Faith Begins Next Door
Muslim or non-Muslim, righteous or sinner, friend or foe, kindness to neighbors as urged by the Prophet (Pbuh)and written in the Qur’an is as imperative as kindness towards parents, relatives, and the poor in order to have a prosperous community where feelings are cared for, rights are respected, and people live kindly together under the Religion of Allah.
(Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the distant neighbor, the companion by your side, the wayfarer, and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Verily, Allah does not like those who are proud and boastful.)
(An-Nisa’ 4: 36)
‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr had a sheep slaughtered by his family. When he returned home, he asked, “Have you sent a gift (from its meat) to our neighbor, the Jew? Have you sent a gift to our neighbor, the Jew? I heard the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh)saying, ‘Jibril (Gabriel ) kept on exhorting me about (the rights of) the neighbor so much that I thought he would include him among the heirs!’”
Mujahid, Sunan At-Tirmidhy, Book of Al-Birr Waslah, Hadith no. 1866
The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) said,
“By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, no servant (of Allah) will have faith until he loves for his neighbor (or he said: his brother) what he loves for himself.”
Anas bin Malik, Sahih Muslim, Book of Iman, Hadith no. 65.
“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not harm his neighbor, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should entertain his guest generously, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak good (words) or keep silent.”
Abu Hurairah, Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Al-Adab, Hadith no. 5559
Neighborly benevolence is thus integrated by the Prophet (Pbuh) into the body of faith, which, as the Prophet (Pbuh) preached, must shape conduct and translate into righteous works, especially felt by those living nearby.
Therefore, in the eyes of the Prophet r, neighbors are the unmistakable gauge of man’s righteousness. Kulthum Al-Khuza‘i narrated that a man came to the Prophet (Pbuh) and asked, “O Messenger of Allah, how can I know when I am doing good that I am doing good, and when I am doing wrong that I am doing wrong?’ The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) replied,
“When your neighbors say you are doing good, you are doing good. And when they say you are doing wrong, you are doing wrong.”
Sunan Ibn Majah, Book of Az-Zuhd, Hadith no. 4212
“When you cook broth,” the Messenger (Pbuh) advised Abu Dhar, “increase its water, then seek a household among your neighbors and kindly give them some of it.”
Sahih Muslim, Book of Al-Birr Waslah Waladab, Hadith no. 4759
This is the shortest path to warmth among neighbors.
“Give presents to one another, you shall love one another.”
Transmitted by ‘Ataa’ bin Abu Muslim Al-Khurasani, Muwatta’ Malik, Book of Al-Jami‘ (Miscellany), Hadith no. 1413.
“O ‘Aishah, if your neighbor’s boy comes to you, put something in his hand; this draws affection.”
Lady ‘Aishah, Al-Muttaqi Al-Hindi, Kanz Al-‘Ummal fi Sunan Al-Aqwal wa Al-Af‘al, Hadith no. 24936.
Such cordial gestures among neighbors should be welcomed, even if they only involve giving the hooves of a sheep. The Prophet (Pbuh) exhorted, saying,
“O Muslim women, a neighbor should not despise any gift from her neighbor, even if it were the hooves of a sheep.”
Abu Hurairah, Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Al-Hibah (Gifts), Hadith no. 2378
The negligence or violation of neighbor’s rights is interpreted by the Prophet (Pbuh)as a manifestation of absent faith.
“By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe!” It was asked, “Who is that, O Messenger of Allah?” He (Pbuh) said, “The one whose neighbor is not secure from his mischief.”
Abu Shuraih, Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Al-Adab, Hadith no. 5557
“Many a neighbor will cling to his neighbor on the Day of Resurrection and say, ‘O Lord, this man shut his door on me and debarred his kindness.’”
Lady ‘Aishah, Al-Muttaqi Al-Hindi, Kanz Al-‘Ummal, Hadith no. 24929
“He who goes to bed satisfied while his next-door neighbor is hungry is not a believer.”
Ibn ‘Umar: Al-Muttaqi Al-Hindi, Kanz Al-‘Ummal, Hadith no. 24899
Long hours of worship, Salah, and Sawm will come to nothing if accompanied by abuse of one’s neighbors. The Prophet (Pbuh) warned,
“He will not enter Paradise whose neighbor is not secure from his evil.”
Sahih Muslim, Book of Iman, Hadith no. 66
The Prophet (Pbuh) was asked,
“O Messenger of Allah, such-and-such a woman is known for much praying, fasting and charity, yet she hurts her neighbors with her (sharp) tongue.” He (Pbuh) replied, ‘(Her good deeds will be of no avail). She will be in Hellfire.” He (Pbuh) said, “O Messenger of Allah, such-and-such a woman is known for little fasting, charity, and praying, yet she gives pieces of curds in charity and does not hurt her neighbors with her tongue.” He (Pbuh) replied, “She will be in Paradise.”
Abu Hurairah, Musnad Ahmad, Book of Al-Mukthrin, Hadith no. 9298
‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud narrated, “I asked the Prophet (pbuh), ‘Which sin is the gravest in the Sight of Allah?’ He (Pbuh)said, ‘That you set up a rival to Allah although He Alone created you.’ I said, ‘That is indeed grave.’ I asked, ‘Which is next?’ He (Pbuh) said, ‘To kill your child lest they should share your food with you.’ I asked, ‘Which is next?’ He (Pbuh)said, ‘To commit sexual intercourse with your neighbor’s wife.’”
Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Tafsir Al-Qur’an, Hadith no. 4117