“I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, say, ‘Jibreel, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, kept on recommending that I treat neighbors well until I thought that he would order me to treat them as my heirs’ “[Bukhari].
“And worship Allah and do not ascribe any partner to Him … the neighbor who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger … Indeed Allah does not like anyone who is a swaggering braggart” (Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 36).
A neighbor is one who lives near or next to another. Al Hasan was asked about the neighbor and said, “The term ‘neighbor’ includes the forty houses in front a person, the forty houses behind him, the forty houses on his right and the forty houses on his left.” Neighbors are the first people whom we can run to in case of an emergency, be it a desperate need of salt or a fire in the night – Subhanallah! How beautiful is our religion that it coaches us to be our best with our neighbors.
So let’s see how we can be Productive Neighbors and earn the pleasure of Allah:
1. Be Kind
Abu Shuraih Al-Khuza`i (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet(pbuh) said,
“He who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him be kind to his neighbor [Muslim].
Offer your neighbor a ride if you see them walking to the grocery store. Make chicken soup or home-made medicines for the common cold; ie, make sure they are in good health and let them know you are there for them.
2. Be Helpful
If you meet a new neighbor while they are moving in, greet them with a smile and bring them refreshments. Give them a quick run-through of the area in general, where things are located, and what can they expect from the community. If a former neighbor is moving out, then help them with packing, cleaning, and bring them dinner or lunch. If a neighbor is pregnant then organize a “food list” and all neighbors can chose a day on which they can bring food or help out in the house during the last weeks and the early weeks after child birth. Offer a ride to the school if your children go to the same one, or car pool.
3. Give Gifts
When you make something, send some over to your neighbor. Buy an extra box of donuts and give it to your neighbor. Abu Hurairah reported: Messenger of Allah(pbuh) said,
“O Muslim women! No one of you should consider insignificant (a gift) to give to her neighbor even if it is (a gift of) the trotters of a sheep” [Bukhari and Muslim].
4. Stay Connected
Have tea/coffee once in a while together, visit them, or invite them over to your place. Stop for a one-minute chat when you see them outside. In this manner, you will know if they are sick or in need of something. It will also build your relationship just to know what is happening in your neighbor’s life, as well as give your neighbor a chance to get to know you better as well.
5. Form Hobby Clubs
You can form informal clubs together based on the common things you enjoy. These could be book clubs, craft clubs, gardening clubs, cooking clubs, etc. Plan walks or exercise routines together. It always helps to motivate oneself if such things are done in a group.
6. Be a Good Muslim Neighbor
In addition to the above ideas, here some more ideas of what can you do with a Muslim neighbor.
Organize halaqas: Have weekly or monthly talks. Each neighbor should get a chance to host one, or you could make use of the community halls in your community to host them. Organize youth halaqas for the youth of the neighborhood. If you have a mosque in the community, then make it point to use it for the halaqas and ask someone who knows Arabic or tajweed to teach it to the rest. Invite the new neighbor to the halaqas or the potlucks held at the mosque or in the community.
Share Islamic knowledge: Get an extra pamphlet or free books that are given away with Islamic knowledge for your neighbor. Let them know about anything new that you learnt in the deen, maybe a new course that you started or a new website you checked or even a new article or book that you read.
Give gifts on festive occasions: Make it a point to get gifts for your neighbor on Eids and share the special delicacies that you make on Eid
7. A Muslim Relative Neighbor
A relative Muslim neighbor enjoys the maximum rights. So in addition to all the other tips, here is something more you can do to earn that extra hasanaat, inshallah:
Stay connected: Make it a point to meet often.
Share news of the family: Share any family news of marriages, job promotions, illnesses that you have come to know of so that they can also keep in touch with the other relatives.
Invite them: Make it a point to invite them often to the family gatherings that you host.
Having a good neighbor is a true blessing from Allah, a blessing which I have been blessed with and am deeply thankful for. Let’s try to be Productive Neighbors and walk on the path shown to us by Allah and His Messenger(pbuh).
“The best of companions in the sight of Allah Almighty is the best of them towards his companion, and the best of neighbors in the sight of Allah is the best of them towards his neighbor” [Al-Albani].