By Sobia Javed
There are numerous sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that pertain to the rights of a neighbor. In fact, neighbors hold such an importance that they are even mentioned in the Qur’an:
Worship Allaah and join none with Him (in worship); and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, Al Masaakeen (the poor), the neighbor who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side… [al-Nisaa’ 4:36]
So, why does Islam place such an emphasis on a seemingly minor relation?
Well, forming good relations can have far reaching consequences. Not only does it make daily interactions easy and enjoyable, it is the building block of a community as a whole. Unfortunately, the trappings of modern life and the increasing reliance upon technology means we are more accessible to someone via Skype in a different continent than we are to the person who lives next door!
Islam encourages us to treat neighbors, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, with exemplary manners and kindness, in a way that reflects the true spirit of Islam.
Many elderly people will longingly recall a time when neighbors used to visit each other, and enquire about each other. They used to share childcare, and there was a time when a neighbor was not looked upon as “intruding” or “overstepping boundaries” if they asked for a favor.
What can I do to build up a relationship with my neighbor?
Being good to your neighbor encompasses many things, not just limited to a quick greeting as you pass them by on the way to work. First, it is an Islamic duty NOT to harm them, either through words or actions. Instead, we can focus on small acts of kindness that can help make their lives easier. Always enquire about your neighbors and their situation, as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbor is hungry.’
Source: Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 112
If you’re preparing food,why not cook a bit extrato share with your neighbors?
If you find that your neighbor is not well, you could always cheer them up by visiting them and taking a small gift. Even small things like offering to pick up a few items from the grocery store if they’re not well; or taking out their trash are things that add up and help establish good ties.
If your neighbor is a nosy old lady, she is most probably lonely and bored, here is what you may do.
• Give her books to read in order to occupy her time.
• Visit her so that she doesn’t feel isolated.
If you are annoyed by the late night DIY projects done by your neighbor.
Here is a suggestion.
• Get to know him. Maybe this neighbor works long hours and can only complete essential work when he really should be sleeping.
• Maybe you can offer him some help to complete his project on a weekend morning to speed things up.
Before angrily confronting annoying neighbors, or silently seething, always try to understand if there is an underlying cause to antagonistic behavior.
There you have it – a short summary of Islam’s viewpoint on the treatment of neighbors.