Assalamualaikum w.b.t. What is the ruling for someone who severs silaturrahim and family ties by no longer considering a person his family when actually the person is his family? Hope for an explanation.
Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.
The meaning of silaturrahim relationship
The word (صلة الرحم) originates from two Arabic words “صلة” and “الرحم”.
Al-Raghib al-Asfahani stated: “Al-Rahim meant here is the uterus of a woman where a fetus develops and is protected (in the woman’s womb). And the terminology al-rahim is used to describe their families originated from one womb.” 
Among the hadiths that mentioned connecting or maintaining silaturrahim is as stated by Rasullullah PBUH:
مَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يُبْسَطَ لَهُ فِي رِزْقِهِ، وَيُنْسَأَ لَهُ فِي أَثَرِهِ، فَلْيَصِلْ رَحِمَهُ
“Whoever loves that he be granted more wealth and that his lease of life be prolonged then he should keep good relations with his Kith and kin.” 
Imam Nawawi in explaining this hadith says: What is meant with ‘أَنْ يُبْسَطَ لَهُ فِي رِزْقِهِ’ is increment and widening of his wealth. According to another opinion, it means being given the blessings of wealth. 
While in the hadith from Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, Rasullullah PBUH was once asked regarding the deed that can help someone attain paradise, the Prophet PBUH then answered:
تَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ لاَ تُشْرِكُ بِهِ شَيْئًا ، وَتُقِيمُ الصَّلاَةَ ، وَتُؤْتِى الزَّكَاةَ ، وَتَصِلُ الرَّحِمَ
“You should offer prayers perfectly, give obligatory charity (Zakat), and keep good relations with your Kith and kin.” 
Imam Nawawi stated: “As for the meaning of silaturrahim, it is doing good towards one’s family appropriate with the situation of the person wants to be connected with and the person who wants to connect. Sometimes, it can be in the form of goodness by giving in the form of wealth, sometimes physical help, sometimes by visiting them, offering salam and others.” 
Al-Hafiz Ibnu Hajar said: al-Rahim (الرحم) generally means close family. Among them are those from the same nasab (lineage), whether they are those who are rightful to inherit or otherwise and his mahram or not. According to another opinion, they are only from among one’s mahram (a close family who is prohibited to be married). The first opinion is stronger, for according to the limitation of the second opinion, one’s nieces and nephews and cousins are not close families because they aren’t prohibited to be married when this is not so. 
Syeikh Mulla Ali al-Qari said that silaturrahim is a phrase that describes doing good towards one’s close families – regardless of whether it follows one’s lineage or by marriage – being polite and loving them as well as caring and ensuring their well-being. 
Whereas, Ibn al-Athir said: “Numerous hadiths mentioned silaturrahim. It is a kinayah (it means an indirect way of saying) to do good towards one’s family member of the same lineage, or family by marriage, by being polite and loving them as well as taking note of their affairs and well-being. While severing silaturrahim is the opposite of all of these.” 
Allah SWT states:
وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا
“And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed, Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.” 
Ibn Kathir cited al-Dahhak saying: “Have taqwa towards Allah and with Him, you have agreed to an agreement and understanding, and you should beware of severing silaturrahim, but strive to do good and maintain it.” This interpretation is the opinion of Ibn Abbas, Ikrimah, Mujahid, al-Hasan, al-Dahhak, al-Rabi’ and other various scholars.
Some scholars recite ‘والأرحامِ’ with khafadh (kasrah) as the athaf (connector) of the dhamir “بِهِ”, which means all of you are supplicating for each other to Allah and silaturrahim relationship, as stated by Mujahid and others. 
In another verse, Allah SWT states:
وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِن بَعْدُ وَهَاجَرُوا وَجَاهَدُوا مَعَكُمْ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ مِنكُمْ ۚ وَأُولُو الْأَرْحَامِ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلَىٰ بِبَعْضٍ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّـهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
“And those who believed after [the initial emigration] and emigrated and fought with you – they are of you. But those of [blood] relationship are more entitled [to inheritance] in the decree of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Knowing of all things.” 
