Islam has great respect for all the relations and the human interactions a person comes across in his lifetime. Neighbors have always been given an imperative place in Islam. Apart from family and relatives, there is a permanent interaction between two neighbors, Islam emphasizes every Muslim to pay due regards to the rights of the neighbors.

In Surah Nisa (4:36) 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. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.”

The rights of the neighbor are not limited to Muslim neighbors only. Of course, a Muslim neighbor has one more right upon us – that of Islamic brotherhood; but as far as the rights of neighborhood are concerned, all are equal.

In a Hadith, related by Jabir (R.A.), the Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said

“Neighbours are of three kinds:

Firstly, the one who has got one right upon you.

Secondly, the one who has got two rights upon you.

And thirdly, the one who has got three rights upon you.

The neighbor that has three rights upon you is the one who is also a Muslim and a relative. The neighbor having two rights is the one who is either a Muslim or a relative.

The neighbor having one right is the one who is neither a Muslim nor a relative. Still he has got all the claims of neighborhood-rights upon you.”

This shows Islam stresses on the importance of being neighborly. It will be noteworthy that in all hadith, with regards to the basic rights of neighbors, no distinction had been made between Muslims and non-Muslims.

It is reported, on the authority of Ayesha (R.A.) and Ibn Umar (R.A.) that the messenger of Allah (PBUH) said “The Angel Jibra’il (A.S.) counseled me so frequently regarding the rights of the neighbor that I feared, he too would be declared an heir.”

The firmness of this Hadith is not merely to state a fact, but rather it is most effective way of emphasizing the prominence of the neighbor to the Muslims.

Ibn ‘Abbas told Ibn az-Zubayr, “I heard the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbor is hungry.”

So Islam stresses the Muslims to take care of the neighbors and feed them if they are poor.

It is narrated by Abu Shurayh (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) 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 remain silent.”

This hadith accentuates the fact that the one who claims to be a good Muslim and a believer should treat his neighbors whether Muslim or Non-Muslims with respect and kindness, and if they cause them any harm to their neighbors they are not good Muslims  in the eyes of Allah.

In another Hadith related by Abu Hurairah (R.A.) the Prophet (PBUH) 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 (three times). He was asked ‘Who?” Upon which he replied, “The one whose neighbors do not feel secure from his mischief and evil.

The structure and language of the Hadith expresses how disconcerted the Prophet (PBUH) must have been when he said this. The spirit of this Hadith is that a Muslim whose character is of such nature that his neighbors expect nothing but evil and harm from him and always fear him, cannot be considered a real and truthful believer.

Nevertheless, the teachings of Allah and His Prophet (PBUH) clearly state that neighbors are to be treated with compassion and love…

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