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Islam gives great emphasis to the rights of neighbors and recommends that a Muslim treats his neighbors kindly. In a Hadith prophet Muhammad(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,‘Jibril always recommended treating neighbors with kindness until I thought he would assign him a share of inheritance.’ [Al-Bukhari]

 

The neighbor holds a special status in Islam . Islam encourages Muslims to treat their neighbors in a gentle way that reflects the true and genuine spirit of Islam as exemplified in its tolerant aspect especially with people of other faiths. It makes no difference whether the neighbors are Muslim or non-Muslim. ‘A’ishah, the Mother of the Believers, (may Allah be pleased with her) stated that she once asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), “O Messenger of Allah! I have two neighbors. To whom shall I send my gifts?” He said, “To the one whose gate is nearer to you.”

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was told of a woman who prayed during night and fasted a lot during day and gave alms generously, but whose neighbors complained of her abusive tongue. He said that she would be in Hellfire. When Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was told of another woman who did not do all those extra acts of worship other than just compulsory (Wajib) but whose neighbors were happy with her, he said that she would be in Paradise.

It is clear from the above Prophetic Hadiths that Muslims are encouraged to not only treat our neighbors kindly, but also to exchange gifts with them. The wording of the Hadith does not indicate whether the one with whom we exchange gifts is a Muslim or not.

It was even reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had a neighbor who used to harm him and insult him at every encounter. Some days elapsed without the Prophet getting his share of this man’s abuse. Thinking that there must be some reason behind the man’s absence, he (peace and blessings be upon him) paid him a visit and found him sick. The man wondered how the Prophet could meet his bad treatment with such great behavior. To him, such noble character as taught by Islam was completely new.

Some think that the rights of neighbor in Islam is only for  Muslim neighbors but it includes Non- Muslim neighbors. The Prophet [peace be upon him] mentioned in a Hadith three types of neighbors and their rights. If your neighbors are Muslim and relatives, then they have three rights on you: the right of the neighbor, the right of kin, and the right of co-religion. If they are Muslims but not relatives; then they have two rights; that of a neighbor and in religion; if they are non-Muslims; then they have the right of a neighbor only.

The scholars mentioned a fourth kind which is if they are non-Muslim relatives, then two rights are due to them: that of neighbor and kin. The Qur’an declares about kindness to neighbors

 

وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا ۖ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَبِذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْجَارِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْجَارِ الْجُنُبِ وَالصَّاحِبِ بِالْجَنبِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ

 

‘Worship Allah and join none with Him [in worship]; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the neighbor who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer [you meet], and those [slaves] whom your right hands possess.’ [Quran4:36]

 

It is clear that there is no doubt that the non-Muslim neighbor has many rights of which we will mention some, the most important of which, are:

1 .  Refraining from harming him: in fact, this is one of the greatest rights of neighbors. Harming anyone, in general, is unlawful; however, this ruling is intensified if the harm befalls the neighbor. The Prophet(peace be upon him) strictly warned, in various ways, about harming the neighbor. The Prophet(peace be upon him)  said: “By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer.” It was asked, “Who, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “One whose neighbor does not feel safe from his evil ” When it was said to him: “O Messenger of Allah, a woman performs voluntary prayers at night and fasts during the day, but she offends her neighbors with her tongue.” He (peace be upon him) said: “There is no good in her; she is in Hell.” The Prophet(peace be upon him) also said: “He does not enter Paradise whose neighbor is not secure from his evil.”
2  .  Bearing the harm of the neighbor, which is a trait of noble, chivalrous people and those of high aspiration. This is because many people can refrain from harming others, but bearing their harm with patience while seeking the reward of Allah is of a higher degree, as Allah The Almighty Says:
وَلَمَن صَبَرَ وَغَفَرَ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ لَمِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ
{And whoever is patient and forgives - indeed, that is of the matters [requiring] determination.} [Quran 42:43]
3  .  Care for him continually, especially at times of need and distress, as “the neighbor in need is a neighbor indeed.” If a neighbor is elderly or chronically ill, offer to run errands or shop for him or her.
4  .  Among the rights of a non-Muslim neighbor is to him to the mercy of the Islamic belief  in a best way . Allah  says
وَإِذْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ مِيثَاقَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَتُبَيِّنُنَّهُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَكْتُمُونَهُ فَنَبَذُوهُ وَرَاءَ ظُهُورِهِمْ وَاشْتَرَوْا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۖ فَبِئْسَ مَا يَشْتَرُونَ
" And remember) when Allah took a covenant from those who were given the Book to make it clear to mankind and not to hide it but they threw it away behind their backs and purchased with it some miserable gain. And indeed worst is that which they bought ” (Quran3:187)
Finally, we should be aware that happiness, unity and the spread of love among the members of a society cannot be accomplished without observing these rights and others which are brought by the Sharee’ah.
We supplicate to Allah The Almighty to help us and all Muslims to observe the rights of our neighbors.

 

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