Other Aspects of the Family Life

             Closely connected with the family life is the treatment of “servants”, other family members, relations, and neighbors. To those who keep permanent maids Prophet Muhammad has given advice and good tidings. “Masters” are enjoined to treat their servants like brothers, and not like slaves, because whoever treats his servant well, said the Prophet, God will make his death easy and pleasant, a moment which is ordinarily painful and difficult. Servants are entitled to justice, kindness, mercy, food, clothing, accommodation and other personal expenses. The Prophet goes as for as to say that they should be fed and dresses of the same stuff as used by their masters, and this is to be provided by the masters themselves as a part of their obligations to the servants. These are not to be persecuted or disdained or overcharged with work. This stipulation is designed to show how Islam dignifies humanity and honors labor without inviting the class warfare or the despotic authority of the proletariat. Being a servant or laborer does not deprive any person of his rights or affect his dignity as a human being. Nor does it make him addicted to the opium of the utopian proletariat. All citizens of a real Muslim society stands on equal footing, because Islam does not recognize the caste system or the second class citizenship. The only superiority acknowledged by Islam is that of piety and good deeds in the service of God (Qur’an, 9:105; 49:13).

             Man is ordained by God to extend his utmost help and kindness to other family members and relations, to show them true feelings of love and care. It might be interesting to note that the world ‘kinship’ in Arabic is derived from a root word which means mercy (Rahim and Rahmah). Kindness to one’s kinsfolk is a short cut to Paradise, which is otherwise forbidden for those who neglect their duties in this respect. The extension of kind treatment to relatives is described by the Prophet as a Divine blessing of one’s life and provisions. It is a sacred duty to be good to the kin even though they may not respond in a similar way. The duty is enjoined by God and should be observed for the sake of God regardless of the kin’s response (Qur’an, 2:117; 4:36; 16:90; 17:23-26).

             The status of neighbors is very high in the viewpoint of Islam. Neighbors of all kinds enjoy a great number of privileges conferred on them by Islam. In his elaboration on the Qur’anic teachings relevant to this point, Prophet Muhammad is reported as saying that nobody can be true Believer unless his neighbors feel secure and safe from his side. Also, nobody can be a true Believer, if his neighbors pass the night hungry while he has his belly full. He who is best to his neighbors, stated the Prophet, will enjoy the neighborhood of God on the Day of Resurrection. Presents, gifts and sharing of joys and sorrows should be exchanged between neighbors. In another declaration the Prophet said : “Do you know what the rights of a neighbor are? Help him if he asks your help; give him relief if he seeks your relief; lend him if he needs loan; show him concern if he is distressed; nurse him when he is ill; attend his funeral if he dies; congratulate him if he meets any good; sympathize with him if any calamity befalls him; do not block his air by raising your building high without his permission; harass him not; give him a share when you buy fruits, and if you do not give him, bring your buys right to your house quietly and let not your children take them out to excite the anger of his children”. Moreover, the Prophet is reported as having said that the rights of the neighbors were so much emphasized by the angel Gabriel that he thought neighbors would perhaps be entitled to partake of one’s inheritance. (See also the verse number in the previous paragraph).


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