UNIT TWELVE – SILA AR-RAHM (Observing Ties of Kinship)

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Abu Hurayra said: “A man came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and asked, ‘Messenger of Allah, what person is the most entitled to the best of my company?’ He answered, ‘Your mother.’ He asked, ‘Then whom?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ He asked, ‘Then whom?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ He asked, ‘Then whom?’ He said, ‘Your father.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Adab, 2; Sahih Muslim, Birr, 1. See also: Sunan ibn Majah, Wasaya, 4; Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 120; Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Birr, 1).

 

 NARRATOR

Abu Hurayra

1. His name is Abdu’r-Rahman ibn Sakhr. During the Age of Ignorance, his name was Abd ash-Shams (Servant of the Sun). The Messenger of Allah named him Abdu’r-Rahman (and according to other narrations, Abdullah or others). He himself explained why he was given the nickname Abu Hurayra: “I had found a cat and used to carry it with me. For this reason, I came to be known as Abu Hurayra (literally meaning, ‘Father of Kitten’).” 2. He became Muslim during the Battle of Khaybar, coming to Medina from Yemen (629 CE). 3. He was one of the leading figures of the Suffa Companions. 4. He possessed a strong memory and great intelligence. 5. He is distinguished among the Companions as having greatest command of and narrating the most hadith. He has narrated 5,374 hadiths. 6. He is distinguished in hadith narration. 7. Abu Hurayra passed away in Medina (676 CE), aged seventy-eight years.

 

EXPLANATION

Allah the Almighty has emphasized kindness to parents and observing the ties of kinship in various sections of the Qur’an and has warned human beings in this regard. Moreover, at times even placing the rights of parents above all else, He has enumerated it immediately after commanding human beings not to associate partners with Him.

And (as the essential basis of contentment in individual, family and social life,) worship Allah and do not associate anything as a partner with Him; and do good to your parents in the best way possible, and to the relatives, orphans, the destitute, the neighbor who is near (in kinship, location, faith), the neighbor who is distant (in kinship and faith), the companion by your side (on the way, in the family, in the workplace, etc.), the wayfarer, and those who are in your service. (an-Nisa 4:36)

In due reverence for Allah, keep from disobedience to Him in Whose Name you make demands of one another, and (duly observe) the rights of the wombs (i.e. of kinship, thus observing piety in your relations with Allah and with human beings). (an-Nisa 4:1)

Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him alone, and treat parents with the best of kindness. Should one of them, or both, attain old age in your lifetime, do not say “Ugh!” to them (as an indication of complaint or impatience), nor push them away, and always address them in gracious words. Lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy, and say: “My Lord, have mercy on them even as they cared for me in childhood.” (al-Isra 17:23-24)

1. Obedience to parents is an important duty to which Allah gives great weight and which is second only to belief in His Unity, such that He exhorts human beings in this immediately after decreeing that they worship none but Him. It is inconceivable for those who are not careful in observing the rights of their parents, who have favored them with innumerable kindness, to duly observe the rights of others. The Messenger of Allah states that the person most deserving of the best treatment and conduct is the mother, to such an extent that they are three times more deserving of such benevolence than the father. This is because, compared to the father, the mother assumes the three added responsibilities of carrying the child for nine months during pregnancy, giving birth, and nursing them, among other arduous duties.

2. Again, as reported by Abu Hurayra, the Messenger of Allah said: “What a loss for him! What a loss for him! What a loss for him!” Someone asked: ‘Who, O Allah’s Messenger?’ He replied: ‘He whose parents reach old age, either one or both of them, but he does not enter Paradise.’” (Sahih Muslim, Birr 9, 10). Notwithstanding the age of their parents, a child is obligated to fulfill their duties towards them. They may be wealthy and not be in need of the financial assistance of their children. They may even have personal carers or employees attending to their daily chores. What falls upon the child in such a circumstance is to please them and to fulfill whatever needs they may have. Money is not everything. An affectionate glance, a heartfelt gesture, and a loving embrace are not things that can be bought with money.

3. Abu Hurayra again reports that Allah’s Messenger said: “A child cannot repay his father unless he finds him as a slave and the buys him and sets him free.” (Sahih Muslim, Itk, 25. See also: Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 120; Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Birr, 8; Sunan ibn Majah, Adab, 1).

4. The rights of parents over their children can be categorized as follows:

a) Rights Pertaining to the Body

If need be, we should carry our parents on our back. Upon seeing a man with a burden on his back during his circumambulation of the Ka’ba, Hasan al-Basri asked him why he performed this worship with a burden upon his back. The man replied, “This is not a burden, but is my father. I brought him here from Damascus and circumambulated the Ka’ba seven times with him. He taught me my religion and my belief. He raised me with an Islamic morality; his rights upon me are great.” Hasan al-Basri responded, “If you were to carry him on your back until the Last Day, your labor would go to waste in the event of your breaking his heart only once. Similarly, if you please him even once, it would be equivalent to this much labor.”

