So here’s what I’ve been hearing a lot lately: keep your ties with relations, don’t cut your ties, maintain relationships… You get the idea.
But why the sudden surge in awareness? Why is this so important?
Our problems begin and end with people. If they are bothering us so much, wouldn’t it be that much easier to just let them go?
Ah, but here’s the catch. This is family we’re talking about. And while we pick our friends and have a choice in that, the family we are stuck with is Allah’s Decision upon us – and like all His decisions, we have to learn to live with it no matter what we think otherwise.
Some of the members are a blessing, and some are a trial. But like with all trials, we should endure with patience. To run away from the problem is to fail the test.
So why should we maintain ties?
1) To pass the test. Who likes to fail? The problem here is that we don’t see it as such, so the importance of keeping these people close does not sink in.
2) Allah loves the Muhsineen – they are those who do utmost good, whether someone deserves it or not. This is where taqwa comes in – without the Fear of Allah, or the consciousness that someone is watching us, there is no reason to behave better to people who don’t treat you equally. With taqwa, we realise that the problems people may have with us are so small and petty, and only related to this world. But we remember that we’re not living for this world but for the HereAfter. This is a concept that is very easy to say but so much harder to put into practice. It encompasses so many other aspects that we need to better ourselves on: yaqeen (certainty) in the Day of Judgement – where everyone will get their due, sabr (patience) with the people and for that Day, tawakkul (trust) that Allah will certainly recompense everyone with absolute justice.
3) Family is our support system – they are the people who volunteer first to help out, are there when we need them, in situations big or small – be it babysitting the baby or being there after the death of someone close – they are the people who would probably be the most blunt with us: whether it is to tell us what we’re doing wrong, what we should do instead or what we shouldn’t do at all. This is where the nerves are grated. The situation is most difficult because the people nagging us are generations older than us and we don’t know how to deal with them. The most interesting thing is that a friend might tell us the same thing in different words, and we’d be willing to listen to them; some things are just hard to hear from certain people.
So what should we do in this case?
Be patient. Stay calm. Don’t snap. Try to filter out all the words to see if there is some truth in what they are saying. Maybe you can conform a little to what they want when you meet them just to make them happy. If there isn’t an ounce of truth, try explaining the situation to them gently. If they still don’t understand: sabr, sabr, sabr. I can’t emphasize that enough. Remember that this is your test. And you want to pass with flying colours.
Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “A man came to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and said, ‘Messenger of Allah! I have relatives with whom I maintain ties while they cut me off. I am good to them while they are bad to me. The behave foolishly towards me while I am forebearing towards them.’ The Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘If things are as you say it is, it is as if you were putting hot ashes on them and you will not lack a supporter against them from Allah as long as you continue to do that.’ ” [Muslim]
What does this mean?
* They are putting themselves in Hell – what someone does is incurring Hell upon themselves, and what you do brings Hell upon yourself. It’s not about how bad they are to you or what they do or don’t do, it’s about how you are to them in return.
* As long as you maintain this relationship, the help of Allah will be with you in any which way. This is something we need to have trust in. When we say “silatul-rahm” – joining relations – it is not about being good to people who are good to you. You don’t fix something that’s already whole, you join what is broken. And when you fix something, you make sure your hands are clean first, join the two pieces carefully, apply glue, pressure, and wait. It’s a process in itself. There are no magic wands to wave that will fuse it perfectly immediately.
4) We cannot please everyone – but know that if we strive to please Allah, He will make sure people are pleased with us, and if we strive to please people and displease Allah in the process, those very people will also be displeased with us. Intention – so important!
5) If we want to be torch-bearers of this deen and take the message forward, we have to practice what we preach. To show one face to the public while we have a different face at home will not convince anyone.
–> There will always be dhulm (injustice) in this world. Without it, there is no point. Where is the test? The Day of Judgement is there so that everyone is brought absolute justice. How can we physically punish all the Fir’ouns of this world? Without dhulm, life here would be so peaceful and not all that different from Jannah. But we need to rightfully earn our spot there.
–> Stop expecting from people and start expecting from Allah – it brings so much more peace. Stop living for dunya and start living for akhirah.
–> Our pride and ego is the main thing that prevents us from joining those broken relationships – and by this I don’t just mean the haven’t-spoken-for-five-years kind, but also just telling those who matter to us that we love them, or apologising, for no reason at all. Why is this so hard? It is not degrading yet we make it seem so. The main thing to cleanse is our ego and pride. The main thing to check is our intentions.
Besides the fact that the consequences of breaking that which is not meant to be broken are so severe–
“And those who break the covenant of Allah, after its ratification, and sever that which Allah has commanded to be joined (i.e. they sever the bond of kinship and are not good to their relatives) and work mischief in the land, on them is the curse, and for them is the unhappy home (i.e. Hell)” (13:25)
–it is a requirement of one’s eman to maintain them:
May Allah grant us the patience to deal with those who are a trial to us, the ihsan to treat them better than they treat us, and the tawfeeq to realise our faults and seek forgiveness for those mistakes we make