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Monday 15th of August 2022
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Traditions that the highest stage of Sileh Rahmi

The practice of Sileh Rahmi (kindness to kith and kin) accrues worldly advantages, spiritual benefits and bounties of the Hereafter.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq says:
"Sileh Rahmi perfects the morals and encourages charity. When one performs Sileh Rahmi he has to be benevolent towards his relatives. The continuous practice of Sileh Rahmi brings refinement in his morals. In the same way repeated acts of kindness inculcate a benign and compassionate feeling in the person, and the soul is purified (from the sin of jealousy and enmity). 
(Safinatun Behaar)

Sileh Rahmi Causes All the Good Deeds to be Accepted

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) states:
Sileh Rahmi (kindness to relatives) purifies deeds. Purification of deeds means, that the shortcomings in all the good deeds of a person practicing Sileh Rahmi are naturally compensated and all his good deeds are accepted by Allah.

It increases wealth, wards off difficulties and calamities. The accounting of your actions on the day of Qiyamat is made easy. Even the ordained time of death is postponed.

Extending Hand of Friendship Towards Those Who Want to Break the Ties (Qat-e-Rahem)

Imam Sajjad (a.s.) says:
There are two actions, towards which, a step taken is liked by Allah more than anything else. One is the step taken to join a row formed in the name of Allah (for Jehad or Namaz); the second is the one taken to extend a hand of friendship towards kith and kin who want to break relations. 
(Behaarul Anwaar)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Certainly there is a section in Paradise which can not be attained except by three kinds of people. First the just Imam, second, the one who does Sileh Rahmi, and third the one who has family (and children) but remains patient (in poverty and difficulties). 
(Behaarul Anwaar)

The Reward of Sileh Rahmi

The reward for Sileh Rahmi has been described by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in one of his traditions. He says:
"When a person goes towards his relatives so that he can fulfill his rights with his life and his wealth, Allah bestows upon him the reward of a martyr at every step he takes. He (Allah) writes down forty thousand Hasana (the unit of Divine rewards) and He erases forty thousand of his sins and He elevates him by forty thousand grades. The person achieves the position of one who has worshipped Allah for a hundred years."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

At another place the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says, regarding the rewards for Sileh Rahmi:
"The reward for Sadaqah in the way of Allah is ten times, whereas the reward for giving a loan is twelve times (because in giving a loan the dignity of the Loanee is maintained). The reward for the good behaviour to the believing brothers is twelve times and the reward for Sileh Rahmi is twenty four times." 
(Behaarul Anwaar)

The Meaning of Sileh Rahmi and Qat-e-Rahmi

The Shariat of Islam has not provided any fixed definition for these two terms. In this case the meaning as judged by common sense and reason must be accepted. We must consider all the relatives from the father's side and mother's side, irrespective of whether they are close or distant, to be our kith and kin who have a right on us. In the same way the children of the daughters and their descendant also come in this category as the Quran says: 
'Those who join together (do Sileh Rahmi) those things which Allah has commanded to be joined."
(Surah Raad 13:21)

Urwah Ibne-Yazeed asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) the meaning of this Ayat (Surah Raad 13:21), the Imam (a.s.) replied;
"You have been commanded to do Sileh Rahmi towards all your relatives. Whether they are Mehram (in the prohibited category of marriage) or Namehram, (not in the prohibited category) whether they are distant relatives or closely related, whether they are immediate relatives or separated by several generations." 
(Al Kafi)

No Discrimination Between the Affluent and the Poor Relatives

It is generally observed that people tend to behave graciously towards their wealthy relatives and avoid the poor ones. The faith of Islam does not differentiate or discriminate between the rich and the poor relatives. What is important is the closeness of relationship. The more closely a person is related to you, the more important and necessary it is to fulfill his rights.

What is Sileh Rahmi?

