Loyalty and Fraternity

One’s etiquette in social situations is the key foundation to having strong relationships with others. This article is the sixteenth in a series taken from the On Demand Course: Discussion on Sulami’s Adab of Keeping Company.

Be loyal to your friends and family. Be there for them etc. Do constant prayer for your friends and family who have passed away, not just in general, but by name. Supplicate specifically for people. 

In some cultures, the scholars used to suggest making visiting their graves a seasonal thing. They differ if this is meritorious to do when it is Eid time or not. 

There are four seasons of the year, so you plan out. Even once a year. Strive to visit where friends, family, and scholars are buried. 

If someone passed away and you know some of their faults. Guard their faults. We all have faults.

The Prophet’s Example

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to mention our mother Khadija with good after her death. Our mother Aisha said, “I felt jealous of no one like I felt jealous of Khadija,” because of how much the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) would mention her. 

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) would send gifts to the friends of our mother Khadija, to her family members. He (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to honor the family of his wet nurse Halima al-Sa‘diya.

It was reported that once a sister through nursing, a daughter of Halima Sa‘diya, came to Medina and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) realized that it was her, so he took off his cloak, and put it on the ground for her. 

If someone is looking for summer work for example, or you know somebody who is hiring, give a reference or advice. Make yourself available for them.

Mend and Maintain Relations

It is sinful to cut relations, particularly family ties or even friendship ties. It is like relations are a living entity, and breaking a relationship is as if you ran away from the relationship. 

Relations are a bond. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) forbade the believer to abandon their fellow believer. 

It applies not only to a believer but to friends in general. The right thing to do is to maintain relations, even if it be a little bit. It is not ideal that relations go cold. The Sunnah is to maintain, even if it be on an annual basis such as Eid. Reach out to people in a meaningful way.

Sending the same generic thing to everybody is not a meaningful point of contact. 

Not maintaining ties actively with your wider circle of friends is not ideal. Cutting them off such as after a negative encounter is sinful. If you did cut them off, then mend it. 

The one who first takes the first steps to mend the relationship has the greater reward.

The Shaver

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reportedly said: “The best of faith is mending broken relations.” And he said, (Allah bless him and give him peace), “Breaking relations, that is the shaver.” “I’m not saying that it shaves hair. It shaves away religion.” 

Shaves religion means it reduces religion in the person. Religion is good character. By becoming increasingly alone, your religion becomes fragile. This is odious to Allah at many levels. Do not cut off relations. Realize the sinfulness of breaking relations and take the means to mend them.

Think about the good qualities of your friends and relatives. Remember the good times. Do it for the sake of Allah. 

One of the simplest ways is to send a gift. Food always works. Take the means to mend.

Right and Responsibility

Sometimes there might be antagonistic relationships with, you know, in-laws for example. You have a responsibility not to harm others. You also have a right not to be harmed and a responsibility not to harm yourself.

Sometimes one can distance oneself. That is the difference between cutting relations and not actively maintaining relations. Sometimes, you may need to step back a little bit, but you should have the intention that, “In a good way, I would like to bring this relationship to a healthy and sustainable state.” 

At times it is a matter of almost coaching people in their relations. If there is a relative who has caused harm to the family, just send them an Eid message, for example. 

There may be some people that things have been so bad that all you can do for some time is just pray for them. But, have the intention to maintain ties, in a good manner.

Someone who has been abused by someone, you do not have to maintain active ties during that situation. Pray for their good and healing, but you keep your distance. It always helps to consult, “How do I move forward in these complicated relationships?” You do not have to deal with it on your own. 

It may be the case that you need to keep a certain distance, sometimes painfully, even from a parent. Appreciate also the good that they did. But, learn through counseling and seeking advice on how to maintain the relationship healthily and sustainably.

Breaking Harmful Ties

As for the case where someone was not previously religious, and they have friends from the old days that they used to go partying with, now you do not have to maintain harmful ties.

Just as you do not do what is harmful, you do not accept what is harmful. You have a right there not to maintain the relations, but, you should not cut them off. You can let those relationships go cold. 

It can be good to make a strong change in your circle of friends. There are certain friendships that you are actively maintaining, but you can rebuild relationships gradually. 

Some relations may be harmful. A person may unwittingly be part of a cult and does not want to be roped back in. You do not have to maintain ties with that. 

There could be friends who you find yourself being in harmful situations with. Their company may lead you to harm. Better than cutting it off is to not actively maintain it.

Not all relationships are black and white. There could be good in the relationship, but there could be harm. You have to learn how to frame it healthily. That is not abandoning your friend. It is that you do not want to be in a situation of harm. 

Consider the sick person. There may be some food while they are sick that they cannot have. But, when they are healthy again, they can go back to it. One may need to distance oneself for a short period.

A Time and a Place

 Abandoning loved ones is impermissible. This causes a lot of harm. It is part of humility too, that if a relationship was harmed, at the very least make the intention to mend it. Do your best. When the opportunity does present itself, take the means to return it to good. 

The most important thing in situations of abuse is not to deal with it on your own.  In that case, you are allowed to cut relations but there can be a time when you may be able to rebuild the relationship once you are healed. At the right time, in the right way, and to the right extent. 

The strong person is the one who takes the means. Always consult. That is the sunna of our religion and a sunna of smart living. Consult those worthy of consulting about everything.