Great emphasis has been laid on our maintaining close ties with our relatives. Can you please advise me on who is included in this? Is this just for people like our parents and our brothers and sisters? Does it include our uncles and aunts or our cousins? How far back does it go?
The relatives with whom we should establish close and continuous ties are all of our relatives, even our distant relations. However, our closer relations will have the greater priority commensurate with their nearness in kinship.
As is the case with all obligations, keeping such ties is contingent on a person’s ability. Allah says: “Fear Allah as much as you can.” [Sûrah al-Taghâbun:16].
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Do as much as you can of what I have ordered you to do.”
It is worth saying that prevailing customs have an important role to play in identifying and determining the nature of these ties. Whatever seems to be obligatory will be so. This will vary from one person to another according to how close his relationship with that other person is. This is so, because these matters have not been set forth in all their details by the Qur’ân and Sunnah. The textual evidence intentionally leaves the defining qualities of such relationships open-ended.
However, it is known from the Sunnah that showing kindness to the friends of our parents’ after they have died is part of what it means to be kind to our parents.
Some scholars have suggested that the relatives with whom we should establish close ties are all the people who are descended from any great-grand parent of one of our own grandparents.
In short, we should keep good ties with our relatives as much as possible.