All praise be to Allah, the Most Subtle, Kind, Courteous, and Generous, the Most Merciful who combined the hearts of the believers, made them brothers and sisters, and commanded Muslims to treat the near and the far neighbors kindly. I send peace and blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad, the master of the formers and the later, and the leader of those who perform Salah. We have discussed in previous lessons the rights of a Muslim on his Muslim brothers and we knew these rights in details. Furthermore, we explained that the origin of these rights is due to the obligation of establishing the bond of brotherhood among Muslims and that the relationships of some of them should be based on brotherhood, love, intimacy and harmony. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islâmic religion)."
Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "The believers, men and women, are Auliyâ' (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another." Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allâh (i.e. this Qur'ân), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allâh's Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islâmic Faith)." The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said in the Hadith that was reported by Al Bukhari and Muslim in their Sahih: "Do not nurse mutual hatred, do not envy one another, do not desert one another, and, O servants of Allah, be brothers. Lo! It is not permissible for any Muslim to desert (not talk to) his brother (Muslim) for more than three days."
The first generation of the three preferable centuries embodied that great meaning until they reached a high status in fulfilling these rights where they advanced others' rights to their own rights. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "And those who, before them, had homes (in Medina) and had adopted the Faith, love those who emigrate to them, and have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given (from the booty of Banû An-Nadîr), and give them (emigrants) preference over themselves even though they were in need of that. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful."
Thus, our religion asked us to fulfill these rights and be true believers, who believed by words and actions and followed the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Dear Muslim brother, there is a type of people who have a special description and whom the Wise Law-Giver gave more rights, care, and attention because only few people who care for them, whereas the majority neglect them. This kind of people are the neighbors. A neighbor is the one whose house is close to yours. Some people defined it as the one who is forty houses length of your house, whereas others referred the whole matter to custom, so the one which these descriptions apply to is a neighbor.
Dear Muslim brother, a neighbor has a special right and a special quality because neighborhood is one of the strongest bonds, showing gratitude to him is of the best type of benevolence, and fulfilling his rights is one of the greatest types of good deeds.
Recommendation about one's neighbors was mentioned in many positions in the Book of Allah (may He be Exalted) and the Sunnah of his Messenger (peace be upon him).
Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "Worship Allâh and join none with Him (in worship); and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, Al-Masâkîn (the needy), the neighbor who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess." So, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) mentioned the types of neighbors about whom He recommended, they are: The neighbors who are near to someone —whether in place, religion, or kinship— and the neighbor who is far whether in place, kinship, or religion. Because of the greatness of the rights of neighbors, the Messenger (peace be upon him) made them like relatives who inherit although they actually do not inherit. Al Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "Gabriel kept on recommending me about treating the neighbors in a kind and polite manner, so much so that I thought that he would order (me) to make them (my) heirs."
We may summarize the rights of neighbors as follows:
The first right is: Do not harm him either by words or actions and not to offend him by any type of offence. The one who insults his neighbor by improper words or the one who annoys his neighbor by raising his voice and the voices of his children or the sound of radio and TV is not a true neighbor. Likewise, those who pursuit their neighbors' defects, stand before their doors to see who is coming in and out, stop his own car in front of his neighbor's door, or let his children play in front of his neighbors' doors; all these actions are forbidden by Islam and one should avoid them. Al Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt (or insult) his neighbor." Al Bukhari and Muslim reported also that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "By Allah, he is not a believe! By Allah, he is not a believe! By Allah, he is not a believe! It was said: Who is that, O Allah's Messenger? He said: That person whose neighbor does not feel safe from his evil."
The compilers of Hadith reported with a good chain of transmission according to At-Tirmidhy that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was told about a woman who fasts daytime and wakes up the whole night for worship, but she harms her neighbors. He said: "She is in Hell-Fire."
Of the severest kind of harm on a neighbor is that a person harms his neighbors' women by illegal lustful looks or seduction. Such a person shall have double punishment where the Messenger (peace be upon him) counted that action one of the most grievous sins when he was asked about that, he said: "The one who commits fornication with his neighbor's wife." He shall have double punishment and severer torment because a neighbor is usually entrusted with private matters, is expected to show gratitude, and is not thought to betray or transgress one's sanctity.
Of neighbor's rights is: Showing generosity and benevolence to him by all kinds such as answering him when he asks, helping him when he needs, visiting him when he gets sick, congratulating him in nice occasions, lending him when he asks for money, condoling him when he has a misfortune, initiating him with salutation, talking to him softly, respecting him, guarding his sanctity, forgiving his mistakes, advising him when you see something wrong, and directing him if he needs direction. Al Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his neighbor generously."
In another narration: "He who believes in Allah and the Last Day should treat his neighbor well."
of neighbor's rights also is: Doing good actions to him, giving him charity if he needs so, offering him some food or drink or anything else that may draw him near to you, and helping him with your position and power in a way that does not harm others. Al Bukhari (may Allah bestow mercy on his soul) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "O Muslim women, None of you should look down upon the gift sent by her she-neighbor even if it were the trotters of the sheep (fleshless part of legs)." The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to Abu Dhar (may Allah be pleased with him): "O Abu Dhar, Whenever you prepare a broth, put plenty of water in it, and give some of it to your neighbors."
What should be noted here is: Whenever a neighbor is near in place, kinship, or religion, his right increases. Al Bukhari (may Allah bestow mercy on his soul) reported on the authority of `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that she said to the Messenger (peace be upon him): "I have two neighbors and would like to know to which of them I should give presents. He said: To the one whose door is nearer to you."
Dear Muslim brother, a person may be afflicted by a bad neighbor who harms him by words and actions, so he has to observe patience for this harm, do not harm him back because patience has a great reward and a method of getting rid of harm, and he should advise and direct him.
It is important that everyone of us would hold himself accountable and ask himself whether he fulfilled the rights of his neighbors or not? Whether he stopped harming his neighbors or not? Did he treat them kindly and offer them food and drink or not? Did he practice any kind of benevolence to them?
I ask Allah (Glory be to Him) to be one of those who maintain what Allah commanded to be maintained, to forgive our sins, grant us forgiveness and good health, and to rescue ourselves as well as our parents from Hell, for He is All-Hearing, All-Responding and He is the One whose aid is to be implored.