Ibn Kathir said: It is not meant in the statement of Allah SWT: “وَأُولُو الْأَرْحَامِ” (with his Kith and kin) people with a specific character as presented by faraidh scholars, that is those who don’t have any right in the inheritance through fardhu and asobah, however, all heirs such as maternal aunts and uncles, paternal aunts, sons of daughters (granddaughter), sons of daughters (nephews) and others as acknowledged as among those mentioned in the verse of al-Quran, moreover they are certain that this matter is clear. However, the truth is it is a general verse that includes the whole family such as what is emphasized by Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ikrimah, al-Hasan al-Basri, Qatadah and other scholars. 
Allah SWT also states:
وَالَّذِينَ يَصِلُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللَّـهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ وَيَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ وَيَخَافُونَ سُوءَ الْحِسَابِ
“And those who join that which Allah has ordered to be joined and fear their Lord and are afraid of the evil of [their] account,” 
Syeikh al-Maraghi said: They maintain the bond of silaturrahim as commanded by Allah SWT. They treat and communicate with their families with love and care. Next, they do and treat the poor and needy with kindness, do good, and protect them from dangers according to their capabilities. 
According to the above discussion and explanation, it can be understood that the meaning of silaturrahim is maintaining relations with family whether they are from the same lineage or family by marriage through various means such as visiting them, offering help to them when they are in need, being caring and courteous and always keep in touch with them and others.
The warning against severing silaturrahim
Severin silaturrahim is included as a major sin according to the ijmak of scholars. Severing silaturrahim may be in the form of hurting the feelings of his close family and isolating them whether by not being good towards them such as not giving to them when they are in need when one is actually capable to help in terms of financial help or not visiting them without any valid reasons. An example of a valid reason is one not having money to help or only having money to fulfil his needs which is prioritized for him to spend on himself.
Rasullullah PBUH said:
لَيْسَ الوَاصِلُ بِالمُكَافِئ، وَلكِنَّ الوَاصِلَ الَّذِي إِذَا قَطَعَتْ رَحِمُهُ وَصَلَهَا
“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.” 
This hadith signals that a man who maintains his kinship ties is his family who severed the tie with him is prioritized compared to the person who also maintains the relationship with him, for it is a noble character encouraged by syarak.
Imam al-Nawawi said: “Maintaining silaturrahim means doing good to one’s close family following the situation of the connector and the connection; for it may happen by giving or helping financially, sometimes by offering service or help, sometimes by coming over for visits, offering and answering salam and others.” 
Severing silaturrahim can happen by hurting the other person, not visiting him that makes the person feels left out or isolated, or they are from the fuqara that are in dire need of help when one is wealthy exceeding his needs and he is capable to help, however, he still refuses to help.
Allah SWT states:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا
“O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed, Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.” 
Allah SWT further states:
فَهَلْ عَسَيْتُمْ إِن تَوَلَّيْتُمْ أَن تُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَتُقَطِّعُوا أَرْحَامَكُمْ ﴿٢٢﴾ أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ لَعَنَهُمُ اللَّـهُ فَأَصَمَّهُمْ وَأَعْمَىٰ أَبْصَارَهُمْ
“So, would you perhaps, if you turned away, cause corruption on earth and sever your [ties of] relationship? Those [who do so] are the ones that Allah has cursed, so He deafened them and blinded their vision.” 
This verse explains to us that we should fear Allah and not sever silaturrahim.
According to this verse, al-Qurtubi said in relation to the word أَرْحَامَكُمْ : “The word Rahim can have both a general and specific meaning. It is meant by the general meaning is who are those considered family according to the religion. They are your brothers of the same religion. They are your brothers in faith although you don’t share the same family ties. Hence, it is obligatory for you to maintain silaturrahim based on your faith with love, helping each other, advising each other, do not harm one another, being fair, and fulfilling their rights such as the obligatory right of bathing them after they passed away, praying over them (funeral prayer), burying them and other rights such as visiting them when they are sick.
