The Holy Imams’ kindness to relatives
The traditions of the holy infallibles (a.s) greatly emphasize the important of goodness to relatives. The Messenger of Allah (S) said, “The Almighty Allah increases the life span of one who is kind to his relatives.” He also said, “One who is not kind to his relatives, is not from us.”
Imam Ali (a.s) regularly inquired about the well being of all his relatives and kinsmen and used to try his utmost in fulfilling all their needs. Ibn Abbas says that he has not seen anyone more excellent than Ali (a.s) in kindness to relatives. He says, “One day I fell sick and my illness became prolonged. Every morning and evening, Ali (a.s) visited me. Sitting near my head used to recite supplications and blow them on me. He brought to me whatever I desired.” Most of the time he distributed to others whatever he received as his share of war-booty. So much so that sometimes Ali (a.s) also spent his bare sustenance on his relatives. Aqil (the Imam's brother) had many children. One day he complained to the Imam that the stipend he received from the public treasury was insufficient for his family, and that Imam give him some more from it. The Imam said, “O Aqil, the public treasury is the share of the Muslims and I have no right to spend anything from it. It is however possible that I give you something for your children from my share.” From that day it was his practice to first dispatch food to Aqil's house. If something remained he ate just enough to survive or he remained hungry.
Imam Hasan (a.s) used to be kind to relatives since childhood. He had done such favors on all the people of Bani Hashim clan that they were devotees of his excellent manners. It was his practice to inquire about his relatives everyday. He used to consider his half-siblings as full-blood brothers and sisters, and he used to behave with them with the best of affection and regard. Whenever a relative asked him for something, he provided it immediately and shared their sorrow. He used to exhaust all the means for their welfare and success.
Imam's Husayn 's (a.s) kindness towards his relatives does not have an equal. This was the reason that the whole clan was submissive to his commands. And also that is why, they all accompanied him when he departed for Karbala’ . Brothers, nephews and all were ready to lay down their lives at his smallest indication. Finally they all sacrificed themselves on the Imam one after the other.
After the tragedy Karbala’ , Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) was absolutely broken-hearted, and he betook himself to a life of seclusion and spent his days either in Allah's worship or in grief of the incident of Karbala’ . He was so much engrossed in it but he still observed the duty of kindness to relatives. He used to regularly comfort and assure the women of Bani Hashim whose relatives were martyred in Karbala’ and he used to provide them immediately whatever they required. He never told anyone a word that could have hurt him or her. He never did anything to displease anyone. He used to perform with perfection all that is included among the kind behavior.
Zaid Ibn Ali Ibn Husayn and Zaid Ibn Hasan Muthanna were mostly unhappy with the family of Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) because he often expressed opposition to their evil plans. Secondly, they also wanted to take over the public trusts controlled by the Imam, so that people may accept their spiritual powers like they acknowledged the position of the Imam. In spite of all this, Imam (a.s) never cut off relations with them. He continued to act in the best manners of kindness to relatives. One day Zaid came to the Imam and told him about his intention of insurgency against the enemies of Ahl ul-Bayt. The Imam opposed it severely. Zaid became very angry; he got up from there at once and also uttered some unbecoming things. Imam (a.s) remained quiet. After some days it was known that Zaid was sick. Imam went to visit him immediately. Zaid was thinking that the Imam would never come to his place. When he saw that Imam (a.s) had arrived he was very pleased and begged the Imam to forgive his past mistakes.
It is narrated in Al-Kafi that Abdullah Mahaz spoke some harsh words to the Imam in the morning. The Imam observed patience and did not reply to any of his statements. When the Imam met him again in the evening, he (the Imam) said with utmost humility, “O Abu Muhammad! Do you know kindness to relatives is a cause for reduction in divine chastisement?” He said, “You always talk of such things that are not accepted by us.” The Imam said, “This statement of mine is testified by the saying of Allah:
And those who join that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning. (Surah Ra'ad 13:21)
After this Abdullah Mahaz acknowledged his mistake and said, “Now you will not find me as one who breaks off relations.”
In the last moments of his life Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s) summoned all the relatives who gathered around him and he made monetary bequests to each of them. He also willed seventy dinars to his cousin Hasan Aftas. A servant of the Imam said, “You are leaving seventy dinars for Hasan Aftas, while he is the same person who had come to assassinate you with a sword.” The Imam became angry at this and said, “Do you want that I should not accord kindness to relatives and not be included among those who are described in the following words by Allah:
And those who join that which Allah has bidden to be joined…(Ibid.)
Know that! I am making bequest of money to Hasan Aftas because the Messenger of Allah (S) has said: The disobedient child and one who breaks-off relations would not smell the fragrance of Paradise, that reaches upto a distance of 2000 years' travel.”
Ali Ibn Hamzah says: An Alawi Sayyid was hawking some wares placed in a round tray. I was full of pity at his condition. I came to Imam Musa Kadhim (a.s). I had not said anything but the Imam told me, “A Sayyid's son is hawking at such and such place. Give him these eighteen dirhams and tell him on my behalf to invest them in his trade and profit thereby. It is sufficient for his whole life.” I said in surprise, “Master! I had intended to invite your attention to his plight but you have furnished assistance to him before I could say anything.” Imam said, “O Ali Ibn Hamzah! We are not ignorant of the condition of our kinsmen and we consider kindness towards them incumbent.” So I delivered the money to that young man. Taking the money the youth began to weep. When I asked the reason he said, “Why shouldn't I weep when I have received the news of my death in the near future?” I asked him how that was? He said, “One day Imam Musa Kadhim (a.s) had told me that when he sends money to me through Ali Ibn Hamzah, I should know that my death is near.”
During the time Imam Ridha’ (a.s) resided in Medina some of his relatives were antagonistic to him, especially due to the fact that the spirituality of the Imam was effective on all and people used to respect him greatly. However, the Imam behaved with all of them in a very kind and affectionate way and also sent them occasional gifts. The Imam's family members tried to restrain him from this. He said, “This is the only difference between Ahl ul-Bayt and others, that we always repay bad behavior with goodness and we are kind to the relatives.”
Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s) used to behave very nicely and affectionately with all the people of his clan. Among them were also those who did not accept him as the son of Imam Ridha’ (a.s). Imam (a.s) used to bear all the false allegations patiently, but he never broke off relations with them. He used to share their sorrows and hardships regularly and also fulfilled their needs.
During the period Imam Ali Naqi (a.s) resided in Samarrah, he used to regularly inquire about the conditions of his kinsmen from people coming from Medina and also sent to them the Khums money he received, and solve their problems. Once some people from Hasani Sadat visited him in Samarrah. Through them the Imam sent some gifts to his relatives.
Like his venerable ancestors, Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) also cared greatly for according kindness to relatives. Often he had to undergo many hardships due to his kinsmen. However he bore them happily. He used to say that whatever they may do to him he would continue to be kind towards his relatives.