Are you a good neighbor?

Are you a good neighbor?
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If you are not giving your neighbors their due rights, then you are missing an important part of your duties as a Muslim. 

A neighbor is someone who lives in the same neighborhood as you; he could be a friend, but does not necessarily have to be one. The definition of a neighbor can have various meanings; for example, it can refer to someone who lives directly beside you, as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  said: "One must not prevent his neighbor from placing his wood against his wall." [Al-Bukhari].

However, it can also refer to someone living further away, since the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: "No obligatory Salah (prayer) is accepted from a neighbor of the Masjid (mosque) except if it is offered in the Masjid." 

Present day examples would include machines and equipment that emit disturbing noises. If people do anything on their property that is disturbing or harmful to their neighbors, then they must remove the cause of the disturbance.

2. It is permissible for people to build a house on their own property, even up against their neighbor's wall -- but only if they have no other choice and only if their neighbor is not harmed by it in any way. Even in such cases, they should still ask their neighbor's permission beforehand.

If they are denied permission, their neighbor may be legally compelled to grant them permission by the proper authorities. The proof for this is in a Hadeeth related by Abu Hurayrah  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him who said that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: "You must not prevent your neighbor from putting his wood on your wall." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

3. If the flow of water becomes blocked on a farm, perhaps due to wastefulness and subsequently bursts out, causing damage to neighboring farms, the neighbors may come up with proposals to channel or dam the water and irrigate the farm. If the wasteful farmer refuses to comply with them, the ruling is the same as in the following case of a damaged wall.

4. If a wall between two properties is damaged, the owners of one property can ask the owners of the other to participate in rebuilding it. If they refuse, they can be compelled to do so. Likewise, they can be compelled to help demolish the wall if it is expected to collapse.

5. The owners of the highest buildings in an area must construct screens to prevent themselves from overlooking their neighbor's properties. Likewise, whoever wishes to utilize their roof should make sure that they cannot see into their neighbor's properties and erect a screen for this purpose if necessary.

6. Whoever owns some property, but cannot reach it without causing damage to a neighbor's property is forbidden to cause the damage. Instead, the authorities should endeavor to arrange matters in a way that prevents harm to either party.

Thus, even though our neighbors may be Muslim or non-Muslims -- each are equally entitled to their rights according to our religion. Sometimes we may find it hard to reach out to our non-Muslim neighbors, but it is an obligation upon us, and it can also be one of the best forms of Da’wah (call to Islam) we can give.

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