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Treatment towards Relations

The Holy Quraan and the Hadith have repeatedly enjoined on us to be good to the relations – sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandparents, grandsons, grand-daughters, etc.- and rendering to them all possible assistance with the purest of motives. The Quraan says: “And render to the relatives their due rights, as (also) to those in need, and to the traveller; and do not squander your wealth in the manner of a spendthrift.” (17: 26)

The Quraan emphasizes thorough conscientiousness in respect of the ties of kinship. It says: “… and fear Allah in Whose name you ask for (your rights) and pay attention to the ties of relationship….” (4:1)

The Quraan places the duty of doing good to one’s kith and kin immediately next to the duty of doing good to parents. It says: “…and do good to parents and to the kinsfolk…” (4: 36)

The Holy Quraan has made economic assistance to the kinsfolk, with the noblest motive, one of the basic ingredients of practical piety. It says: “…(it is true righteousness) to spend of your substance, out of love for Him (i.e., Allah), for your kith and kin…” (2: 177).

Not only that. Doing good to one’s relations and assisting them in their needs, is not just an optional act of goodness but an unavoidable duty; because the relatives have a definite right whose fulfilment a Muslim owes to them. The Holy Quraan says: “So give what is due to kindred…” (30: 38) Similar command is in 17: 26: “ And give kinsmen their right and to the needy and the traveller and spend not extravagantly.” Again: “Verily Allah enjoins justice, the doing of good (to others in general) and giving to kinsfolk (their due)…” (16: 90)          

The treatment of Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) towards his relations was unique. This is reflected from his following sayings:

  • If the relations are below the poverty line and are unable to provide for themselves, they should be supported both in cash and kind.
  • We should visit our relations regularly and share their happiness and sorrows.
  • Never try to break ties with your family members. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has said: “One who cuts off relations will not enter the Paradise”. [1]
  • If the relatives harm you or give you any trouble, bear it, as this would bring great rewards to you.  The Hadith says: “Join hands with him who breaks relations with you and forgive him who behaves cruel to you.  Treat him well who ill-treats you.”
  • Another Hadith says that good treatment to the relations makes a man dearer to his own family. It increases his wealth and brings blessings in the form of his longer life. [2]

Rights towards Neighbours

The Quraan has enjoined a comprehensive duty of doing good to the neighbours, both near and strangers. It says: “Serve Allah, and join not equals with Him; and do good – to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and what your right hands possess: for Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious…” (4: 36)

In respect of this duty, the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has given the following stern warning: “None of you will be (counted) a Believer unless he loves for his neighbour what he loves for himself.” [3]

A Hadith says: “The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: ‘Jibra’eel (alaihis salaam) briefed me over my rights towards the neighbours, till I thought he would soon make a neighbour to inherit his neighbour’”. [4]  

Once, the Holy Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was making ablution. The Companions rushed to secure the water and applied that water on their faces. The Blessed Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Why are you doing this?” They said: “We are doing this in our love and affection towards the Beloved Prophet of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam)”. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “He who likes to love Allah and His Apostle (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) or to be loved by Allah and His Messenger (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), should always speak the truth and if he is made the custodian of something, he should be worthy of an honest custodian and he should behave with his neighbours in kindness”.  

The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) also said: “He is not a believer who eats his fill when his neighbour beside him is hungry”. [5]

The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) also said: “He, whose neighbours are not safe from his injurious conduct, will not be counted as a Believer.”

The following are some duties towards the neighbours:

Always take care of your neighbour. Look out for his requirements and fulfil them.

There should always be an exchange of gifts and presents among the neighbours. A Hadith says: “If you cook some curry, put more water into it to increase its quantity so that you may cater to your neighbours and help them.” [6]

Duties towards Muslims in General

The Holy Quraan directs us to cultivate and maintain genuine brotherly relations with other Muslims: “The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and be careful of your duty towards Allah (in respect of safeguarding these brotherly relations), that you may receive Mercy.” (49: 10)

The Brotherhood, which has been stressed here, is a Brotherhood in which the odious distinction of caste, colour, and of tribe and race, have been totally eliminated; even the worst enemy of Islam is accepted as full brother, if he chooses genuinely to be a Muslim.