Any behaviour which is generally regarded by people as good, kind, gracious or obligatory, when directed towards your relatives is Sileh Rahmi.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"The kindness towards relative and goodness towards the believing brother makes easy your reckoning on the Day of Judgement and protects you from sins. So you should be kind to your relatives and be good to your believing brothers even if it is as little as a sincere 'salaam' (salutation) or a hearty reply to a salaam." 
(Al Kafi)

At another place the Sixth Imam (a.s.) remarks:
"Do Sileh Rahmi towards your relatives and the near ones even if it is just by offering a glass of water to them." 
(Wasaelush Shia)

 

The Different Grades of Sileh Rahmi

Shaheed-e-Thani1 (r.a.) describes the grades of Sileh Rahmi in the following words:
It is deduced from the traditions that the highest stage of Sileh Rahmi is to consider the relatives as our own selves. That is, we should wish for our relations whatever we wish for ourselves.

The next stage of Sileh Rahmi is to help relatives overcome the difficulties and hardships they may be facing. Next, we must earnestly try to benefit our kith and kin as much as possible, in areas where they need help and of course in a manner permitted by religion. This benefit can be either economic or by way of making a person independent, by securing for him a job or initiating him into a trade. It can also be in the form of a sound advice, spiritual guidance and religious teachings.

The fourth stage of Sileh Rahmi is towards those people who are dependents of our relatives. For example, the brother's wife or the step-mother.

The simplest kind of Sileh Rahmi consists of salutations, a lesser kind is the conveying of Salaam (through someone). The smallest kind of Sileh Rahmi is to pray for relatives in their presence and to encourage them.

The Difference Between Breaking Relations With Nearest Kin and With Distant Relatives

Qat-e-Rahmi and Sileh Rahmi with respect to the close kith and kin could be different from that with the distant relatives. It is possible that a certain action or attitude towards close relative would amount to Qat-e-Rahmi but the same towards a distant relative may not be regarded as such. Also a certain behaviour with a knowledgeable and a pious relative may be termed as Qat-e-Rahmi but with respect to other relatives it may not be so. It is best to refrain from every act that could possibly amount to Qat-e-Rahmi. We must observe keen precaution in this matter lest we bring upon ourselves the severe punishment of a Greater Sin.

Arrogance Towards Poor Relatives is Qat-e-Rahmi

The ones most guilty of Qat-e-Rahmi are the rich and affluent who do not acknowledge their connections with their poor relatives and deal with them with pride and arrogance, while they are gallant and kind to their wealthy relatives. To neglect one's duty and give importance to material possessions, contradicts the laws of Islam both in the letter and spirit.

What is the Least Amount of Sileh Rahmi That is Wajib

Every kind of Sileh Rahmi, the failure of which is viewed as a sort of Qat-e-Rahmi, is obligatory for us. For example, if a person is unable to fulfill his needs due to poverty or is unable to get medical aid for any reason, or is in debt; and heapproaches a rich relative for help; it is obligatory on the rich person to help him. Even if the rich person is not approached directly but comes to know the predicament of his poor relative, it is obligatory on him to help this less fortunate relative. The wealthy man who fails to carry out these obligations will be guilty of Qat-e-Rahmi.

It is however not obligatory for a person to help his poor relative if he himself is not in a sound position to do so and fears that his finances will be constrained or that he himself may become a destitute. Also, Sileh Rahmi is not obligatory, if by doing so he will violate the laws of Islam. For example one need not pay a visit to a relative, if by doing so one would be in the midst of Na-mehram or may be compelled to hear music.

Sometimes we may be in doubt whether a particular action could be considered as Sileh Rahmi or Qat-e-Rahmi. In this case the reference point is to see how the people in general view it. The criteria for deciding that a particular behaviour is Sileh Rahmi or Qat-e-Rahmi therefore depends on the general feeling for it. If a small lapse like not saluting or non-compliance with a small request is Qat-e-Rahmi according to those around us, then it is so. By the same token if observing small niceties are considered as Sileh Rahmi, then it is so.

