Reading 3

'The Rights of Neighbours'


‘Do you know what the rights of neighbours are?’, asked the noble Prophet. And he went on to give a list:


  • Help them if they ask your help
  • Give them relief if they seek your relief
  • Lend to them if they need a loan
  • Show them concern if they are distressed
  • Nurse them when they are ill
  • Attend their funeral if they die
  • Congratulate them if they meet any good
  • Sympathize with them if any calamity befalls them
  • Do not block their air by raising your building high without their permission
  • Harass them not
  • Give them a share when you buy fruits. If you do not give to them, bring what you buy quietly, and do not let your children take them out to excite the jealousy of their children.


The hadith shows that you must at least know who your neighbours are. In big cities nowadays there are many people who live in blocks of flats or in the same street who do not know one another. Moreover, in Islamic terminology, a neighbour is not just the person who lives next door to you or in your neighbourhood. A fellow-student, your colleague at work or a fellow-traveller on a journey, are all regarded as your neighbour. In terms of preferential treatment, the neighbour who lives closest to you has priority.


There is no distinction between a Muslim and a non-Muslim as far as the human needs and rights of neighbours are concerned.


You are not only required to have goodwill to your neighbour but should offer practical care and help when they are sick or in need. ‘Nobody can be a believer’, said the Prophet, ‘if their neighbours pass the night hungry while they themselves have their stomach full’.


You also need to give emotional support by sharing in their joys and sorrows. Naturally, you also need to refrain from causing any harm or injury, any verbal or physical or emotional stress. ‘Nobody can be a true believer unless their neighbours feel secure from their hands and tongue’, warned the noble Prophet.



Islam the Natural Way by Abdul Wahid Hamid, slightly edited, published by Muslim Education and Literary Services, London, for Muslim World League, Makkah Mukarramah, 1989.

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