There is a natural bond between parents and their children which is special in Islam. Muslims are required to keep the ties of the womb.
In fact, severing the ties of kinship is one of the major sins in Islam. For this reason, Muslims exert a lot of effort to visit their family and relatives and always try to avoid contention and bad feelings that may result in severing ties.
The people we are closest to in this life are our parents and close relatives and there is a mutual support mechanism for both. This is why keeping these ties intact and strong is so important. We can see in today’s world the heartbreak and misery that follows family break-up and bad feelings that can cause family members to separate.
Old folks’ homes are filled with old people who aren’t appreciated and who are neglected and left, emotionally and spiritually, in a sorry state.
Likewise many young people flounder in their lives without the advice and guidance of their parents and family members.
Accepting Islam is a great change in a person’s life. The new Muslims usually feel a strong desire to set aright every aspect of their lives.
Old friends are replaced by new ones and old habits are turned into more beneficial activities, but what about parents and family who didn’t accept Islam? Are they to be discarded?
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was always kind to his family and relatives. His good treatment towards his family and his wives’ families was immeasurable.
When Muhammad received the prophethood he was in awe of what was happening to him. His wife Khadijah comforted him, saying:
“By Allah, He will never disgrace you. You used to establish good and steady relationships with your relatives, give to the poor, be generous with your guests, and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones” (Al- Bukhari)
Upon accepting Islam a new balance has to be struck so that the new Muslims can maintain their identity and principles while at the same time showing compassion, kindness, and good treatment to non-Muslim relatives who may at times be critical, negative, and even abusive.
4 Tips For Kindness to non Muslim Family
Keeping the following points in mind may be helpful:
- The Prophet was always humble. It’s very important that Muslims don’t feel superior to others. We do not know if Allah will accept our deeds. We never know who He will guide to Islam. If we can be humble, yet assertive with our non-Muslim family members, we have a greater chance of touching their hearts and letting them see the practical goodness of one who adheres to Islam.
- Always be polite. The Prophet never caused dissension between people and was never a part of such behavior. He always accepted invitations (as long as the activities were in accordance with Islam) and he never refused a present no matter how small it might have been.
- The Prophet was always cheerful and smiled pleasantly to everyone. Anyone who was with the Prophet thought he liked him the most. We should try to be like that with our families.
- We should always show mercy. Showing mercy, even toward those who are harsh with you has a very positive effect on the heart and soul and may turn that hard heart into a soft heart filled with light.
We are blessed by Allah according to the patience, forbearance, and sincerity we show in the midst of difficulty. The new Muslim faces many challenges but these can be seen as opportunities to grow and gain reward from Allah.
An internal conflict arises when you are trying to turn away from old habits and practices and adopt new and better ones and yet find yourself surrounded by people who are continuing in the old behavior.
It is necessary to balance between regulating your own behavior and yet allowing those around you, even those closest to you, the freedom that Islam prescribes to act according to their beliefs. As long as their beliefs do not encroach on your rights, it is a matter of live and let live.
This kind of freedom gives everyone the space to think, ponder, speak, and act but without being aggressive. So if, for example, you attend an event that is a strong tradition in your family, you are free to calmly and kindly say that you won’t drink alcohol or sit at a table that has it, that you will stay to greet your family, but won’t indulge in inappropriate mixing of the sexes and so on.
By establishing your boundaries and calmly explaining why these principles and values are so important to you, you are spreading the message of Islam and keeping those family ties intact.
At first some people may ridicule, scoff, object, or even confront you, but just keep in mind the principle of freedom that every person acknowledges the value of, and simply say that you are exercising your freedom and allowing them theirs.
(This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.)