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Rights of the Neighbors
The Reason Why Tauhid Precedes RightsThere are many wise considerations in opening the roster of rights with the exhortation to worship Allah alone and not to associate with Him anything in that worship. One of these, and a basic one indeed, is having the fear of Allah and the conscious concern to fulfill His rights. A person who is – neglectful on that score can hardly be expected to remain particular about fulfilling the rights of anybody else. He will find one or the other excuse to satisfy his immediate circle of relatives and friends, to keep his prestige in the society or to escape the law of the government. What really forces him to honor human rights, watched or unwatched, is nothing but the fear of Allah and the sense of responsibility before Him. This fear and this taqwa is achieved through nothing but tauhid, the firm belief in the Oneness of Allah to the total exclusion of everything else in that unicity. This is why it was appropriate to remind man about the Oneness of Allah and the need to worship Him before describing the rights of relatives and others.
The Rights of The NeighborThen appears ‘the close neighbor’ at number four, and the distant neighbor,’ at five. The Arabic word, ‘al-jar’ means ‘the neighbor’. The verse describes its two kinds – the close and the distant. These two kinds have been explained variously by the noble Companions may Allah be pleased with them all.
الجيران ثلاثة: جارٌ له حق واحد، و هو أدنى الجيران حقا. و جارٌ له حقَّان، و جارٌ له ثلاثةُ حقوق، و هو أفضل الجيران حقا. فأما الذي له حق واحد فجار مشرك لا رَحِم له، له حَقُّ الجوار. و أما الذي له حقَّان فجارٌ مسلم، له حقُّ الإسلام و حقُّ الجوار، و أما الذي له ثلاثة حقوق فجار مسلم ذو رَحِم، له حقُّ الجوار و حقُّ الإسلام و حقُّ الرحم
‘Some neighbors have one right, some others have two, still some others have three. The neighbor with one right is a non-Muslim with no bond of kinship; the neighbor with two rights is not only a neighbor but a Muslim too; the neighbor with three rights is a neighbor, a Muslim and a relative, all in one. (Ibn Kathir)
مَا أَطْيَبَكِ وَأَطْيَبَ رِيحَكِ مَا أَعْظَمَكِ وَأَعْظَمَ حُرْمَتَكِ وَالَّذِي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ لَحُرْمَةُ الْمُؤْمِنِ أَعْظَمُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ حُرْمَةً مِنْكِ مَالِهِ وَدَمِهِ وَأَنْ نَظُنَّ بِهِ إِلاَّ خَيْرًا
‘How good you are and how good your fragrance; how great you are and how great your sanctity. By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, the sanctity of the believer is greater before Allah than your sanctity, his blood and his wealth, and to think anything but good of him.’A believer’s wealth cannot be taken without permission, their blood cannot be shed, and it goes even beyond that – their honor and reputation is also sacred and no one is allowed to tamper with someone else’s reputation, just like we cannot tamper with someone else’s wealth. This hadith goes on to say, “It is even haram for us to have incorrect judgements and assumptions about other Muslims.” We cannot pass a judgement about someone without having facts in front of us and we cannot assume bad things or view others in a negative light. The prophet (SAW) taught us how sacred each person is. What does this mean? It means that it is our responsibility to look at each other with an eye of love and respect. We must respect each others’ life, reputation and respect. We must respect that every person is entitled to their own respect. Everyone is entitled to that and no one has the right to take that away from them. Everyone has the right to be looked at in a positive way instead of being judged on hearsay and false rumors. We are not allowed to mistreat each other.
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