The Rights of Neighbours

Islam has enjoined that one be good to his neighbours in all respects. Allah (SWT) says:

Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the neighbor who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful.[4:36]

 The Religion has prohibited that one harm his neighbor, verbally or physically. Abu Hurairah (RA) said:

“Such and such woman fasts during the day and prays during the night, but she harms her neighbor by her speech.’ The Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘There is no good in her and she is in the Hellfire.’ It was said, ‘Such and such woman prays [only that] which is obligatory, and fasts [only] the [obligatory] month of Ramadan, and she gives some pieces of Nit (dried yogurt) as charity, but she does not harm anyone with her tongue.’ He replied, ‘She is in Paradise ‘.” [Ahmad & al-Haakim]

Islam has given the neighbor a great rank and right. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“Gabriel continued to command me in regards to neighbours until I thought that he would give them a share of inheritance.” [al-Bukhari]

Islam regards harming one’s neighbor a negater of Imaan. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“By Allah he does not believe, by Allah he does not believe, by Allah he does not believe.” They said, Who O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)?” He said, “He whose neighbor is not safe from his evil.” [al-Bukhari]

The Prophet (ﷺ) defined what is owed to the neighbor when he was asked what their rights were. He (ﷺ) said:

‘The best companions with Allah are the best of them to his companions, and the best of neighbours are the best of them to his neighbor.’ [at-Tirmidhi ]

One must be patient with the harm their neighbor may cause and be kind and lenient with them. A man said to Ibn Mas’ood (RA):

“I have a neighbor who harms, curses and causes me uneasiness.” He replied, “… If he disobeys Allah in our regard, then obey Allah in his.” [Ghazali, in ‘Ihyaa `Uloom-ud-Deen, v.2, p.212]

There are three types of neighbours:

1) A Muslim relative. This neighbor has three rights: The rights of relatives, neighbours, and Muslims.

2) A Muslim neighbor. This type has two rights: the rights of neighbours and the rights of Muslims.

3) A non-Muslim neighbor. This type has one right: the right of neighbors. The family of Abdullah ibn ‘Amr cooked a whole sheep for him, but when he arrived he said,

“Did you give some to our Jewish neighbor? Did you give some to our Jewish neighbor? I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: “Jibreel (Gabriel) continued to command rue in regards to neighbors until I thought that he would give them a share of inheritance.[at-Tirmidhi]

The Rights of Friends and Companions

Islam has encouraged that one consider the needs of friends and has prescribed certain rights that should be fulfilled in their regard; such as helping them and giving them sincere advice. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“The best of companions in the Sight of Allah (SWT) is the best of them towards his companion, and the best of neighbors in the Sight of Allah (SWT) is the best of them towards his neighbor.” [at-Tirmidhi]

They should receive their rights even after their companion’s death. A man from the tribe of Bani Salamah asked the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ):

“Is there any way I can do good to my parents after they have died?” He (ﷺ) replied: “Yes. Pray the funeral prayer over them, seek forgiveness for them, and implement their pacts which they made. Join the ties of kinship which cannot be so except through them, and honour and be generous to their friends…” [Abu Dawood]

The Rights of Guests

In Islam, guests have the right to be shown generosity. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day let him be generous to his neighbor. Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day let him be generous to his guest in that he gives.” A man said, “And what should he give Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)” He replied, “A day and a night, and one must honor his guest for three days. Whoever does more… then it is a charity for him. And whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day let him speak fair or stay quiet.” [aI-Bukhari]

Islam regards honoring one’s guest as a righteous deed for which he will be rewarded  The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“There is no person like a person who takes the reigns [of his horse] and fights for the sake of Allah, avoiding people’s evil, and a person among his sheep in the outskirts giving meal to his guest. honoring his right.” [Ahmad & al-Haakim]

Islam has also described the manner in which a person should treat his guest. He should greet him honourably with a cheerful face and part with him in a good way.

The guest, however, should also take the conditions of his host into consideration, not burdening him with what he cannot afford. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“It is unlawful for a Muslim to stay with his brother until he makes him fall into sin.” They say, “O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), how can he (the guest) make him (the host) fall into sin?” He (ﷺ) replied, “That he stays with him while he does not have [enough money] to serve him food.” [Muslim]

Imam Ghazali wrote in his book, “Ihyaa Uloom-ud-Deer” (i.e.: Revival of Religious Sciences) about Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ):

“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would honor his guests. He would even spread his garment for a non-relative guest to sit. He used to offer his guest his own cushion and insist until they accept it . No one came to him as a guest but thought that he was the most generous of people. He gave each one of his companions sitting with him his due portion of his attention. He would direct his listening, speech, gaze and attention to those who were in his company Even then, his gathering was characterized by modesty, humbleness and honesty. He would call his companions by their kunyah to honor them… He was the farthest from being angry and the easiest to be contented.”

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