Definition of neighbor from the Islamic perspective Neighbor is translated as “al Jar” in Arabic terminology. It is derived from the word “jawara” which is a verb. Literally, “al-jar” has been defined as “al-musakanah” which means living, residing, lodging, dwelling or inhabiting side by side. Indirectly, it also refers to believers and unbelievers, religious and irreligious, friends and enemies, foreigners and fellow countrymen, those who treat you well and those who would do you harm relatives and strangers, those whose houses are near yours as well as those who are further away.
Another meaning given to “al-jar” is ‘al-mulasaqah” which has been translated as sticking, holding fast, adhering to as in the case of a building or a tract of land. It can also be translated as adjoining or touching. Basically, the definition of “al-mulasaqah” conveys the concept of the three way relationship (Total Planning Doctrine, JPBD) and furthermore broadens the concept of neighbor which is believed to be more appropriate in current situation. In addition, it was stated in Faruqi’s Law Dictionary that “al-mulasiq “is juxtaposition while “mulasiq al-jar” is an abutter.
It is understood that “al-mulasiq” can be Almighty who is close to us and the environment in which we live. Meanwhile, “mulasiq al-jar” refers to a person who resides or dwells near to another person. He or she can be either a partner in residence or a partner in land possession or a spouse. According to Islamic scholar, Al-Shafi’i, every person who is physically close to another person is called a neighbor. However, the common opinion is that a neighbor is a person whose house is located near to another’s house.
That person is considered as neighbor to another and vice versa. The technical meaning of “al-jar” is the same as the literal meaning. It is the closeness or proximity of residence. In the fourth chapter of the Qur’an, entitled Nisa (Women) God commands us to Serve God, and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, . . . (Nisa 4:36). Boundaries of neighborhood in Islam There are many opinion based on Muslim scholars regarding the boundaries of neighborhood.
According to al-Shafi’iyyah and al-hanabilah, the residents of forty houses in every direction are considered as neighbors. However, according to al-Malikiyyah, he opined that the neighbors can be those who live side by side or opposite or the residents who assembles in a mosque or two mosques in which the residents congregated must not be situated far away. Therefore, the residents will be deemed as neighbors. However, al-Malikiyyah concluded their opinion with the statement that the limitation of neighborhood depends to great extent on customary practices (“urf”).
Abu Hanifah and Zufar confined their definition of neighbor to an abutter only. On the contrary, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad suggested that a neighbor is an adherent person and others who assemble in a mosque. Their definition of neighbor is a combination of local practices and the technical meaning of the term as mentioned earlier. Subsequently, Ali bin Abi Talib prescribed the meaning of neighbor as being as far as the call to prayer can be heard from a particular mosque. Otherwise, people who cannot hear the call to prayer (azan) from that mosque are not considered as neighbor.
Apart from that, there is also an additional condition been imposed on the meaning of neighboring or “al-mujawarah” which is “al-Ikhtilat” which means socialize. In other words, there is no concept of neighborliness without socializing among the community and in order to well verse the concept of socializing; they must be assembled in a mosque. As additional information, according to Islamic teachings, the closest neighbor is one’s spouse. The next closest neighbor is the one whose door is closest to ours. It is narrated from the Prophet’s wife Aisha that she asked, “O messenger of God!
I have two neighbors, to which one of them should I give a gift? ” The Prophet said, “To the one whose door is nearest to yours. ” According to Muslim historians, the closest neighbor at the time of this question was not a Muslim. From this prophetic tradition, it is clear that when it comes to the observation of neighbors’ rights, it makes no difference whether the neighbors are Muslim or non-Muslim. Furthermore, from this prophetic tradition we understand that Muslims are encouraged not only to treat our neighbors kindly, but also to exchange gifts with them.
The wording of the tradition does not indicate whether or not the one with whom we exchange gifts is a Muslim. Besides that, there are a number of implications arising from the dispute among Muslims scholars regarding who should be considered as the neighbor of one particular person. Based on our discussion, we do prefer the opinion of al-Malikiyyah who stressed the importance of customary practices in determining the boundaries of neighborhood without neglecting the function f the mosque as a place for the residents to congregate especially the Muslims to serve themselves as slaves to Allah (S. W. T). In our point of view, the implication of the Islamic idea of the settlement for planning neighborhood is rather ideological. One of them is that the planners and users of Islamic neighborhoods perceive the latter as both the fields and means for the implementation of Allah’s commands. Creating decent houses and neighborhoods thus stands for a societal duty the neglecting of which, partly or totally, accounts for a wrong doing.
