My family recently celebrated my younger brother’s 25th birthday and it was the first time in five years that we got to celebrate it together as he was previously studying abroad. Transitioning into a working adult, a realisation hit me during the family dinner that I hadn’t been spending enough time to keep up to date with my siblings. What is my brother’s favourite colour now? Have my little sister started dating? If so, Who? How is my youngest brother doing at school?

Now that I am an adult, I’ve forgotten how they used to be my worst enemies. They were! I got easily annoyed when my clothes were borrowed without asking; got jealous when they were bought new toys or tattled on me to our parents. But then I recently found an article that cited a survey from British retailer – 2,000 adults found that they grew closer to their siblings as they got older, and 25 was the golden age that we finally start to feel real love for them. I have heard friends and acquaintances’ stories on how they’re not on good terms with their own siblings, and this saddens me. Admittedly, misunderstandings happen and I’ve had my share of disputes with my siblings when we were younger.

But Allah SWT said in Quran (49:10): “The believers are but brothers, so make reconciliation between your brothers and fear Allah that you may receive mercy.”

Another verse reiterating this is in Quran (3:103): “Hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. Remember the favour of Allah upon you, when you were enemies and he brought your hearts together and you become brothers by his favour.”

Alhamdulillah, my parents have been ardent in instilling ‘tough love’ and being exemplary role models themselves, they nurtured the love and harmony in our family. Being the eldest of my siblings too, I remember my parents (and I believe that all parents) once said to me, “Show kindness and compassion towards your younger siblings, and Insha Allah they will return it with their respect to you. You are connected to each other by blood. Avoid any dissent as you only have each other when we’re no longer around.”

Now it’s high time for me to keep up with my siblings. And this reminded of several hadiths mentioning that the Prophet Muhammad SAW played and joked with children to make them laugh and raced with his wives!

Abu Dawood recorded a narration by Aisyah RA that while she was on a journey with the Messenger of Allah, she had a race with the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and won. Later, after she had gained some weight, she again raced him, but this time he won.

To make things worse, family connection is even harder in the era of gadgets and social media – despite sitting on the same table, each one is now busy on their own phones and minding their own business.

With information readily-available at our fingertips, I honestly Googled “things to do with your siblings” just a few days ago to find some inspiration. It seems like café-hunting, movie outings and good ol’ grocery shopping make the list! After all, if we rectify our niat or intention to spend money on our family for the sake of Allah SWT, it will be an act of sadaqah (charity) and Allah SWT will reward us with pahala (rewards), Insha Allah!

“Without a doubt, when a Muslim spends money on his family while considering (the action as worship), it is an act of charity,” Prophet Muhammad SAW (As narrated from Abu Mas’ud al Badri and reported by Imam Ahmad, Bukhari and Muslim).