The family unit is the nucleus of society and ultimately civilization, Walia Ming says. *iStock photo
The family unit is the nucleus of society and ultimately civilization, Walia Ming says. *iStock photo

FRIDAY, FEB 1: Earlier this week, my dear cousin sent me a trove of pictures via computer from a family event that happened in 1982. 

The event was my grandmother, Edith Doar Minors’ birthday; I do not know what age she was celebrating as my grandmother was a ‘lady’ and did not reveal such vital stats! No way — she never revealed her age. 

Going over the pictures I could not help but reminisce — for a while I stepped back in time. The event was 31 years ago. 

I noticed that I was the hostess and more than that, it seemed as if my entire family and extended family were there.

It was held at my then two-bedroom, one-bathroom, small kitchen house in St George’s. 

What was even more astounding was the fact that more than 50 family members and friends were in attendance.

And no, it was not held outside, because it was on February 13, 1982, and there were no tents to rent at that time, and it would have been too cold to house it outside. 

Despite what might have been cramped conditions, it looks as if all that attended were having a good time.

There was no alcohol there either — just good food and fine company. We were all happy to be with one another to celebrate our beloved matriarch of the family’s birthday.

Yes, back then, family gatherings were held often and you did not have to have a grand house, or rent a hall to host family and friends being together.  Back then, we loved each other no matter what.

There was no status-identifying either, if your house was small it did not matter so long as it was clean and you had your family over. In those small rooms, love, life and laughter were abounding!

And guess what? I lived in St George’s and everybody was there — from Somerset to Hamilton Parish, the family came.

Celebration

It was not like today where everyone in Bermuda has a car or bike; no, back then you jumped on the bus to visit your family. Nothing hindered you from being with your loved ones.

No transportation — no problem — your family was going to be there, and that was never an opportunity to be missed.

Those family gatherings were the cement that kept families together. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins; meeting frequently to just celebrate the love of family.

This is the missing element today — there is no glue keeping us together.

We now measure each other by the material gains we have accumulated amongst each other — who has the biggest car, the biggest house — the biggest bull crap, I say!

Islam stresses the importance of family relationships; which concerns both close family as well as distant relatives. 

Several hadiths stress the importance of keeping family relations alive. One  states that the person who severs the bond of kinship will not enter Paradise (Sahih Bukhari 8:73:13). 

It is important to keep family ties close whether you live in the same country or not. Relatives that live abroad should keep in contact via visits and mail.

Today we also have Skype, e-mail, Facebook, and the Internet — so there is no excuse not to stay in contact.

I strongly believe the soul of Bermuda has died, because we have failed to keep love alive between our families.

The family unit is the nucleus of society and ultimately civilization. 

The state of the family presently is in a sad and unhealthy state.

We need to get back on track, and to do that, Allah says in the Noble Quran: “O you who believe, guard yourselves and your families from the Hell-fire whose fuel is men and stones…” (Quran 66:6).

The meaning of this verse was reiterated by the Prophet Muhammad when he said: “All of you are shepherds and all of you will be asked about your wards... The man is responsible for his household and will be asked about his responsibilities. 

“The wife will be asked about the house of her husband and her responsibilities.”

So we all have a role to play in keeping our family unit close and loving.

The guidance is there and we cannot afford to neglect it; the survival of our family is dependent upon it. And Allah knows best.