By Sirajuddin Aziz
May 21, 2019
SERVE Allah and join not any partners with Him: and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the way-farer (ye meet) and what your right hands possess: for Allah loveth not the arrogant the vainglorious; – An-Nisaa (4),36.
Allah created mankind on the basis of equality to constitute a single fraternity. He hates prejudice and favouritism and clearly mentions that no one Human being is superior over the other due to any aspect but their respective deeds for Allah Subhanahu Taala. He has ordained the duties towards mankind a higher station than duties towards Himself. Haqooqul Ibad’ (duties towards mankind) has such a high regard in Islam that Allah clearly mentions that he shall forgive the sins committed in ignorance of carrying out His commands but in order to seek forgiveness of disregard of Huqooqul Ibad, one will have to revert to the respective person to seek forgiveness first, subsequent to which Allah shall grant his mercy.
In Haqooqul Ibad, every relation enjoys a certain status wherein it is characterized by certain obligations and duties towards each other, which if reneged upon elicits Allah’s displeasure. The social sphere of our daily lives consists of our family, ties of kinship and blood relations and then neighbours. There is a general code of conduct which Islam guides us to abide by, when fulfilling our obligations towards each group. Neighbours hold a very significant status according to the teachings of the Holy Quran. The Qur’an has divided them into three categories: a neighbour who is also a relation; a neighbour who is a stranger; and a casual or temporary neighbour with whom one happens to live or travel for a certain time. All of them are deserving of sympathy, affection, kindness and fair treatment. In one Hadith the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, said: Anyone whose neighbour is not safe from his misdeeds is not a true Believer. (Bukhari and Muslim).
Islam, therefore, requires all neighbours to be loving and helpful and to share each other’s sorrows and happiness. It enjoins them to establish social relations in which one can depend upon the other and regard his life, honour and property safe among his neighbours. A society in which two people, separated only by a wall, remain unacquainted with one another for years, and in which those living in the same area of a town have no interest or trust in one another, can never be called Islamic. It is narrated; Abdullah ibn Amr, a companion who was well versed in Hadith had a sheep slaughtered. He repeatedly asked his servant: “Have you sent some meat as a present to our Jewish neighbor?” When he said that several times, he added: “I have heard Allah’s messenger (PBUH) saying: “Gabriel has repeatedly recommended me to be good to my neighbour until I have thought that he would include him among my heirs.” It is obvious from this narration that Abdullah ibn Amr considered his Jewish neighbour as entitled to his kind treatment as any other neighbour he may have had. When he is questioned about mentioning him too often, he does not reply that the Jew is a good neighbour or that he has been very hospitable to him, but his only reason for his kindness to that Jewish neighbour is the Hadith he heard from the Prophet. But we note, however, that kindness to neighbours is taken for granted.
There must be something which tells us what is the minimum degree of kindness to neighbors. This is explained in the following Hadith in which Abdullah ibn Abbas, the Prophet’s cousin, states that he heard the Prophet saying: “A believer is not the one who eats his fill when his neighbor is hungry.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Al-Hakim and Al-Baihaqi). This is a very significant statement. It speaks of mutual care by neighbors. They must know how their neighbors live, and if they are poor, then they must send them food. Indeed, this has been a tradition of Muslim societies which has survived for centuries. The Prophet even gives us a hint of how we can share our food with our neighbors without increasing our expenses a great deal. He tells his companion, Abu Tharr: “If you cook something with gravy, increase the gravy and send some of it to your neighbors.” (Related by Muslim, Ahmad and Al-Bukhari). The Prophet is telling us here not to think too little of anything which we can give to our neighbors. Even a person who is not rich can give his neighbors some food which may not be the best they can have, but would be more than useful in a neighborhood where poverty is common.
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. Hazrat Ayesha (RA), stated that she once asked the Prophet (PBUH), “O Messenger of Allah! I have two neighbors. To whom shall I send my gifts?” the Prophet (PBUH) said, “To the one whose gate is nearer to you.”
Neighbors have rights towards us. Our actions towards our neighbors reflect our kind nature and our good morals. We should all know our duty towards our neighbors whether it is a neighbor at home or at work. In order to create a solid basis for its closely-knit community, Islam begins by encouraging good-neighborliness. One of the worst social acts a person can commit is to be unkind to his neighbors. The reasons for this insistence on good-neighborliness are too obvious to need any discussion.
In a neighborhood where people quarrel and one set of neighbors try to harm another, there is no chance of harmony prevailing there. Indeed, people try to move out from such an area, peace being the basic condition for development. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Prophet emphasized at every occasion, the importance of good-neighborly relations Expanding the concept of good neighborliness, we must recognize that even a state, especially those that are Islamic, have a duty towards their neighboring countries. We only need to imagine and recognize, what a beautiful place this world would be, if only such ordained duties and rights become an integral part of our respective foreign policies, when Islam is part of constitution of any state (Islam a religion of peace) such a country would only be a peaceful and peace loving state.
Sirajuddin Aziz is a senior banker with interest in Religion.
Source: Pak Observer