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Islam and Neighbourhood (Neighborhood): Rights of Neighbours (Neighbors)

Islam and Neighbourhood (Neighborhood)Noble Qur'an tells us that all of mankind is descended from one couple, Adam and Eve. Thus we are all brothers and sisters, and our differences in languages and colors are but a mercy that we might know one another. Language and race should never be a reason for discriminating against people.

A Muslim should maintain good relations with his relatives, but he should not unjustly favor them over others. Further, a Muslim must be good to his neighbors, no matter their religion. But the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us that a "neighbor" is not just the one next door but includes all those up to forty houses in all directions - effectively a whole neighborhood.

An Ansar (emigrant) came to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and said that he has recently purchased a house in a particular area and that his nearest person was such that he had no hope of any goodness from him and that he felt unsafe from his mischief. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) told Imam Ali (as), Salman Al-Farsi, Abu Zar Ghaffari and Miqdad ibn Aswad to go to the Mosque and announce: "He is not a believer whose neighbour is unsafe from his mischief." They announced it thrice and then to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) pointed towards forty doors to his right and forty to the left indicating that forty houses in every direction constitute ones neighbourhood. One is obliged to observe their rights.

This concern for our neighbors can take many forms. It means to ensure that our neighbors have the basic necessities, for a Muslim should not eat if his or her neighbor is going hungry. It means that Muslims should wish for their neighbors what they wish for themselves. It means sharing their happiness and sorrow. Further, it means to not spy on them and respect their privacy, to not gossip about them, to not harm them in any way, and to keep common use areas - such as apartment building entrances, streets and sidewalks - clean.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was told of a woman who prayed during night and fasted a lot during day and gave alms generously, but whose neighbors complained of her abusive tongue. He said that she would be in Hellfire. When Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was told of another woman who did not do all those extra acts of worship other than just compulsory (Wajib) but whose neighbors were happy with her, he said that she would be in Paradise. Thus we see the importance of being good to our neighbors, both in actions and words.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) on the rights of the neighbour, said: "It is to help him if he asks your help, to lend him if he asks to borrow from you, to satisfy his needs if he becomes poor, to console him if he is visited by an affliction, to congratulate him if is met with good fortune, to visit him if he becomes ill, to attend his funeral if he dies, not to make your house higher than his without his consent lest you deny him the breeze, to offer him fruit when you buy some or to take it to your home secretly if you do not do that, nor to send out your children with it so as not to upset his children, nor to bother him by the tempting smell of your food unless you send him some." The Scale of Wisdom, P.234/235 no.1308

Imam Ali (as) says: A person is either your brother in faith, or your equal in humanity.

Islam and Neighbourhood (Neighborhood): Kindness to a Non-Muslim Neighbor

Kindness to a Non-Muslim NeighborThe neighbor holds a special status in Islam. Islam encourages Muslims to treat their neighbors in a gentle way that reflects the true and genuine spirit of Islam as exemplified in its tolerant aspect especially with people of other faiths. It makes no difference whether the neighbors are Muslim or non-Muslim. Ayesha, the Mother of the Believers, stated that she once asked Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), "O Messenger of Allah! I have two neighbors. To whom shall I send my gifts?" Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "To the one whose gate is nearer to you."

It is clear from the above Prophetic Hadith that Muslims are encouraged to not only treat our neighbors kindly, but also to exchange gifts with them. The wording of the Hadith does not indicate whether the one with whom we exchange gifts is a Muslim or not.

Below are ten tips on how to approach your non-Muslim neighbors in a kind way that exemplifies Islamic manners:

1. Being good to neighbors is not only restricted to those who share the same building with you. Your roommate at the dorm is your neighbor; the person sitting behind you or next to you in a bus or at a bus stop is your neighbor; the one sharing your office at work is your neighbor; the person enjoying fresh air next to you in a public garden is also a neighbor. You ought to treat all of those people kindly and socialize with them within the permitted scope of Shariah Islamic Law.

2. Introduce yourself and your family to your neighbors when you move into a new place or when new neighbors move in. This will also help to relieve any fears or tensions they may have about Muslims. Also, don't forget to say good-bye when you or they move away.

3. Care for them continually, especially at times of need and distress, as "the neighbor in need is a neighbor indeed." If a neighbor is elderly or chronically ill, offer to run errands or shop for him or her.

4. In dealing with neighbors, it is safer to deal with those of the same sex as yourself. This does not mean that you should stop socializing at work or school with your non-Muslim workmates or classmates of the opposite sex, but be aware of satanic snares. After-hours socializing should be with your same sex.

5. While socializing with non-Muslims, be cautious of becoming too lenient at the expense of your creed and principles. For example, don't go out drinking with them. They will respect you more for sticking to your principles than for breaking the rules.

6. In addition to sharing ideas, you can share meals with them by inviting them to dinner on the weekend or accepting their invitation to the same, provided that you let them know about your dietary restrictions (Halal and Haram) as a Muslim.

7. Conduct mutual visits so that the families can interact in a constructive way. If the discussion does turn to religion, focus on areas of common ground. For example, if your neighbors are Christian, then you should not enter into a futile argument with them about whether Jesus is God incarnate or not. Rather, tell them to what extent Islam honors all God's Prophets and Messengers as a whole, and that Jesus is granted a special status among God's Prophets and Messengers.

