Have you ever pondered why relationships are so central to our lives? Why we find ourselves incapable of functioning optimally in a state of loneliness? And, most notably, why people who don’t understand the importance of relationships end up sad, anxious and depressed?
We can find the answers to these questions if we take a deeper glimpse at human nature and the way it instinctively behaves.
We, as humans, are predisposed to form relationships with other human beings. It is in our very nature to do so, and this fact is greatly highlighted in the Qur’anic story of Adam (AS) where Allah (SWT) decided to bless him with a wife in Paradise so that he could, by means of socializing and communicating with her, come out of his state of overwhelming loneliness.
It is the formation of such relationships which helps us in achieving optimum performance, maximum potential, and self-actualization. Thus, any attempt at being individualistic and careless of those dependent on you will surely result in anxiety and regret, for it is a deviation from our natural positioning. The Prophet ﷺ said,
الْمُؤْمِنُ الَّذِي يُخَالِطُ النَّاسَ ، وَيَصْبِرُ عَلَى أَذَاهُمْ ، أَعْظَمُ أَجْرًا مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِ الَّذِي لَا يُخَالِطُ النَّاسَ ، وَلَا يَصْبِرُ عَلَى أَذَاهُمْ
“The believer who mixes with people and bears their annoyance with patience will have a greater reward than the believer who does not mix with people and does not put up with their annoyance.” – (Sunan Ibn Majah)
It is for this reason that we are recognized not only as mere individuals but as a socially connected species which identifies itself as fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, neighbors, friends and a whole barrage of other relational tags, which vary according to the nature of these associations.
Moreover, it must be noted that although no relationship is trivial, some are definitely more important than others. This is effectively pronounced in the famous prophetic tradition where the Prophet of Allah ﷺ ranked the status of a mother three times as higher than that of the father. Thus, establishing the principle that all relationships are not the same, and that some require more attention and emphasis than the rest.
In the light of the principle mentioned above, one relationship surely stands high and above the rest, and that is the relationship of a husband and wife as enunciated through the spiritual contract of marriage. This relationship is central to the Islamic social cause, for it marks the beginning of a family, the indisputable foundation or building block of an ethical, spiritual and moral society.
The weight of its significance in society brings with it the burden of responsibility, which although is the inevitable outcome of any relationship but is especially emphasized in the case of marriage.
It requires care, consideration, kindness, and above all, sacrifice to build, maintain and manage relationships, and the importance of these acts is greatly augmented when it comes to a relationship as vital as that of a husband and wife, which is necessary for the self-fulfillment of both the individuals involved. The Prophets ﷺ said,
خَيْرُكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ لأَهْلِهِ
” The best of you is the one best to his wives” (Jami Tirmidhi)
In the larger scheme of things, it is not just a contract between two individuals, but the connection which holds an entire nation together. It is the bond which is responsible for the preservation of our values, vision and ideology, and most importantly, its transfer to the next generation of people to come.
Hence, it can be concluded that managing relationships is not for the self-centered and selfish, but the characteristic of those who are capable of being truly caring, patient and altruistic. And, that the impact of a well-managed successful relationship does not only manifest in the people involved in that relationship but has a far-reaching influence on the society at large. Thus, it is vital that we build, protect, enrich, manage and cherish the relationships we have in order to reach our true potential, and not only contribute to our own growth as individuals but to the progress of the society as a whole.