Strengthen Family Bondings

My eldest child watches cricket, 5 day tests included, younger one likes Pokemon, and the youngest one likes to continuously change channels. Their mother likes dramas and soaps. I personally prefer Peace TV when I get a chance once in a blue moon. That’s right, I hardly ever get a chance to see anything because I don’t like anything that goes on, so I just stay in my room or I just go somewhere away from the TV station. After work, wish I could spend more time with my family, but it never materializes. I tried to join them in their entertainment but that failed.

Media for all its good intentions is harming family life. More than 100 channels are available through cable but they manage to show only silly programs 24 hours a day. Their morals range from “fun & games” in a rare good program to mostly lust and corruption in general. There are some creative shows, of-course, but not in the same proportion as other useless ones.

Ads, dramas, cartoons and soaps are causing problems in families. They provide entertainment but they also chip away at precious family time. Worse, TV content gives certain messages that support individualistic happiness, temporal nature of things and a secular materialistic view of life. As a father I wish to see all my children live happily, not necessarily as a joint family but as a united family. Siblings must not only come to help each other, they should run towards each other to lift themselves up when they are down and to be there for any need. Brothers and sisters are sources of trust and confidence. They should rely on each other for all kinds of support.

We should see how Islam highly encourages family bonding. One particular story knocked me off.

The young man went to attend the weekly hadith lecture of Sayyidna Abu Huraira, Radi-Allahu anhu but the routine opening announcement stopped him. “If anyone sitting here has severed any ties of kinship (qata-ur-rahim), he should leave.” He recalled that an aunt lived in the town with whom he had not been on speaking terms. The young man quietly left the gathering and went straight to his aunt’s home. He asked for forgiveness for his past behavior and sought rapprochement. When the aunt inquired about the reason for this change of heart, he narrated the entire incident. She accepted the apology but asked him to inquire from Abu Huraira, Radi-Allahu anhu, the reason for this unusual announcement. Why did he leave all the other major sins and focus only on this? What was so special about ties of kinship? Sayyidna Abu Huraira replied that he had heard from the Prophet that our deeds are presented to Allah every Thursday night and anyone who has severed family ties has all his good deeds rejected. He did not want any such person sitting in his gathering, which was held on the same night, for fear that it could deprive the entire gathering of blessings. Another hadith explains further the reason for this fear: “Allah’s mercy will not descend on people among whom there is one who severs ties of kinship.” [Baihaqi, Shuab Al-Iman]

A cursed person is one who is deprived of the mercy of Allah. It is an indication of this deprivation that this sin is punished in this world as well as in the Hereafter. “There is no sin more deserving of having punishment meted out by Allah to its perpetrator in advance in this world along with what He stores up for him in the next world than oppression and severing ties of family.” [Tirmidhi].

Another hadith highlights the high stakes involved here in a compelling way: “Rahim (family ties) is a word derived from Ar-Rahman (The Compassionate One) And Allah says: ‘I shall keep connection with him who maintains you and sever connection with him who severs you.’” [Bukhari]

Silatur-rahim has been defined as politeness, kind treatment, and concern for all one’s relatives even if distantly related, corrupt, non-Muslim, or unappreciative. [Shaikh Abdul Wakil Durubi in Reliance of the Traveller]. While nearly every religion has emphasized good family relations, Islam has taken it to unprecedented heights. It is a duty to be discharged without an eye for reciprocity. A Muslim is required to be kind even to his non-Muslim relatives. Similarly he is required to be kind to even those relatives who are harsh to him.

The most telling example in this regard is that of Sayyidna Abu Bakr, Radi-Allahu anhu. Among the many people who benefited from his generosity was a relative Mistah, Radi-Allahu anhu. The latter, unfortunately became involved in the scandal about the Mother of Believers, Sayyida Aisha, Radi-Allahu anha, which was started by the leader of the hypocrites. It was a whole month of torment and torture for all involved, after which verses of Surah Noor were revealed exonerating her and prescribing punishment for those involved in the false accusation. Feeling hurt and betrayed, Sayyidna Abu Bakr, Radi-Allahu anhu, vowed never to help Mistah again. Yet the Qur’an asked him to forget and forgive and continue helping his relative, which he did. Is there another society that can even come close to this standard in maintaining family ties?

Islam came to set all our relationships right. This includes our relations with Allah as well as with other human beings. Silat-ur-Rahim is a very important part of the latter.

We need to go back to our family values in Islam and start with the message of love, kindness and understanding for all. Our children should hear stories of kindness in Islamic history and take pride in them so as to live those principles in their lives as well. Our women must be told that their status with Hijab is a lofty form of ibadah. We may not be able to throw away that TV in the garbage but at least we can reinforce the Islamic messages of love and affection to our families.

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