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How Should I Uphold My Family Ties?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam ‘aleykum.

How should I uphold my family ties? Who does it apply to?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

Keeping up your warm family ties (silat al-rahim) is necessary because of the undue harm and hurt caused otherwise.

Allah Most High says, “Beware of severing the ties of kinship: God is always watching over you.” [4.1] And He Most High says, “Worship God; join nothing with Him. Be good to your parents, to relatives…” [4.36]

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the ties of kinship.’ [Bukhari]

The duty to uphold your family ties remains even in the case that they cut ties with you. The Prophet of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said, “A person who maintains ties of kinship is not someone who only does so with those who maintain ties with him. A person who maintains ties of kinship is someone who restores them when they have been cut off.” [Bukhari]

Who Does it Apply to?

Keeping up your ties applies primarily to your immediate kin (mahrams) [= those you cannot marry], and by extension, to all relatives related by blood.

However, the level of keeping ties with each differs. The parent-child relationship is of greater consequence than the aunt-nephew relationship, and both of those are greater than the relationship between cousins, for example.

As for those you are related to, yet whose irregular interaction with suffices, and both parties aren’t hurt by that, you can deal with them on such a basis and talk to them when necessary, as long as you do not cut ties with them.

How Do you Maintain Ties?

The obligation is minimally fulfilled by saying the salam to them, and can also be reasonably fulfilled by giving gifts, visiting and generally being of service to them when needed.

[`Ala’ al-Din `Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-`Ala’iyya; Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha fi al-Hazr wa al-Ibaha]

And Allah alone knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Is Christmas Haram? Being Muslim in a Non-Muslim Family

Every year, the Is Christmas haram? debates happen full force. Whether you’re a convert to Islam or not, we hope you find the following resources helpful.

Is Christmas Haram? What about Thanksgiving and Other Festivals?

Friendship, Kinship and Family ties

Beliefs & Customs

Death and the Afterlife

 

How Can I Help Non-Practising Family and Friends?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalamu alaykum,

I have friends who I’ve known for almost a decade, who don’t practice unfortunately. I try my best to drag them to Islamic events, talk to them about Islam. This is the same case with my siblings.I try my hardest, but there’s only so much I can do.

What should I do in this situation? Especially when I feel like I’m losing my own imaan by being around people who don’t care about their deen as much.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well.

Priorities

“Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, “When (will come) the Help of Allah?” Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!” [Qur’an, 2:214]

The nature of this dunya is one of trials, and we are often tested by those whom we are nearest to. InshaAllah, successfully navigating this difficulty will help you attain closeness to Allah.

Your priority is learning your fardhul ‘ain (personally obligatory knowledge), in order to ensure that your acts of worship are sound and valid. Lectures and so on move the heart, and do serve a purpose, but it is safest for you to learn your fiqh and aqidah from teachers who are connected to the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace). Seekers Guidance offers courses in Hanafi and Shafi’i Fiqh as well as Aqidah. I strongly recommend that you pick a fiqh class which is closely aligned to what you are already practicing. If your family is from the subcontinent, then Hanafi fiqh would be best. Study Aqidah as well, to solidify your belief.

Prayer

Please strive to pray all of your five daily prayers. Guarding our prayers is of the utmost importance. Do not let them go because all the prayers that we miss must be paid back before we meet Allah. There is something deeply transformative about guarding our prayers no matter how unmotivated we may feel – there is a medicine in salaat which we cannot find in any lecture.

Convincing others

It sounds like you are very tired of trying to persuade others in your family and circle of friends. My advice is for you to stop trying. Focus on improving your own worship. Be the example you want others to follow. Your adult friends and siblings are accountable for their own actions, as you are accountable for yours. If they wish to spend their time pursuing other things, then that is up to them. We cannot change people unless they want to change.

Take comfort in knowing that guidance is ultimately from Allah. The most non-practising sibling/friend you have could be inspired by Allah one night to make his/her taubah, and return wholeheartedly to Him. No amount of haranguing from you could have the same effect. On the contrary, you could drive him/her futher away from the deen, no matter how praiseworthy your intentions.

Gently ask your mother to make dua for her wayward children, instead of relying entirely on you to guide them back. Their state with Allah is not your burden. Your state with Allah is your responsibility. It is natural to be concerned about our family members, but not to the point where you tire yourself out and miss your own prayers.