Sileh Rahmi With Certain Relatives is Mustahab if Not Wajib

At times some obligations towards distant relatives are not considered Sileh Rahmi and accordingly are not Wajib (obligatory) for us. But these obligations are bound to be Mustahab. In any event, it is best to conduct ourselves in a manner that we totally eliminate the risk of committing a Greater Sin.

Breaking Ties Even With Those Who Wish to Break Up Ties With us is Haraam

Although one would not be at fault from a worldly point of view, according to Shariat, breaking ties even with those who want to do so is Haraam.

It is natural for a person who, finding that his relative does not acknowledge him nor fulfills his rights, reacts by remaining aloof and allowing the bonds of kinship to be broken.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says: 
"Do not break ties with your relatives even if they break them with you."

The Order of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) Regarding Qat-e-Rahmi

Abdullah Ibne Sinan says that I pleaded to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "I have a cousin, I do Sileh Rahmi (kindness) towards him and do not wish to break ties with him. But he wants to break ties with me. (Master!) I want to maintain relations but he wishes to sever them. Due to this behaviour of his I am also inclined to cut off ties with him. Can you permit me to do so?"

Imam (a.s.) replied: 
"(Remember) If you behave kindly with this relative of yours inspite of his Qat-e-Rahmi (then it is possible that one day this will affect him and he too will begin to fulfill his obligations). In this way the Mercy of Allah shall be upon both of you. But if you break ties with this cousin of yours then neither of you shall be eligible for the Mercy of Allah." 
(Al Kafi)

Goodness in Return of Ill-Treatment

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says: 
"If any one betrays trust with you, do not betray trust with him or you will also become like him. Similarly, do not break ties with your relatives even if they do so." 
(Behaarul Anwaar)

It means that if we reciprocate the malice of a relative we shall also be like him (i.e. sinful). In the same way the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has invited us to perform kindness in lieu of misdemeanor. He remarks, "Do you wish me to tell you (about those qualities) which shall benefit you in this world as well as Hereafter?"

The people said, "O Prophet of Allah! Please do so."
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said, 
"The three such qualities are, firstly, to do Sileh Rahmi with one who does Qat-e-Rahmi with you. Secondly, fulfill the needs of one who has deprived you. Thirdly, forgive those who have oppressed you." 
(Al Kafi)

Breaking of Ties With the Muslim and the Kafir Relatives

The traditions of the Masumeen (a.s.) leave no doubt whatsoever that the fulfilling of the rights of one's relatives is obligatory. Whether the relatives are Shia or Sunni, pious and religious or sinful and transgressors or whether they are Muslims or Kafirs. It is compulsory to perform Sileh Rahmi with them. Even if a Muslim relative apostises and becomes a kafir, his rights are not invalidated.

Ibne-e-Hamid enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "My relatives are not of my religion. Are any of their rights upon me?" Imam (a.s.) gave the following reply: 
"Why not? The rights of the relatives do not become invalid for any reason (even if the relatives are unbelievers) but if the relatives are Muslim then their rights are twice as much. One is due to their being relatives and second because of their being Muslim." 
(Al Kafi)

Dawood Raqqi the Companion of the Sixth Imam (a.s.)

Dawood Raqqi says: "I was sitting in the company of Imam (a.s.) when Imam (a.s.) himself started speaking and said:
"Dawood, on Thursday the report of your deeds was presented to me and I saw among your deeds the Sileh Rahmi which you have performed with your cousin (brother), I was very pleased. However, I know that this Sileh Rahmi of yours will (because of his Qat-e-Rahmi towards you) be the cause of his early death." 
(Behaarul Anwaar)

Dawood, the companion of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says: "My cousin used to bear enmity towards me. He was an evil person. When I came to know about his destitution, I went to Makkah and gave him some money so that he could manage himself for some time. It was this action of mine about which Imam (a.s.) was informed and he told of it on my return to Madinah."

