The Islamic Perspective on Social Relationships
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Human nature is the concept that there is a set of inherent distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting, that humans tend to have. God has created every human and declared the right bath for him. So, everyone will bear the fruits of his good deeds and burden the consequences of his evil ones. God says in the glorious Qur`an By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right; Truly he succeeds that purifies it, And he fails that corrupts it!Ash-Shams (91:7-10). He also says Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds. Al-Muddaththir (74:38)

However, Human nature, in its origin, dictates a subconscious need for integration; integration with others of its own kind. God has declared this concept clearly in the Holy Qur`an O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full Knowledge and is well-acquainted (with all things). Al-Hujurat (49:13). This is a fact that is unambiguously apparent and present throughout the human history. Through excavation of ancient cities that were buried centuries ago, it is discovered that the dwellers of those towns and cities lived in an organised fashion. The houses of the inhabitants are situated close to each other, evidence of town halls where the locals would gather is uncovered, communal places of worship are present. Evidence of this nature indicates that humans from centuries ago, from the earliest of civilisations, lived within societies, within communities, be it within hamlets or villages, or towns and cities, all were converged around concentrated communal centres of population. Undeniably, this concentrated methodology of existence within civilisations long passed away was due to one simple factor; the human need for amalgamation and the corresponding desire to evade seclusion and isolation.
Upon recognising this need within ourselves, it is therefore understood that an individual will surely embrace a religion that provides an effective and meticulous framework for the construction of a compact society. It is not conceivable that an individual will opt to practice a religion that requires or dictates seclusion and remoteness, just as some religions state an individual must separate from society and live a forlorn life of worship without marriage, without children, without any relations; a concept that opposes human nature, and a concept that opposes the nature of Islam.
Islam states that an individual live a life of worship to his Lord, however it allows – rather than promotes – the incorporation of every individual into society. This, therefore, entails – and perhaps necessitates – the building of relations between individuals at all levels, beginning primarily within the household, the family unit. This no doubt forms the basis of all successful societies.


Islam encourages love and harmony within the family unit, for indeed an individual will grow and learn many things during a lifetime, however the impact of the experiences within his family will meet no comparison. It is for this purpose that Islam requires that parents provide an appropriate and suitable upbringing for their children, an environment of learning and calmness. It is for this very reason that the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advised the Muslims that they should search for individuals who are well acquainted with the religion when marrying, in order that they may teach their progeny and be an example to them. Therefore, a man should pursue a woman who is educated religiously, to the extent that she is able to educate her children, and similarly, a woman should pursue a man who is educated religiously for the same reason.
Thereafter, the relationship between the husband and wife is one that has been detailed by Islam. It has been stated in the Qur’an that the previous messengers used to have wives and children; it is therefore known that marriage is encouraged in Islam. Islam also states that marriage is a relationship of love between the spouses, a relationship of trust, a relationship of mutual happiness.
Fornication and adultery are strictly forbidden in Islam. God the Mighty and Majestic says in the Qur’an:
And come not near to unlawful sexual intercourse. Verily, it is a faahishah (a great sin) and an evil way. (17-32)
This verse does not merely prohibit us from indulging in fornication and the likes, but it instructs us not to even come close to the things that will lead to it. Such as being secluded with the opposite sex, touching, going to places where these immoral acts are practiced and so on.
Islam has also conferred upon each of the spouses rights; the husband therefore has the right that his wife treat him with respect and love, that she help him in the running of the household, that she bring up their children in the best manner possible. Similarly, the wife has rights upon her husband, he must treat her with respect and love and provide for her – this does not mean that the wife is not permitted to work and have wealth. However, it is her right to request from her husband that to provide for her and their children. Also, that he look after her and treat her with good mannerisms and speak to her in a pleasant and polite manner, to smile at her and joke with her and not become angry.
It is mentioned that on one occasion food was sent to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in a plate. The prophet’s wife A’isha – may God be pleased with her – hit the plate and it consequently broke into several pieces. It is expected that any husband would react in a livid manner; however, the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not become angry at his wife, instead he collected the food together and began to eat with his family. This indicates the high level of patience that is requested between the husband and wife; this is of course a characteristic of a practicing Muslim. Islam does not encourage divorce, but when between the couple is impossible, then divorce is inevitable. So, the prime causes of that are the lack of mutual respect, and the lack of understanding the meaning of marriage and the responsibilities attached to it.


The Parents & Children:

Islam provides an extremely high status for parents; consequently the relationship between children and their parents is of a great magnitude in Islam. Islam teaches that the right of the parents is only secondary to the right of the Creator, God, therefore clearly indicating the critical nature of the relationship.

It is upon the parents to provide a suitable upbringing for their children as mentioned; thereafter it is upon the children to respect their parents with the greatest of respect, to show humbleness, modesty and obedience. In a verse in the Qur’an, God states that children must be obedient and subservient to their parents, to the extent that it is not permissible to utter any evil word against them, not even to say ‘tut’, for indeed it is the parents who initially raised and provided for them, consequently the children must demonstrate gratitude to their parents. In effect positions are exchanged, whereas the parents provided for their children in their childhood, it is then the children who must provide for their parents in their old age.
Islam also endorses that the parents do not restrict the number of children they have, in fact larger families are encouraged. This is in stark contrast to some societies of the world today where it is encouraged to only bear a single child, or perhaps two. Islam encourages large families in order to increase the number of Muslims, therefore, strengthening the community and relations between them. A larger family, also, has positive impacts upon the family itself, since many siblings cause greater joy upon times of gathering, whereas an individual with a single sibling o one will not experience the same joy upon gathering due to the small numbers.

