To Whom Do I Have to Maintain Kinship Bonds?

Answered by Shaykh Umer Mian

Question

To whom do I have to maintain kinship bonds?

Short Answer

One’s kin (arham in Arabic) with whom it is obligatory to maintain bonds include all of one’s blood relations who are Muslim (however, regarding parents, the obligation remains even if they are non-Muslims). Maintaining kinship bonds includes keeping in touch with them and showing them all types of goodness, to the extent of one’s ability. Achieving excellence (إحسان) in this would be to carry out all of the behaviors described below towards all of one’s kin and do so with sincerity and consistency.

Detailed Answer

The word used for “kin” in Arabic is رَحِم (rahim) and its plural is أَرْحَام (arham). The same word in Arabic is used for the womb—that part of the female body where the fetus develops and from which we all have come. Notably, from the same root we get the words for mercy (رَحْمَة) and two of Allah’s Divine Names, الرحمن (Al-Rahman) and الرحيم (Al-Rahim). One of the wisdoms in this is that kinship bonds established by the womb are one of the greatest causes of mercy on this earth, e.g. the love of parents for their children and vice versa.

An Established Obligation

Maintaining kinship bonds is an obligation upon every Muslim, and this is established by the Quran, Sunna, and consensus (‘ijma) of Islamic scholars throughout the ages. Allah Most High says in the Quran: “But kindred by blood have prior rights against each other in the Book of Allah. Verily Allah is well-acquainted with all things,” [Quran, 8:75]

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), is reported to have said:
“The womb is connected to the ‘Arsh (a magnificent creation of Allah that is above the seven heavens). The womb says: ‘Whoever connects my bonds will be connected by Allah, and whoever cuts off my bonds will be cut off by Allah.’” [Bukhari; Muslim]

The Extent of Kinship

The linguistic origin of the word رَحِم (rahim) helps shed light upon the obligation of keeping up kinship bonds in Islam. One’s kin (arhaam in Arabic) with whom it is obligatory to maintain bonds include all of one’s blood relations who are Muslim. This includes ancestors (parents, grandparents, etc.); descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.); siblings (including half siblings); aunts, uncles, and cousins (both paternal and maternal); and descendants of all of the above. The following groups of people are not considered kin for the purposes of this ruling (even though they may be owed rights due to other rulings): in-laws (i.e. the family of one’s spouse), stepparents and stepchildren, non-Muslim relatives (however, regarding parents, the obligation remains even if they are non-Muslims), relations through suckling (الرضاع), neighbors, etc.

How to Maintain Kinship

Maintaining bonds with one’s kin includes keeping in touch with them (whether by phone, email, or other modern communication means), being kind and gentle with them, helping them as needed, never refusing their requests, and visiting them and giving them gifts when one is able. If one’s kin are already doing these things, one’s reciprocating the behavior is not technically considered “maintaining kinship bonds” (صلة الرحم) in Islam. Rather, it is just reciprocation. “Maintaining kinship bonds” (صلة الرحم) in Islam means to behave this way towards one’s kin when they themselves are not. Also note that maintaining of kinship bonds should be prioritized based on the closeness of the relation, starting with parents, then close blood relations, then more distant blood relations, and so on. Achieving excellence (إحسان) in this would be to carry out all of the behaviors above towards all of one’s kin and do so with sincerity and consistency. This is a lofty goal, and the degrees of righteousness in Islam are endless.

Arabic source texts are provided below.

وَأُولُو الْأَرْحَامِ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلَى بِبَعْضٍ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ (سورة الأنفال75)

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الرَّحِمُ مُعَلَّقَةٌ بِالْعَرْشِ تَقُولُ مَنْ وَصَلَنِي وَصَلَهُ اللَّهُ وَمَنْ قَطَعَنِي قَطَعَهُ اللَّهُ (متفق عليه)

( وَصِلَةُ الرَّحِمِ وَاجِبَةٌ وَلَوْ ) كَانَتْ ( بِسَلَامٍ وَتَحِيَّةٍ وَهَدِيَّةٍ ) وَمُعَاوَنَةٍ وَمُجَالَسَةٍ وَمُكَالَمَةٍ وَتَلَطُّفٍ وَإِحْسَانٍ وَيَزُورُهُمْ غِبًّا لِيَزِيدَ حُبًّا بَلْ يَزُورُ أَقْرِبَاءَهُ كُلَّ جُمُعَةٍ أَوْ شَهْرٍ وَلَا يَرُدُّ حَاجَتَهُمْ لِأَنَّهُ مِنْ الْقَطِيعَةِ فِي الْحَدِيثِ ” { إنَّ اللَّهَ يَصِلُ مَنْ وَصَلَ رَحِمَهُ وَيَقْطَعُ مَنْ قَطَعَهَا } ” وَفِي الْحَدِيثِ ” { صِلَةُ الرَّحِمِ تَزِيدُ فِي الْعُمُرِ } ” وَتَمَامُهُ فِي الدُّرَرِ . (الدر المختار، كتاب الحظر والإباحة)

