My New Neighbour

My New Neighbour - GSalam.NetPhoto Credit: iStockPhoto

Outline

Introduction

Alhamdulillah… All praises and thanks are due to the Almighty Allah. May His Peace and Blessings be upon Habibi Muhammad, his household, his companions and upon all those who follow his guided path till the Day of Judgement.

This article discusses neighbouring, from my personal experiences. I’m going to share with you some stories, and then relate them to the Islamic teachings and the noble Sunnah of the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wasallam. Before we begin, I would like to request from you, the valued readers of GSalam.Net, two things:

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Let’s Begin

Just two weeks ago, my next-door neighbour vacated his room. I don’t like seeing my neighbours moving out. But, honestly, I wasn’t saddened by his move out. Continue reading, and I shall tell you why.

Last Monday (25/11/2013), when I returned from Singapore, I found a new neighbour! I greeted him, introduced myself, and showed my pleasure to have him as my new neighbour. Certainly I wished him a good luck.

Interestingly, since I knew my new neighbour, our interactions constantly remind me of the good and the bad neighbours I had in Damascus, once upon a time.

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In Damascus

I spent my first two years (of six) in Damascus, in a house, sharing with other foreign students. That was in the period between 2000 and 2002.

We had two neighbours. One of whose house was attached to ours, but it took longer to reach their door. The other house was right at the right corner, when our door was opened, but separated by a walkway. The location was a T-Junction, their house situated in the middle (meeting point of the T) and ours in the (right) corner (before the meeting point of the T, when you come from south).

The family in the house, which was attached to ours, would send us some food, anytime they cooked extra, especially when they cooked their traditional and local Syrian foods. We felt home during festive seasons, as well.  On the other hand, the “tigress” in the house next to us, used to scatter our house’s entrance with their rubbish, instead of putting them in plastic bags, and placing them where cleaners would pick them up.

Those were examples of two contrary treatments we received from local (Syrian) neighbours, as international students. I’m certain it happens everywhere, under the sun. However, these two-dimensional experience I learnt from Syria have taught me a true and practical real life lesson. It has taught me how to appreciate a good neighbour, whenever you come across one. The truth is, whenever I remember the good neighbours (from the Syrian story), I pray for their wellbeing, although after 10 years.

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In IIUM, Malaysia

OK. Maybe I have to mention here, that I stay in a students’ hostel, here at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). A hostel here is called Mahallah. So, I stay in a MahallahSmile

My New Neighbour is a Ph.D. student from Algeria. He reminds me of some previous and recent neighbours, whom I have encountered, so far. I certainly believe there are more neighbours to encounter, in the future. But I pray that Allah coincides me (and you too J ) with the good ones always. I can’t hear you saying ‘Ameen’.

My New Neighbour reads the Qur’an before he goes to bed, and after Fajr prayers. I mean he is memorizing the Qur’an. He’s an inspiration for his neighbours who want to relate to the Qur’an. My New Neighbour doesn’t smoke. We no longer smoke against our will, in the early mornings, as we used to. He helps to ensure cleaner and fresh air for all. My New Neighbour never misses prayers in the mosque (or the prayer room). In other words, he’s a role model for punctuality in prayers. My New Neighbour never fails to exchange greetings and smiles. In other words, he’s an example for Salam and Smiles 🙂 .

This morning, after the Azan was called, he didn’t notice I was awake, my new Neighbour knocked on my door, to wake me up, for Fajr! I was awake then, though, but this is what inspired this article.

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A Neighbour in Islam

A neighbour isn’t only the one who stays next to you in your housing estate or Mahallah. A neighbour is also the one who works with you, who studies with you, who has a business opening next to yours and similar situations.

One of the essential purposes for which the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wasallam, was sent as a Messenger was to complete and perfect the magnificence of morality (Akhlaq). He said in a Hadeeth, authenticated by Shaikh Al-Albani:

بُعِثْتُ لأُتَمِّمَ حُسْنَ الأَخْلاَقِ

It means, “I have been sent to perfect good characters.”

This is to say, a society cannot prosper morally without developing a good neighbourhood. A good neighbourhood is made up of good neighbours, who possess mutual respect for each other, and protect each other’s interest; ethically and physically. Morality is a core element of a good and prosperous neighbourhood. Due to that, a neighbour must consider the convenience of his neighbours in all his activities.

