As discussed in previous reminders, the role of a Muslim goes beyond the ritual worship that he or she performs. Previous reminders have spoken about the character of a Muslim and how important it is to conduct oneself with integrity so that the character of the Muslim is seen for all and they can bear witness to the perfection of Islam.
Our conduct was outlined through the perfect example of the Prophet SAWS who taught us manners in all our different areas of life. Today’s reminder is focusing on one of the many areas and that is our conduct with our neighbours.
The imam referenced the 36th ayat from Sura An-Nisa which is translated to say:
Worship God; join nothing with Him. Be good to your parents, to relatives, to orphans, to the needy, to neighbours near and far, to travellers in need, and to your slaves. God does not like arrogant, boastful people,
Dear brothers and sisters, in this ayat Allah SWT speaks to those who have rights over us and the neighbour is one of them. Not only that, the neighbour is defined as both someone who is near to you but also those who are not, implying the importance of the right of your local community.
The imam also referenced the following hadith of the Prophet SAWS in which he is reported to have said:
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day let him not harm his neighbour; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day let him show hospitality to his guest; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day let him speak good or remain silent”.
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to be mindful from both our references that as Muslims, we ought to be there for our communities and for our neighbours. As Muslims living here, we are often met with neighbours that we may not share values with, or even in areas where there are non-Muslim neighbours.
Clearly though from these examples, there is no distinction made between the neighbour and their rights over us. Regardless of their conduct, we have a responsibility to look out for our neighbours, to not harm our neighbours and be active in our community.
It can be challenging with some neighbours. Some of us may have experienced that we are made to feel unwelcome because of the perception people have of Muslims. However, we often learn that it is the perception of the Muslim that is experienced first-hand that brings people to Islam and more importantly, kills the disease of Islamophobia.
We must remind ourselves that media may demonise Muslims but it is our conduct in our local communities and with our nieghbours that holds the greater value in their minds and their hearts.
And so, todays reminder concludes with 3 practical tips that we can take in order to fulfil our duties as Muslims to our nieghbours.
- We should aim to involve our neighbours. From looking out for elderly in our street to offering food during Ramadan, each is an opportunity for us to spread the word of Islam through exemplary manners and kind gestures.
The imam mentioned a hadith today which lends to this point. It is translated to say:
The Prophet SAWS is reported to have said: Jibreel (AS) impressed upon me (the kind treatment) towards the neighbour (so much) that I thought as if he would soon confer upon him the (right) of inheritance.
- We should remember that our non-Muslim neighbours have a skewed perception of us through the media. If we make no effort to change that perception then it is our families and the community as a whole that suffers because it breeds fear which can turn to animosity and hate. Ask yourself, are you presented the alternative narrative to what they are seeing in the news or do you remain distant and unapproachable which only helps the narrative that they are taught by the media.
- And lastly, we should make an effort in our community. It isn’t just about the street but our local community as well. How many of us are aware of local community initiatives or get involved in them? In this area alone we have a Friends in the Park initiative in which the community works together to make parks cleaner and safer for us all to use.
Dear brothers and sisters, we have rights and responsibilities on others but equally they have rights and responsibilities on us too. Let us use today’s reminder to do what is right when it comes to our neighbours so that we are of those who don’t transgress those rights.