Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan
Question: Assalam alaykum,
When is something considered cutting ties as opposed to avoiding company of people who may either cause you to waste time in frivolous talk or may lead to sin such as backbiting?
Answer: Wa alaykum salam
Thank you for your question
There are two important considerations regarding your question. The types of ties one may have and what constitutes maintaining ties.
Types of ties:
Muslims are encouraged to maintain good ties with all. However, the emphasis of maintaining ties differ from person to person. Keeping ties of kinship, by way of example, is compulsory; while extrafamilial ties do not share the same ruling.
What constitutes keeping ties:
Imam al-Nawawi defined maintaining ties as, “showing kindness to relatives according to your condition and there’s. This could be through financial support; offering your services; and at times by visiting or greeting and so forth.” [Sharh Sahih Muslim]
Ibn Hajar explained it as, “the comprehensive meaning (of joining ties) is to offer all possible good and removing all possible harm. If however, they are disbelievers (apostates) or wrong doers, then severing ties with them for the sake of Allah, is the (prescribed) form of joining ties.” [Fath al-Bari]
Avoiding the company of someone, family or other, does not constitute severing ties, as long as you are there to assist when assistance is required, and that you try visiting once in a while. In addition, avoiding the company of someone that may be the cause that you become sinful, is definitely encouraged.
However, given the sad state of the ummah, this may require one to go in seclusion which is not practical. What would be better for you, is to develop tactics when interacting with people. By way of example, if someone was to speak ill of another and you are able to state that this is sinful then do so. If you cannot, then try changing the topic. If you unable to do that as well, then excuse yourself, politely, and walk away. I’ve noticed that when people realize that you do not want to hear backbiting, they refrain from doing so when you are in their company.
May Allah protect us from all actions that are displeasing to him. May He guide us and make us a means for the guidance of others, amin.
And Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan
Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.