Kinship Rights-I

Since 2014-02-24

In this article, we will discuss a great and noble duty that Allaah The Almighty has made obligatory for spouses. Muslim homes cannot be reformed and love and affection cannot prevail in them unless this duty is perfectly fulfilled in a way that satisfies Allaah.

In this article, we will discuss a great and noble duty that Allaah The Almighty has made obligatory for spouses. Muslim homes cannot be reformed and love and affection cannot prevail in them unless this duty is perfectly fulfilled in a way that satisfies Allaah. Allaah The Almighty instructs His slaves to fear Him and to cherish kinship ties so as to avoid His punishment; He Says (what means): {And fear Allaah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs [kinship]. Indeed Allaah is ever, over you, an Observer.} [Quran 4: 1]
The Arabic word for ‘kin’ is ‘Ar-Rahim’, which also means ‘womb’. If a person maintains kinship ties, Allaah maintains ties with him; and a person who severs them, Allaah severs ties with him, and therefore he experiences loss and evil consequences. We seek refuge with Allaah from this.
It is the duty upon both the husband and the wife towards their parents, in-laws and other relatives. Allaah The Almighty ordains on the believers to fear Him regarding kinship ties. If a husband wishes that Allaah The Almighty would bless his marriage with success and happiness, he is required to be dutiful to his wife's relatives. Likewise, it is obligatory for every wife who truly believes in Allaah The Almighty and the Last Day to fear Him regarding her husband's relatives. It was narrated that the Prophet said: “A person who believes in Allaah and the Last Day, let him maintain his kinship ties.”
In this Hadeeth, the Prophet made maintaining kinship ties a part of faith and belief in Allaah The Almighty. This is because either of the spouses would not maintain their kinship ties unless motivated by faith in Allaah. The Prophet fulfilled this right - the right of kinship ties, in the best and most perfect way. He would maintain kinship ties with his wives' relatives. It is reported that once the Prophet was sitting with the Mother of the Believers, ‘Aa’ishah and he heard the voice of a woman seeking permission to enter. The Prophet suddenly stood up. An old woman came in and he remarked: “This is Haalah. It is Haalah, Khadeejah's sister.” She reminded him of his relationship with his beloved late wife.
A husband is required to be dutiful to his wife's family and he would not be able to maintain that right unless he has a serene heart, is able to fulfill his promise and has a sense of justice.
Duty towards one’s father-in-law:
The first thing that a husband should remember is his duty towards his father in-law, because his father in-law is the one who chose him from among all people to be his daughter's husband who would protect her, be generous to her, and honor her. A person who is most similar to a father is his daughter. It is even said that the eldest daughter takes after her father. It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah said, “Faatimah once came to the Messenger of Allaah . By Allaah, she walked in the same way as the Messenger of Allaah did.” [Muslim]
When a father chooses his daughter's husband and approves their marriage, this expresses his good intention and faith. In return, a husband is required to be dutiful and grateful to him. There was a wise man whose wife kept on harming him, yet, he never complained to her father. When her harm increased and she became extremely terrible, he was advised to complain to her father. He argued, “Her father married her off to me and honored me. Therefore, I would be too ashamed of myself to go to him and complain.”
A magnanimous, noble man values the kindness that he received from his father-in-law and, further, he returns it in a similar, and even better way, and this is the custom of the noble. When a man remembers that his wife's family chose him, he meets this with the best reward and gratitude; and this is a part of faith as the Prophet said: “Gratitude is from faith.” [At-Tabaraani]
Moreover, a husband is required to fear Allaah The Almighty regarding the rights of his wife's parents; he has to maintain kinship ties with them and be dutiful to them. Maintaining kinship ties with the wife's family is obligatory upon the husband, just as it is obligatory on the wife. Therefore, he should visit them, show love and affection, and make his visit a confirmation of the ties between him and them. Allaah The Almighty will be pleased with that person and will bless his marital life. The wife will be delighted when she sees her family being honored by her husband and this will have a positive effect on how she treats his family.
