created you from a single soul, and from it, He created its mate, and through both, He spread countless men and women. And be mindful of Allah (SWT) – in Whose Name you appeal to one another—and [honor] family ties. Surely Allah (SWT) is ever Watchful over you.” (Surah An-Nisa, Ayah 1)
According to a Sahih Hadith in Tirmidhi, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said “The best of you is the best to his family.” Our families increase our goodness and while it’s not necessary to be in constant touch with them, it’s important to check in regularly and ask if they are in need of something. Even when it comes to financial difficulties, we are rewarded highly if we help out a relative that is in need. Our relationships should be based on love, respect, and trust.
our non-muslim relatives
Many of us have relations with non-Muslims. We have many brothers and sisters in Islam that are reverts and the question always arises: do I still treat my parents and extended non-Muslim family the same? The simple answer is yes, of course! In Surah Luqman, Allah (SWT) tells us to treat our parents with the same kindness and respect, even if they (the parents) ask us to turn away from Allah (SWT.)
There is a Hadith in which Asma bint Abu Bakr relays a time when her pagan mother came to visit her. Asma asked the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) how she should treat her mother and his reply was to treat her with kindness. (Sahih Hadith, Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawud)
dealing with difficult people
While keeping good relations may be easy in theory, in reality, all relations come with complications. There will always be some family members that are unpleasant, haughty, or even malicious. It hurts, and occasionally we wonder why we exert so much effort to maintain these bonds when the other person shows no sign of either caring or wanting to keep things going. However, when it comes to our blood family, we must keep trying and never return their harsh actions. Even though being kind to our relatives who treat us poorly doesn’t entail tolerating their abuse or treating us like garbage, we should be aware that in this world, the more kind deeds we perform for our family members, the greater our rewards in both this life and the next.
A man once went to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and said: “I have relatives with whom I try to keep the ties of relationship but they sever relations with me; and whom I treat kindly but they treat me badly, I am gentle with them but they are rough to me.” The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) replied to the question by saying: “If you are as you say, it is as if you are feeding them hot ashes, and a supporter from Allah (SWT) against them will be with you as long as you continue to do so.” (Sahih Hadith, Muslim)
what’s in it for us?
Trying to keep up a great rapport with everyone can be challenging. Some people simply don’t want to maintain positive relationships with you, and others are too busy to even remember you. However, it is our duty as Muslims to maintain positive relationships with others. What’s in it for us, though, then? What do we get from treating them well?
Anas (RA) is reported to have said that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once said: “He who desires ample provisions and his life be prolonged, should maintain good ties with his blood relations.” (Sahih Hadith, Bukhari, and Muslim)
May Allah (SWT) bless all of us who try our best in keeping good relations with those around us.