Islam encourages that the parent – child relationship be one of love and affection. It is mentioned that one of the companions of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once saw the prophet kissing his grandson, upon witnessing this he mentioned to the prophet that he had ten children but he had never kissed a single one of them ever, not even a goodnight kiss to put them to sleep. The prophet then explained to him that this is not correct and reminded him that the one who does not show mercy and kindness to others will consequently not been shown mercy and kindness by others. Therefore, even a kiss, a smile, a kind word to a small child may be of great impact.
Islam is also a religion of equality and fairness, to the extent that it has been decreed that the parents must be equal and just between their children; meaning it is not correct in Islam for the parents to favour one child over the other. It has been mentioned in a narration that a companion of prophet Muhammad (PBUH) bestowed upon one of his sons a gift, his wife then indicated her unease at this, i.e. that he had specified one child with a gift and not given anything to any of the others, so she requested he ask prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He then spoke to prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and told him what he had done. He was then asked by the prophet, “Did you give all your children gifts similar to this?” the man replied that he had not. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) then said to him, “fear God and be just and fair between your children!”
This is also apparent within the inheritance system within Islam, a system that is completely fair and just. For it is not permissible to grant one son more than the others, or one daughter more than the others; all of which indicate the equality of Islam, even within the family unit.
Incidentally, this also implies that the strength of relationships in Islam is such that even after death they hold meaning. Whereas in other societies an individual may die and leave all his wealth to a charity, or to a particular friend, or perhaps even to a pet – as is witnessed in some societies – within Islam all the relatives of an individual have shares i.e. when the closer relative of the deceased is absent, then the wealth moves to the less closer relative, and so on.
In other societies a father may have a disagreement with his son before death and so state in his will that his son is to receive nothing, and so he will receive nothing. However in Islam, the religion of justice, this is not possible, the ties of kinship are not broken by futile arguments, and the inheritors will receive their due rights. To the extent that it has been impermissible for an individual to state in his will that he wishes to give away more than one third of his wealth, i.e. two thirds at least must to be given to the rightful inheritors. Such rules and regulation after the death of an individual are indicative of the significance of relationships between the Islamic family.
Henceforth, Islam encourages the strengthening of family ties and relations, and abhors the severing of them. It is stated in the Qur’an that it is not permissible to sever the ties of kinship. It therefore encourages the individual to maintain relations with his relatives, be it an uncle or an aunty, be it a grandfather or grandmother, or perhaps a nephew o iece, or maybe even a brother or sister; all of these relations are maintained within Islam. Once again this is an unadulterated dissimilarity to other societies, quite possibly an individual not practicing Islam may not see or even speak to his mother or father for months, perhaps years. He may not establish contact with his siblings, or an uncle or aunty for years all of which is in complete contrast to what Islam encourages. It is for this reason a Muslim is in a state of tranquillity always, due to the presence of a loving family, close or extended.

Friends & Neighbours:
This particular relationship is one of importance also in Islam. It is incumbent upon a Muslim to behave and treat his companions and friends in manner befitting of praise. Consequently prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that the best of companions are those who are the best to their companions i.e. in terms of their behaviour toward them; they are reliable and trustworthy and always smile upon meeting…
It is for this reason that Islam also teaches that individuals should greet each other upon meeting i.e. a smile, a handshake …..etc, for indeed this is an act that causes love to be increased amongst individuals, and it unquestionably strengthens the relationship between companions and colleagues.
This strength of companionship within Islam is exemplified in an event that occurred during the lifetime of prophet Muhammad (PBUH). On one occasion he and two other companions of his exited their houses in search of food. Upon realising this a third companion accepted them as guests and offered them a considerable meal. Similarly, it is mentioned in anothe arration that one of the companions was entertaining prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for dinner; however he did not have sufficient food. He therefore altered the lighting within his house in order that it could not be noticed that in fact he was not eating, allowing his guests to eat their full. Such incidents are indicative of the type of meaningful relationships that existed between the Muslims, and do not cease to exist, to the extent that an individual would sacrifice himself for his companion.
Within this context, it is befitting to be mentioned that Islam has also spoken concerning the relationship between individuals and thei eighbours. Indeed Islam states that a neighbour has a right upon his neighbour, even if he be a non-Muslim; for indeed Islam does not oppress any individual. Binding upon a Muslim is that he treats his neighbour with respect, that he looks after his interests, that he is trustworthy and reliable with him.
In this respect, it is mentioned that the angel Gabriel would persistently advise prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with regard to the rights of neighbours. Therefore, Islam provides complete rights for the neighbour, an example of that: if an individual wishes to sell land which is in close proximity to his and his neighbours dwelling, then it is upon him to offer his neighbour the opportunity to buy the said land with proper price before advertising elsewhere. This is due to the fact that his neighbour may be adversely affected by the arrival of a new owner at such close distance to his own property, therefore he is offered first refusal and it is his decision to accept or reject.

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