Good company

“The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows. So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

It is the nature of humans to seek companionship, so choose your companions wisely. Make new friends who inspire you and remind you of Allah and His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

Tahajjud

Seek comfort in the last hour of the night, before the entry of Fajr. Make dua, and stand up for tahajjud prayer. Pour out your concerns to Him, the All Powerful and Most Merciful. You were created for Allah alone, and only He can truly soothe your pain. No matter what your mind may tell you, your heartache and exhaustion will not be relieved when your friends and family start practising the deen. That is a situation you cannot fix by your own hands.

Reconnecting to Allah and submitting to the wisdom of His Decree, however, will soothe your heart, inshaAllah. Part of His Wisdom is the current state your family and friends are in. The wheel is always turning, as Shaykh Nuh Keller has said. None of us know the states we will be in when we meet Allah, but we can prepare by doing our best and by making plentiful dua for a good ending.

I pray that Allah eases your heartache, makes you steadfast on prayer, and guides your loved ones back to Him, when the time is right.

Please refer to the following links:

A reader on missed prayers
Is it disbelief to miss prayers and pray them late?
How Can I Give Islamic Advice to My Family When They Know About My Sinful Past?

Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

What is the Minimum Amount of Relationship I Have to Keep with a Relative I Hate?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: I have a cousin who has always provoked negative feelings in me whenever I found myself around her. The breaking point for me was when she questioned me loudly and openly on a personal matter in a room full of people. My natural response is to cut off all ties with her. How much of a relationship must I maintain with her since she is my blood relative? I only want to do the minimum.
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. I am very sorry to hear about the ill-treatment you have received over the years. What your cousin has and continues to do is unjust and unislamic. Cutting off ties with her, however, is not the way of our deen.
Maintaining family ties
‘A’isha reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “The tie of kinship is suspended to the Throne and says: He who unites me Allah would unite him and he who severed me Allah would sever him.” [Bukhari]
No matter how bad your cousin makes you feel, she is still bound to you by blood. Your responsibility is to look after yourself, while maintaining the bare minimum of contact with her. I would suggest visiting during Ramadan and the two Eids, at the very least. Remember to behave cordially with her. You are responsible for your actions, not hers. Tie your compassion towards her with the highest intention of pleasing Allah, and inshaAllah this struggle will be means of elevating your rank in Jannah.
Assertiveness
The Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “A believer does not allow himself to be stung twice from one (and the same) hole.” [Bukhari]
Islam does not call you to be a doormat. Your dignity as a believer is sacred. Knowing your cousin’s attitude towards you, please practise assertiveness training so you will be better able to stand your ground with her, if/when the need arises. See a counsellor, life coach, or therapist for support. Practise role-playing scenarios with trusted family and friends, so that when the time comes, you will be able to politely and firmly draw boundaries. She will probably be very shocked when you do stand up for yourself for the first time, and the thought of doing so may make you feel nervous. However, the solution to this problem is not avoidance. The solution is upholding family ties, while calling her out on any bad behaviour. Do so with tact and wisdom, of course, such as through speaking to her in private and being frank and non-accusatory e.g. “When you said x, I felt x. I would appreciate it if you would stop. Thank you.”
Perspective
Ustadh Usama Canon said, “Hurt people, hurt people.” Your cousin is most likely hurting in some way, and it is likely that she herself has been bullied. As hard as it might be right now, make dua for her well-being, forgiveness, and ask Allah to remove the hatred and resentment from your heart. Polish your heart with remembrance of Allah. Remove those negative traits, and ask Allah to transform your heart into fertile ground for goodness and compassion. Think of our Beloved Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace), who endured unimaginably unjust treatment – despite all of that, he remained compassionate.
I pray that Allah Most High softens her heart as well as yours, and heals your relationship with your cousin.
Please refer to the following links:
Can We Break Family Ties With Siblings Who Treat Us Badly?
Reader on maintaining family ties
Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

