Introduction to Surah An-Nisa
Surah An-Nisa deals largely with women’s rights and the principles for the smooth running of family life and ways to settle family disputes.
Rules have been prescribed for marriage and rights of wife and husband have been allocated fairly and impartially. It also laid down the status of women in the society and the rights of orphans. It also teaches us the laws and regulations for the division of inheritance.
If you read the tafsir, it teaches Muslims the ways that unite a people and make them firm and strong to overcome the enemies of Islam who were hatching plots against Nabi Muhammad and the Muslim Community even at Al-Madinah. It is saying that it starts with a strong family foundation.
Islam places great importance on maintaining family relations. The first verse of An-Nisa says:
“O mankind, fear your Lord who created you from a single soul, and from it created its mate, and spread many men and women from the two. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in whose name you ask each other (for your rights), and fear (the violation of the rights of) the womb-relations. Surely, Allah is watchful over you.” – 4:1
And Allah said this in first-person, not through our prophet.
In the HADITH QUDSI it is reported that Allah said:
‘I Am Ar-Rahman. I created the RAHAM (womb) and derived a name for it from My Name. Hence, whoever keeps it (the family ties), I will keep ties to him, and whoever severs it, I will sever ties with him.’.
So the act of maintaining family ties is an obligation in the Islamic faith. This is to have good relations with one’s relatives, to love, respect and help them.
But what if relatives are not good to you?
The Holy Prophet said “Do not ever sever your relationship with a member of your family even if he severs his relationship with you.”
Cherishing blood ties is not observed in anticipation of reciprocation; but the ties should be maintained for Allah’s sake only, even if this is done from one side only, and overlooking the behavior of the other side in return.
So there’s no need to point fingers saying he or she did it first, that’s why I do the same.
The Messenger ﷺ openly states that
- Regardless of their behavior you should visit them;
- Regardless of their detachment, you should maintain your ties;
- Regardless of their offensiveness, you should reward them with forbearance,
- And most importantly, never cease to include in your duʿa’ that Allah grants them a change of heart; for all the hearts are between his fingers, and He flips them as he wills.
The Holy Prophet also said: “He who wishes that his sustenance be increased for him and his death day be delayed, then he should maintain good relations with his kin.”
Severing family ties is considered one of the grave sins, which will not be forgiven except through a sincere tawba (repentance), the kind of tawba which involves other people’s rights, meaning that you need to mend things with them and seek their pardon so that your tawba may be accepted by Allah, the Merciful and Oft-forgiving.
Twice in the Quran, Allah severely warned those who cut off their blood relationships and family ties. Severing one’s blood ties is far from a trivial choice. It is an evil that may hinder you from entering Paradise.
Personally in my family, I have this uncle who hasn’t been showing up for Hari Raya for a long time since I was in secondary school. And one of the reasons was because he was upset with the rest of his siblings for visiting my first uncle. There was a long history of them at loggerheads, and that my first uncle chased this estranged uncle around the kampung for who knows what. Just imagine, he has been holding this grudge since kampung days. My first uncle is already so skinny and frail now.
Regrettably, the last I saw my estranged uncle was at my funeral of my late grandmother. I don’t think he talked to anyone either. Only his wife and children talked to us.
I feel this is the kind of mindset that is sad and pointless – to hold on to grudges until your old age. So I think even when we disagree with each other, we can agree to disagree respectfully. And it’s better to ask for forgiveness from each other as soon as possible instead of dragging it out. You know how the longer you wait to say sorry, the harder it gets.
Ways to Enhance your Relationships
Here are ways for us to fortify our ties and strengthen our bonds with our kinsmen:
- Arrange frequent visits with those who live close by, on a bi-weekly basis if they are in the same town or on a yearly basis at least if they reside overseas, depending on a person’s abilities. But always remember, the least you can do nowadays is to open your e-mail software and write to them how much your heart yearns for them and that they are not at all forgotten. Otherwise, pick up the phone and tell them how much you love them and cannot wait to visit with them. Little things can make a big difference.
- In a family gathering, do not let the opportunity pass you by to clear up all misunderstandings, and do show all of your relatives your love and concern.
- When conversing with them, take interest in what they have to say, even if it is not your cup of tea. Listen to their concerns, and help them if you can, and at least give them hope and your prayers—for sincere prayers, reassurance and love are worth much more than anything else.
- Have respect for all elderly people in your family, be all ears when they are telling their stories and try to learn from their past experiences.
- Bring joy to family gatherings by creating an atmosphere of fun, sharing jokes or even getting a bit playful at times—but always within the limits of decency and without hurting anyone’s feelings.
- Be there for them, and offer to help in every way you can.
Many good deeds bear fruit that will not be seen until the Hereafter. But keeping good family relations is something that will benefit you immediately, by making this life a lot happier, lighter, more pleasant and more rewarding. Most importantly, Allah will reward us generously for every smile, every hug, every act of generosity, every phone call, e-mail or letter, every word of encouragement, every suppression of anger, and every instance of forgiveness towards your family members. Who can afford to be deprived of such an immense reward? Do not allow yourself to be of those who sever what Allah has ordered to be joined.