As for Rahim from the angle of specific meaning is one’s family from both the paternal and maternal side. Thus, it is obligatory for them to fulfil their specific rights appropriate with the situation such as providing sustenance and doesn’t neglect promised matters in times where they need it.” 
Rasullullah PBUH said:
وَمَنْ كانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ والْيوم الآخِر، فَلْيصلْ رَحِمَهُ …
“…and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain well the ties of blood relationship,” 
From Anas bin Malik, Rasullullah PBUH said:
مَنْ أَحبَّ أَنْ يُبْسَطَ لَهُ في رِزقِهِ ويُنْسأَ لَهُ في أَثرِهِ فَلْيصِلْ رحِمهُ
“Whoever loves that he be granted more wealth and that his lease of life is prolonged then he should keep good relations with his Kith and kin.” 
Narrated from Jubair bin Muth’im RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:
لاَ يَدْخُلُ الجَنَّةَ قَاطِعٌ
“The one who severs the ties of kinship will not enter Paradise.” 
The meaning of “will not enter Paradise” here is not included with those who are among the first to enter paradise (it doesn’t mean that he will never enter paradise when he has faith and is a believer).
Methodology of maintaining silaturrahim and situations when it is permissible to sever silaturrahim
There are various ways to maintain silaturrahim. Among them are:
- If it is possible, you can go and visit your Rahim/close family and never neglect them. You should visit them. It is not enough for you to only send your regards to them without visiting them. Although, it is sufficient to only send your regards in certain situations. However, if you are living in the same area, state or district and you do not visit him in the first, second and third year when you are capable, then this is the sin of severing silaturrahim.
- However, if the Rahim or close family dislikes or detests others from entering his house and the person knows of this fact, then he isn’t sinful, for the other person dislikes it if he did so. The responsibility is abrogated by him. However, it is still necessary for him to send his regards or salam verbally through the phone or in writing. It is easier now with the existence of SMS, social media, WhatsApp, Twitter and others.
- However, if his family loves others visiting his house and allows this, then it is not enough for one to just send his regards for a long time without meeting. However, if they had just met recently, then it is sufficient to only send one’s regards.
- Although, if a person isn’t capable such as if one lives far away, out of state or overseas and it is not easy for him to visit his family, if he disappears for 3 years, for instance, but still sends his regards from time to time, then this is fine.
- If he visits his close family but found that the other person isn’t home, then he should leave a message at the door or to the neighbours: “I came to visit you, but you weren’t home.” This is enough.
Among the permissible reasons for a person to not visit his family is when he learns that his family has committed riddah/denounced Islam such as by insulting Allah, the prophets, angels or making fun of the Quran and others, hence, it isn’t necessary to maintain silaturrahim with such a person any longer.
It is permissible to sever silaturrahim if his family is fasiq such as if the person drinks alcoholic drinks, neglects his prayer, commits adultery and others. It should be reminded that it is impermissible to sever silaturrahim with him except after one has advised him to stop with his sins and made him realize that they are wrong and for him to leave the sins.
Allah SWT states:
وَالَّذِينَ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللّهِ مِن بَعْدِ مِيثَاقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَآ أَمَرَ اللّهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الأَرْضِ أُوْلَئِكَ لَهُمُ اللَّعْنَةُ وَلَهُمْ سُوءُ الدَّارِ
“But those who break the covenant of Allah after contracting it and sever that which Allah has ordered to be joined and spread corruption on earth – for them is the curse, and they will have the worst home.” 
Ibn Abi Jamrah said: “Silaturrahim can be maintained through financial assistance, helping when he is in need, helping him to avoid harm, being nice and polite towards him and supplicating for him. All of this must be done only if the family member is consistent or istiqamah in good deeds. However, if they are from among the disbelievers and often commit sins and transgressions, then severing silaturrahim with them to do it for the sake of Allah SWT and strive to advise them (according to one’s capability), then informing him that if he continues in evil and transgressions then it will be the cause of the severing of silaturrahim. Hence, such an act is the true meaning of maintaining silaturrahim with them.” 
