Visiting relatives has several consequences. A look at the religious texts on the functions of visiting relatives makes one surprised and puzzled. From the functionalist perspective, one can understand the status and significance of kin relationships in the Islamic view. Visiting relatives can have personal as well as social effects. Happiness in this world and the Hereafter depends on warm and friendly kinship ties. Based on religious teachings and revelations, visiting relatives presents its logic on the human being in such a way that is absolutely important and effective for limited and unlimited life of humans.
Some benefits of visiting relatives are discussed in the following:
A) Increased lifespan
Based on Hadiths, establishing warm and friendly relationships with one’s relatives increases lifespan and brings blessing. Imam Reza (A.S) said:
I do not know anything more effective for a long life than visiting relatives. Sometimes there is someone with only three years left of his life, who visits relatives; God blesses him and adds 30 years to his lifespan making it 33. Sometimes there is someone with 33 years left of his life who stops visiting relatives; God reduces 30 years from his life and three years later he passes away.
B) Increase of Provision and Blessing
Of other positive effects of visiting relatives is the increase of sustenance and divine blessings. Two hadith can be cited in this regard. The first hadith is from Imam Reza (A.S) quoting Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.):
Whoever guarantees one thing for me, I will guarantee four things for him. Visit relatives so that God loves him, increases his sustenance, increases his life and enters him into Paradise.
The second narrative is a short but meaningful sentence from Imam Ali (A.S):
صِلَةُ الرَّحِمِ تُدِرُّ النِّعَمَ وَ تُدْفِعُ النِّقَم؛
Visiting relatives increases blessings and throws the troubles away.
C) Development of Lands
Visiting relatives may have other effects. Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) set a direct relationship between the ties of kinship and development of lands:
إِنَّ الصَّدَقَةَ وَ صِلَةَ الرَّحِمِ تُعَمِّرَانِ الدِّیَارَ وَ تَزِیدَانِ فِی الْأَعْمَار
Charity and visiting one’s relatives make landsfertile and prosperous and increases lifespan.
D) Leniency on Resurrection Day
If someone visits relatives, God will reward him in the Hereafter by facilitating his judgment. Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) said:
Goodness and mercy to parents and visiting relatives facilitate judgment on the Resurrection Day.
E) Population Growth
One of the effects of visiting relatives is that population grows up and reproduces. In Lady Fatima (A.S) ’s sermon, it goes:
فَرَض صِلَةَ الْأَرْحَامِ مَنْمَاةً لِلْعَدَدِ؛
God has made visiting relatives obligatory for the increase of population.
One point is worth noting. We know that today Iran faces population crisis and the number of younger people is reducing. Based on the aforementioned hadith, it can be understood that in the last two decades, some replacements for visiting relatives have emerged. Today, text messages and Internet have replaced family commutes and kinship gatherings. Human relationships have been replaced with technology and this has deprived humans of having warm relationships and face-to-face interactions. On the other hand, life conditions in metropolitan cities have made it difficult to visit relatives. Reduction of face to face interaction and the appearance of virtual alternatives mean a sharp decline in visiting relatives. Perhaps one of the factors creating crisis in Iran's population is decline of visiting relatives. In Ali's book, we encounter a shocking Hadith:
“There are three qualities whose owners do not die unless they face their punishment in this world; tyranny, cutting relations and false swearing by which one opposes God's command ... Indeed false swearing and cutting relations vacant lands from their people and sterilize wombs and uterus, which leads to ending of generation.”
Whenever we spend time with our relatives and friends, we feel that we have kinship and thus emotionally feel relaxed, which leads to enjoying better moods. Visiting relatives can be considered as a way to refine our moods, mental health and self-purification, and paves the ground for appropriate and valuable behaviors away from the distortion and deviation.
Research has shown that people who have healthy relationships with others are less affected by cardiovascular disease. Accordingly, this increases the possibility of prolonged lifespan. People can keep in contact with each other, and establish economic interactions which may increase their sustenance.
When we create intimate relationships with other people by visiting relatives, we can enjoy their social support. Emotional support and attention makes mental pressure tolerable. Generally, if people have to face events such as divorce, death of a beloved friend or a serious disease by themselves and without the help of others, these events become traumatic.
In addition to physical and mental benefits of visiting relatives obtained through social and emotional support, people achieve perfection by visiting relatives. This can be assessed in all kinds of visiting of the relatives; for example, one type of visiting is concerned with Prophet (P.B.U.H.) and the Imams (A.S) and their successors. According to Islam, benefitting from the religion and laws and commandments of God is solely possible by pursuing the practice and tradition of the infallibles. Therefore, in Islam, following leadership emanating from the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) and the Imams (A.S) is considered necessary and obligatory. As for teachers, it should be said that the learner during this communication, in addition to learning sciences, learns sincerity and purification of self, and this leads to flourishing talents.
Regarding the issue of respecting parents which is next to the relationship with God, the nature of gratitude and respect can be separated. In other words, since gratitude and appreciation involve a response to someone who helped us resolve a problem, this entails a mutual aid and assistance to him. However, respect, from another perspective, means revering others' views to preserve their dignity and esteem. In the logic of the Quran, respecting parents is next to respecting God. As for the spouses, it can be said that satisfying emotions and feelings, finding comfort, as well continuation of generations are among the educational goals. From a religious perspective, human beings and human society can grow and achieve excellence and perfection of intimacy with God in the light of this peace.
About man's relationship with other believers mentioned in Qur'an, it should be said that the discussion of educational goals within the individual believer's relationship with other fellow believers is creating a spirit of brotherhood and assistance towards the ultimate goal of intimacy with God. Obviously, the tendency to join a group and develop relationship with its members depends on compliance of the wishes and needs of the person, with theresponses that group gives to them. If someone’s criterion is to meet sublime needs and respond to this inner desire to get intimate with God, communication and relations will be greater than when the purpose is meeting earthly inferior needs.
As we saw, visiting relatives and healthy relationships with others, both individually and socially add to our compatibility, and spiritually, helps to human growth, excellence and closeness to the Lord.