What is the judgment about living completely away from other people and breaking all relationships with one’s family?

Details of the Question
What is the judgment about living completely away from other people and breaking all relationships with one’s family?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Living away from other people can be permissible if it has a justifiable reason. For instance, not to be friends with people who are definitely harmful is something justifiable both religiously and worldly. As a matter of fact, some people in the Islamic history lived in seclusion. 

It is not appropriate to keep away from other people if there is not a serious reason. In Islam, serving people is essential, not living in seclusion. The following hadith asks people to live together with other people:“The best people are those who are most useful to other people.” (Faydu'l-Qadir, 3/480)

Besides, we need to take many lessons from the following hadith:“A believer who lives with other people and shows patience against their infliction is better than a believer who lives away from other people and who does not show patience against their infliction.” (Bukhari, Adabu’l Mufrad, 388) It is possible to evaluate this hadith for all aspects of the life and community.

It is not something preferable to live away from people just because one wants to relax and to satisfy his emotions.

Breaking the family relationships is very different. Sila ar-rahm (taking care of close relatives) is a very important duty and an important source of reward in Islam; breaking off ties with them brings about great responsibility. There are levels of family members. For instance, we cannot keep away from our parents. Uncles and aunts are regarded like fathers and mothers. Brothers are like that, too. There are many lessons to be drawn from the following hadith: “Establish good relationships with those who break off ties with you; grant to those who deprive you of what you desire. Do not retaliate against those who wrong you; forgive them!” (Majmau’z-zawaid, 8/188).

We should not forget that it is not permissible for a believer to be cross with another believer for more than three days. (see Abu Dawud, Adab  47) It is worse to be cross with a believing relative.

However, it is not objectionable, in fact, it is preferable to keep away from people who will definitely harm you religiously and ethically. One of the most important good or bad factors regarding religion and ethics is our environment that we are closely related to.   

Some hadiths regarding the issue:

“He who shows no mercy, will receive no mercy.” (Bukhari, Adab 18, Tawhid 2; Muslim, Fadail 66)

“A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. He will not lie to him or betray him; he will not abandon helping him. The honor, property and blood of a Muslim is haram for another Muslim. Taqwa lies here. Despising one’s Muslim brother is enough for evil.” (Tirmidhi, Birr, 18)

"Do not quarrel with your Muslim brother; do not make jokes that he will not like; do not make him a promise that you will not keep." (Tirmidhi, Birr, 58)

“A person who cannot behave leniently is regarded to be deprived of all kinds of good deeds.” (Muslim, Birr, 74–76)

“A nice word is sadaqah.” (Bukhari, Adab 34, Jihad 128, Muslim, Zakah 56)

“Do not be like the people who say ‘we will do favors if everybody does and we will commit unjust deeds if everybody commits unjust deeds’; do favors to those who do you favors but do not unjust deeds against those who commit bad deeds against you.” (Tirmidhi, Birr, 63)

"A Muslim is a person from whose hands and tongue other Muslims are free. A muhajir (migrant) is someone who keeps away from what Allah has prohibited." (Bukhari, Iman 4, 5, Riqaq 26; Muslim, Iman 64-65)

"A person who breaks off ties with his relatives cannot enter Paradise." (Bukhari, Adab, 11; Muslim, Birr, 18)

"A strong person is not the one who is strong in wrestling but who controls his soul when he is furious." (Bukhari, Adab, 76.)

"A person who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment should not harm his neighbor and should entertain his guest generously. A person who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment should talk what is good or keep quiet." (Bukhari, Adab, 31, 85; Muslim, Iman, 74, 75)

“A person who helps widows and the poor is like a person who fights in the way of Allah or a person who fasts during the day and worships during the night.” (Bukhari, Nafaqat, 1; Muslim, Zuhd, 41)

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