Let us strive together to increase our taqwa to Allah s.w.t. by obeying all of His commands and abstaining from His prohibitions. May we become servants of Allah whom He is pleased with.
There is a hadith, which in my opinion speaks about one of the most highly emphasised lessons in Islam. It is regarding the responsibility of providing care that is shouldered by every mukallaf. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w said:
Meaning: “Each of you is a guardian and will be questioned over his subjects.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
The word (رَاعٍ) in this hadith has several meanings, including caregiver. Rasulullah s.a.w. emphasised in this hadith that every individual has to play his part in caring for those under their charge.
Caretaking, or kafalah in Arabic, is an essential matter in Islam. This includes the care of those under us, such as our children, spouse and so on. In my opinion, the most challenging task that also requires a lot of patience, is caring for those who are weak and unable to care for themselves, such as family members who are sick or have special needs. This is a challenge and a test in this life. However, there is surely wisdom behind this challenge and lessons to be gained from it. Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran:
Meaning: “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, Who, when disaster strikes them, say, "Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return.” [Surah Al-Baqarah verse 155-156]
There are numerous proofs and evidences in Islam that encourage caretaking within the community, especially among family members. In fact, if we reflect upon the lives of the companions radiyallahu anhum, we will find that they were among those who strongly stressed the need to care for family members. For example, a hadith narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari reported how the companions fought to care for the child of Saidina Hamzah bin Abdul Mutalib r.a. after he fell as a martyr during the Battle of Uhud. The Prophet s.a.w. even had to step in to determine who had more rights to care for the orphaned child based on the closeness to the family of the deceased.
This story gives us a detailed look at the meaning of ties of kinship in Islam, and how the companions understood the matter. Families help one another. Especially when one member is in need, the rest will willingly offer assistance. This is because every family member is responsible for one another.
On the other hand, and here I wish to stress the point, that if there are members of our family who are willing to sacrifice their time, money, energy, and space to care for our family members; whether it is our elderly parents or siblings with special needs and so on, we should all play our part to help ease their burden. Whether it is by giving support, ensuring their finances are stable to fund the cost of caring for the family member, and so on.
Furthermore, we must take into account that from time to time, they will need time and space to manage their own affairs. This is also important to ensure that they can fulfil their roles and care for our family member well. If we ourselves hope for a peaceful life, a comfortable home, to own our own car, be able to hire a maid and so on. Ask ourselves: Shouldn’t those who are the primary caregivers of our family members also deserve the same peace of mind?
At the same time, ensure that we offer emotional support because research has shown that emotional support is the most important element in caregiving. It can help reduce their worries and give them encouragement and the motivation to give even better care to their dependents.
Remember, when we successfully ease the burden of our family members, insyaAllah in the hereafter when the sun is only an arm’s length above our heads, Allah will ease our burdens. Rasulullah s.a.w. said: “If anyone relieves a Muslim of his troubles, Allah will relieve his troubles on the Day of Resurrection. If anyone eases the burden of a Muslim, then Allah will ease his burden in this world and the hereafter.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim] May Allah s.w.t. grant us taufiq and inayah to maintain good relations with our family members, and may we be placed among those who bring happiness and tranquillity to the lives of others, insyallah, amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.