Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalam ‘aleykum.
How should I uphold my family ties? Who does it apply to?
I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.
Keeping up your warm family ties (silat al-rahim) is necessary because of the undue harm and hurt caused otherwise.
Allah Most High says, “Beware of severing the ties of kinship: God is always watching over you.” [4.1] And He Most High says, “Worship God; join nothing with Him. Be good to your parents, to relatives…” [4.36]
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the ties of kinship.’ [Bukhari]
The duty to uphold your family ties remains even in the case that they cut ties with you. The Prophet of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said, “A person who maintains ties of kinship is not someone who only does so with those who maintain ties with him. A person who maintains ties of kinship is someone who restores them when they have been cut off.” [Bukhari]
Who Does it Apply to?
Keeping up your ties applies primarily to your immediate kin (mahrams) [= those you cannot marry], and by extension, to all relatives related by blood.
However, the level of keeping ties with each differs. The parent-child relationship is of greater consequence than the aunt-nephew relationship, and both of those are greater than the relationship between cousins, for example.
As for those you are related to, yet whose irregular interaction with suffices, and both parties aren’t hurt by that, you can deal with them on such a basis and talk to them when necessary, as long as you do not cut ties with them.
How Do you Maintain Ties?
The obligation is minimally fulfilled by saying the salam to them, and can also be reasonably fulfilled by giving gifts, visiting and generally being of service to them when needed.
[`Ala’ al-Din `Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-`Ala’iyya; Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha fi al-Hazr wa al-Ibaha]
And Allah alone knows best.
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani