Those of us growing up with siblings may have had mixed emotions about this experience. Squabbling and arguing is the norm between brothers and sisters, as is running around and playing together. It is an integral part of growing up that we hardly ponder upon. But having another person – or several people – alongside you as you journey through childhood is in fact quite special and rewarding!
We tend to take our siblings for granted because our relationship is tested throughout life with different struggles and emotions. We rarely see our siblings as a form of blessing from Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He), nor do we realise that we can obtain barakah from them. But with every brother or sister, there comes an opportunity for us to do good and to earn reward.
So, here is how we can use our relationships with our siblings to earn barakah in our lives from Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He).
Sadaqah jariyah opportunity: passing on knowledge
Abu Hurairah raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: sadaqah jariyah (ceaseless charity); a knowledge which is beneficial, or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (for the deceased).” [Muslim]
Beneficial knowledge, which you pass on to your siblings, is something that will be on your scale of good deeds.
Regardless of what age you reach, constantly reminding your siblings and encouraging them to be steadfast upon the straight path of Islam is something you can easily do. Whether you have a large age gap or merely a year – there is plenty that can be passed on to benefit your beloved sister or brother.
Link to childhood blessings
There are times in life when you face difficulty and hardship. In those moments, it can seem like happy and fun days never existed; our minds get blinded by what our eyes presently see. The beauty of siblings is that they are our link to our childhood blessings.
As a child, you are innocent and full of life; you are relaxed and carefree. Being reminded of this should be embraced because it refreshes your soul and reminds you to view life in a more positive, grateful way.
Reminder of your parents
A time will come when your parents are no longer with you. Your siblings are the ones who can share the past experiences and precious memories of the special family times.
They can also remind you of your parents’ habits and qualities; the smile of your brother or voice of your sister may be exactly the same as your mum or dad’s was. This is a great blessing because when we are reminded of our parents, our hearts soften and we can instantly make dua for them.
“My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.” [Qur’an: Chapter 17, Verse 24]
Sometimes you argue with your siblings and then feel like you do not have a good relationship. While this may be the case in some instances, more often than not, Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) has blessed those who have siblings with a lifelong friend.
This is a relationship that lasts until your time comes to return back to Him subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). Your siblings are people you can always share ideas, feelings and concerns with. This is one friendship you should always work on nourishing as it comes with the major reward of upholding the ties of kinship.
Improved mental health
Some research show that having siblings around you reduces your risk of depression and anxiety. Siblings provide support network. They could remove the dangers of loneliness and isolation. They are your shoulder to cry on and the voice of reason when you are struggling to see things clearly.
Role model and motivation
We all look up to people in our lives that have achieved something great. We want to copy and achieve something similar.
The blessing of having siblings is that you see someone who has had similar opportunities as you hit new heights: passing exams, getting a job, getting married, having children. You share these life events and have a first-hand experience of the struggles your siblings experienced to achieve such things.
Equally important is the fact that you witness your siblings in the midst of their mistakes; learn from their mistakes and follow in their footsteps with an understanding they may not have had.
Research has shown that children who grow up with siblings do better in their intellectual growth patterns than those without the continuous stimulus of siblings.
Brothers and sisters are a daily source of interaction, conversation and debate. Younger siblings pick up words, ideas and actions simply by imitating what they see. Elder siblings are given the opportunity to teach whatever they know to their brothers and sisters. This is an immense blessing as these interactions play a role in the development of an individual and will continue to manifest as a person progresses through adulthood.
Someone to assist
It is well known that helping another Muslim is an act of charity. Be it smiling at them or aiding them, any form of kindness an act of worship in the eyes of Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He).
It is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:
“If anyone relieves a Muslim believer from one of the hardships of this worldly life, Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) will relieve him of one of the hardships of the Day of Resurrection. If anyone makes it easy for the one who is indebted to him (while finding it difficult to repay), Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) will make it easy for him in this worldly life and in the Hereafter, and if anyone conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) will conceal his faults in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) helps His slave as long as he helps his brother.” [Muslim]
Change your perspective
Sometimes, all we need to do is change the way we look at things. In Islam, earning reward from Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) is as easy as correcting your intention. How lovely would it be, that from this day forth, even our beautifully complex relationships with our brothers and sisters become an avenue of earning generous amounts of reward for the Hereafter?