I am in a situation where I am kind to my family but they are not to me. I came across this hadith; however I do not understand. Would you please be able to explain this hadith to me?
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: A man said to Messenger of Allah (PBUH): "I have relatives with whom I try to keep the ties of relationship but they sever relations with me; and whom I treat kindly but they treat me badly, I am gentle with them but they are rough to me.'' He (PBUH) replied, "If you are as you say, it is as if you are feeding them hot ashes, and you will be with a supporter against them from Allah as long as you continue to do so". [Muslim]. (from Radiyul saliheen)
It sounds like the man in question is the one doing the wrong thing here if he is the one feeding hot ashes to his family?
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
The hadith you quoted is not at all suggesting that the man who does good to his family in spite of his family being bad to him is doing a bad thing. There is no doubt that Islam teaches that one should be good to one's relatives even if they are not good in return. Maintaining ties of kinship is greatly encouraged and emphasised in the hadiths, as is well known even by those with minimal knowledge of Islam.
The hadith in question has been explained in three ways by Imam Nawawi (May Allah have mercy on him and elevate his status) in his commentary on Sahih Muslim (vol. 2 pg. 315):
1. The hadith compares the pain and suffering the ill-treating relatives will have to undergo in the hereafter to eating hot ashes. (This is due to their sinful act, not due to the kindness of the kind person.)
2. By the person being good to his relatives while they ill-treat him, he is in fact subjecting them to disgrace and humiliation just like a person subjects himself to disgrace and humiliation by eating hot ash.
3. By eating foodstuff acquired from the favour and kindness of the kind person, the ill-treating relatives are in fact filling their bellies with hot ashes (which will burn their bellies in the hereafter).
Whichever explanation one takes, the hadith is not discouraging the person from being kind and gentle to his relatives; instead it is encouraging the ill-treating relatives to stop their evil act and to instead be kind, gentle and gracious.
And Allah Ta'ala knows best
Mufti Faizal Riza
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