What is the Best Approach to Take in Convert Marriage Issues?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalaamu alaikum.
I converted to Islam over ten years ago. Since I am Indian, there was a lot of backlash and cultural drama within my family. I found a muslim boy who wants to marry me. My family disapproves completely.I am willing to accept my own suffering over my family’s but I hate that this brother must be hurt in the process. I don’t want to break up my family but I don’t want to forgo half my deen because of their prejudice. Please offer your guidance.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and states. I am very sorry to hear about the difficulty you are facing. Trials of the heart are often deeply trying, but they are also a swift means to Allah.
Priorities
Your top priority is always the pleasure of Allah. The pleasure of creation, even our parents, is secondary. In particular, the life which your father wants you to lead is not pleasing to Allah Most High.
Parental guilt
Just as some children use tantrums to get what they want from their parents, some parents use guilt-tripping tactics to get what they want from their children.
Unless Allah wills, your father will not approve of your Islam. Flowing from that, he will not approve of you marrying a Muslim man, and raising Muslim children. You are already very attached to this young man. Even if you do end this relationship, what’s the chance that your father will approve of the next Muslim man you wish to marry? It is likely that he will also reject your next Muslim suitor.
It is unrealistic for you to choose celibacy your entire life, just to keep your father content. This stance could breed resentment in you, especially once he passes away, and you find yourself living a life you are unhappy with. It is healthy and normal to want to get married.
Stay far away from sin
“And do not even go close to Zina! Truly, it is a gross obscenity and an evil path (to go down).” [Quran, 17:32]
I am concerned about the danger of you falling into sin with the young man you are in love with. I sense that you are both already deeply attached to one another. If you were to end your relationship, how would you both cope?
It is possible that you will both suffer from deep heartbreak, and lose your high hopes in Allah. Or, by failing to get married, you could both succumb to base desires and shaytan’s invitation to sin.
Istikhara
Pray istkhara about what the best thing for you to do. Be honest with yourselves, and be realistic about the possible outcomes. If you fear falling into sin with him, and you are content that he is a pious man of good character, then I would advise you to consider marriage.
If you fear falling into sin with him, but know, deep down, that he is not suitable for you, then I advise that you end this relationship before your feelings grow even stronger.
Consequences
If you do choose to get married to him, be prepared for the inevitable fallout – your father’s devastation and the ensuing family drama. But, like all things in life, that phase will pass. The question is whether or not your marriage will be strong enough to withstand that level of stress and rejection.
It is normal and healthy for all newlywed couples to want the blessings of both sides of their families. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, especially given the context of your father’s disapproval.
I suggest that both of you listen to the Successful Islamic Marriage class on SeekersGuidance to help you come to a decision.
Maintaining family ties
Abu Huraira reported that a person said: “Allah’s Messenger, who amongst the people is most deserving of my good treatment? He said: Your mother, again your mother, again your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives according to the order (of nearness).” [Bukhari]
‘A’isha reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “The tie of kinship is suspended to the Throne and says: He who unites me Allah would unite him and he who severed me Allah would sever him.” [Bukhari]
It’s a blessing when converts have families who are open-minded enough to embrace their Muslim child and his/her spouse. It’s a great trial when the non-Muslim family is hostile towards Islam. Regardless, it’s still your responsibility to honour the ties of the womb. Whether or not you choose to marry this young man, strive to always keep in touch with your family, and be that embodiment of the mercy of Islam.
I pray that Allah will soften the hearts of your family members, draw them to Islam, and keep you steadfast and obedient to Allah Most High.
Please refer to the following link:
Marriage Decision: Following One’s Heart
Reader on Istikhara
Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Is it Obligatory to Forgive Others? How to Deal with Abusive Family Members?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Aslamulaykum,
1. Is it obligatory to forgive family and friends for wronging you?
2. Could you please mention some narrations or proofs with some of the main virtues of forgiving someone?
3. When is it better to forgive and when is it better to take revenge?
4. What is the balance between answering parents back and having a discussion/ conversation with them? (is this considered answering back?)
5. What is the maximum amount of breaking a family tie allowed in the Sacred Law? For example if a family member has been hurtful to me can I just only give salaams to them and cut other relation with them?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
(1) Forgiving others is from the noble sunna of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). It is not a condition that others change their ways before you forgive them. You are responsible for your actions only.
(2) Abu Hurayra reported that a man said, “Messenger of Allah, I have some relatives with whom I maintain connections but who cut me off. I am good to them but they are bad to me. I am forbearing with them but they are hasty towards me!” He said, “If it is as you said, it is as if you were feeding them hot ash and you will continue to have a helper from Allah Almighty against them for as long as you act like that.” [Muslim] Abu ‘Abdu’r-Rahman ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported that a man said, “Messenger of Allah, I have some relatives with whom I maintain relations but they cut me off. I am good to them and they are bad to me. I am forbearing to them and they are impatient towards me.” He said, “If you are as you have said, then it is as if you are giving them hot embers to drink. You will continue to have a helper from Allah against them as long as you remain doing that.” [Muslim] Anas said, “I was walking with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he was wearing a Najrani cloak with a thick border. A bedouin came up to him and pulled the cloak violently. I looked at the Prophet’s shoulder and it had been marked by the border of the cloak due to the severity of his pull. Then he said, ‘Muhammad, allot to me some of property of Allah which you have.’ He turned to him and laughed and then ordered a gift to be given to him.” [Agreed upon]
(3) The prophetic example was in forgiving others.
(4) Be gentle with them. You can have a conversation, but don’t be rude or inappropriate.
(5) All that you have described is your test from Allah. Remember Allah, and that He will ask you about the way in which you behaved. Smile things off, forgive and forget, and gain some independence so you are not so reliant upon others. Allah is the one who will lift the trial, so ask Him to relieve you of your distress. Put up with things for His sake.
See: A Time to Build: How Believers Respond To Trials and Tests – Faraz Rabbani Eid Khutba at SeekersHub Toronto and: Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a
And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Should the Decision for Marriage Be Taken Only Considering Somebody’s Caste?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalamualikum.
My parents are searching rishta for me, we like a family but the problem is that we belong to sheikh family and they belong to Ansari.
We like the family but the only problem is their caste and my mother is not at all ready for this alliance. Please help.
Real problem: Should the decision for marriage  be taken only on somebody’s caste?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
I pray this reaches you in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
No, decisions should not simply be made on castes.
Though it could be argued that there are issues of compatibility in this, it is not the be all end all of marriage decisions. What is of greater importance and relevance is whether the spouses share the same outlook ​on life ​and are compatible in terms of people.
Please see: Do I Have to Marry Someone Within My Caste to Please My Family?
And Allah alone gives success.
Wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Should Muslim Converts Break Ties With Non-Muslim Family Members?

