Who are your neighbours?
Most people will responds by saying a neighbor is somebody living nearby. Ali ibn Abu Talib (RA) said, Whoever hears the call (for prayer) is a neighbor, while some other people consider people living forty houses in all directions to being neighbours. These (people living nearby, those who hear the adhan or forty houses in any direction) could be classified as immediate neighbours while the people of a town/city could also be regarded as extended neighbours.
If the hypocrites, and those in whose heart is a disease, and those who spread false news among the people in Al-Madinah, cease not, We shall certainly let you overpower them, then they will not be able to stay in it as your neighbours but a little while. (Q33:60)
Apart from a man’s parents, children and near relatives, there also exists an association and contact between him and his neighbours. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had attached great importance to this and has constantly urged the Ummah to pay due regard to the rights of neighbours to the extent that he had declared good neighbourliness to be part of eemaan (Faith).
Narrated Abu Shuraih (RA): The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe!" It was said, "Who is that, O Allah's Messenger?" He said, "That person whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil." (Bukhaaree)
Aisha (RA) also narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"Jibril continued to recommend me about treating the neighbours kindly and politely so much so that I thought he would order me to make them as my heirs. "(Bukhaaree)
Categories of Neighbours
Neighbours fall into different categories. The best are those who combine all the desirable qualities and the next best are those who bear most of these qualities, and so on. Each neighbour is accorded rights according to the category he falls into. A neighbour can be a Muslim, or a non-Muslim, a relation or a stranger. The highest rights belong to a neighbour who is a Muslim and a relation. So he enjoys the rights of kinship as a relative; the rights of brotherhood as a Muslim and the rights of neighbourliness as well. How are you with your neighbours? Just as you have your opinions about people around you, you should expect that they too have their opinion about you.
Ask yourself sincerely, what do these people really think about me? Do they have good opinion about me? Or am I bad news anytime I show my face. Having a good reputation with your neighbours is very important more so if your neighbours are Muslims. Take the examples of the following: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
"Whenever a Muslim dies, and four of his closest neighbours testify that they do not know about him but good, Allaah says, I accept your testimony, and forgive that which you do not know (about him)" (Ahmad).
Will your neighbours say good things about you after your death? Or will yours be like this: Narrated Anas (RA): The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) passed by a funeral, and someone condemned the dead person for bad things (that he did). Others followed and condemned him saying, "What a bad person he was indeed in adhering to AIIaahs deen. AIIaah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, Granted, granted, granted. When he was asked why, he replied:
"(A deceased) who you praise will be granted Jannah. And he whom you condemn will be granted the Fire. The angels are AIlaah's witnesses in the heavens; and you (the believers) are Allaahs witnesses on earth; you are Allaah's witnesses on earth; you are Allaah's witnesses on earth! Verily, Allaah has angels who speak upon the tongues of the human beings, telling of any good or evil that is in a person" (Bukhaaree)
Narrated Abdullah ibn Masud (RA): "A man said, "Messenger of Allah, how can I know when I do well and when I do ill?" The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied:
"When you hear your neighbours say you have done well, you have done well; and when you hear them say you have done ill, you have done ill." (Tirmidhi)
Why You Should Be Good To your Neighbours
Allaah commands it: Allaah says:
"Worship Allah andjoin none with Him in worshtp, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, AI-Masakin (the poor), the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Verily; Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful;" (Q4:36)
It leads to Paradise: Narrated Abu Hurayrah (RA): "A man said, "Messenger of Allah, such and such a woman has a reputation for engaging to a great extent in prayer, fasting and almsgiving but she annoys her neighbours with her tongue." He replied, "She will go to Hell." He said, "Messenger of Allah, such and such a woman has a reputation for engaging to a smaII extent in fasting, almsgiving and prayer, but she gives pieces of curd as sadaqah and does not annoy her neighbours with her tongue." He replied, "She will go to Paradise." (Tirmidhi)
It contributes to happiness: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings upon him) said:
"Four things contribute to happiness: a righteous wife, a spacious home, a righteous neighbour and a comfortable riding beast" (Ibn Hibban)
And it is well known that if you are righteous and treat your neighbours well, you will get a similar treatment. Hence, the best way to have a righteous neighbour is for you to be one. That way, you will be on the way to happiness.
Sin against neighbour is compounded: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings upon him) asked his companions about stealing; they said (It is) Haram (not permissible); Allaah and His Messenger have forbidden it. He said:
"If a man were to steal from ten houses, it would be a lesser sin for him than if he were to steal from neighbours house." (Ahmad)
To avoid the curse of others: Narrated Abu Hurayrah (RA): "A man came to the Prophet and complained about his neighbour. The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) told him three times, Have patience. Then on the fourth time or third time, he said: Put your furniture out on the street", so the man did so. Passers-by began to ask what was going on, and were told: His neighbour has harmed him. So they began to say: May Allaah curse him! The neighbor came out and said, Put your things back; for by Allaah, I will never harm you again (Abu Dawud)
Rights of neighbours
There are certain rights that Islaam has enjoined on us with regards to our neighbor(s) and also some etiquette to be observed.
Do not harm them: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings upon him) said:
"No deed which harms a neighbour can be regarded as insignificant." (Ibn Abi Shaybah)
Feed them when they are hungry: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings upon him) said:
"He is not a believer who eats his fill whilst his neighbour beside him goes hungry" (al-Adab al-Mufrad)
Similarly, he said:
"When you prepare the broth, add water to that and give that (as a present) to your neighbour." (Muslim)
Give them gifts in kindness: Aisha (RA) said, "O my nephew! We used to see the crescent, and then the crescent, and then the crescent; in this way we saw three crescents in two months and no fire (for cooking) used to be made in the houses of Allah's Messenger. I said, "O my aunt! Then what used to sustain you?" Aisha said, "The two black things: dates and water, our neighbours from Ansar had some milch she-camels and they used to present Allahs Messenger some of their milk and he used to make us drink." (Bukhaaree)
Live with them in kindness: Abu Huraira (RA) said, "Allah's Messenger said:
No one should prevent his neighbour from fixing a wooden peg in his wall. " (Bukhaaree)
Bear their disturbance with patience: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings upon him) said:
"There are three who Allaah loves ... (one of them is) he who has a neighbour who disturbs him, but he puts up with the disturbance patiently, until they are separated by death or by one of them moving away." (Ahmad)
Begin with those whose doors are near: Narrated Aisha "I said:
"O Allah's Messenger! I have two neighbours and would like to know to which of them I should give presents." He replied, "To the one whose door is nearer to you." (Bukhaaree)
Assist one another in that which is good: Narrated Umar (RA): "My Ansari neighbor from Bani Umaiya bin Zaid who used to live at Awali AI-Medina and used to visit the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) by turns. He used to go one day and I another day. When I went I used to bring the news of that day regarding the Divine Inspiration and other things, and when he went, he used to do the same for me. Once my Ansari friend in his turn (on returning from the Prophet), knocked violently at my door and asked if I was there." I became horrified and came out to him. He said, "Today a great thing has happened." I then went to Hafsa and saw her weeping. I asked her, "Did Allahs Messenger divorce you all?" She replied, "I do not know." Then, I entered upon the Prophet and said while standing, "Have you divorced your wives?" The Prophet replied in the negative. On that I said, "Allahu-Akbar (Allah is Greater)." (Bukhaaree)
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited