BONDING WITH THE EXTENDED FAMILY
Syed Zafar Mahmood
On the eve of filing nomination for the presidential poll a Mr Pranab Mukherjee was seen visiting and spending time with members of his extended family. This gesture gives a powerful message in favour of consolidating the kinship bond. God asked the Prophet to inform humanity, 'No reward do I ask of you, except the love of those near of kin'.
To describe the wider group of extended relatives the Quran uses the term 'arhaam', plural of 'rahm', that means womb. It metaphorically describes all the relatives by blood and marriage. This and other related terms, qurbah meaning kinship and its derivatives, have been used in the scripture at 22 places. This larger group of near and far relatives, known as zawil arhaam, is envisaged as the fundamental unit of an organised society. The Prophet said that the womb prays to God, 'May peace and serenity envelop the one who strengthens me'.
Every individual is under mandate to make best possible efforts to strengthen the bond of relationships, even if this has to be unilateral or faces opposition from the other side. This is known as 'sila rahmi' and is a part of the basic code of human conduct. It even extends to 'ehsaan', returning good for ill or obliging those who in worldly language have no claim on you. It invokes divine bounty in the donor's life span and means of livelihood.
The prescribed level of duty to behave well and not to spoil the relationship is inversely proportional to the natural nearness of kinship. Among the recipients of sila rahmi, orphaned relatives are given precedence. This is a super category described in the Book as 'yateeman za maqrabah'. It is believed that till a person keeps making, selflessly and proactively, such painstaking efforts to appease one's relatives, an angel remains deputed to that person for protection.
'Charity begins at home' — the first rightful recipients of a person's charitable disposition are relatives....
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