Answered by Saira AbuBakr
Question: Recently I read an explanation here about whether to break up ties with relatives or family members in case they are sinful people and the answer was clearly advising no to do so but to keep distance. I would like to ask if this is the same case for a convert? I am a convert and my family members are non-believers. However, even though I always prefer avoiding conflicts and keeping peaceful relation, sometimes their manners, the “culture” or “value-system” they represent and their actions are harmful to my husband’s (who is a born Muslim) and my comfort and I am worried that it can harm our child’s Muslim identity. So are there differences in this matter between a born Muslim family and a converted Muslim who’s parents, sisters/brothers…etc. are not Muslims? Thank you very much. as-Salam alaikum
Answer: walaikum salaam wa RahmatuAllah. JazakiAllahu khairun for your question. May Allah give you the strength to raise spiritually healthy children despite any difficulty, however great it may seem. Know that Allah is Greater (than any tribulation).
Maintaining Ties with One’s Kin
One is required to maintain blood ties, irrespective of the religion of our relatives. The Sahabah (companions of the Messenger of Allah peace and prayers upon him) were all converts and some were subjected to torture by their relatives, including sometimes by their own parents. They bore this patiently. May Allah grant us the strength to do the same, when faced with similar situations.
You may reduce the amount of interaction with your relatives in order to protect your children. Substitute any time not spent with them with gifts (whatever is affordable), phone calls and of course dua (supplication) for them, ideally after every fard (obligatory) prayer.
Focusing on Children’s Islamic Identity
On the other hand, focus on strengthening the identity of your children by regularly taking them to spiritual gatherings, such as: dhikr sessions, classes, socializing with spiritually like minded-people. Don’t worry about them not understanding what they might hear in a class but ensure that they are able to sit for the duration of your attendance without disturbing others. If they are very young, assist them by giving them paper, color pencils, etc. so they may keep busy. The important thing is that the words/presence of the teacher, the spiritual songs (anasheed) and the like will enter their ears and their hearts, as children are like sponges.
In our local halaqahs (circles) I let mothers bring their children. They come with their “busy work”. One of the mothers once excitedly told me that her three-year-old daughter learned some of the etiquettes of dua by simply sitting in our classes and watching us. I too have noticed very blessed changes in some of the children who have attended regularly. If they develop a strong sense of identity, they will grow-up with the ability to interact with all types of people (whenever necessary).
How to View Challenges
View the struggle of challenging relatives as a sign that you need to respond with equal vigor in providing your children with a spiritual environment. If you are not familiar with what is in your local area, ask around. Be persistent. Start something in your home and invite like-minded sisters with children. Begin with a strong intention (for the sake of Allah) and start as soon as Allah sends you (even) one other sister. Avoid argumentation and be consistent in whatever you start. Start small and overlook minor shortcomings in others.
Consistency in One’s Own Spiritual Growth
Also, take the classes you need to take, even if it means taking it online. See what is available on SeekersGuidance. If you have not taken a fiqh (law) class, then do take one and combine it with a class on spirituality. If you email us with what classes you have taken so far, we can better guide you in what to take next.
I know a mother of twins who is very regular in her tahajjud (waking up in the night) ritual, as she once mentioned that when her twins were young, this is the only time she had to review the material from her Islamic classes, recite Qur’an without interruption etc. If the mother (ideally both parents) has/have a strong spiritual identity, the children will follow.
Always Remember
Above all, be consistent in your dua for your children, as a parent’s dua for his/her children is from the duas that Allah the Most High answers.
May He give you the strength to persist on the straight path and may He grant you and your children blessed company.
Saira AbuBakr
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Should I Maintain Ties With Family Who Openly Sin or Shun Them?

