Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rights of Neighbors in Islam

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 (PBUH) 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 (PBUH) 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 (PBUH) 
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.