Islam puts a deep emphasis on our individual duty to our neighbors. In fact, the Prophet Mohammad said: “Angel Jibril advised me continuously to take care of the neighbor till I thought that Allah is to make him an inheritor.”
Being a good neighbor and realizing the duty to our neighbors doesn’t just mean being friendly to the homeowners next door. It means to help take care of the community as a whole—and that includes the poor. Many Muslims know the importance of respecting and caring for our parents and other family members, but too many fail to fulfill their duty to our neighbors and the deprived in the community. Allah says in the Quran:
“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, and the companion by your side, the way-farer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess: for God loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious.” (Quran 4:36)
Before we can sincerely help the needy, fight poverty, and strengthen our bonds in the Muslim community, we have to first understand our duty to our neighbors.
Duty to Our Neighbors: 11 Rights of Neighbors
Our duty to our neighbors include meeting the following:
You must help him if he asks for your help
Give him relief if he seeks your relief
Lend him if he needs a loan
Do not block his air by raising your building high without his permission
Do not harass him
Give him a share when you buy fruits; if you do not, bring what you buy quietly and let not your children take them out to excite the jealousy of his children.
You must visit (and take care of) him when he is ill
You must attend his funeral when he dies (and take part in burial arrangements)
If he commits a sin, prevent it from being known
Congratulate him if he is met with good fortune
Grieve in sympathy if a calamity befalls him
When a member of your community is in need, danger or illness or calamity has fallen on him, it is your duty as a Muslim to reach out and offer them help (regardless of the neighbor’s faith or background). To fail to do this is to fail in our duty to our neighbors, and is to leave a gaping hole in the Ummah.