Answered by  Ustadh Tariq Abdul-Rasheed
Question: Assalamu alaikum,
I have read and heard in many places that one should love everyone, be merciful with everyone, have good opinion of everyone, and deal in a good way with everyone.
But on the other hand, I have also read in books to avoid bad company. In one book I read that one should stop talking to a person who does not perform salah after being told numerous times because such person is a shaytan. I also read that one cannot say Salam to a fasiq.
Sometimes we can have relatives who openly sin without any shame, including drinking and selling alcohol, not praying, disrespecting parents, etc.  They might even thrust earphones in their ears or start whistling if anyone were to mention religion.
Now I am very confused because I don’t know how to deal with these people.  Since they are close relatives, should I love them, pray for their well being, and call them despite their attempts to avoid me – or should I just shun them totally.
Please clarify my understanding in these matters. JazakaAllah khayr.
Answer: In the name of Allah of the Beneficent the Merciful
Wa laikum salaamu wa rahmatullahi wa barkaatuh,
May Allah (Most High) bless you and grant you increase in iman and good character. Your concern over this issue is a sign of your belief in Allah and compassion and care that He (Most High) has blessed you with. The Prophets and Messengers when through similar trials in maintaining relations and kinship bonds.
Prophetic Trials
“We know that you, [O Muhammad], are saddened by what they say. And indeed, they do not call you untruthful, but it is the verses of Allah that the wrongdoers reject.” [An’am:33]
Amongst the most difficult trials of the Prophets and Messengers (upon them be peace) is maintaining relationships and family ties in face of opposition and rejection from family, friends and nation. We see in the example of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) that his own people rejected him after haven taken him as an advisor and arbitrator and attesting to his trustworthiness.
The Quraysh had outwardly rejected the message of Islam. However, in reality they believed-in and attested to the trustworthiness of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in their hearts. So Allah (Most High) revealed this verse and to console and ease the hurt of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and assure him that what they manifested outwardly was not their inward reality. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was avid to maintain his relationships as he was concerned about Allah’s (Most High) creation and wanted to warn them against eminent punishment if they continued in disbelief.
Understanding What is ‘Fisq’ and Who is a ‘Fasiq’
Fisq (sinning/transgressing) refers to any transgression of the laws and limits of the Shariah. It is a general term that entails transgressions and sins both great and small. The fasiq is the one who has adhered to and acknowledges the laws of the Shariah then transgresses all or some of laws. [Ragib Asfahani, Mufradat]
Fisq (sinning/transgressing) and fasiq (one who sins/transgresses) are also used in the Quran to mean the opposite of Iman because the disbeliever transgresses necessary and clear rational judgments which are easily concluded by people of a sound and rational nature. [Ragib Asfahani, Mufradat]
When the scholars of law use the term ‘fasiq’ they are generally referring to one who flagrantly and willingly disobeys the commands of the Shariah. Because of the open, constant and repetitive sinning of the fasiq he becomes well-known for his sinning.
Muslims generally use the term based on its usage by scholars of law. However we should be careful as its usage in the Quran may vary depending on context and we should not attempt to deduce rulings and apply them to our brothers and sisters based on our own readings of the Quran and Sunnah.
Distinguishing Between Actions and Individuals
One very important distinction to make is that the ruling of Allah (Most High) from halal, haram, mandub etc relates to peoples actions and not to individuals themselves. So, if a Muslim commits a wrongdoing then we should hate the wrong action but not the individual.
This is an important principle as the non-Muslim can become Muslim and the sinful person can become amongst Allah’s (Most High) beloved and close ones. The door of repentance is always open and it is the case that people usually become better after sincere repentance.
Again, we judge actions and not individuals. If we keep this principle in mind as we interact with others then there is no conflict between having care and concern for others and wanting the best for them while maintaining our jealousy over the laws and commands of Allah (Most High) such that if we see wrongdoing it remains detestable to us.
Additionally, by understanding this principle we can prevent ourselves from becoming self-righteous when dealing with people who may be struggling with obedience to their Lord. People who struggle with religion often note that they find it difficult to be around so-called “pious” people because they perceive from them righteous indignation and contempt. Why? Because “pious” people tend to judge people and not actions. They condemn and don’t encourage. So mercy and concern is replaced by contempt and the opportunity to help and assist it lost.
