What a terrible life to live for yourself only! What a terrible behavior to care only about your goals, worry only about your problems, know only those who benefit you, and avoid those whom you have no materialistic advantage in befriending!

Islam is very adamant that every Muslim learns to care about others and their rights. The people that one should take care of the most, after one’s parents, are the relatives. In the hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is saying:

“Those of you who believe in God and the hereafter should be kind to their relatives.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim, 26)

and: “Those of you who would like to have more providence and longer lives should be kind to their relatives.”(Al-Bukhari, 5985 & Muslim, 2557 a)

Abu Dharr Al-Ghafari, one of the Prophet’s companions, narrated the following words of wisdom:

“My close friend, peace be upon him, advised me to do good deeds. He advised me not to look to those who are wealthier than me and to look to those who are poorer than me. He advised me to love the poor and be close to them.

He advised me to be kind to my relatives even if they are not kind to me. He advised me to disregard people’s blame to me when I do something for the sake of God. He advised me to say the truth even if it is bitter. And he advised me to repeat, ‘there is no power and no strength except by God,’ because it is a treasure from paradise.”

Relatives are not the same. Some of them are immoral and evil and some are friendly, kind and nice. Abu Hurayrah said:

“A man said: ‘O Messenger of God! I have relatives whom I am kind to, but they are mean to me. I treat them good but they treat me terrible. I forgive them but they always blame me.’

The Prophet said:

“If what you are saying is true, then as if they are swallowing hot carbon dust. God is taking your side as long as you are treating them good.’’ (Muslim, 648)

Arabs used to be proud about bearing with their evil relatives, never hating them, and always helping them, regardless of what they do.

But the circle of relatives in Islam is much wider than what one would think. It goes beyond uncles, cousins, and first and second-degree relatives to encompass many others! Basically, Islam considers all human beings brothers and sisters who came from a single couple. God says:

{O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women; – reverence God, through whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you): for God ever watches over you.} (4: 1)

Whether they like it or not, people are all brothers and sisters, coming from the same roots, and have the same blood running in their veins. Why do they, then, boycott, kill, and repulse each other? Humans, all over history, were divided along racial ethnicities. National differences are still causing today’s Children of Adam to be merciless with each other!

Some people say, sometimes loudly and other times secretly, that people who live in the northern part of the world, in general, are ‘better and more developed than others.’ It is a well-known historical fact, however, that ‘northern’ nations never had advantage over the world, except a few centuries ago.

Another source of continuous disputes among the members of the human family is the differences in religion. These differences resulted in bloody and unfair wars that killed many souls and wasted a lot of fortunes. These wars left the world with lots of hate and desires for revenge.

The Quran disapproved what people think are sources of disputes and wars: {O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (49: 13)

In the name of Islam, I tell those who have a different religion than mine:

You have a right on me that I treat you kindly and justly as my brothers and sisters in humanity! The only thing I am asking of you is to leave me practice what I believe in and help others to follow me if they wish.

We believe in the one God and in all the messengers that He sent and we call people for a religion that will unite mankind and guide their struggle in this life.

Anyone who chooses to follow us will be equal to any other Muslim and those who choose to reject our faith should respect our freedom of belief and should not force us to fight them to protect ourselves from their aggression.

Commenting on the verse: {Those who fulfill the promise of God and do not break the covenant, And those who join that which God has bidden to be joined.} (13: 20-1), Abdullah ibn `Abbas said:

“God wants us to believe in all books and messengers, join the missions of all of them, and not to differentiate among them.”

This is the true belief that unites all mankind and recognizes all Prophets’ blood relations and their followers’ brotherhood/sisterhood.

It is easy to recognize the human ambitions when they cut relations and shed blood, even if they are disguised in ‘nationalism’ and ‘ethnicity’ outfits. God said:

{Then, is it to be expected of you, if you were put in authority, that you will do mischief in the land, and break your ties of kith and kin? Such are the men whom God has cursed for He has made them deaf and blinded their sight.} (47: 22-3)

The following hadith has two interpretations, according to the Arabic language scholars.

When God created His creations, “Rahim” (kinship) said, ‘I seek refuge from you from being abandoned.’

God said, ‘Would you be pleased if I be kind to those who are kind to you and abandon those who abandon you?’ It said, ‘Yes.’ God said, ‘I will do that.’

And this is the meaning of the verse: {Then, is it to be expected of you, if you were put in authority, that you will do mischief in the land, and break your ties of kith and kin? Such are the men whom God has cursed for He has made them deaf and blinded their sight.} ” (Al-Bukhari, 7502)

Judge Abu Fadl `Eyad, a Muslim scholar, said:

“Rahim, which we fulfill or abandon, is not an object. It is a meaning, just like knowledge, justice, and mercy, etc. It is a connection among people since the time when they were all in their great grandmother’s womb. And since meanings cannot speak, how can the hadith be interpreted? One interpretation says that it is an Arabic metaphor that only shows how important kinship is and how big of a sin to abandon one’s relatives. Another interpretation is that an angel spoke for the Rahim…”

Regardless which interpretation is correct, the thing that matters is that being kind to one’s relative is an important section of belief and a great act of worship.

This is a part of a translated book written by Sheikh Al-Ghazali titled “Muslim Women between Backward Traditions and Modern Innovations”. The book was translated by Dr. Jasser Auda.