The Muslim and His Neighbours

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Chapter 7

He is the best of people in his dealings with his neighbours

The Muslim who is truly aware of the teachings of his religion is the best of people in his dealings with his neighbours, and the most respectful, kind and considerate towards them.

He is aware of the Islamic teachings concerning good treatment of neighbours

He is aware of the many Islamic teachings concerning neighbours, and the high status given to them in the scale of human relationships, such as has never been equalled in any other religion or system before or since.

Allah has commanded the good treatment of neighbours in the Qur'an:

( Worship Allah, 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 possess...) (Qur'an 4:36)

The "neighbour who is near" is one with whom one shares ties of kinship or religion; the "neighbour who is a stranger" is one with whom one shares no such ties; and the "companion by your side" is a friend, colleague or travelling-companion.

Everyone whose home neighbours yours has the rights of a neighbour over you, even if you are not connected by kinship or religion. This honouring of the neighbour is an example of the tolerance promoted by Islam.

There are many hadiths of the Prophet (s) which enjoin good treatment of neighbours in general, regardless of kinship or religious factors, and confirm the importance of the neighbourly relationship in Islam. For example:

´Jibril kept on enjoining the good treatment of neighbours to the extent that I thought he would include neighbours as heirs. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam gives such a high status to neighbours that when Jibril (a) reiterated the importance of treating them well, the Prophet (s) thought that he would raise neighbours to the level of kinship and give them similar rights of inheritance.

The Prophet (s) followed Jibril's urging, and encouraged Muslims to honour neighbours and treat them well. In his historical khutbah during the Farewell Pilgrimage, in which he summarized the most important points of his teachings, he did not omit to mention neighbours and emphasized their rights to such an extent that the eminent Sahabi Abu Um mah also thought that the Prophet (s) would make neighbours heirs:

´I heard the Prophet (s), when he was seated on his she camel during the Farewell Pilgrimage, saying, 'I enjoin you to treat your neighbours well,· and urging their good treatment so much that I thought, he is going to give them the rights of inheritance.'1

Note: 1. Reported by al-Tabarani with a jayyid isnad.

The good treatment of neighbours and avoiding harming or annoying them is so important that the Prophet (s) described it as one of the signs of true faith in Allah and the Last Day:

´Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him treat his neighbour well; whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him honour his guest; whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or else remain silent. (Bukhari and Muslim)

According to a report given by Bukhari, he (s) said: ´Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him not harm or annoy his neighbour...'

The true Muslim is tolerant towards his neighbour

It comes as no surprise, then, that the Muslim who is truly guided by his faith is tolerant towards his neighbour, and is humble, easy-going and kind in his dealings with him. He does not stop him from using and enjoying his home, as the Prophet (s) said:

´No one should prevent his neighbour from fastening a piece of wood to his wall. (Bukhari and Muslim)

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