IN THE past years I ask this question: “How do we maintain family ties when the family members (siblings) are too busy in their own work and personal lives? What does Islam say about this?

The last family reunion we had was in 2017 during the December holidays. We also had a chance to get together last year during the wedding of my niece. But we never has a chance to get together for a family reunion.

There are eight of us in the family, four boys and four girls. I am the youngest. Two of my elder brothers are based in Manila. I have an elder sister based in Davao City and another one in Marbel. Three of my other siblings are based in Cotabato City.

When our mom was still alive, we made sure we all get together for the Christmas Holidays and the New Year's Eve.

Our gatherings were simple and it was usually held at our ancestral home in Cotabato City. Our mom always tries to bring us together for familiarity and intimacy. She always makes us feel the importance of familial interrelations. She has ways of asking our general affairs without touching upon our own privacies or sensitive issues.

The issue of uniting family ties has already been answered by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in this Hadith:

“The person who perfectly maintains the ties of kinship is not the one who does it because he gets recompensed by his relatives (for being kind and good to them), but the one who truly maintains the bonds of kinship is the one who persists in doing so even though the latter has severed the ties of kinship with him.” - Al-Bukhari.

In an attempt to address my question, two of my elder siblings and I organised a family get together last December 23 to 26 in our property in Cotabato City.

It was a last minute plan and there were only seven of us who participated in the staycation in Sittio Bubong, Barangay Datu Sarip Sinsuat (Kalanganan II). The seven children, seventeen grandchildren, and one great grandchildren of lawyer Tahir Lidasan and Bai Ulanbai Sinsuat Lidasan were gathered together and enjoyed the company of one another.

In the three days and two nights of staycation, I made sure that we also had few hours to discuss serious matters of the family. But in the discussion, we let the younger generations to share with us their views of the future of the clan.

The younger generations in our family are mostly young professionals and they do have critical thoughts not only with regard to our family matters, but also the current events in our country.

We all enjoyed every moment we spend together in Bubong. We had games, team building activities, and of course, videoke sessions every night after dinner. The family time was indeed a perfect way to recharge our bodies and souls as we prepare for the year 2020. It also gave me better perspectives for my work in the Bangsamoro.

The whole experience with my family and relatives reminded me of the verse in the Holy Qurán: And fear Allah, through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the (relations of) wombs (that bore you); for surely Allah ever watches over you. (Qur'an, 4:1)

This verse simply describes the right of relatives and our duties to one another. In Islam this is called “silat ar-rahm” which literally means “to join the womb”. As the relatives are joined together through birth, this term practically means “to do good to relatives.”

Our nature as civilised human beings do demand that relatives behave with mutual sympathy, respect, cooperation, and should deal gently with one another.

The principle of “silat ar-rahm” maintains the unity of the family; the confidence that there are people who are always ready to extend their helping hands in time of need, creates peace of mind and contentment of heart.

Our family is indeed growing bigger each year. I look forward for many more family reunions and our get together during the holidays.