Monday, 29 June 2009

Mankind is Descended From One Couple

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 should maintain good relations with his relatives, but he should not unjustly favor them over others. Further, a Muslim must be good to his neighbours, no matter their religion. But the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) 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 neighborhood.

An Ansar (emigrant) came to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and said that he has recently purchased a house in a particular area and that his nearest person was such that he had no hope of any goodness from him and that he felt unsafe from his mischief. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) told Imam Ali (r.a.), Salman Al-Farsi,(r.a) Abu Zar Ghaffari and Miqdad ibn Aswad (R.a) to go to the Mosque and announce: "He is not a believer whose neighbour is unsafe from his mischief." They announced it thrice and then to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) pointed towards forty doors to his right and forty to the left indicating that forty houses in every direction constitute ones neighbourhood. One is obliged to observe their rights.

This concern for our neighbours can take many forms. It means to ensure that our neighbours have the basic necessities, for a Muslim should not eat if his or her neighbour is going hungry. It means that Muslims should wish for their neighbours what they wish for themselves. It means sharing their happiness and sorrow. Further, it means to not spy on them and respect their privacy, to not gossip about them, to not harm them in any way, and to keep common use areas - such as apartment building entrances, streets and sidewalks - clean.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) 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 the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) 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.

Imam Ali (r.a.) says: A person is either your brother in faith, or your equal in humanity.
Islam and Neighbourhood Kindness to a Non-Muslim Neighbour

Kindness to a Non-Muslim Neighbour The neighbor holds a special status in Islam. Islam encourages Muslims to treat their neighbours in a gentle way that reflects the true and genuine spirit of Islam as exemplified in its tolerant aspect especially with people of other faiths. It makes no difference whether the neighbours are Muslim or non-Muslim. Ayesha,r.a. the Mother of the Believers, stated that she once asked the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), "O Messenger of Allah! I have two neighbours. To whom shall I send my gifts?" the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "To the one whose gate is nearer to you."

It is clear from the above Prophetic Hadith that Muslims are encouraged to not only treat our neighbours kindly, but also to exchange gifts with them. The wording of the Hadith does not indicate whether the one with whom we exchange gifts is a Muslim or not.

Below are nine tips on how to approach your non-Muslim neighbours in a kind way that exemplifies Islamic manners:

1. Being good to neighbours is not only restricted to those who share the same building with you. Your roommate at the dorm is your neighbour; the person sitting behind you or next to you in a bus or at a bus stop is your neighbour; the one sharing your office at work is your neighbour; the person enjoying fresh air next to you in a public garden is also a neighbour. You ought to treat all of those people kindly and socialize with them within the permitted scope of Shariah Islamic Law.

2. Introduce yourself and your family to your neighbours when you move into a new place or when new neighbours move in. This will also help to relieve any fears or tensions they may have about Muslims. Also, don't forget to say good-bye when you or they move away.

3. Care for them continually, especially at times of need and distress, as "the neighbour in need is a neighbour indeed." If a neighbour is elderly or chronically ill, offer to run errands or shop for him or her.

4. In dealing with neighbours, it is safer to deal with those of the same sex as yourself. This does not mean that you should stop socializing at work or school with your non-Muslim workmates or classmates of the opposite sex, but be aware of satanic snares. After-hours socializing should be with your same sex.

5. While socializing with non-Muslims, be cautious of becoming too lenient at the expense of your creed and principles. For example, don't go out drinking with them. They will respect you more for sticking to your principles than for breaking the rules.

6. Conduct mutual visits so that the families can interact in a constructive way. If the discussion does turn to religion, focus on areas of common ground. For example, if your neighbours are Christian, then you should not enter into a futile argument with them about whether Jesus is God incarnate or not. Rather, tell them to what extent Islam honors all God's Prophets and Messengers as a whole, and that Jesus is granted a special status among God's Prophets and Messengers.

7. While socializing with neighbours, present your religion (Islam) in the best way. If you are faced with a difficult question or a distortion about Islam, do not be ashamed to stop for a while and tell them that you will try to contact a more knowledgeable person to seek the guidance regarding the issue raised. Thus, common grounds should be enhanced, and areas of dissension should never be raised.

8. If your neighbors show an interest in Islam, invite them to attend Islamic events, and even to accompany you to the mosque to see what it is like. It may be that their hearts become softened to Islam, and if they remain non-Muslim, at least you have succeeded in breaking the barrier. You can also visit the church where your neighbors pray if they invite you to do that, but here you should be cautious not to perform any act that your religion prohibits. In brief, be only a watchful monitor.

9. Always keep in mind the mighty reward that is in store for you in the Hereafter when you show kindness to a neighbour.
Rights of Neighbours in Islam.
(Neighbourhood Story)

Neighbours in Islam Sayyed Jawad Ameli, a great Mujtahid, was having his dinner when someone knocked at his door. A servant from his master, Sayyed Mehdi, appeared and said: "Your master has sent for you to come immediately. He has just sat down for his dinner but refuses to eat until he sees you."

There was no time to lose. Sayyed Jawad Ameli left his dinner and rushed to Sayyed Mehdi 's residence. Just as he entered, the master looked disapprovingly at him and said: "Sayyed Jawad! You have no fear of Allah! Don't you feel ashamed in front of Allah?"

This came as a shock to him, as he could not remember doing anything to incur the wrath of his master. Sayyed Jawad Ameli said: "My master may guide me where I have failed."

Sayyed Mehdi replied: "It is now a week that your neighbour and his family are without wheat and rice. He was trying to buy some dates from a shop on credit but the shopkeeper refused to grant him any more credit. He returned home empty-handed and the family is without a morsel of food."

Sayyed Jawad Ameli was taken by surprise. "By Allah", he said, "I have no knowledge about this."

That is why I am displeased all the more.

How can you be unaware of your own neighbour? Seven days of difficulties have passed and you tell me you do not know about it. Well, If you had known and ignored him despite your knowledge, then you would not even he a Muslim," Sayyed Mehdi adjoined.

Then he instructed him to take all the dishes of food before him to his neighbour. "Sit with him to eat, so that he does not feel ashamed. And take this sum for his future ration. Place it under his pillow or carpet so that he is not humiliated, and inform me when this work is completed, for not until then shall I eat."

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "There are Three categories of neighbours. First: one who has Three rights upon you. This is the one who is a Muslim neighbour and also a relative. Second: One who has two rights. A Muslim neighbour and third: The Kafir neighbour who has only the rights of a neighbour."

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