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Respect for your Neighbours

By Dr. Ahmad H. Sakr

I. INTRODUCTION

My talk to you is about NEIGHBOURS. This subject is very important anywhere in the world. If one has to live in peace and harmony in his house, he should find out the best neighbour in a good neighbourhood and in a good society.

Allah informed us that neighbours are important segments in the society. Without having good neighbours, people will have a difficult and a miserable life. Accordingly Allah (swt) informed us to look after the neighbours, to take care of them , to keep good relations and to make sure that we have good neighbours. In taking care of neighbours, Allah (swt) associated them with categories of parents, relatives, orphans, poor and needy. In Surah An-Nisa' (The Women) Allah says:

"Serve God, and join not any partners with Him; and do good -- to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and what your right hands posses: for God loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious."  [4:36]

In this Ayah, Allah (swt) categorized for us three types of neighbours that we should take care of . They are:

  1.    A relative neighbour  
  2.    A strange fellow neighbour  
  3.    A friend Neighbour

All of these neighbours and any Muslim or non-Muslim neighbour is to be taken care of in the best form and in the best manner.

II. CARING FOR NEIGHBOURS

Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) explained to us how to take care of our neighbours. He also insisted that we should do every possible means to make our neighbours happy and satisfied. In one Hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) says:

Narrated by Ibn Umar and Aisha (May Allah be pleased with them) saying that the Messenger of Allah said:

Angel Jibril advised me continuously to take care of the neighbour till I thought that Allah is to make him an inheritor.

In another Hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) informed us that the best person is the one who is good to his neighbours. The Hadith is as follows:

Narrated by Ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

The best friend in the sight of Allah is the one who is good to his companions; and the best neighbour in the sight of Allah is the one who is good to his neighbours.   [Tarmizi]

There are still more Ahadith about treating neighbours in the best way.

1. In one Hadith, the following is reported that we should be kind to our neighbours:

Narrated by Abi Shuraih Al-Khuza'i (May Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

Whoever believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement, let him do good to his neighbour...    [Muslim]

2. In another Hadith, the following reported that we should let them enjoy the food that we cook:

Narrated by Abu Zarr Al-Ghaffari (May Allah be pleased with him) saying that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

O Abu Zarr! Whenever you cook food, increase its contents, and take care of your neighbours.   [Muslim]

III. WARNING

Our dear Prophet (pbuh) warned those who do harm to their neighbours. He informed them that they are not believers, that they will be punished, and they will not enter paradise. In one Hadith the following reported:

Narrated by Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) saying that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

He will not enter paradise, the one whose neighbor is not safe of him.     [Muslim]

In another Hadith the following reported:

Narrated by Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) saying that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

In the name of Allah, he is not a believer, In the Name of Allah, he is not a believer, In the Name of Allah, he is not a believer. They asked him, who is he O Messenger of Allah! He said: It is he whose neighbor is not safe of him.    [Agreed]

IV. OBLIGATIONS

Because the subject of NEIGHBOUR is so important in the sight of Allah (swt) and His Messenger Muhammad (pbuh), I will continue offering you more information about this subject.

1.  In one Hadith the Prophet (pbuh) explained the physical limits of neighbours:

Every forty houses are your neighbours: The ones in front of you, the ones from the back, the ones on the right and the ones on the left.   [Tahhawi]

2.  In another Hadith the Prophet (pbuh) explains the rights and obligations toward a neighbour:

The rights of the neighbour is that, when he is sick you visit him; when he dies, you go to his funeral; when he is poor you lend him (money); when he is in need you protect him; when he is in happiness you congratulate him; when he is struck with a calamity, you condole him; don't raise your building above his to cut off the wind from him; don't harm him with the good smell of your food unless you let him have part of it.   [Tabarani]

3.  In another Hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) explained some of the causes of happiness to the individuals:

Among the happiness of a Muslim is a good neighbour, and wide house, and a relaxing transportation...    [Ahmad & Al-Hakim]

4.   In another Hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) explained to us how to take care of our neighbours in matters of famine and hunger:

He is not believing in me, the one who sleeps full while his neighbour is hungry.     [Al-Bazar]

5.  In another place it is explained that one has to select among others the good neighbour before he selects the house:

Neighbour is before the house, the companion is before travelling, and the food supply is before departure.  [Al-Khatib]

V. BUILDING A GOOD SOCIETY

We are living in a rat race society. We are living in a society where very few people are concerned for others. We are living in a society where people are killing one another without due respect. We are living in a society where neighbours don't know one another. Neighbours of the same building even may not know one another. People are scared of one another. The rate of crime has increased tremendously. People may see one another being hurt and killed, and their answer would be: "It is not my business to get involved." They may see someone screaming, "Help! Help!" Very few of the pedestrians or watchers may come to help. A neighbour may scream, "Help! Help!". However, very few, if any, may be interested to help. Each one is looking after himself.

If you wish to reduce the rate of crime in the society, Muslims are to establish a neighbourhood of themselves; otherwise, they should know their neighbours. They should get together with their neighbours and plan strategies to protect their society, their families and their properties. They are to protect their children from drugs, alcohols, rape, adultery, and other vices in the society. There are enough people from the Silent Majority who would be willing to help and to work together to protect the society from the wrong doers.

VI. FINAL REMARKS

Let me end this article with this Hadith whereby we are to be good to our neighbours:

Narrated by Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) saying that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

Whoever believes in Allah and the Day of Judge-ment should not harm his neighbour; whoever believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement should be generous to his guest, and whoever believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement should say good or keep silent.  [Agreed]

We hope and pray that all of us will try our best to practice these teachings in our private and pubic life. May Allah help us and guide us to the right path. Ameen.

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