However, one should remember that the relationship with them (those who are evil and fasiq) continues even though it is severed by one always supplicating for them so that Allah SWT will guide them back towards the right and good path.
The Prophet PBUH said:
أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَفْشوا السَّلامَ، وَأَطْعِمُوا الطَّعَامَ، وصلوا الأرحام وَصَلُّوا باللَّيْل وَالنَّاسُ نِيامٌ، تَدخُلُوا الجَنَّةَ بِسَلامٍ يَاَ
“O people, extend greetings (saying Salam to each other), keep relations with your kin, provide food (to people) and pray at night when people are asleep and you will enter Paradise in peace.” 
This hadith explains and ask us to do the following four matters:
First: Spread salam that is give or offer salam to those who you know and do not know.
Second: Provide food and drink especially to those in need.
Third: Maintain silaturrahim with close family.
Fourth: Pray at night when people are asleep and remember Allah SWT.
Severing silaturrahim is among the reasons why a person’s punishment is hastened in this world before Judgement Day. Rasullullah PBUH said:
مَا مِنْ ذَنْبٍ أَجْدَرُ أَنْ يُعَجِّلَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى لِصَاحِبِهِ الْعُقُوبَةَ فِي الدُّنْيَا مَعَ مَا يَدَّخِرُ لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِثْلُ الْبَغْيِ وَقَطِيعَةِ الرَّحِمِ
“There is no sin more fitted to have punishment meted out by Allah to its perpetrator in advance in this world along with what He stores up for him in the next world than oppression and severing ties of relationship.” 
Rasullullah PBUH said:
مَنْ سَرَّهُ أَنْ يُمِدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُ فِي عُمُرِهِ وَيُوَسِّعَ لَهُ فِي رِزْقِهِ وَيَدْفَعَ عَنْهُ مَيْتَةَ السُّوءِ فَلْيَتَّقِ اللَّهَ وَلْيَصِلْ رَحِمَهُ
“Whoever would like his lifespan to be extended, his provision to be increased and a bad death to be warded off from him, let him fear Allah and uphold his ties of kinship.” 
Thus, according to the evidences presented, maintaining and connecting silaturrahim is a religious commandment. May all of us are included amongst those who connect and maintain silaturrahim. Amin.
 See al-Mufradat fi Gharib al-Quran, pg. 347
 Narrated by al-Bukhari (5986) and Muslim (2557)
 See Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 16/114
 Narrated by al-Bukhari (5983)
 See al-Minhaj fi Syarh Sahih Muslim Ibn al-Hajjaj, 1/287
 See Fath al-Bari, 10/414
 See Mirqat al-Mafatih, 8/645
 See al-Nihayah fi Gharib al-Hadith, 5/191-192
 Surah al-Nisa’ (1)
 See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 3/332
 Surah al-Anfal (75)
 See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 2/302
 Surah al-Ra’d (21)
 See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 7/3510
 Narrated by al-Bukhari (5991)
 See Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 2/201
 Surah al-Nisaa’:1
 Surah Muhammad: 22-23
 See al-Jami’ li Ahkam Al-Quran, 8/164
 Narrated by al-Bukhari (4830)
 Narrated by al-Bukhari (5986) and Muslim (2557)
 Narrated by Al-Bukhari (2408) and Muslim (593)
 Surah ar-Ra’d : 25
 See Fath al-Bari Syarah Sohih Al-Bukhari, 13/521
 Narrated by Ibnu Majah (3251)
 Narrated by Abu Daud (4902), al-Tirmizi (2511) and Ibnu Majah (4211)
 Narrated by Imam Ahmad (1171) and al-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam al-Ausat (3108)