Keeping Good Company
While we should maintain mercy and compassion for others that are known for their sinfulness we should also be keen not to keep close companionship with them. This is not out of arrogance or self-righteousness rather it is out of concern over our own states and the tendency of souls to take on the characteristics of other souls.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “A man is only upon the religion of his close friends. So let one of you look carefully at whom he takes as an intimate friend.” [Ahmad, Hakim]. We shouldn’t maintain intimate company with people that are flagrantly sinful not because we are exceptionally pious and above them rather because of the inherent imitation the comes with close friendship. There is no contradiction between having a genuine care for all, not looking down at others with contempt while at the same being vigilant about whom we take as companions.
Enjoining the Good and Forbidding the Evil
A distinguishing characteristics of the Muslim Ummah is their enjoying of what is right and good and forbidding foulness, evil and harm. Allah (Most High) says in the Holy Quran, “And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.”[Aal `Imran: 104]
This a command of obligation and the scholars agree that it is a communal obligation. If some from amongst the Ummah uphold the responsibility then the remaining community will not be sinful. It is preservation of the Deen of Allah (Most High) and when it is neglected then the entire community is sinful and deserving of Allah (Most High) punishment.
It is related that Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (ra) used to say, “Allah (exalted and glorified) does not punish the general public because of sins committed in private. But rather when foulness and evil are committed openly and is not rebuked then they are deserving of punishment – all of them! [Imam Qazwini, Mukhtasar Shu`ab al-Iman]
Principles of Commanding the Good and Forbidding the Evil
The obligation of Commanding the Good and Forbidding the Evil is established in the Quran, Sunnah and by Consensus of the Scholars. It is a communal obligation which may in some cases become an individual obligation depending on the circumstances. However, there are a number of conditions that must be met in order for the obligation to be present. Among them are the following:
– One must be knowledgeable of the Halal and Haram according to the Shariah otherwise one could be enjoining what is haram and forbidding what is halal.
– One must be certain that by forbidding the evil that it does not lead to a greater evil. In such a case then it is not permissible to do so.
– That there is a high degree of certainty that one’s enjoining or forbidding will actually be of benefit. If not, then there is no obligation to do so. It should also be done with wisdom and sincere concern.
– The evil or sinful action must be manifest and open such that one does not have to resort to spying, sneaking and searching to expose the sin(s) one seeks to forbid. (Spying and searching out the sins of Muslim is forbidden and to be suspicious and inquire into another’s actions without due reason (such for a marriage or witnessing in legal cases) is likewise forbidden.)
– The sin must be one whose forbiddance is unanimously agreed upon or that the consideration of it not being forbidden is extremely weak. (Matters that are differed upon amongst qualified scholars are not the basis of ‘munkar’ and one cannot rebuke another over practicing upon an opinion which is differed upon.)
It is necessary that we consider the previous conditions so that in our attempt to help we don’t actually cause a greater harm. Additionally, it helps us to know when and when-not to engage situations. In regards to issues of high-crimes that require established political authority it is not our place to attempt to “change with our hands” without proper legal authority contrary to what is commonly misunderstood from the hadith.
Family Ties and Kinship Bonds
Finally, the obligation of maintaining family ties cannot be stressed enough. It is sinful to cut-off bonds of kinship or to shun relatives even if they are sinful.
Allah (Most High) says, “Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.” [an-Nisa: 36] The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The one who cuts of blood-ties will not enter Paradise”[Bukhari, Muslim]
In conclusion; as mentioned above we can maintain cordial friendly bonds with relatives who may be openly sinful while letting them know that we don’t approve of their sinful acts. At the same time we should be careful to maintain a true care and concern in our hearts that their state [and ours] improves. In reality this one of the distinctive marks of Prophetic character. In our times people become apathetic and indifferent which is not a healthy state. Going either to the extreme of complete rejection or complete acceptance.
Remember the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The believer is the mirror of his brother. If he sees a fault in him he corrects it.” Though our sins may not be manifest we can relate to weaknesses of the self and in that way we can all relate to struggling with sin. This should elicit empathy rather than arrogance.
I pray this has helped clarify the matter and Allah (Most High) knows best.
Tariq Abdul-Rasheed