All the favors and spiritual degrees that Uways al-Qarani attained are due to his kindness to his mother. Anas ibn Malik relates: “During the time of Allah’s Messenger, there was a young man by the name of Alqama. He was very pious, spending his time in Prayer and fasting. He then fell very ill and, at the subsequent approach of death, became speechless. Being informed of this situation, the Messenger of Allah sent Ali and Ammar ibn Yasir to him. Despite their prompting Alqama to recite the Declaration of Faith, he was unable to do so. When Bilal al-Habashi informed the Prophet of the young man’s predicament, Allah’s Messenger asked, ‘Are either of his parents alive?’

‘O Messenger of Allah, his mother is alive, but she is very aged,’ he was told.

The Prophet then wished to speak with her. When she arrived, he asked her about her son, and she replied: ‘O Messenger of Allah, Alqama is very pious. He is always engaged in worship, but I am displeased with him, as he holds the approval of his wife above mine.’ Allah’s Messenger said, ‘Your displeasure has prevented Alqama’s tongue from pronouncing the Declaration of Faith. Forgive him, so that he may speak.’ When she refused, Allah’s Messenger turned to Bilal and said, ‘Bilal, call for my Companions to go out and gather firewood.’ Upon hearing this, she asked, ‘Messenger of Allah, what do you plan to do with this? Will my child be burnt in the fire? How am I to bear this?’ Allah’s Messenger said, ‘The flames of the Fire are more severe and long-lasting. If you want Allah to forgive him, be reconciled to him. His Prayer, fasting, and spending in charity are of no benefit to Alqama so long as you are displeased with him.’ When the elderly woman heard these words, she exclaimed, ‘I call upon Allah and His angels and the Muslims who are present to be my witness that I have forgiven Alqama.’ She then went to her son and heard his voice. He pronounced the Declaration of Faith with ease and passed away that same day. After his burial, Allah’s Messenger addressed his Companions saying, ‘The curse of Allah and the angels is upon the man who favors his wife over his mother.’”

b) Rights Pertaining to the Tongue

1. We must not even say “Ugh” to our parents. 2. Not raising one’s voice when speaking with them. 3. Refraining from excessive speech or exceeding the bounds of propriety while in their presence. 4. Not favoring one’s wife over them. 5. Not calling them by their names or interrupting them as they speak. 6. Avoiding the use of directives such as “Do” or “Don’t”, instead asking politely. 7. Obtaining their blessing.

c) Rights Pertaining to the Heart

1. Having mercy on them, being compassionate towards them. It is stated in a hadith: “Those who show no mercy will be shown no mercy.” (Sahih Muslim) 2. Love. One must make one’s parents feel loved at all times. Another hadith states: “Kissing the feet of one’s mother is like kissing the threshold of the doorway to Paradise.” (Shir’a) 3. Sharing their happiness. One must echo their joy when they are pleased with something. 4. Sharing their sorrow or pain. If they are upset with something, one must strive to convey one’s care and concern. 5. Being pleased with them. One must seek to attain their pleasure in every possible way.

d) Rights Pertaining to Wealth and Property

1. Preferring one’s parents to oneself in dress and eating and drinking. 2. Visiting them if they are at a distance: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let them maintain the bonds of kinship.” (Sahih al- Bukhari) 3. Eating together. 4. Inquiring after their needs and wants and fulfilling these. 5. Cleaning their homes, undertaking any maintenance required such as painting or other repairs. 6. Helping them financially. They may be in need of monetary support but may be unable to express this. 7. Spending freely on them. It is declared in the Qur’an: “Whatever you spend of your wealth is for (your) parents and the near relatives, and (needy) orphans, the destitute, and the wayfarer” (al-Baqarah 2:215). To a person who asked on whom he was to spend, Allah’s Messenger said, “Start with your own self and spend it on yourself, and if anything is left, it should be spent on your family, and if anything is left (after meeting the needs of the family) it should be spent on relatives, and if anything is left from the family, it should be spent like this, like this.” And he was saying: “In front of you, on your right and on your left.” 8. Inviting them over to share in a meal. This is something that they desire but perhaps cannot articulate. 9. Being preoccupied with their medical treatment when they fall ill and purchasing their medication. One must strive to care for them themselves instead of hiring a carer to attend to them.

