Islamic Ethics: Joining relations (Sila-e-Rahem)
‘And those who join that Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning.’
(Sura-e-Rad : 21)
If we look into the history of mankind we will notice that as man progresses he has a sense of pride for his achievements. At the same time there is also an increase in difficulties and problems that are a part and parcel of this progress. We rarely come across any person who says that he is satisfied and that he has acquired all the necessities of life. Today we are living in such a society and environment where man is in the clutches of problems and anxieties. He is living in a society where the rich are becoming richer and the poor get poorer. Even acquiring the basic necessities of life has become a monumental task and it is almost impossible for him to conduct his life with respect and modesty.
Under such conditions it is our duty to join and maintain relations with our relatives (i.e. Silhe Rahem). From the Quranic verse mentioned above we learn that doing Silhe Rahem and fulfilling our duties with respect to our relatives, makes accounting in Qiyamat easy.
We are aware that on the Day of Qiyamat every individual will be so grieved and distressed regarding the accounting of his deeds, that neither will the father care for his son, nor will the son attend to his father. Even that person will avoid him in whose love he neglected the hereafter. Indeed the Day of Qiyamat will be the most severe and chastising day. Allah, the Almighty, has given us a solution and our Imams (a.s.) have clearly explained it with their insightful traditions and decisive actions. We see that Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) at the time of his death made a will stating
‘…after my death give 70 dinars to my cousin brother (paternal uncle’s son) Hasan.’ When he was asked. ‘Master you are bestowing to the one who had attacked you with the sword!’ Imam (a.s.) answered ‘What! Do you not want me to be included among those about whom Allah has said – and those people who have been ordered by Allah to do Silhe Rahem, they continue to do it.’
Imam Jafar Sadiq’s (a.s.) statement and his action is a lesson for mankind and an event that should be reflected upon. Today when we look at our society, we find that its condition is going from bad to worse. We realise that people are not only avoiding Silhe Rahem but are finding excuses for breaking relations (Qate Rahem). We observe that even silly and baseless arguments are enough for people to severe relations. They ignore and disregard the sacrifices that were made in order to maintain these age-old relations.
When we look at the ignorant Arabs (before advent of Islam), we pride ourselves at living in an advanced scientific era, where man has set foot on the moon and is now trying to reach other planets. But on close scrutiny we see a lot of similarities between the ignorant Arabs and us. We realise that in many ways we have even surpassed the uncivilised Arabs. Just as they were selfish and looked only at their own benefit, we are also doing the same. If this is not true, then why do we see our blood relations becoming distant from us? It is only because we have discarded the etiquette of maintaining relations and have fallen prey to our selfishness. We are Muslims only for namesake and we have a long way to go before we can call ourselves ‘true Muslims’ in the real sense as Allah and His Apostle (s.a.w.s.) want us to be.
Allamah Majlisi (r.a.) has narrated a tradition in Beharul Anwar vol. 2, pg. 106 from Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) who has narrated on the authority of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) – I am doing wasiyyat to all people of my nation – those who are present, absent, the future generations till Qiyamat, who are in the loins of men and wombs of women, that you all maintain relations with your relatives even if they are residing at a distance of one year’s travel. This is because Silhe Reham is one of the commands which Allah has made as a part of religion.’