In fact being a good neighbour is among the factors that make a good Muslim. This can be understood from the verse of Surah Al-Nisaa, 4:36, in which Allah says:

وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا، وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَبِذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْجَارِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْجَارِ الْجُنُبِ وَالصَّاحِبِ بِالْجَنبِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ، إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ مَن كَانَ مُخْتَالًا فَخُورًا

It means, Worship Allah: and do not associate partners with Him. Be good to your parents, to relatives, to orphans, to the needy, and the neighbour who is a kinsman, and the neighbour who is not related to you and your companions and the wayfarers and those whom you rightfully possess. Allah does not like arrogant, boastful people…”

On that basis, the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wasallam, constantly commanded for a neighbour to be responsible for the wellbeing of his neighbour, regardless of the latter’s race, language or religion.

Sayyidah Aishah, radhiya Allahu ‘anha, narrated a Hadeeth reported by Imam(s) Al-Bukhari and Muslim, that the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wasallam, said:

مَا زَالَ جِبْرِيلُ يُوصِينِي بِالْجَارِ حَتَّى ظَنَنْتُ أَنَّهُ سَيُوَرِّثُهُ

It means, “Jibril (‘alaihi al-Salam) kept recommending treating neighbours with kindness until I thought he would assign a share of inheritance for him.”

In addition to creating a cooperative society, when we treat our neighbours with kindness, we (Muslims) are able to invite our non-Muslim neighbours to Islam effectively (if we intend to invite them to Islam).

Most of us know the effect of having a bad neighbour. But only a few amongst us, seems to have proper reflection on how good neighbours they are to their neighbours.

A few weeks ago, I witnessed a brother, who had to come from another wing (of the Mahallah) to our wing, to appeal to another brother, to lower the volume of his music which the latter was playing loudly, early in the morning of that Saturday.

In one of my friend’s house, you can hear a very disturbing sound coming from the house above them, which seem to be asresult of dance performed with bare feet. According to my friend, that sounds happen very frequently, and it usually continues for more than half an hour. Sometimes, it can be too disturbing, that those staying below my friend will have to go up (above my friend) to appeal to them to consider the convenience of others.

Here I’m relating true stories of the harm some ‘Muslims’ cause to their neighbours. Let’s imagine the neighbours who are harmed by such ‘bad neighbours’ being non-Muslims. How can we expect them to ever developgood impression about Islam?

Incidents like these remind of the Hadeeth which was narrated by Sayyidina Abu Hurairah, radhiya Allahu ‘anhu, and reported by Imam(s) Al-Bukhari and Muslim, that, the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wasallam, said:

وَاَللَّهِ لَا يُؤْمِنُ وَاَللَّهِ لَا يُؤْمِنُ وَاَللَّهِ لَا يُؤْمِنُ مَنْ لَا يَأْمَنُ جَارُهُ بَوَائِقَهُ

It means, “By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer! The one whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil”.

The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wasallam, also said in a Hadeeth narrated by Sayyidina Abu Hurairah, radhiya Allahu ‘anhu, and authenticated by Imam Muslim:

وَمَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَلْيُكْرِمْ جَارَهُ

It means, “…And he who believes in Allah and the Last Day should treat his neighbour with kindness.”

The least the one who can’t treat his neighbours with kindness can do, is to save them his evil, and that will be a great kindness. Their religion, race, language, colour, or social ranking rights do not determine the rights our neighbours have over us. What determine such rights are simply they being our neighbours.

Treating our neighbours with kindness includes asking (them) about their health, wishing for them what we wish for ourselves, treating their kids the way we treat ours (in kindness and care), and would like others to treat our kids. It also includes standing by their side in happy times such as engagement, wedding, and birth; as well as during sorrow and difficult times, such as sickness, death and other social problems.

Evil treatment for neighbours includes backbiting them, intruding their privacy, harassing their wives and daughter, discriminating them, abusing them, fabricating false about them, and causing any kind of inconvenience to them.

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Conclusion

Neighbours are among those we shall remember for life. We, too, as neighbours, shall be remembered for life. In order to be a good neighbour, one has to be a good family member in his own house, first. Our attitudes towards our neighbours, and colleagues, are nothing, but reflections of our true attitudes towards our parents, spouses, siblings, children and relatives.

One doesn’t have to be highly educated, in order to be a good neighbour or have good character. A good neighbour who doesn’t only remind you of your Lord, through his actions and interactions, but goes a step further to wake you up for Fajr, deserves an article, like this. Indeed, your day is made when you pray Fajr in the mosque. A neighbour who wakes you up for Fajr makes your day!

Now I would like to hear from you. Do you mind sharing with us, your experiences between your neighbours and you? I also welcome your feedback and questions.

Allahu Hafiz Smile

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