By Editorial Staff
Man is social by nature. This fact briefs the human life and its interrelated relationships. All of us, men and women, are endowed with factual capabilities that cannot bring forth perfectly without social interaction.
Therefore, Islam endeavors to shape these natural ties within a sound and secure system that builds up ethical principles and cares for both the material and moral considerations of individuals.
The Islamic social approach stands alone to bolster the best for man and everything around in the worldly life and the Hereafter. Indeed, this approach includes the forgotten and neglected tools to the cheering and successful existence of man on the earth.
At the top of the Islamic social rights lies the right of neighbors in Islam. It is the right that the Prophet (peace be upon him) adopted since the early days of his Prophethood. He (peace be upon him) commenced his message with inviting people to the moral rights, including the rights of neighbors, as stated in the speech of Ja`far ibn Abu Talib to Al-Najashi (The Negus) as Ja`far said:
“O King! We were plunged in the depth of ignorance and barbarism; we adored idols, we lived in unchastity, we ate the dead bodies, and we spoke abominations, we disregarded every feeling of humanity, and the duties of hospitality and neighborhood were neglected; we knew no law but that of the strong, when Allah raised among us a man, of whose birth, truthfulness, honesty, and purity we were aware; and he called to the Oneness of Allah, and taught us not to associate anything with Him. “He forbade us the worship of idols; and he enjoined us to speak the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to be merciful and to regard the rights of the neighbors and kith and kin… (Ahmad)
Almighty Allah has stressed special rights for neighbors more than others, including good treatment and kindness to him. Allah says,
Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess… (An-Nisaa’ 4:36)
Moreover, the Prophet (peace be upon him) linked good treatment to the Muslim’s faith and made it a sign of perfect or weak faith. He said, “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day should do good to his neighbor and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day should show hospitality to the guest and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day should either speak good or better remain silent.” (Muslim)
Who is a neighbor?
Imam ibn Hajar said, “The neighbor includes -the adjoining ones- whether they are Muslim and non-Muslim, the practicing and non-practicing Muslim, the friend and the enemy, the foreigner and the national, the good and the bad and those with near or far houses.” (Fath Al-Bari)
The rights of the neighbors
All texts of revelation have stressed good treatment, kindness, cooperation, sharing happiness and sorrow, and mercifulness towards neighbors, regardless of their religion. This right has been repeated in revelation to the Prophet (peace be upon him) once and once again until he thought that there will be a share of inheritance to the neighbors. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Gabriel impressed upon me (the kind treatment) towards the neighbor (so much) that I thought as if he would soon confer upon him the (right) of inheritance.” (Muslim) In the following lines, we will try to summarize some of these moral rights of neighbors in Islam.
- Ibn `Umar and `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with them) reported: “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Jibril (Gabriel, the angel) kept recommending treating neighbors with kindness until I thought he would assign a share of inheritance”. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
- Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) commanded me thus, “O Abu Dharr! Whenever you prepare a broth, put plenty of water in it, and give some of it to your neighbors”. (Muslim)
- Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with them) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “When you make some soup, make a good amount by adding plenty of liquid, and give some to your neighbors.” (Muslim)
- Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “O Muslim women, never belittle any gift you give your neighbor even if it is a hoof of a sheep”. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
- Ibn ‘Abbas told Ibn az-Zubayr, “I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying, ‘A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbor is hungry.'” (Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)
- Abu Hurairah reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Six are the rights of a Muslim over another Muslim: To greet him when he meets him, to accept when he gives him an invitation, to give him good counsel when he asks for advice, to wish mercy on him when he sneezes and says, ‘Praise be to Allah,’ to visit him when he is ill, and to join the funeral procession when he dies.” (Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)
Not causing harm
- Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: “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 is that, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “One whose neighbor does not feel safe from his evil.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
- Abu Hurairah said, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah! A certain woman prays in the night, fasts in the day, acts and gives charity, but injures her neighbors with her tongue.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ‘There is no good in her. She is one of the people of the Fire.’ They said, ‘Another woman prays the prescribed prayers and gives bits of curd as charity and does not injure anyone.’ The Messenger of Allah said, ‘She is one of the people of the Garden.'” (Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)
- Al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) asked his Companions about fornication and they said, “It is unlawful. Allah and His Messenger have made it unlawful.” He said, “It is less serious for a man to fornicate with ten women than for him to fornicate with his neighbor’s wife.” Then he asked them about stealing. They replied, “It is unlawful. Allah and His Messenger have made it unlawful.” He said, “It is less serious for a man to steal from ten houses than it is for him to steal from his neighbor’s house.” (Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)
- Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! You will not enter Jannah until you believe, and you shall not believe until you love one another. May I inform you of something, if you do, you love each other? Promote greeting amongst you (by saying As-salamu ‘alaykum to one another)”. [Muslim]
- Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Almighty Allah likes three.” He mentioned from them, “A man who had a bad neighbor who would cause harm to him. Yet, he endures his harm until Allah protects him from that neighbor by life or death (i.e. by any means).” (Al-Hakim)
Thank you. I come to learn about the rights of neighbours and our duties towards one another in Islam. I am not a Muslim myself but I live among many of them, rather peacefully. Sometimes however we cause each other trouble but all can be set right, in wisdom. Reading at your website is a bit like listening to advice from a knowing Grandfather. It’s good.