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My dear neighbor,

Due to our present condition in the US, it feels like 1918, 1929 and 1968 all in the last six months. A pandemic that 130,000 people has passed away in the US alone, unemployment off the charts and businesses crumbling like dominoes, social unrest like we’ve never seen fueled by police brutality and systemic racism.

I pray this short message will be a reminder for the Muslims and an update for our neighbors.

Islam puts a deep emphasis on our individual duty to our neighbors. In fact, 1400 years ago the Prophet Mohammad (Pbuh) said: “Angel Jibril advised me continuously to take care of the neighbor till I thought that Allah (God) would make him an inheritor.” There are numerous Ahadith (sayings) concerning the neighbors.

Being a good neighbor and realizing the duty to our neighbors don’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 Allah (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 community, we have to first understand our duty to our neighbors.

Duty to Our Neighbors:

  • You must help them if they ask for our help;
  • Give them relief if they seek our relief;
  • Lend to them if they need a loan (without interest of course);
  • Do not block their air by raising a building high without their permission;
  • Do not harass them;
  • Give them 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 their children;
  • We must visit (and take care of) them when they are ill;
  • We must attend their funeral when they die;
  • If they commit a sin, prevent it from being known;
  • Congratulate them when they are met with good fortune;
  • Grieve in sympathy if a calamity befalls them;
  • When a member of your community is in need, danger or illness or calamity has fallen on him, it is our 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 to leave a gaping hole in the Community.

The verse from Quran mentions…neighbors who are near and neighbors who are strangers…

Imam Kedar A. Malik

Middletown Islamic Center