The word Seleh Rahem is composed of two words. Rahem means the place of growth of the baby in the abdomen and uterus . Figuratively, this word means the relationship among relatives. Some philologists see the reason for this naming due to the role of womb in creating affection and kindness. Also, in narrations, it goes that that the word Rahem (womb) is derived from the name of Allah that is from the beautiful name Rahman (Beneficent).
The root of word Seleh is from Vasl (meaning gift or award). The term is also used in case that when something is required for something else, and it is used in contrast to the word cut or separation.
So, the concept Seleh Rahem (visiting the relatives) includes the relationship with one’s kindred is associated with warmth and kindness. Kinship is of two types: blood and in law. Development of relief and charity is important in Islam. If in Mohammadi Sharia there is emphasis on relatives and visiting relatives, its main reason to be each others' partners in the suffering, Imam Reza (A.S.) said:
“Visit relatives although with a glass of water. The best visiting of relatives is to refrain from harassing relatives.”
A notable point is that the relatives are of two kinds: material and spiritual. Based on the multiple narratives, it can be said that the Holy Prophet and the Ahl al-Bayt are Muslims’ spiritual relatives.
Kinship ritual or visiting relatives is one of the most important ethical and legal strategies in Islam to create social solidarity. Kinship network is strengthened and consolidated through visiting relatives. Visiting relatives is a social and religious behavior suggesting intimacy and affection. Basically, the relationship with others is a human need and visiting relatives is one of the most important mechanisms for the satisfaction of this basic need. Kinship relationship is the basis for blooming of talents and detection of capabilities. In the shadow of warm human relationship, people feel the sense of peace and satisfaction and get rid of mental tension and stress and find a positive response to their inner needs.
According to Islam, looking at relatives is looking at the blessings and divine values. If relatives do not communicate with each other or attempt to cut off the womb, they have committed ingratitude and devastating effects await them. Religiosity is related to visiting relatives, so that the womb cut leads to man's getting out of cooperation and convergence and moving towards disbelief. Visiting relatives has a dramatic impact on well-being, as well as mental and social health. One factor that shapes religious education is visiting relatives. It can be also noted that kinship relationship is one of the rights of relatives in relation to each other.
The concept of visiting relatives in psychology
In most psychological theories, it is assumed that there is a fundamental requirement for a close relationship with others. This means that in case of not meeting this need, healthy human performance is compromised. In the field of social psychology and personality psychology, many studies have been done on the importance of intimate relationships. Many of these studies have been conducted under the title of attachment .
In the context of attachment theory, it is generally assumed that the relationships between children and their caregivers is the primary form of their later relationships with others and secure attachment with caregivers is crucial for healthy relationships in the next life and health and welfare. Sarason et al (1991) see the concept of attachment in childhood and adulthood’s perceived social support as parallel concepts. According to this view, people who experience a reliable communication with their first caregivers, their working patterns formed from other people indicate that they are accessible and supportive. These working patterns are dynamics cognitive structures that include person's perceptions and expectations in connection with the important people who are beneficial and effective in the reduction of distress.
Bowlby believes that, although working patterns related to self and others arise in early infancy, they continue to grow and affect action-oriented change and perception of communication in adulthood, and although later experiences of interaction with specific people affect perceptions of support, feedback towards others established early in life affect desire and overall trends of assessment of availability of support or its lack.
Among developmental theorists, Piaget also considers social development inevitably linked with the whole of human evolution. People learn things of the world from experience and social interactions and attempt to adapt and learn and practice social skills learned in previous interactions and turn to experience. It also seems that through observational learning, introduced by Bandura, there is the attempt to learn social behavior. A child who has seen his mother's interacting with relatives shall practice it in his games and saves it in his behavior treasury to use in the future. So, if a girl has witnessed healthy relationships, her adult behavior with other people is also influenced by it. Bandura goes so far as to say that moral standards grow through interaction with patterns.
