Constant communion with extended family

By Aziz Junejo | Sep 25, 2013

I believe we ALL share the same basic needs to feel needed, appreciated respected and loved.

Without these needs, we cannot really be said to be human. They are the foundation to a family, which is the foundation to all the Abraham faiths.

The family continues to be the oldest of human institutions. Entire civilizations have flourished based on family.

I see the peace and security offered by a stable family unit as greatly valued, and essential for the spiritual growth of its members. A harmonious social order is created by the existence of extended families, too, where children are treasured. And, for Muslims, they rarely leave home until the time they marry.

My family, well, our Muslim family, is really an extended family; it is not a nuclear family – mother, father and children – though the nuclear family can be quite fashionable.

Personally, I believe we should live as close to one another if possible, as I do. Close to our brothers, our sisters, our parents, our grandparents, our cousins, uncles, nephews, nieces and so forth, because these constitute an extended family in Islam and the benefits are unlimited.

Now, the extended family of Islam is the noblest, the greatest, and the most valuable social institution that I believe the world has ever seen. By going nuclear, that is to say by going individualistic, today’s society has lost all these values and they are suffering terribly.

By living with or close to our parents and our elders, we show that love.

They have brought us up, they have played with us when we were young, they have told us stories, they were patient with us and they have educated us, guided us, and advised us, so we love them because we are in constant communion with them.

However, in today’s society, I have found there is alienation and a strangeness toward our family and parents because as soon as the youth period is past, the children bust-out on their own and the result is that when parents become old, there is no respect for them.

Most end their days grieving for their children in old folks’ homes or nursing homes.

There could not be a more cruel death for anyone than that of being taken to the old folks’ home to die slowly, away from their own children, from their own dependents, and there could not be a worse fate for any man or woman than to be deprived of the relationship and affection of their own children.

Respect for elders has to be cultivated early in life. My own mother lives with my family and her grandchildren adore her. They are learning early on that taking care of your parents is really just part of being a family.

In the same home there are babies, teenagers, adults and elders, living together. They are in constant communion with one another.

This is precisely the socialization, the acculturation that the sociologists are talking about and are pleading for, and yet the modern-day family continues to make it impossible.

This is why society today is so radically different from our society of yesterday, and this is why the old values of society are lost with no continuity.

In Islam, there is no generation gap, though I see so many of my friends without faith move away from their family and “into their own thing.”

All of us are individualists, this is something inside us, and it is an instinct. We are all advocates, many want to promote themselves and fill their own tummy and so on and so forth.

This is natural, God Almighty has put that inside us, but God has also planted us in an extended family in order to curb some of those instincts.

Today’s society is often built upon individuals and upon egotism, where everybody wants their own thing, their own pleasure, to pursue their own interests, and nobody is willing to adjust and sacrifice and cooperate with another, and this is why our society is falling apart.

As summer winds down, let’s take time to reacquaint ourselves with our family and extended family. Invite them over and make time to find out what they like to do and indulge them.

Life is too short and family too precious to allow our own pleasures and interest rise above the ones we love and who love us.

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