The Behaviour of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) Towards His Inimical Relatives

Certain relatives of the Holy Imam (a.s.) not only failed to acknowledge his rights but even bore enmity against him in their hearts. Although the enmity against Imam (a.s.) makes him a disbeliever. Yet Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) willed that seventy Dinars be given to Hasan Aftas. Hasan Aftas was an evil person and had such deep malice against Imam (a.s.) that he had once tried to attack Imam (a.s.) with a sword. The goodly behaviour of Imam (a.s.) towards his enemy was due entirely to his relationship.

Conversation of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) With Abdullah Hasani

Once Abdullah Hasani, a relative of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) met him on the streets of Madinah. He had a meaningless argument with Imam (a.s.) and spoke ill of him. Imam (a.s.) replied to this misbehavior in the best way. He went to the house of this person the very next day and said, "Yesterday I recited the following Ayat of the Quran, 
"And those who joined that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning. 
(Surah Raad 13:21)

I became very fearful because of it." Abdullah understood that Imam (a.s.) was intending to correct him. He began to weep and said, "I have willfully forgotten this verse. After this, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Abdullah embraced each other.
(Al Kafi)

The Grief of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) on the Oppression upon the Descendants of Imam Hasan (a.s.)

When Mansoor Dawaniqi arrested and imprisoned Abdullah Mahej and other Hasani Sadaats, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was grief-stricken. Although the Hasanis were opposed to Imam (a.s.), the Imam's (a.s.) distress was such that he was confined to bed for twenty days. He wrote a lengthy letter to them to express his sorrow and to offer comfort and consolation. He sent this letter to the prison of Kufa and was in regular contact with them to know their well-being. Often he wept on their imprisonment.

It Does Not Matter if We Are Kind to Certain Relatives Who Are Not Muslim

It is simply clear by now that for Sileh-Rahem and Qate-Rahem, the Shariat does not distinguish between a Muslim and a Kafir or between a pious and a sinful person. At the same time we also know that Islam exhorts us to shun infidels and to dissociate with them. These contradicting views will cause some confusion in our minds and a word of explanation is in order.

Undoubtedly Islam orders us to detest kafirs, hence it is improper to behave well with them. Good behaviour towards a Kafir is an outward act and at a social level. While hating him for being an Kafir is how you feel and think about him at a spiritual level. Since Sileh-Rahem is obligatory, we must behave well with our Kafir relatives, but at no stage should we be oblivious of the fact that they are non-believers and deserve to be hated for being Kafirs.

Sileh Rahmi to Kafir Relatives Should Not Encourage Them in Their Disbelief

If Sileh Rahmi towards a Kafir relative, in some way, strengthens his conviction towards his own religious views; or if Sileh-Rahem towards a sinful relative provides him with opportunity and encouragement in his unlawful ways, then this kind of Sileh Rahmi is forbidden. In fact, if Qat-e-Rahem induces a disbeliever to introspect and reconsider his disbelief, then, Qat-e-Rahmi is obligatory on us. In the same way Qat-e-Rahem is obligatory if it discourages or dissuades a relative in his sinful ways.

Dissociating With the Enemies of Islam

There is another situation where Qat-e-Rahem is Wajib (obligatory). That is when the kafir or sinful relative harbors malice towards the religion of Islam. Allah says in Surah Mujadila:
"You shall not find people who believe in Allah and the latter day befriending those who act in opposition to Allah and His apostle, even though they were their (own) fathers, or their sons or their brothers or their kinsfolk..." 
(Surah Mujadila 58:22)

This verse clearly indicates that one must abstain from Sileh Rahem towards even the closest of relatives if they are inimical towards Allah or the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) or the Islamic faith.

