With the shared teachings of Islam and the Bible on building peaceful relations with one’s neighbours, Muslims, Christians, Jews, as well as others whose religions contain similar teachings, can repel enmity and violence with peace and harmony.
By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi
Human beings cannot live alone. They need to meet some basic survival conditions. They are bound to get into social relationships for leading a life. No living person is capable of breaking the shackles of mutual dependence. This probably begins between the embryo and the mother and continues till a person’s last breath. Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher, rightly said, “Man is by nature a social animal”. More significantly, what a human being requires in this social relationship especially with his or her neighbours is peace and tranquility, ensuring safety of each other.
Peaceful Relations with Neighbours in Islam
Islam recommends establishing good relations with neighbours. In the Quran, God says, “Be good to [your] parents and relatives, the orphans and the needy and the neighbours who are your relatives, and the neighbours who are strangers…” (4:36)
Being good to neighbours includes consoling them in grief, visiting then if they are sick, congratulating them on happy occasions, offering them help when needed, forgiving their mistakes and hurtful deeds and protecting them against every sort of violence and injustice.
Neighbours can be classified into various categories: neighbours of your house, neighbours of your locality, neighbours of a village, neighbours of a city, neighbours of a province, and so on. The word ‘neighbour’, mentioned in the afore-mentioned verse, applies to all types of neighbours, including both Muslims and others.
It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “By God, he does not believe! By God, he does not believe! By God, he does not believe!” It was said, “Who is that, O God’s Apostle?” He said, “That person whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
In this hadith, the Prophet has laid great emphasis on the safety of one’s neighbour, considering it a cause of perfection for a Muslim’s faith. If you ponder over the word ‘neighbour’, you will find that this hadith denotes general application and encourages safety and peace in the entire world. This hadith enshrines an unprecedented example of global peace in itself.
The books of Hadith are full of such narrations stressing peaceful coexistence and harmony among all classes of neighbours. A sample of such hadith reports of the Prophet are given below as instances and lessons:
- The Prophet said, “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should be generous to his neighbour” (Muwatta-e Imam Malik)
- The Prophet said, “If you are kind to your neighbour, you will be a believer; if you like others to have what you like for yourself, you will be a Muslim” (at-Tirmidhi)
- The Prophet said, “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should not hurt his neighbour, and whoever believes in God and the Last Day should serve his guest generously, and whoever believes in God and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
- The Prophet observed: “He will not enter Paradise whose neighbour is not secure from his wrongful conduct.” (Sahih Muslim)
- It is narrated that Abdullah ibn ‘Amr slaughtered a sheep and said: “Have you presented a gift from it to my neighbour [who was a Jew], for I heard the Apostle of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: ‘Angel Gabriel has so often recommended to me good companionship to neighbours that I thought he would make him among the heirs’?” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim and Sunan Abu Dawood)
Peaceful Relations with Neighbours in the Bible
The Bible supports the Islamic standpoint of peaceful relations with neighbours. The following are some relevant messages of the Bible, including the Old and the New Testaments, which call for peaceful coexistence among all classes of neighbours:
- “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.” (Exodus 20:17/ Deuteronomy 5:21)
- “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only one who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother,’ and “love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 19:16-19)
- “Seldom set foot in your neighbour’s house; otherwise, he’ll get sick of you and hate you.” (Proverbs 25:17)
- “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbour as yourself; I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18)
- With the shared teachings of Islam and the Bible on building peaceful relations with the neighbours, Muslims, Christians, Jews, as well as others whose religions contain similar teachings, can repel enmity and violence with peace and harmony. However, it is becoming increasingly arduous to do so when we see some Muslims, Christians and Jews uttering hateful remarks against one another as neighbours across the world in the name of religion. To cope up with this sort of problem, Muslims, Christians and Jews, as well as people of other faiths, should keep into their mind that peaceful coexistence with all types of neighbours is one of the essential teachings of their religions and so they should not fall prey to the evil being promoted by some radical and extremist so-called adherents of their respective religions.
The promotion of this beautiful shared teaching of Islam and the Bible”of love for neighbour”is an urging need of the times, as the world is already intoxicated with the fatal drug of hate and prejudice.
(Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi completed his Alimiat and Fazilat respectively from Jamia Warsia Arabic College, Lucknow and Jamia Manzar-e Islam, Bareilly, U.P. He can be reached at: [email protected])