A husband should follow Sharee'ah-approved etiquettes. So, when he visits them, he has to choose convenient times; he has to ask for permission; and he has to observe customary manners while being there. His visits should not be too long and should not violate the privacy of each person in the house. He should adopt decent, modest manner that reflect his piety, because this is the conduct that pleases Allaah The Almighty. A man should show utmost respect to his father-in-law, just as he does with his own father. Also, he has to show gratitude to him. A man has to smile to his father-in-law. In most cases, the wife's father should be treated as one’s own father, either due to old age or due to his great right, for he is the grandfather of the man's children. Therefore, a husband should honor and respect him. A man should observe decency regarding what he says in front of his father-in-law. It was narrated that ‘Ali said, “I would frequently discharge pre-ejaculatory fluid, and therefore I would frequently perform Ghusl [ritual bathing] such that [the skin on] my back became cracked. However, I was too shy to ask the Messenger of Allaah due to his daughter's relation with me. Therefore, I requested Al-Miqdaad to ask him for me” [Muslim]
‘Ali was too shy to ask the Messenger of Allaah about what afflicted him, even though it was a necessity and the matter was related to religion and worship. This tells us that a man has to observe modesty when speaking to his father-in-law.
Sadly, some men are not ashamed to say embarrassing things in front of the father-in-law, which is considered a form of showing disrespect to him. Some scholars judge such behavior to be a form of verbal abuse to the father-in-law. Such etiquettes should be observed especially with one’s father-in-law.
It is the right of the father-in-law that his son-in-law should support him in times of need. Scholars say that the command to maintain kinship ties, be dutiful to them and frequently visit relatives is not aimless. Rather, there are underlying meanings and purposes including checking on their condition and supporting them as much as possible. If one's kindred are in need of moral support, as when they are in need of someone to console them because of a disaster or calamity, one should be there for them. The husband should visit his sick relatives, relieve distressed relatives, and advise them to endure their calamity patiently and wait for the reward from Allaah The Almighty. The husband should do all he can to support his relatives during hard times.
The husband's most perfect behavior is to be the first to support his wife's relatives during times of affliction. The husband's most perfect behavior is to be the first to support his wife's father in times of need. A husband should do that because he realizes that this pleases Allaah The Almighty and knows that when he maintains kinship ties with his father-in-law, Allaah The Almighty maintains ties with him, and when he gives, Allaah The Almighty makes it up for him in his religion, in his life’s affairs and in his Hereafter.
Bad relatives:
It is better for the husband to seek perfection and exert his best effort in sacrificing and acting nobly which indicates the nobility of his character, purity of soul, willingness to do good as well as his wishing well for his wife's family. When he fulfills these rights and his wife's family are grateful to him as he expected, he is required to praise Allaah The Almighty and thank Him for this. However, if they show ingratitude, let him not forget that Allaah The Exalted Says (what means): {We will not allow to be lost the reward of anyone who did well in deeds.} [Quran 18: 30]
The most perfect reward will be attained when the husband is afflicted with kindred with whom he maintains kinship ties and they sever them. His reward will be the most perfect if he is generous to them and they are stingy to him; and if he esteems them and they undervalue him. In such a case, according to the Hadeeth of the Prophet it will be as if he feeds them ashes [Muslim]. Charity, kindness and dutifulness to one's relatives will be greatly rewarded when they are met by enmity, evil and harm.
Allaah The Almighty rewards abundantly those who maintain ties with unkind relatives. A person who maintains relations with relatives who are unkind to him does so only for the sake of Allaah The Almighty. A husband should know that any good deed he does is for the sake of Allaah The Almighty, not for the sake of anyone else. He should also know that it is his duty to support his in-laws. Therefore, if the in-laws neglect the husband’s right, he should not neglect theirs. It was narrated that the Messenger of Allaah said: “Pay back the trust to him who entrusted it to you, and do not betray him who betrays you.” [Ahmad].

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