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Interfaith Dialogue ( 3 Oct 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Peaceful Relations with Neighbours—One of the best Shared Teachings of Islam and the Bible



By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

04 October 2016

Man cannot live alone. He needs to meet some basic survival conditions. He is bound to get into social relationships for leading a life. No living man is capable of breaking the shackles of mutual dependence. This probably begins between the embryo and the mother and continues till his last breath. Aristotle the famous Greek philosopher well said, “Man is by nature a social animal”. More significantly, what a man requires in this social relationship especially with his neighbours is peace and tranquillity, ensuring safety of each other. This is what we find as one of the best shared teachings of Islam and the Bible.

Peaceful Relations with Neighbours in Islam

Islam recommends establishing good relations with neighbours. Allah Almighty says, “Be good to [your] parents and relatives, the orphans and the needy and the neighbours who are your relatives, and the neighbours who are strangers...” (4:36)

Being good to neighbours includes consoling him in grief, visiting him during sickness, congratulating him on happy occasions, initiating the greetings with him and offering help to him when needed, forgiving his mistakes and hurtful deeds and protecting him against every sort of violence and injustice.   

The neighbours can be classified into various categories; neighbours of house, neighbours of a locality, neighbours of a village, neighbours of a city, neighbours of a state, neighbours of a country. The word ‘neighbour’, mentioned in the afore-mentioned verse, applies to all types of neighbours, including Muslims and non-Muslims.

In the view of the beloved prophet of Islam, it is necessary for a perfect Muslim to treat his neighbours peacefully, taking care of their rights in all possible ways. 

It is narrated by Abu Shuraih that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah 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 Apostle?” He said, "That person whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol: 8, hadith: 45)

In this hadith, the prophet has laid great emphasis on the safety of neighbour, considering it a cause of perfection for a Muslim’s faith. If you ponder over the word ‘neighbour’ [its Arabic acronym ‘Jaar’], you will find this hadith denotes general application, encourages safety and peace in the entire world. This means that peaceful and ecstatic relations should be promoted with every type of neighbour. Anyone who causes trouble for any neighbours, he will not be perfect in his belief. Thus, it is essential for a true and faithful Muslim to keep his neighbours safe from all his evil doings. This hadith has enshrined unprecedented example of the global peace in itself.

The books of Ahadith are full of such pleasant admonitions inviting for peaceful coexistence and harmony among all classes of neighbours. Only a few Ahadith of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) are given below as instances and lessons;   

The prophet said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should be generous to his neighbour” (Muwatta-e-Imam Malik: Volume 49, Number 22)

The prophet said, “The best companion in Allah's estimation is the one who is best to his companion, and the best neighbour in Allah's estimation is the one who is best to his neighbour.” (Tirmidhi: hadith 1287)

The prophet said, “If you are kind to your neighbour, you will be a believer; if you like others to have what you like for yourself, you will be a Muslim” (Tirmidhi: hadith number 1334)

The Prophet said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should not hurt his neighbour and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his guest generously and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should talk what is good or keep quiet.” (Bukhari, Volume 8, Number 158)

It is narrated that Abdullah ibn ‘Amr slaughtered a sheep and said: Have you presented a gift from it to my neighbour, (who was a Jew), for I heard the Apostle of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: “Angel Jibril has so often recommend to me good companionship to neighbours that I thought he would make him among the heirs” (Bukhari, Muslim and Sunan Abu Dawood)

The prophet observed: “He will not enter Paradise whose neighbour is not secure from his wrongful conduct.” (Sahih Muslim, hadith 15)

Peaceful Relations with Neighbours in the Bible

This is a pleasant moment to note that the Bible too support the Islamic standpoint of peaceful relations with neighbours. The following are some relevant messages of the Bible including the old and new testaments; which invite for peaceful coexistence among all classes of neighbours;

“You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.” (Exodus 20:17/ Deuteronomy 5:21)

The prophet Jesus [peace be upon him] has also explained such things, as mentioned in Matthew;

“Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (16) “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only one who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” (17) “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, (18) honour your father and mother,' and “love your neighbour as yourself.”(19) (Matthew 19:16-19)

“Seldom set foot in your neighbour’s house; otherwise, he'll get sick of you and hate you.” (Proverbs 25:17)

The same idea of retaining peaceful relations with neighbours is also mentioned in a hadith;

The prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Visit each other [for a short visit] sometimes (Zur Ghibban) and love will increase (Tazdad Hubban).” (Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabir by Tabarni 3455, Al-Mu’jam Al-Awsat by Tabarani 1821, Al-Mustadrak 5477, Majmauz Zawaid 13345, Mushkilul Athar 4009, Musnad Al-bazzaz 3963)

“You must not harbour hatred against your brother. Rebuke your neighbour directly, and you will not incur guilt because of him.” (Leviticus 19:17)

“Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbour as yourself; I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18)

“If you see your brother's ox or sheep straying, you must not ignore it; make sure you return it to your brother. (1) If your brother does not live near you or you don't know him, you are to bring the animal to your home to remain with you until your brother comes looking for it; then you can return it to him. (2) Do the same for his donkey, his garment, or anything your brother has lost and you have found. You must not ignore it. (3) If you see your brother's donkey or ox fallen down on the road, you must not ignore it; you must help him lift it up (4)” (Deuteronomy 22:1-4)

With the shared teachings of Islam and the Bible on making peaceful relations with the neighbours, we as Muslims, and they as Christians or Jews, can repel enmity and violence with peace and harmony. However, it is becoming increasingly arduous to do so when we see some Muslims, Christians and Jews uttering hateful remarks against one another as neighbours across the world in the name of their, and our, religion. This is extremely disheartening to face such an unwanted situation. To cope up with this sort of problem, Muslims, Christians and Jews should keep into their mind that peaceful coexistence with all types of neighbours is the nature and one of the essential teachings of their religions. So, they should not fall prey to evil intentions being promoted by some radical and extremist adherents of their respective religions. The promotion of this beautiful shared teaching of Islam and the Bible is the urging need of the time, as the world is already intoxicated into fatal drug of hate and prejudice.

A regular Columnist with New Age Islam, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. He completed the Classical Islamic Sciences from a Delhi-based Sufi Islamic seminary Jamia Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia with specialization in Tafseer, Hadith and Arabic. He completed his Alimiat and Fazilat respectively from Jamia Warsia Arabic College, Lucknow and Jamia Manzar- e- Islam, Bareilly, U.P. He did his graduation in Arabic (Hons) and post-graduation (Arabic) from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi

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