Imam Zijad’s Corner: MUSLIMS AND THEIR NEIGHBOURS (Part 2)

There are numerous injunctions in Islam about the necessity and paramount importance of love for—and mercy towards—the neighbours. Love, respect, kindness, caring for the neighbours, contributing to their happiness, cooperating with them and being generous to them as well as avoiding harming them in any way are acts which are essential and integral part of faith in God and love of God.

In Islam without love of the neighbour, there is no true faith in God and no righteousness. Without sharing with the neighbour what we ourselves love, we do not truly love God or the neighbor.

Mu’awiya ibn Haidah (r.a.) relates that the Prophet (s) said: “The rights of the neighbor upon you are that; If he/she falls ill you visit (and take care of) him/her; if he dies you attend his funeral (and take part in the burial arrangements); if he commits an evil deed, you prevent it from being known (i.e. do not give publicity to it); if he is favored by good-fortune, you congratulate him; if a calamity befalls him, you grieve in sympathy with him; and that you restrain from erecting your building higher than his in such a way that the passage of fresh air is blocked from his house (unless you obtained his consent) and further, (you take care that) the aroma of your cooking pot does not cause sorrow to him (and his children) except that you send some of it (the food) to him.”

Here are a few pearls of Muslim traditions related to the neighbours:

1. The best neighbors

Abdullah bin `Umar (r.a.) reported: Messenger of God (S) said, “The best of neighbors, in the sight of God, is the one who is best to his/her neighbor.” (Tirmidhi, Ahmad and Hakim)

2. Love your neighbor and treating him/her well, you will be a true believer!

Anas (r.a) narrated that he heard the Messenger Muhammad (S) saying: “By Him in Whose hand is my soul, no person truly believes until he/she loves for his/her neighbor what he/she loves for himself/herself.” (Muslim)

Amongst other points, this Hadith explains that it is essential for the true believers to be mindful of their neighbors at all times so that they do not harm them in anyway.  The importance of good treatment to neighbors is an essential condition of Iman/Faith. It also gives us an idea of the value placed on the rights of neighbors by the Prophet of Islam (s).

In another Hadith related by Abu Hurairah (r.a), the Messenger Muhammad (s) said: “By God, he is not a true believer, By God, he is not a true believer, By God, he is not a true believer (three times).  He was asked “Who?” Upon which he replied, “The one whose neighbors do not feel secure from his/her mischief and evil.”

The construction and manner of the Hadith shows how disturbed the Prophet (s) must have been when he said this.  The essence contained in this Hadith is that the Muslim whose character is such that his/her neighbors expect nothing but evil from him/her and they live in fear of being hurt or harmed by him/her, cannot be regarded as a true and faithful believer.

3. Treat neighbors well!

Aisha (r.a) reported that the Messenger of God (S) said: “Angel Gabriel kept recommending me to treat my neighbor well until I thought that he would tell me to make him one of my heirs.” (Bukhari)

This tradition shows that Angel Gabriel brought commandments from God, concerning the rights of the neighbors so frequently and stressed the need to be kind and courteous to them with such force and regularity that the Messenger (S) thought that the neighbor also will be made an heir i.e. just as parents, children and near relatives inherit the property left by the deceased, he thought that the neighbor, too, will be given a share in it. It should be noted that the purpose of this Hadith is not merely to state a fact, but rather it is most effective way of highlighting the importance of the neighbors to the Muslims.

4. Care for your neighbors!

Abu Dharr (r.a.) reported: Messenger of God (s) commanded me thus: “O Abu Dharr! Whenever you prepare a broth, put plenty of water in it, and give some of it to your neighbors.” (Muslim)

5. A righteous neighbor contributes to happiness of his/her neighbors

The companion Saad Ibn Abib Waqqas (s) narrated that our Prophet (s) said: “One thing that contributes to happiness is a righteous neighbor… and one thing that contributes to misery is a bad neighbor.” (Ibn Hibban)

6. Respect Neighbor’s Generosity even if small

Abu Hurairah (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (s) used to say: “O Muslim women! No one should scorn the gift of a neighbor, even if it is (only) a sheep’s foot.” (Bukhari)

7. Do not eat your full while your neighbor is hungry

Abdullah Ibn Musawir narrated: “I heard Ibn Abbas mention Ibn Az Zubair saying that he was a miser, then he said: I heard the messenger of God (s) say: He is not a believer who eats his fill whilst his neighbor beside him/her goes hungry.” (Bukhari)

Mu’awiya ibn Haidah (r.a.) relates that the Messenger Muhammad (S) mentioned that “one of the rights of the neighbor is that one takes care that the aroma of one’s cooking pot and that it does not cause sorrow to the neighbor and his children except that one send some of it (the food) to the neighbor.”

It is also reported on the authority of Jabir (r.a.) that Rasulullah (s) said: “Whenever gravy is cooked in anyone’s house, he/she should increase the broth (by adding water) and then send some to his/her neighbors.”

8. Prohibition of Harming Neighbor:

Abu Hurairah (r.a.) narrates that the Prophet Muhammad s) said: “By God, he is not a believer! By God, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer.” It was asked, “Who is that, O Messenger of God?’’ He said, “One whose neighbor does not feel safe from his evil.”(Bukhari).

9. Refraining from harming your neighbor is a part of faith!

Abu Hurairah (r.a.) reported that the Messenger of God (s) said: “Whoever believes in God and the Last day should not harm his neighbor.” (Bukhari)

10. Harming a neighbor severs relations with God

Islam warns against annoying one’s neighbors or treating them badly. The Messenger (s) explained that this would lead to being deprived of Paradise: “He/she will not enter Paradise from whose harm his/her neighbor is not safe.” (Muslim)

(…to be continued in the Part 3