Hoarding and Giving Away Others’ Possessions

Answered by Sidi Wasim Shiliwala

Question: If someone in your family has the habit of holding on to things (i.e. hoarding), is it permissible to dispose/donate their things without their permission?

Answer: Walaikum As-salaam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

May Allah reward you for your concern regarding your relative. However, disposing of or donating others’ property without their permission is impermissible. Rather, if you want to help them, you should advise them against this behavior.

Giving Away Others’ Possessions is Impermissible

So long as a person is legally responsible, meaning that they are a sane adult, then they are in complete ownership of all of their possessions. This means that so long as it does not harm or infringe upon the rights of others, they can do with their property as they please. This includes keeping them as well as disposing of them. [al-Majalla]

As such, it is impermissible for someone to dispose of, donate, or sell another person’s property without their explicit permission. Even if they have noble intentions, they still do not have any right over that other person’s property.

Maintaining Family Relations

In addition to being impermissible, you should also consider how this act might affect your relation with that family member. Remember that maintaining ties of kinship is an important duty in Islam, and disposing of a family member’s possessions is an almost certain way to ruin those ties. While you might think that you are helping the family member, that person will think you are stealing from them and destroying their possessions.

Rather, the preferable way to deal with such situations is to provide sincere advice and encouragement to the person. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that this religion is “sincere concern (nasiha).” We should express this prophetic concern first and foremost to our families by encouraging them to live their lives in accordance with the teachings of this religion.

Hoarding is Against the Teachings of Islam

Indeed, it is not proper for Muslims to hoard things, and while you cannot force others to dispose of some of their possessions, you can at least encourage them to do so by reminding them of the Islamic teachings on the matter.

Remind them of Allah’s commandments against hoarding and excess. In the Qur’an, Allah admonishes us against “al-takathur” – the piling up of worldly possessions, which can ill distract us until our demise (102:1-2). Allah also warns against the sin of excess (israf), saying “Do not be excessive, verily He does not like those who commit excess” (6:141).

Remind them also of the timeless advice of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “abstain from the world and Allah will love you” (ibn Majah). Explain to them that if they truly want to keep their possessions, they should give them away, as Allah will reward them multiple times for such donations in the next life.

Remind them that when a goat was sacrificed and given out in charity, the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) how much of it remained. She said that only the shoulder remained, but he (peace be upon him) corrected her: “Everything remains except the shoulder” (Al-Tirmidhi).

The message here is that we will all die and the things we thought we owned will perish. It is only our deeds that will benefit us in the everlasting hereafter, so they are our only true possessions, and are more worthy of our attention and work. Instead of stacking useless pieces of plastic in this world, we should all strive to gather the unlimited treasures of the next. As Allah explains, “Whatever is with you will perish, and whatever is with Allah is everlasting” (16:96).

Sincere Help

With Allah’s help, that person will realize that they should not hoard their possessions, and that they can live comfortably with much less. At this point, you can offer to help them discern what is necessary and what is not, and to help them discard such items. Without this explicit permission, that property is still theirs, and as such cannot be taken from them.

Above all, Islam is here to purify our hearts, minds, and bodies. What takes precedence is curing the underlying problem – in this case, an unhealthy attachment to worldly things – before treating the symptoms. If the hoarding is severe, then you should help that person seek counseling, and that act will be of greater help and reward insha’Allah.

And with Allah comes success.

Baarak Allahu Fikum,
-Wasim

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani