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Good neighbourliness: Best deeds in the eye of Allah

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It seems to me that many of us always want to do good directly to Almighty Allah not knowing that being good to our neighbours is one of the best deeds in the eyes of Almighty Allah.

Many of us are religious but our deeds and actions did not portray us as one who is duly and sincerely worshiping Almighty Allah. Our society is full of injustice, nepotism, hypocrisy and all other vices yet religion thrives.

As Muslim, it remains an important duty on all our parts to ensure we are vigilant, compassionate, and loving neighbours no matter who may live in our communities. The Holy Quran as well as hadith from the Holy Prophet teaches us the beauty in living a life caring for those around us.

Kind treatment of neighbours is enjoined and is recommended, whether they are Muslim, Christian or an unbeliever. Kind treatment may be in the sense of knowing your neighbor, either at home or at work and being fair and compassionate in dealing with them.

This simply means that as Muslims, Islamic teachings and values should reflect more on individual’s actions than words. Our actions should reflect that we are Muslim and not our tongues. The behaviour that revels our true Islamic identity is how we treat others. It doesn’t matter that your neighbours are not Muslim, or that they don’t have the same set of beliefs like you, according to Islam, treating your neighbor in a proper manner is not an option. Imam Ali (AS) has said “Man is either your brother in faith or your brother in humanity.”

The Noble Qur’an tells us that all of mankind is descended from one couple, Adam and Eve. Thus we are all brothers and sisters, and our differences in languages and colors are but a mercy that we might know one another. Language and race should never be a reason for discriminating against people.

A Muslim must be good to his neighbours, no matter their religion. But the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught us that a “neighbour” is not just the one next door but includes all those up to forty houses in all directions – effectively a whole neighbourhood. Imagine being good to forty houses in all directions – definitely, the world would be a better place for every human on earth. That’s what Islam teaches.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was told of a woman who prayed during night and fasted a lot during day and gave alms generously, but whose neighbours complained of her abusive tongue. He said that she would be in Hellfire. When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was told of another woman who did not do all those extra acts of worship other than just compulsory (Wajib) but whose neighbours were happy with her, he said that she would be in Paradise. Thus we see the importance of being good to our neighbours, both in actions and words.

In the Holy Quran Allah says: “Worship God and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet)…  Verily, God does not like such as are proud and boastful.”

“Serve God, and join not any partners with Him; and do good – to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa 4:36]

When asked what the rights of the neighbour are, the Prophet Mohammed answered: “The least of a neighbour’s rights on him is that if he asks him for a loan he should grant it to him. If he asks for help, he should help him. If he wants to borrow something from him, he should lend it to him. If he needs him to donate something to him, he should do so. If he invites him, he should accept his invitation. If he gets sick, he should go and visit him. If he passes away, he should attend his funeral procession.” [Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, v.2, p.79]

After describing the rights of neighbours, the Prophet Mohammed is reported to have stated: “Listen to what I tell you. Only a few people who are blessed by God’s Mercy fulfill the rights of neighbours. God enjoined on me the rights of the neighbour to the extent that I thought He would appoint him as an heir.”

– Rauf ‘Seyi Owoyomi

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