Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
My family thinks I am extreme because I only say salam and talk to them when there is a need. I believe we have to help them when they are not doing well financially or give them gifts through my mother to maintain ties.
How should I maintain ties with first cousins and in-laws?
Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for your kindness and firmness with what Allah has commanded.
It is true that one must maintain ties of kinship with anyone who is a mahram, but this is not necessary non-mahram. When you are dealing with cousins and brothers-in-law, you should speak to them only when there is a need. However, it is permissible to have some cordial conversation, so they don’t feel hurt or upset. As time goes on, they will warm to how you are and accept it.
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Giving gifts to a non-mahram is not appropriate in Islam if the gift is directly from you to him. However, if you are asking your mother to say it is from her, and she is mahram to them, then it is permissible. This drive that you have to give gifts to them is commendable, and it is a charity.
However, I feel that you are putting too much focus on them when you can be strengthening ties with the mahram men in your life, or with the women of those families. Giving gifts to them through your mother can still cause an unhealthy attachment to these men. This is why I advise against it.
Instead, give gifts to mahram or women. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), said, “Give gifts to one another, for (giving) gifts gently extracts resentment and ill-will.” [al-Bazzar]
Helping relatives when they are in a tough financial situation is praiseworthy and there is more reward in helping people close to one than strangers. There is nothing wrong with this. Give them money and forget about it as the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) told us this: “Seven are (the persons) whom Allah will give Shade of His Throne on the Day when there would be no shade other than His Throne’s Shade: A just ruler; a youth who grew up worshipping Allah; a man whose heart is attached to mosques; two persons who love and meet each other and depart from each other for the sake of Allah; a man whom an extremely beautiful woman seduces (for illicit relation), but he (rejects this offer by saying): ‘I fear Allah’; a man who gives in charity and conceals it (to such an extent) that the left hand does not know what the right has given; and a person who remembers Allah in solitude and his eyes well up.” [Bukhari; Muslim]
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.