This is so because possessing a decent house which will be surrounded by a decent neighborhood could be seen as falling within the necessary minimum the lack of which may cause one not to be able to rise to the requirements of the vicegerent task for which people have been created. Moreover, neighborhoods with all their facilities assist people in discharging the diverse worship activities of theirs. In Islam, the notion of worship is a universal one encompassing every action of men, which means the process of creating excellent neighborhoods can be transformed into an act of worship as well. Importance of Neighbors and Their Rights
In Islam, refraining from harming one’s neighbor is a part of faith. The Prophet sometimes used to show the importance of teachings by saying, “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day let him do such-and-such . . . .” Among the prophetic traditions that employ this method of conveying a message is the following narrated from Abu Hurayra: “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should not harm his neighbor. ” Another important teaching of God’s Messenger showing the importance of neighborliness is narrated from Anas: “By Him in whose hand is my soul, no man truly believes until he loves for his neighbor what he loves for himself. The Prophet stated that treating our neighbors well is a part of being a Muslim. Abu Hurayra narrated that the Prophet said, “Be God-fearing: you will be the best in worship among the people.
Be content with your lot: you will be the most grateful of people. Like for people what you would like for yourself: you will be a believer. Treat your neighbor well: you will be a Muslim. ” Other important teachings on neighborliness include visiting neighbors when they are ill, consoling them at times of sorrow and congratulating them at times of joy, not staring into their house, not staring at what they carry into heir house and not looking at their womenfolk, taking care of their family’s needs when they are absent, and forgiving their mistakes. Good Relations with Neighbors The importance of having good relationships with neighbors is sometimes emphasized in general as in the following tradition narrated from Abdullah ibn Amr: “The best of friends, in God’s sight, is the one who is best to his friend; and the best of neighbors, in God’s sight, is the one who is best to his neighbor. ” Sometimes very specific aspects of neighbor relationships are pinpointed, but the recommendations do not stop there.
We are encouraged not only to have good relations with our neighbors, but also to initiate good deeds. For instance, we are recommended to be the first to greet a neighbor. Kindness to neighbors is always presented as the norm. In Islam, being good to one’s neighbors encompasses a number of deeds: visiting them, being kind to them in general, and helping them when they need our help. The recommendations even go as far as buying similar things for our neighbors’ children to those we buy for ours. If we are unable to do this, we are discouraged from showing our neighbors’ children what we bought for our children.
Narrated from Aisha, the Prophet said, “Gabriel kept recommending me to treat my neighbor well until I thought that he would tell me to make him one of my heirs. ” Abda ibn Ali Lubaba narrates from the Messenger of God: “No deed which harms a neighbor can be regarded as insignificant. ” We should share what we have with our neighbors. Narrated from Abu Dharr the Prophet stated, “Whenever you cook some stew, add extra water to it, then look for some household in your neighborhood and give it to them in kindness. In his historic sermon during the Farewell Pilgrimage, in which he summarized the most important points of his teachings, the Prophet did not fail to mention neighbors and emphasized their rights to such an extent that the eminent companion Abu Umama also thought that the Prophet would make neighbors heirs: “I heard the Prophet when he was seated on his she-camel during the Farewell Pilgrimage, saying, ‘I enjoin you to treat your neighbors well,’ and urging their good treatment so much that I thought, he is going to give them the rights of inheritance. Christian and Jewish Neighbors in Islam History bears witness to the fact that Christians and Jews, the “People of the Book” as they are called in the Qur’an, have lived alongside Muslims in many regions of the Islamic world, secure in the knowledge that they, their honor, and their wealth were safe, enjoying a good neighborly relationship, with good treatment and freedom of worship.
Their ancient churches still exist in Muslim villages clinging to mountaintops, surrounded by Muslim community who upholds the well-being of their Jewish and Christian neighbors. When the Prophet was about to pass on to the next world, he stated: “I place in your trust the People of the Book, the Christians and Jews. ” When ‘Umar was in the throes of death due to a dagger wound, he warned: “I place the People of the Book among us in your trust.
Fear God regarding them and treat them justly. ” Islam aims at spreading mutual love and affection among neighbors. The ways in which people may achieve this are many, and include attitudes ranging from making sure that your neighbor does not sleep hungry while you sleep well fed, to the exchange of gifts. The Muslim attitude toward neighbors includes wishing for their neighbors what they wish for themselves. It includes the sharing of happiness and sorrow.
It prohibits spying on them, gossiping about them, and harming them in any way. Instead it establishes respect for their privacy, and keeping common use areas—such as apartment building entrances, streets and sidewalks—clean. The Prophet also said, “Among the things that bring happiness to a Muslim in this life are a righteous neighbor, a spacious house, and a good steed. ” We have tried to shed some light on the Muslim attitude toward neighbors and the importance of neighbor relationships in Islam.
The Islamic tradition in this respect is fairly rich and invites the interested reader to further research. A healthy society can be established only through healthy neighborhoods. Education is the key to instilling healthy attitudes of neighborliness in our children as well as in adults. This concept deserves discussion in the classrooms of public schools as well as in seminars and conferences in universities. This flower should be given to all societies as a gift and love should be shared in the community through knowledge.