e) Rights after Their Death

1. Making haste with regard to their burial. 2. Washing them in accordance with the requirements of the Sunnah. One must ensure that the individuals washing them are comprehensively knowledgeable about and skilled in this task. 3. Shrouding them in accordance with the Prophetic practice. 4. Obtaining their shroud through their lawful earnings. 5. Always entreating Allah for their forgiveness. 6. Personally placing them in the soil. 7. Performing a helpful service to those who dig the grave and workers at the cemetery. 8. Burying them among good and righteous people. 9. Giving in charity by their grave. 10. Supplicating at their graveside. 11. Paying their debts. 12. To recite the talkin, or “prompting,” at the time of burial, instructing the deceased in the essentials of belief as to how to answer the interrogative angels. It is stated in a hadith: “When one of you dies and you have settled the earth over him, let one of you stand at the head of his grave and then say: ‘O So-and-so, son of So-and-so [name of the mother]!’ For he will hear him even if he does not reply. Then let him say a second time: ‘O So-and-so, son of So-and-so [name of the mother]!’ Whereupon he will sit up (in his grave). Then let him say: ‘O So-and-so, son of So-and-so [name of the mother]!’ At this the deceased will say: ‘Instruct me, and may Allah grant you mercy!’ Even if you cannot hear it. Then let him say: ‘Remember the state in which you left this world, which is your witnessing that there is no deity except Allah, and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger; that you are pleased with Allah as your Lord, Islam as your religion, Muhammad as your Prophet, and the Qur’an as your book.’” (Daylami) 13. Carrying out their last will and testament. If their request contravenes the religion, it is not fulfilled. 14. Entreating Allah in their supplications after the Prayer and conveying the spiritual rewards to their spirits. A hadith states: “If a person is undutiful to their parents but prays for their forgiveness and deliverance after their death, Allah will record them among those dutiful to their parents.” (Ibn Abi ad-Dunya) 15. Fasting on their behalf. It is again stated in hadith: “No one should offer a Prayer or observe a Fast on behalf of another; however, they can feed (the needy) instead.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i) Someone came to the Prophet and asked, “O Messenger of Allah, my parents have died; is there any act left with which I may be dutiful to them?” Allah’s Messenger said, “There are four such things: supplication and asking for their forgiveness, fulfilling their promises, honoring their friends, and maintaining good relations with those of your relatives with whom your kinship is established only through them.” (Hakim) 16. Performing the Pilgrimage and sending them the rewards therein. According to the majority of scholars, undertaking the Pilgrimage on behalf of one’s parents is permissible. A hadith states: “Whoever performs the Pilgrimage on behalf of his deceased parents, that Pilgrimage is accepted from both himself and his parents, and the souls of his parents are given the glad tidings of such.” (Dar al-Qutni) 17. Giving in charity on their behalf. As stated in a hadith: “Why should one who gives in charity not convey its reward to the spirit of their deceased parents when both will be rewarded without the reward of the sender not being lessened in the slightest.” (Tabarani) 18. Visiting their graves and reciting the Qur’an: “One who visits the grave of one or both of his parents sincerely with the hope of forgiveness, will receive the reward equivalent to that of a Pilgrimage, and one who visits their graves often, will have angels visiting his grave (after he passes away).” (Hakim) 19. Visiting their graves on Fridays: “Whoever visits the grave of his parents, both or either of them, every Friday, Allah will forgive all of his sins and include him amongst those who are dutiful to their parents.” (Sunan at-Tirmidhi) 20. Honoring their friends. It is stated in a hadith, “The finest act of goodness is that a person should treat kindly the loved ones of his father.” (Sahih Muslim) 21. Giving sadaqa al-fitr (the compulsory charity paid after the month of Ramadan) in their name, for the rewards to be bestowed upon them. 22. Offering a sacrifice on their behalf during the Festival of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha). 23. Preparing their favorite foods and distributing them to the needy and, as such, pleasing their spirits. 24. Not speaking of their faults: “Speak well of the dead; do not mention their shortcomings.” (Sunan at-Tirmidhi).

 

LESSONS FROM THE HADITH

1. One must visit one’s parents and relatives, inquire after their welfare and make them happy. 2. One must assist those who are in difficulty or need. 3. Ties must never be severed with one’s relatives. 4. One who forsakes their relatives must not forget that they will be deprived of Divine Mercy and compassion. 5. The person most deserving of goodness and benevolence is the mother. 6. The person most worthy of honor, goodness, and obedience after the mother is the father.

 

EVALUATION

1. What is Sila al-Rahm?

2. Who is person whom the Prophet declared is worthy of the best of company?

3. What is Abu Hurayra’s actual name?

4. Relate one incident demonstrating Abu Hurayra’s competence in hadith narration?

5. “Your Lord has decreed that you ……… none but Him alone, and treat parents with the best of kindness. Should one of them, or both, attain old age in your lifetime, do not say “………!” to them, nor push them away, and always address them in ……… words.”

6. “What a loss for him! What a loss for him! What a loss for him! Whose ……… reach old age, either one or both of them, but he does not enter ……… .”

7. Why was the young Companion Alqama tongue-tied?

8. “Those who show no ……… will be ……… no mercy.”

9. “Kissing the feet of one’s ……… is like kissing the threshold of the doorway to Paradise.”

10. “The finest act of ……… is that a person should treat kindly the loved ones of his ……… .”

 

 

Tekines, Ayhan. “An Introduction to Hadith” Tughra Books Press. January 2013.