Adler also introduced and defined the concept of "social interest" as follows:
“Innate talent of the person to work with others to achieve personal and social goals”
Since cooperation involves desirable social relations; therefore, social interest is very close to the concept of visiting relatives. Although in Adler's view social forces affect us much more than biological forces, talent is an innate social interest. However, the degree to which our innate talent is actualized for social interest depends on our early experiences.
Maybe that's why Bowlby refers to the delicate mother-child interaction that forms child's attachment behavior. Bowlby believed that attachment behavior is derived from a natural need and acquisition, which has two important actions: one, support actions that gives safety to child and gives the opportunity to learn the necessary activities for survival from his mother and the other is the action of socializing. Baby attachment during the life cycles develops from mother to close ones and then to the strangers and eventually spread to wider groups and becomes a key factor for the child's personality structure.
From among other theories which have referred to human and social relations, one can name Karen Horney's theory. Horney believed that the kind of relationships we establish with others depends on how we defend ourselves against "basic anxiety." According to Horney, basic anxiety is "overarching feeling and gradually increasing a sense of being alone and helpless in the hostile world," in terms of Horney, as a child, we try in four ways to protect ourselves against the basic anxiety: by gaining affection and love of others, being submissive, gaining power or by withdrawing.
These four self-protection mechanisms, which Horney introduced, have one goal and that is defense against the basic anxiety. For example, in being submissive, with information from the others the person is sure that he will not get damage from them. Moreover, when a person comes to power, others could no longer damage him, so in terms of Horney all human neurosis- based relationships of humans are rooted in the "basic anxiety." Horney introduced three neurosis-based tendencies of self-protection mechanisms. Go towards people (submissive character) move against the people (violent character), move away from the people (separate character).
Although childhood has an important role informing adult social relations, due to cultural issues and changes, human relations cannot be properly analyzed. For example, as a result of the events of social change, such as advances in technology and communications, the type of human relationship has changed. Today, it is possible that visiting relatives may happen by telephone, SMS or e-mail, but some people believe that the depth of relationship among people is less compared to the past and people feel more alone than the past. As Erich Fromm says, by gaining more freedom, people are feeling more loneliness and meaninglessness and on the contrary as people have had less freedom, the sense of belonging and security is higher.
Therefore, visiting relatives, as a manifestation of psychological need satisfaction, has an impact on quality of life through mental relaxation, reducing anxiety and physical pain as well as linking with God. Psychologically, this concept can be justified as when people establish intimate relationships with others they receive unconditional positive feedback and feel that others have respect for them, thus, according to the theory of Rogers, consistency is created between self and experience which is effective on people's well-being.
On the other hand, visiting relatives can obviate frustration in the hostile world which creates anxiety. When one receives love and intimacy from others, they are no more hostile and harmful. Moreover, through communication with others, as Adler also mentioned in his concept of social interest as a part of our lifestyle, we can solve and even remove the difficulties of life.
Imam Reza (A.S.) has offered a variety of statements regarding the status of family relationships. There are several narrations which have been quoted from the noble Imam, some of which are quoted in the following.
First example: Imam Reza (A.S.) established a structural relationship between visiting relatives and piety. Imam said:
“Who is not associated with relatives does not have the piety of God”.
Second example: In a letter sent to his child, Imam stated:
“One of the graces that God has put upon you is that if you visit your relatives, God will expand your sustenance”
Third example: A person named Ismail lbn Saeed al-Ash'ari asked Imam Reza (A.S.), "A man has sworn to cut the relationships with his relatives. What's the verdict? "
“Vow is not permissible in the case of a sinful act and in the same way swearing is not permissible in cutting relationships with relatives”.
Fourth example: A long story from Imam Reza (A.S.) is quoted through Mohammad Ibn Nasr. In that narration, Imam has described the features of a true believer. While saying the issue of visiting the relatives, Imam also said that respecting the ties of kinship has sublime status at God’s presence.