Our lives are made up of many relationships. Our relationship with our family, neighbours, colleagues, friends, pets and most importantly with our Creator. Islam has come to set all our relationships right, first and foremost with Allah (SWT), then with human beings, with animals and with the environment, to name but a few.
Of the relationships with humans, family ties are perhaps the most sacred. In Arabic, ‘family ties’ is translated as silat al-arham, the ties of the uterus. What is more significant is that uterus in Arabic is ‘rahem’, a derivative of the attribute of Allah ‘Ar-Rahman’, The Compassionate One. In fact, Allah (SWT) says: ‘I shall keep connection with him who maintains you (‘rahem’) and sever connection with him who severs you.’” [Bukhari]
No doubt maintaining our family ties requires a great deal of sacrifice. In many cases keeping in touch requires us to travel long distances, costing us our time, money and comfort. To overcompensate for any ‘loss’ incurred the Prophet (PBUH) says: “Whoever would be glad to have his livelihood expanded and his life prolonged should maintain the uterine ties (i.e. family ties).” [Bukhari & Muslim] So rather than perceiving the act of keeping in touch with our family as a burden on our time and money, let us see it for what it truly is: an investment. An investment in our wealth and life. And here the investment is not made in stocks that fluctuate or a bank that will fail us, but instead it is made with Allah, who is constant.
Just as the fruits of maintaining the ties of kinship will be reaped in this life before the next, so too is the punishment for those who neglect it. “There is no sin more deserving of having punishment meted out by Allah to its perpetrator in advance in this world along with what He stores up for him in the next world than oppression and severing ties of family.” [Tirmidhi].
Many of us may feel awkward in contacting those that we have been distant from for so long; unsure even how to initiate a conversation. There is perhaps no better opportunity to overcome this awkwardness than Ramadan. As we approach Ramadan this is our chance to call up family members to wish them a fruitful Ramadan, arrange to break our fast together and be in each other’s prayers. This Ramadan let us invest in our families; let us invest in our wealth and life; and ultimately let us invest in our hereafter.