Maintaining relationships with relatives is described in Islamic literature using the term “silat ar-Rahim”. The word “rahim” means “womb,” and “sila” means “tie.” Relations with family members are established through rahim, i.e., the womb. Much like the umbilical cord that connects the fetus to the womb, there is also a spiritual network of cords that bind family members to each other. 

“Ar-Rahman” and “ar-rahim,” are two names of our Lord, and the terms “rahmah (mercy)” and “rahim” (womb) stem from the same word root. This root means “to spare, to protect and to show mercy.” (Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-’Arab, XVIII, 1611) However, the relationship between “rahman” and “rahim” cannot solely be explained through their linguistic roots. This is because Allah the Most Merciful grants His mercy not only to humans but also to animals through their mother’s womb. Even the wildest animals display compassion to their offspring. This implies that heavenly mercy is channeled through the mother’s womb. In two of his hadiths, the Prophet (saw) said, “Rahim is a tie extended from ar-Rahman and tied to the heavens.” (Ibn Hibban, Sahih, II, 185) and “The womb is named after ar-Rahman.” (Tirmidhi, Birr, 16; Bukhari, Adab, 13) Therefore there are two types of ties: one is the relationship between rahman and rahim, and the other type is the relationship among the relatives who were born from the same womb. In both relationships, there is a flow of mercy and compassion among the parties. As long as these relationships continue, mercy and compassion will continue to flow. In one of the hadith, the Prophet (saw) said, “Allah the Exalted has said, I am ar-Rahman, and the name of relative ties is rahim. I have derived its name from My name. If anyone joins it, I shall join him, and if anyone cuts it off, I shall cut him off.” (Abu Dawud, Zakat, 45; Ibn Hanbal, I, 195)