Every society runs through a system of interdependence of individuals on each other. It has some norms and values, which combine people in to continuous process of performing their duties and achieving their rights in turn. Islam lays great importance on keeping balance in a community through peace and care among one another, especially in case of neighbors. Allah SWT says in the Holy Quran:
“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.” [Quran, 4: 36]
The above mentioned Quranic verse demonstrates that apart from having complete conviction in Oneness of the Almighty, one has to fulfill privileges of one`s family members like parents and relatives, take care of orphans and the poor in surroundings, both close to and distant neighbors, and travelers etc. So, this one Ayah contains the comprehensive plan of executing ones responsibilities in any social order which start from one`s own family and is spread across the whole community. Regarding the high status and implementation of rights of a neighbor, the Messenger (PBUH) of God was once reported by Abu Hurairah (R.A) to have said:
“One who believes in Allah (the Glorified and the Exalted) and the Day of Judgment must not cause hardship and inconvenience to his neighbor; and he who believes in Allah (the Glorified and the Exalted) and the Day of Judgment must respect his guest; and he who believes in Allah (the Glorified and the Exalted) and the Day of Judgment must speak well or keep quiet”. (Bukhari and Muslim)
This Hadith emphasizes on keeping a favorable environment around one`s house where its adjoining residents should not feel any kind of trouble from it.
Some of the foremost rights of neighbors that one should take care of are as follows:
Sharing Meals With Them
Food is one of the most essential physiological needs of a person. No one can ever imagine living without it. So, being a true Muslim, one should be highly considerate in this respect, and look around whether the close by tenants are in need of some cuisine in order to serve them with something to eat. Abu Dharr (R.A) narrates that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said to him:
“O Abu Dharr! Whenever you prepare a broth, put plenty of water in it, and give some of it to your neighbors”. (Muslim)
This saying of the Apostle (PBUH) of God tells us to always distribute one`s meal with its neighbors so that their rights could be served well.
Ensuring Safety Of Neighbors
Everyone wants to make sure of security of its loved ones. It is the basic need to survive in the world. Most of the mischief in a community is spread through direct violation of others` protection, which leads to further worsening of situations, as people react directly to every wrong done to them. That is why the religion of Islam stresses on keeping a friendly atmosphere in one`s living area so that it would not lead to infringement of someone else`s human rights. Abu Hurairah (R.A) reported:
The Prophet (PBUH) 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”. (Bukhari and Muslim)
It shows that one cannot attain the status of a true Muslim until or unless it does not ensure that its activities are not defying the fundamental requirement of safety of its neighbors.
Giving Them Presents
As it is common observation that sharing gifts enhances affection among each other, so being a Muslim, it is highly advisable to give away some presents to one`s close inhabitants so as to promote a culture of harmony and tranquility. Abu Hurairah (R.A) reported that the Messenger (PBUH) of Allah said:
“O Muslim women! No one of you should consider insignificant (a gift) to give to her neighbor even if it is (a gift of) the trotters of a sheep”. [Bukhari and Muslim]
It means that one should not stop from presenting its neighbor with anything it could, no matter how small that object appears to be. It may well be possible the receiver of the gift appreciates its value more than one ever imagined about. As Allah SWT says in Furqan e Hameed:
“So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it.” [Quran, 99: 7]
So, it is clear that with good intentions, every single deed of the believer counts near the Almighty, and will get its reward eventually. That is why Rasulullah (PBUH) has directed us to share every small good thing with our neighbors. Aishah (R.A) reported: I said:
“O Messenger of Allah (PBUH), I have two neighbors, to which of them should I send a present?” He (PBUH) replied, “To the one whose door is nearer to you”. (Bukhari)
It can also be observed that those who live closer to one`s house, have more rights on it than the ones far away.
Being Good To Them In All Respects
Besides sharing food, ensuring security, and giving presents to one`s neighbors, as a Muslim, one should keep the most excellent possible conduct with them under all circumstances. Abdullah bin `Umar (R.A) reported that the Apostle (PBUH) of Allah said:
“The best of companions with Allah is the one who is best to his companions, and the best of neighbors to Allah is the one who is the best of them to his neighbor”. (Tirmidhi)
So, one should always be at its best in keeping just behavior with its nearby residents including both physical and verbal actions.
Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (R.A) and Aisha (R.A) related the Holy Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) saying as:
“Angel Jibril (peace be upon him) kept exhorting me about (the rights of) the neighbor so much so that I thought that the neighbor might be included as one of the heirs.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Such is the immense importance of dealing with one`s neighbors properly that Rasulullah (PBUH) felt if they would even be given the rights in inheritance.
In short, Islam is a complete code of life, and it promotes harmony among people. The best way to endorse accord is to start from one`s closest ones, i.e. neighbors, so that this chain of good behavior keeps on building up throughout the world. If everyone cared for its next-door citizens, there would not be any kind of animosity left on the surface of the earth!