Islam proclaims mercifulness towards Muslims as one of the basic virtues of Islamic life. The Holy Quraan says: “Muhammad (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) is the Messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against (hostile) disbelievers and merciful amongst each other.” (48: 29). The Quraan has directed us to be humble (or, respectful) toward Believers. (5:57)

Islam has laid stress on respecting the sanctity of life, honour and property of other Muslims. Killing a Muslim has been most severely condemned and prohibited.  “It is not for a Believer to kill a Believer unless (it be) by mistake…Whosoever slays a Believer of set purpose, his reward is Hell for ever. Allah is against him and He has cursed him and prepared for him an awful doom.” (4: 92-93)     

Every Muslim owes some duties towards the other Muslim. Some of these are:

  1. Greet each other with Salaam and shake hands.  The Holy Quraan says: “When a (courteous) greeting is offered to you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things.” (4: 86) The basic form of greeting has been given in the Holy Quraan at several places. “When those come to you who believe in Our Signs, say. ’Peace be on you: your Lord has prescribed for Himself (the rule of) Mercy’.” (4:54) And: “Peace unto you for that you persevered in patience! Now, how excellent is the Final Home!” (13: 24) “…and peace to all who follow the Guidance.” (20: 47) The Islamic Sharee’ah has prescribed “As Salaamo Alaikum” as the standard form of greeting, which, as a reply, takes the form “Wa’alaikum-us-Salaam”. To it can be added “Wa Rahmatullah”, and after that also: “Wa Barakaatuhu”. But remember, do not greet or shake hands with idolaters, atheists, gamblers, drunkards and other evil-doers.  A Hadith says: “When a Muslim greets an evildoer and shows respect to him, the Arsh trembles with Divine Wrath.” The Holy Quraan says: “Let not the Believers take for friends or helpers infidels (active hostile to Islam) rather than believers: if you do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except (entering into some no-war pact with them) by way of precaution, that you may guard yourselves from them…” (3: 28)
  1. Attend to the sick and indisposed Muslim brethren.
  1. Respect every Muslim in his capacity of being a believer.
  1. If your Muslim friend invites you to lunch or dinner, accept his invitation.
  1. Attend the funeral of a Muslim till the burial.
  1. Overlook the defects of others, but at the same time do advise them to adopt the righteous path.
  1. If a fight takes place between two Muslims, they should not stop talking to each other for more than three days. The Hadith says that between the two fighting Muslims, he who reconciles first and starts talking will enter the Paradise before the other.
  1. Never indulge in any violence against a Muslim. Violence here means hurting anyone by words or deeds.
  1. Advise Muslim brethren to adopt the virtuous path and refrain from evil doings.
  1.  Accept a gift offered by a Muslim. Give him a better gift in return.
  1. Respect your elders and love the youngsters.
  1. Accept a Muslim’s legitimate recommendation in favour of another Muslim.
  1. Do not insult any Muslim in front of others.
  1. Do not level false charges against a Muslim nor indulge in backbiting.

Social Responsibilities 

Thus, we saw that the teachings of Islam concerning social responsibilities are based on kindness and consideration of others. Since a broad injunction to be kind is likely to be ignored in specific situations, Islam lays emphasis on specific acts of kindness and defines the responsibilities and rights of various relationships. In a widening circle of relationship, then, our first obligation is to our immediate family - parents, husband or wife and children, then to other relatives, neighbour, friends and acquaintances, orphans and widows, the needy of the community, our fellow Muslims, all our fellow human beings and animals.

General Instructions

If you visit the house of some relative or friend, do not stay there for such a long time as could embarrass your host.

Your visit to an ailing person should be very very short.

If you visit some relative, do not ask for a thing, which is not easily available. This would put your host into an embarrassing position.

Do not sweep the house when your guests are sitting as the dust and dirt may hurt the senses of your visitors.

If your relative or friend invites you for lunch or dinner, do not take many people along with you as it may cause to your host shortage of food.

If two persons are sitting at a place and are engaged in conversation with each other, do not sit in-between them, as your presence will disrupt their conversation.

A woman should not mention another man’s handsomeness and smartness in front of her husband as it might hurt his feelings. Similarly, the husband should not admire any other woman’s beauty before his wife, as this will pave the way for jealousy.

Do not read letters addressed to other’s as this is tantamount to infringing the right to privacy and secrecy of others.

Do not make fun of others as it may hurt their feelings.

Try to do things, which could be beneficial for others. Avoid things that could harm the fellow beings.

[1] Mishkat, Vol. 2, pg. 419

[2] Mishkat, Vol. 2 , pg. 420

[3] Tirmidhi, Vol. 2, pg. 16

[4] Mishkat, Vol. 2, pg. 422

[5] Mishkat, Vol. 2, pg. 424

[6] Mishkat, Vol. 1, pg.171