It is undeniable that communication forms an essential part of our life. In fact it is as important to us as air, food, clothing and shelter.
In this globalised era, the advantages and enjoyment brought about by technological advancement has changed the way people communicate with each other, be it positive or negative.
The Internet, for example, is the decisive technology of the Information Age, and with the explosion of wireless communication, mankind is now almost entirely connected. The availability of gadgets, like smartphones, is another example of how technology has changed the way people communicate with one another.
Some time ago, many used to say "hi" or "hello" to strangers as people then were more receptive to greetings. However, these days, people prefer to spend money to buy gadgets in order to stay in touch with others who are far away rather than getting close to those nearer to them.
Having dinner with family members used to be a beautiful moment when the mother exhibited her culinary skills, brothers spoke of their sports events at school, sisters talked about their new dolls, while a younger sibling snatched a piece of fried chicken from her sister's plate. Today, this once quality occasion has turned into a boring eating session with almost everyone hooked to his or her mobile phones, which have become increasingly popular among people throughout the world.
This device, of course, was not created to impair, let alone worsen relations among people, much less family ties. In fact, it was aimed at improving communication, and to better relationships because communication is the key to healthy family relationships.
In order to maintain and improve family bonds one must be able to smartly and wisely utilise all available means of communication. Lack of communication among family members could certainly lead to poor relations among members in the family.
It is not alien to us when parents or children complain about poor familial bonds caused by poor communication or a lack of it, which in the end creates misunderstandings. Nowadays, there is the tendency of some children to give greater importance to others rather than their own parents, or parents who pay little attention to their children because they are too busy with business or office duties.
What is discouraging to see is the fact that there are cases of children who neglect performing their duties and showing filial respect towards their parents who have looked after and raised them.
This sorry state of affairs should not be occurring at all if family values are well maintained and Islamic teachings are followed and implemented properly. All these events show the need for us to boost family ties so as to strengthen the family institution.
Strong and solid family institutions are crucial in building a successful nation.
In the spirit of Family Day, which will be celebrated nationwide soon under the theme "Visionary Family", it is very much relevant for us to ponder on the importance of creating strong family institutions.
So important is the existence of solid family institutions for our country, that His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, has addressed this issue many times. In one of his titahs, His Majesty stressed the importance of family values and called for the strengthening of the family institution.
It is due to the importance of strengthening family values that people are encouraged to commemorate events such as Family Day.
His Majesty had also instructed the relevant authorities and agencies to organise events or activities which have the goals of boosting the family institution and enhancing people's awareness about the significance of this noble cause.
Last week, imams throughout the country urged people, especially Muslims, to strengthen ties of goodwill and bonding towards each other, mainly with one's family and blood relations.
Islam places great importance on family connections and relationships being filled with harmony, they said, reminding us that Allah Subhanahu wa ta'ala will bestow a huge reward upon those who work hard towards maintaining the ties of silaturrahim (warm relations) between family members.
Strong families communicate. They take time to talk and listen to one another. They share their hopes and dreams, feelings and concerns. They take the time to listen and respond to what others have to say.
Muslims are often reminded that family relations are just one of the many blessings that humans are allowed and encouraged to enjoy on Earth, illustrating the importance of good family relations as a glimpse of heaven. In fact, it is said that a loving home is like heaven on Earth.
Prophet Muhammad Sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam often spoke about the family unit being the tell-tale cornerstone of a thriving community.
The Prophet Sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam was always kind to his family members. He joked often with them, spent time recreationally with them and always advised them to enjoin good and ward off evil.
Keeping ties with one's family is so important that it is even tied to one's belief in Allah and the Day of Judgment.
The Prophet Sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam said: "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should maintain good relation with his kindred." (Bukhari)
In another hadith, the Prophet Sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam said: "He who severs ties of kinship, will not enter Paradise." (Muslim)
Those who break these ties are cursed by Almighty Allah. "And those who break the covenant of Allah, after its ratification, and sever that which Allah has commanded to be joined (ie they sever the bond of kinship and are not good to their relatives) and work mischief in the land, on them is the curse, and for them is the unhappy home (ie Hell)." (Ar-Ra`d 13:25)