Islam recognises the fact that man is a social being whose interaction with those around him is inevitable since human beings live in communities. Allah Ta’ala has placed certain rights and responsibilities over us to enable us to live in peace and harmony. Some people enjoy certain rights by virtue of blood relations like parents, spouses and relatives, while others merely by their location like neighbours.
Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi wasallam has urged the kind treatment of neighbours to such an extent that his companions thought that the neighbour would be entitled to inheritance. This is not surprising as Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi wasallam himself is reported to have said, “Jibraeel Alaihis Salaam continued advising me about the kind treatment of neighbours until I thought that he would include neighbours as heirs.” (Bukhari)
Islam advocates kindness to neighbours even if they be adherents of another faith and followers of a different religion. Once Abdullah bin Umar slaughtered a sheep. He made sure that his slave sent a portion of the meat to their Jewish neighbour in keeping with the sublime teachings of Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi wasallam. (Bukhari)
Being indifferent to one’s neighbour and being inconsiderate about their welfare has been cited as a sign of deficiency of ones Imaan. Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi wasallam has said
“He does not believe in me, the one who eats to his fill while his neighbour is hungry and he knows about it”. (Tabarani)
While sitting with his companions one day, Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi wasallam is reported to have exclaimed “By Allah, he is not a believer, By Allah he is not a believer, By Allah, he is not a believer!” The Companions enquired “Who, O Prophet of Allah?” He replied “The one whose neighbour is not safe from his evil” (Bukhari)
From these teachings it is evident that Islam teaches us to be sensitive to the needs of those around us, to be aware of their hardships and difficulties and to be receptive to their cries for help.
What then should we be doing for our neighbours?
Provide assistance when required, visit them when they are sick, congratulate them in their moments of joy and happiness, console them when they are troubled and distressed, counsel them to that which is beneficial, refrain from publicising their shortcomings, avoid erecting buildings on your property that may cause inconvenience to them denying him access to fresh air.
The ill treatment of neighbours could deny one entry into Paradise.
Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi wasallam was asked, “O Messenger of Allah, such and such woman spends her nights in prayer, fasts during the day and she gives charity, but she offends her neighbours with her sharp tongue. Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi wasallam replied, “Her good deeds are of no avail, She is among the dwellers of Hell. They said, “So and so prays the obligatory prayers gives charity in the form of left over curds, but does not offend anyone. Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi wasallam replied, “She is among the dwellers of Paradise”. (Bukhari)
How valuable are you to those in your neighbourhood?
It is reported that the neighbour of Said bin al ’Aas wanted to sell his house. When the prospective buyer offered him 100 000 dirhams, his neighbour remarked, “You are paying me 100 000 dirhams for the house, How much are you willing to pay for having Sa’id as a neighbour?” Sa’id was so pleased that his neighbour valued him so much that he gave him the money and asked him not to sell his home.
May Allah Ta’ala give us the Tawfeeq to fulfill the rights of our neighbours and save us from neglecting them, Aameen.