On The Importance of Maintaining Our Relationships With Others
Maintaining our relationships with people who dislike us (or whom we dislike) is key to opening our hearts to God’s mercy and grace.
One of the most egregious of sins in Islam is the cutting-off of relations with others, particularly family members (ṣilat al-raḥim). We are asked by the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) to persist in our relationships with friends and family even if they reject us and close their doors on us. Our natural tendency is to distance ourselves from people whom we don’t like, or avoid people who do not like us.
This issue is particularly hard on some. Why should I talk to people who hate me? Why should I continue calling family members who wish me ill? This command by God is particularly odd because at first glance it does not seem to bring us any benefit at all except for putting us in awkward and potentially embarrassing situations.
Our last blog post was about how compassion for others is necessary for establishing a real and meaningful relationship with God. The idea of compassion seems to be an important reason as to why we are asked to go out of our way to be loving to our family, friends, coworkers and others.
Islam teaches us that when we strive to interact with others whether they are family, friends, coworkers or recent acquaintances with respect and humility, we set the foundation for receiving God’s grace and mercy that is needed for opening the heart to God.
Bitterness, spite, hate, anger, vindictiveness, annoyance and grudges are all diseases of the heart that veil it in darkness. It is not that God’s grace and mercy is withheld; no, that is a false. God’s mercy and grace is always present, but it is the veils and tar that cover our hearts that do not allow His ever present Light from entering them.
If we are asked to maintain our relationships despite the difficulties that they come with, it is to our own benefit primarily. Maintaining that relationship first and foremost keeps our hearts from being veiled by the above spiritual diseases.