The Muslim and His Neighbours

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His good treatment of his neighbour is not lacking

The true Muslim does not spare any effort to help his neighbour, opening wide the door of care, friendship and generosity. He is careful to fulfil his duty towards him lest the words of the Prophet (s) concerning the miserly, unhelpful neighbour become applicable to him:

´How many people will be hanging on to their neighbours on the Day of Resurrection, saying: 'O my Rabb He shut his door in my face and denied me his kind treatment and help ·'14

Note: 14. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad.

What a miserable position the miserly, uncaring neighbour will be in on the Day of Judgement!

According to Islam, the Muslims are like a wall, whose bricks are the people of the Ummah. Each brick must be sound, and strongly bonded with the others, to make this wall sturdy and enduring; otherwise it will become weak and prone to collapse. Thus Islam surrounds this wall with strong spiritual ties, to preserve its integrity and strength, so that it will not be shaken no matter what events befall it.

The Prophet (s) gave a marvellous metaphor of the Muslims, solidarity and mutual support:

´The believers are like a wall whose bricks are fitted tightly together; each one of them supports another. (Bukhari)

´The believers, in their mutual friendship, mercy and affection, are like one body: if any part of it complains, the rest of the body will also stay awake in pain. (Bukhari)

If a religion places such an amazing emphasis on the solidarity of its followers, it is natural that it should strengthen neighbourly ties and base them on a solid foundation of friendship, kindness, mutual support and good treatment.

He puts up with his neighbour's mistakes and bad treatment

The Muslim who is guided by Islam is patient with his neighbour and does not get angry or bear a grudge if he makes a mistake or has some shortcomings. He is tolerant and forgiving towards him, thus hoping to earn reward from Allah and to attain His love and pleasure. This is proven by the hadith of Abu Dharr: when Mutarrif ibn 'Abdullah met him, he said, "O Abu Dharr, I heard about what you said and I wanted to meet you." Abu Dharr said, "Your father was a great man! Now you have met me."

Mutarrif said: "I heard that you have said that the Prophet (s) said: 'Allah loves three and hates three.," Abu Dharr said, "I do not think that I will tell lies about the Messenger of Allah." Mutarrif said, "Then who are the three whom Allah loves?" Abu Dharr (quoting the Prophet (s) said: "A man who fights for the sake of Allah, with perseverance and hoping for reward from Him, and fights until he is killed, and you find this in the Book of Allah." Then he recited: ( Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure.) (Qur'an 61:4) Mutarrif asked: "Then who?" He said, "A man who has a bad neighbour who annoys and disturbs him, but he bears it with patience and forbearance until Allah ends the matter either during his lifetime or upon the death of either of them."15

Note: 15. Reported by Ahmad and al-Tabarani with a sahih isnad.

He does not give tit for tat

One element of the teachings of this religion which the Prophet (s) explained to his Companions is not to repay a bad neighbour with bad deeds, but to bear his disturbance with patience, in so far as he is able, hoping that the one who is doing wrong may stop his bad behaviour when he sees that his neighbour is not responding in kind. This is one of the noblest characteristics and one of the most effective ways of uprooting the evil that exists in some souls.

Muhammad ibn 'Abdullah ibn Sallam (r) came to the Prophet (s) and said, "My neighbour is disturbing me." He said, "Have patience." He came back a second time and said, "My neighbour is disturbing me," And the Prophet (s) again told him, "Have patience." He came back a third time and said, "My neighbour is disturbing me." The Prophet (s) told him: "Go back and put all your goods and chattels out in the street. If anyone comes along and asks you, tell him, 'My neighbour is disturbing me., Then he will truly incur curses. Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him honour his neighbour...,"16

Note: 16. Hayat al-Sahabah, 3/50.

He knows his neighbour's rights over him

From the teachings of the Prophet (s) regarding neighbours, the true Muslim knows the rights of his neighbour over him at all times. So he helps him at times of difficulty; he shares his joys and his sorrows; if he becomes poor he treats him kindly and helps him; if he is ill he visits him and consoles him; if he dies he follows his bier, comforts his family and takes care of them. He never forgets to consider the feelings of his neighbour and his family, and avoids doing anything that may hurt their feelings whether directly or indirectly.

These are the sublime Islamic teachings concerning neighbours for every Muslim who has been guided to true Islam and who applies its rules to himself and to his family. Is it any wonder, in the light of all this, that the true Muslim should be the best neighbour that any human society has ever known?

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