Relationships with relatives make up an important part of the relations within social texture which spin from one’s immediate family into a much larger group. It is a well-known fact that Prophet Muhammad always had a respected place in his society both before and after his prophethood. The respect others had for him was the fruit of his good relationships with the tribe of Quraysh to which he belonged and in which he lived. He also had a close, loving relationship with his aunts and uncles. We can read between the lines of various reports of his life to find out information that supports these facts. Such a report from his life is the one about the first time the Prophet received divine revelation. It tells how Khadija calmed him down when he went to her scared and worried. She told him: “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You unite your relatives and you bear the burden of the weak (of our society). You help the poor and the needy, you are honorable to all guests and you bear harm in the path of truthfulness.” Allah’s Apostle set an example of solidarity among relatives and of helping one another when he took his cousin, Hadhrat Ali, under his protection and raised him. According to the historical reports, the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Talib, had many children and he could not afford to support all of them. The Prophet took Ali under his responsibility and raised him to alleviate his uncle’s burden. Abbas, too, took another son of Abu Talib to raise so he could help his brother. The Prophet continued his good relationship with his relatives after his prophethood by inviting them to Islam. In fact, he first started his call to Islam from his relatives before he appealed to all people. When the ayah of “And warn your nearest relations” was revealed, Allah’s Apostle climbed on top of the hill of Safa in Mecca, called out for the chiefs of the branches of the tribe of Quraysh and invited them to Islam. According to a report narrated by Ibn Abbas, Allah’s Apostle was in the middle of the lineage of the tribe of Quraysh and therefore had relations with all the branches of the tribe. This was the reason why he first started his invitation to Islam with them. He requested nothing in return for his invitation. He only asked them to keep their good relations and not be unfair. After his prophethood, the Prophet started to call people to Islam and he always had the support of those of his relatives who believed in Allah and him. During the first few very difficult years of his call to Islam, the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Talib, protected him from the oppression and cruelty of the polytheists. Again, his uncle Hamza’s support of him went as far as his being martyred at the Battle of Uhud. Abbas, another uncle of the Prophet, believed in him at a later time and remained by his side for all of his life.
The life of the Prophet is seen as a model by muslims in this sense like every other aspect of his life and those who follow in his footsteps always work towards the creation of a peaceful society based on good relationships within family and among relatives.
“Worship Allah without joining him none in your worship, pray, give zakat (obligatory charity tax) and maintain good relations and ties with your kin.”
Along with examples of solidarity of all kinds that the Prophet had with his relatives, we also see in his life that he emphasized the importance of not breaking relations with one’s relatives, in fact he preached this to all muslims as a principle. He gave the following advice to someone who asked to tell him of a good deed that could take him to Heaven: “Worship Allah without joining him none in your worship, pray, give zakat (obligatory charity tax) and maintain good relations and ties with your kin.” He warned people that those who break their relations with their relatives would end up in Hell while he gave the good news for those who maintain these relations that they would have ample blessings from Allah. The following report provides us with a clear framework in terms of the desired relationships with one’s relatives. Prophet Muhammad said: “Treating your kin with the same kindness they treat you with does not count as protecting and looking out for them. The person who truly protects and looks out for his kin is the one who keeps benefiting them even when they break their relations with him.”. The Prophet’s warning on not breaking one’s relations even with relatives that do not believe, is also worth mentioning here. In some other reports, we see that the Prophet used the expression of ‘my Ahl ul Bayt’ for his close relatives and he protected them from some unpleasant actions. The Prophet’s uncle, Abbas b. Abdalmuttalib narrated: “A group of people from Quraysh used to stop talking amongst themselves when they saw us. We told about this situation to Allah’s Apostle upon which he said: What is the matter with those who stop talking when they see someone from my Ahl ul Bayt? I swear by Allah, that a servant(of Allah) shall not be a faithful believer unless he loves my Ahl ul Bayt on account of his love for Allah and my Ahl ul Bayt’s closeness to me.” The Prophet said… I am leaving behind among you, two most precious things: Allah’s scripture which contains guidance and light. In another report quoted in Muslim, the Prophet called the attention of muslims to his Ahl ul Bayt and commanded them to observe their rights. The infamous ‘thaqalain’ hadith narrated by Zayd b. Arkam not only involves the Prophet’s advice to muslims on his relatives but it also explains that all of the close relatives of the Prophet are among his Ahl ul Bayt. The related part of this fairly long report is as follows: “O people, know that I am only a human being. The time draws near when I will be called (to the next world), and for me to accept Allah’s invitation. I am leaving behind among you, two most precious things: Allah’s scripture which contains guidance and light, don’t let it go and hold it tight.” After this, he added “and my Ahl ul Bayt who are my family members. Beware how you behave towards these.”, which he repeated three times. In the following part of the report, Zayd is asked about who are Ahl ul Bayt and he informs that they are the household of Hadhrat Ali and the households of Aqil, Jafar and Abbas, who are all close relatives of the Prophet. The happiness’s of his relatives made the Prophet happy and their worries upset him. Once when he was with his companions in the mosque, Hadhrat Ali came in and looked for a while for a place to sit. Allah’s Apostle looked around at the faces of his companions in a way to imply that he wanted them to make room for Ali. Hadhrat Abu Bakr who was sitting to the right of the Prophet noticed what was going on, moved over to the side and called Ali: “Come here Aba Hasan”. This made the Prophet very glad and he thus complimented Abu Bakr: “Only the ones with virtues can know the virtues of people with virtues.” To sum up, the Prophet was very sensitive about relationships with one’s immediate family and relatives. After a phase of education and illumination of his own family and relatives, he continued to treat them with love and respect. The life of the Prophet is seen as a model by muslims in this sense like every other aspect of his life and those who follow in his footsteps always work towards the creation of a peaceful society based on good relationships within family and among relatives.
(Author teaches at Govt Secondary School Anderwan Ganderbal. Views are his own) [email protected]