RIGHTS OF NEIGHBORS
Apart from a man's parents, children and near relatives, there also exists a
permanent association and contact between him and his neighbors. The state of
his association -- be it good or otherwise has a great influence on his life and
morals. The Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) had attached
great importance to this and has constantly urged the Ummah to pay due regard to
the rights of neighbors to the extent that he had declared good neighborliness
to be part of Imaan (Faith) and an essential requisite for salvation.
Three Categories Of Neighbors
In a Hadeeth, related by Hadhrat Jaabir, the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam)
is reported to have said: "Neighbors are of three kinds. Firstly, the neighbor
who enjoys only one right (and as far as rights are concerned) he is of the
lowest grade. Secondly, the one who enjoys two rights and thirdly the neighbor
who enjoys three rights.
The neighbor with only one right is Mushrik (the Polytheist i.e. a non-Muslim
neighbor with whom there are no family ties). The neighbor with two rights is
the neighbor who is also a Muslim (as such he has a claim as a neighbor as well
as a fellow Muslim) and the one with three rights is the neighbor who is
a Muslim and a Relative -- he has a claim as a neighbor, as a fellow Muslim and
as a relative".
This Hadeeth clearly explains that the obligation to live in peace and harmony
with neighbors, as demanded in the Holy Quraan and the Traditions, also includes
the non-Muslim neighbors. They too have a claim to our kindness and sympathy. We
treat the animals with kindness and we have been warned against ill treating
them, then what of our fellow human beings -- more so our neighbors. It will be
significant to note that in all Ahaadeeth (Traditions) mentioned, with regards
to the basic rights of neighbors, no distinction had been made between Muslims
Emphasis On The Rights Of Neighbors
It is reported, on the authority of Hadhrat Aaishah and Hadhrat Ibne Umar that
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said:
"The Angel Jibra'il counseled me so frequently regarding the rights of the
neighbor that I feared, he too would be declared a heir."
This Hadeeth shows that Angel Jibra'il) brought commandments from Allah (Subhaanahu
Wa Ta'aalaa), concerning the rights of the neighbor so frequently and stressed
the need to be kind and courteous to him with such force and regularity that the
Holy Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) thought that the neighbor also will be
made a heir i.e. just as parents, children and near relatives inherit the
property left by the deceased, he thought that the neighbor, too, will be given
a share in it.
The purpose of this Hadeeth is not merely to state a fact, but rather it is most
effective way of highlighting the importance of the neighbor to the Muslims.
Importance of Good Treatment to Neighbors
It is an essential condition of Imaan. It is narrated by Hadhrat Abu Shuraih
that the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: "Whoever believes in Allah
and the final day (Day of Judgment) it is essential that he does not harm his
neighbors and whoever believes in Allah and the final Day it is essential for
him to entertain his guest with kindness and generosity and whoever believes in
Allah and the Final Day it is essential that he speak what is good or otherwise
Amongst other points this Hadeeth explains that it is essential for the true
believer to be mindful of his neighbors at all times so that he does not harm
him in any way. It also gives us an idea of the value placed on the rights of
neighbors by the Holy Prophet of Islam.
In another Hadeeth related by Hadhrat Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (SallAllaho
Alaihe WaSallam) said: "By Allah! He is not a true believer. By Allah! He is not
a true believer. By Allah! He is not a true believer. (He said it three times).”
He was asked: “Who?”
Upon which he replied: "The one whose neighbors do not feel secured from his
mischief and evil.”
The construction and manner of the Hadeeth shows how agitated the Prophet (SallAllaho
Alaihe WaSallam) must have been when he said this. The essence contained in this
Hadeeth is that the Muslim whose character is such that his neighbors expect
nothing but evil from him and they live in fear of being hurt or harmed by
him, cannot be regarded as a true and faithful believer -- he doesn't deserve
the title of Muslim or Mumin.
On another occasion the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) is reported to have
said that such a person (whose neighbors do not feel safe on his account) shall
not go to Heaven.
In the language of Prophethood, when special emphasis is laid on a deed, the
customary way of putting it is to say that whoever neglects it etc. is not a
true believer, and he shall not go to Jannah (Heaven). It should be understood
that this does not imply that he has actually been thrown out of the fold of
Islam and now the laws of Infidelity (Kufr) will apply to him, and that in the
Aakhirah (Hereafter) he will be treated as an infidel, but rather this is an
emphatic way of explaining that such a person does not possess the true spirit
of Imaan which is the glory of a Muslim and is pleasing to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa
Ta'aalaa). The particular phrasing is used to lend greater force to the matter.
In yet another Hadeeth, related by Hadhrat Anas, the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe
WaSallam) said: "He has not affirmed faith in me (i.e. he is not a true
follower) who eats to his satisfaction and sleeps comfortably at night while his
neighbor goes hungry -- and he is aware of it."
How astonishing that such a wide gap has occurred between these teachings and
traditions and the actual conduct of the Muslims as a whole! It is extremely
difficult for an unknowing person to believe that such, really, were the
teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam, Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe
Nevertheless, these traditions and teachings explain clearly the importance of
good and kind treatment to neighbors and they are a clear admonition to those
who remain indifferent to the needs and difficulties of their neighbors and care
nothing for them.