( قَوْلُهُ وَصِلَةُ الرَّحِمِ وَاجِبَةٌ ) نَقَلَ الْقُرْطُبِيُّ فِي تَفْسِيرِهِ اتِّفَاقَ الْأُمَّةِ عَلَى وُجُوبِ صِلَتِهَا وَحُرْمَةِ قَطْعِهَا لِلْأَدِلَّةِ الْقَطْعِيَّةِ مِنْ الْكِتَابِ وَالسُّنَّةِ عَلَى ذَلِكَ
قَالَ فِي تَبْيِينِ الْمَحَارِمِ : وَاخْتَلَفُوا فِي الرَّحِمِ الَّتِي يَجِبُ صِلَتُهَا قَالَ قَوْمٌ : هِيَ قَرَابَةُ كُلِّ ذِي رَحِمٍ مَحْرَمٍ وَقَالَ آخَرُونَ: كُلُّ قَرِيبٍ مَحْرَمًا كَانَ أَوْ غَيْرَهُ ا هـ وَالثَّانِي ظَاهِرُ إطْلَاقِ الْمَتْنِ قَالَ النَّوَوِيُّ فِي شَرْحِ مُسْلِمٍ : وَهُوَ الصَّوَابُ وَاسْتَدَلَّ عَلَيْهِ بِالْأَحَادِيثِ .
نَعَمْ تَتَفَاوَتُ دَرَجَاتُهَا فَفِي الْوَالِدَيْنِ أَشَدُّ مِنْ الْمَحَارِمِ ، وَفِيهِمْ أَشَدُّ مِنْ بَقِيَّةِ الْأَرْحَامِ وَفِي الْأَحَادِيثِ إشَارَةٌ إلَى ذَلِكَ كَمَا بَيَّنَهُ فِي تَبْيِينِ الْمَحَارِمِ
( قَوْلُهُ وَلَوْ كَانَتْ بِسَلَامٍ إلَخْ ) قَالَ فِي تَبْيِينِ الْمَحَارِمِ : وَإِنْ كَانَ غَائِبًا يَصِلُهُمْ بِالْمَكْتُوبِ إلَيْهِمْ ، فَإِنْ قَدَرَ عَلَى الْمَسِيرِ إلَيْهِمْ كَانَ أَفْضَلَ وَإِنْ كَانَ لَهُ وَالِدَانِ لَا يَكْفِي الْمَكْتُوبُ إنْ أَرَادَا مَجِيئَهُ وَكَذَا إنْ احْتَاجَا إلَى خِدْمَتِهِ ، وَالْأَخُ الْكَبِيرُ كَالْأَبِ بَعْدَهُ وَكَذَا الْجَدُّ وَإِنْ عَلَا وَالْأُخْتُ الْكَبِيرَةُ وَالْخَالَةُ كَالْأُمِّ فِي الصِّلَةِ ، وَقِيلَ الْعَمُّ مِثْلُ الْأَبِ وَمَا عَدَلَ هَؤُلَاءِ تَكْفِي صِلَتُهُمْ بِالْمَكْتُوبِ أَوْ الْهَدِيَّةِ ا هـ .
وَتَمَامُهُ فِيهِ . ثُمَّ اعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لَيْسَ الْمُرَادُ بِصِلَةِ الرَّحِمِ أَنْ تَصِلَهُمْ إذَا وَصَلُوك لِأَنَّ هَذَا مُكَافَأَةٌ بَلْ أَنْ تَصِلَهُمْ وَإِنْ قَطَعُوك فَقَدْ رَوَى الْبُخَارِيُّ وَغَيْرُهُ ” { لَيْسَ الْوَاصِلُ بِالْمُكَافِئِ وَلَكِنَّ الْوَاصِلَ الَّذِي إذَا قُطِعَتْ رَحِمُهُ وَصَلَهَا } ” (رد المحتار، كتاب الحظر والإباحة)

ولا تجب صلة رحم غير الوالدين عند اختلاف الدين وتجب صلة رحم الوالدين مع اختلاف الدين بدليل أنه يجوز للمسلم أن يبتدئ بقتل أخيه الحربي ولا يجوز له أن يبتدئ بقتل أبيه الحربي وقد قال سبحانه في الوالدين الكافرين { وصاحبهما في الدنيا معروفا } ولم يرد مثله في غير الوالدين (بدائع الصنائع، كتاب النفقة، فصل في شرائط وجوب النفقة)

Wassalam,
[Shaykh] Umer Mian