8. While socializing with neighbors, present your religion (Islam) in the best way. If you are faced with a difficult question or a distortion about Islam, do not be ashamed to stop for a while and tell them that you will try to contact a more knowledgeable person to seek the guidance regarding the issue raised. Thus, common grounds should be enhanced, and areas of dissension should never be raised.

9. If your neighbors show an interest in Islam, invite them to attend Islamic events, and even to accompany you to the mosque to see what it is like. It may be that their hearts become softened to Islam, and if they remain non-Muslim, at least you have succeeded in breaking the barrier. You can also visit the church where your neighbors pray if they invite you to do that, but here you should be cautious not to perform any act that your religion prohibits. In brief, be only a watchful monitor.

10. Always keep in mind the mighty reward that is in store for you in the Hereafter when you show kindness to a neighbor.

Rights of Neighbours (Neighbors): Neighbours in Islam (Neighborhood Story)

Neighbours in IslamWorship Allah and join none with Him (in worship); and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, Al-Masakin (the poor), the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. (Noble Qur'an, 4:36)

Sayyed Jawad Ameli, a great Mujtahid, was having his dinner when someone knocked at his door. A servant from his master, Ayatullah Sayyed Mehdi Bahrul Uloom, appeared and said: "Your master has sent for you to come immediately. He has just sat down for his dinner but refuses to eat until he sees you."

There was no time to lose. Sayyed Jawad Ameli left his dinner and rushed to Ayatullah Sayyed Mehdi Bahrul Uloom's residence. Just as he entered, the master looked disapprovingly at him and said: "Sayyed Jawad! You have no fear of Allah! Don't you feel ashamed in front of Allah?"

This came as a shock to him, as he could not remember doing anything to incur the wrath of his master. Sayyed Jawad Ameli said: "My master may guide me where I have failed."

Ayatullah Sayyed Mehdi Bahrul Uloom replied: "It is now a week that your neighbor and his family are without wheat and rice. He was trying to buy some dates from a shop on credit but the shopkeeper refused to grant him any more credit. He returned home empty-handed and the family is without a morsel of food."

Sayyed Jawad Ameli was taken by surprise. "By Allah", he said, "I have no knowledge about this."

That is why I am displeased all the more.

How can you be unaware of your own neighbor? Seven days of difficulties have passed and you tell me you do not know about it. Well, If you had known and ignored him despite your knowledge, then you would not even he a Muslim," Ayatullah Sayyed Mehdi Bahrul Uloom adjoined.

Then he instructed him to take all the dishes of food before him to his neighbor. "Sit with him to eat, so that he does not feel ashamed. And take this sum for his future ration. Place it under his pillow or carpet so that he is not humiliated, and inform me when this work is completed, for not until then shall I eat."

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "There are Three categories of neighbours. First: one who has Three rights upon you. This is the one who is a Muslim neighbour and also a relative. Second: One who has two rights. A Muslim neighbour and third: The Kafir neighbour who has only the rights of a neighbour."

Give some of it to your Neighbours (Neighbours in Islam)

Give some of it to your NeighboursSalamun Alaikum, a slight nod of the head, a brief hello in the hallway or perhaps helping with a car stuck in the snow during winter. That's usually the most communication many of us have with those who are physically closer to us than most of our relatives, our neighbours.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) once said, "Jibril (Gabriel) kept recommending treating neighbours with kindness until I thought he would assign a share of inheritance."

Wow, our inheritance.

But let's think of something smaller. How about food? It's been said that food unites. While we all have our own tastes, food like fruits, veggies, chips, biscuits, cookies, breads, etc. can be found in virtually all of our homes, even those who staunchly cling to their ethnic identities.

When was the last time we offered a bag of chips or cookies to the kids downstairs? When was the last time we cut up some watermelon on a hot day and offered it to our neighbours?

"O Abu Dharr! Whenever you prepare a broth, put plenty of water in it and give some of it to your neighbours," Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) advised his Companion.

In Africa and many other Muslim countries, by sharing food with our neighbours, we are literally reducing the hunger pangs of many. But it's not just about hunger always when sharing with neighbours. Here, sharing really is about kindness, about uniting people, sharing what's common to our humanity. It's also about building neighbourly relations through small acts of kindness.

"By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer," Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said.

It was asked, "Who is that, O Messenger of Allah?"

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "One whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil."

Maybe we're not so bad. At least we don't yell and scream at our neighbours, threaten them, cheat them or lie to them. But we're reminded of our negligence towards our neighbours when we realize that how we treat them relates to our relationship with God, which is the very core of who we are as Muslims.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "The best of companions with Allah is the one who is best to his companions and the best of neighbours to Allah is the one who is the best of them to his neighbour."

After 9/11, Muslim leaders in America have emphasized the need to share Islam with our neighbours to encourage better understanding and to build bridges. The bright future of Islam in the world doesn't only depend on Tabligh and this exchange of values and information. Our very faith and connection to Allah (SWT) is reflected in how we treat our neighbours. Perhaps this is the push we need to start connecting with them so we can better our relationship with God.

After knowing above facts, it is good opportunity to remind ourselves the saying of Fatima Zahra (sa): "Al-Jaar Thumma Al-Daar" - "(Beware of the rights of) the neighbours before (your own) home."

"O Muslim women! No one of you should consider insignificant (a gift) to give to her neighbour even if it is (a gift of) the trotters of a sheep." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

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Islamic Moral Stories is designed by Akramulla Syed Last Updated: Thursday, November 17, 2016