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.