Sileh Rahmi is Wajib if the Relative is not Overtly Inimical

A Quranic verse from the chapter Mumtehana says:
"Allah does not forbid you from respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly, surely Allah loves the doers of justice. Allah only forbids you from respecting those who made war upon you on account of (your) religion, and drove you forth from your homes and backed up others in your expulsion, that you make friendship with them and whoever makes friends with them, these are the unjust." 
(Surah Mumtehana 60:8-9)

Thus it could be concluded from the above two verses that if a relative does not openly oppress us or exhibit enmity, then Sileh Rahmi is Wajib towards him.

Sileh Rahmi is Wajib Even if One Has to Travel Far to Perform it

It is highly recommended to fulfill the duty of Sileh Rahmi even if one has to roam a long distance to do so. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told Ali (a.s.):
"O Ali! Even if you have to travel for two years to do good to your parents, do it, even if you have to travel for one year to perform Sileh Rahmi to your kinsfolk, do so. Even if you have to journey a mile to see a sick person, do it. Even if you have to walk two miles to attend a funeral, do it. Even if you have to travel four miles to meet a believing brother, do it."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

Traditions have stated, as mentioned earlier, that for every step a person takes to visit his relatives, he gets forty thousand rewards, forty thousand of his sins are forgiven and his status is raised by forty thousand grades.

Maintain Cordial Relations But Do Not Reside Close to Each Other

Amirul Momineen (a.s.) writes a letter to one of his officers, 
"Order the relatives to visit each other but ask them not to reside in the same neighborhood."

The late Scholar, Naraqi, explains in his book, 'Meraj us Sadaat': "Staying next to each other breeds malice and jealousy and results in Qat-e-Rahem."

It is much easier for relatives to maintain harmony and goodwill by staying apart from each other. Proximity often results in friction and enmity.

There is a Persian proverb that says that distance and friendship are proportionate to each other.

 

Sileh Rahmi With the Spiritual Father

We are indeed indebted to our parents for our physical, mental and spiritual development. But mankind could not have been guided right, without a spiritual father. The essence of spiritual guidance which consists of rules of conduct as approved by Allah have come to us only through the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and it was the sustained and unsparing effort of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) which guided mankind to the path of salvation and eternal happiness. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was the spiritual father of the Muslims in his time and later Ali (a.s.) took his place. It is only through love and obedience to them that one can hope to achieve spiritual eminence.

This is corroborated by the statement of Allah to the effect that whoever enters the 'fort' (protection) of these exalted personalities, his spiritualism becomes evident in his behaviour. The doors of knowledge and awareness are open. The fountain of sagacity flows in his heart and the reality becomes manifest for him.

The Advent of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) - A Fabulous Blessing

It is not possible for a man to achieve spiritual excellence without the love and obedience of a spiritual father.

"Certainly Allah conferred a benefit upon the believers when he raised among them an apostle from among themselves, reciting to them His communications and purifying them, and teaching them the book and the wisdom, although before that they were surely in manifest error." 
(Surah Aale Imran 3:164)

This verse signifies the importance of the advent of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) by Allah for the guidance of mankind. We must acknowledge it as the greatest blessing of Allah and a favour that He bestowed upon His creatures.

The Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and the Worldly Comforts and Blessings

Yunus Ibne Abdul Rehman told Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): 
"The love and Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) has been prescribed as your right upon us by Allah. I consider this blessing to be much superior to the worldly blessings."

Imam (a.s.) was distraught and he replied:
"You have made an inappropriate comparison. What are the worldly blessings? What is it more than eating, drinking and dressing? And you compare all these transient things with our love which is an everlasting reality?"

We have seen in the discussion on the rights of parents, that we can be 'Aaq' of our spiritual fathers if we fail to fulfill their rights. Not all of us may be capable of fulfilling this duty to the fullest extent. But we should sincerely try our utmost to obey their commands. At the same time we should be fully aware of our deficiencies and failings and continually implore our infallible guides to pardon us.


source : GREATER SINS by Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)
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