Content of Character

Kin and Neighbors: Content of Character 06 – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus speaks on two groups pf people who deprive themselves of Allah’s glance on the Day of Judgment, namely, those who sever kinship ties and obnoxious neighbors.

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم: اثنان لا ينظر الله إليهما يوم القيامة: قاطع الرحم و جار السوء

The Messenger of God, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Among those not graced by God’s glance on the Day of Judgment are a severer of bonds of kin and an obnoxious neighbor.” (Al Daylami)

We are going to talk about meanings of the Divine Gaze as well as severing family kinship ties and being a bad neighbor. When we refer to this idea of Allah not gazing upon someone. We have another hadith in Bukhari and Muslim that states: “Allah will not Gaze upon someone who drags their garment out of arrogance.”

Allah not gazing upon someone refers to Him not showing his Mercy and Benevolence towards that person. In other words, this person might receive the wrath of Allah. Other scholars say that this might mean that they are prevented from gazing upon the noble countenance of Allah. In any case, we want to receive the Divine Gaze, the Mercy and the Benevolence of Allah.

What this is teaching us is that there is certain things that we do that can cut us off from the Mercy of Allah, may Allah protect us.

Severing Ties of Kin

As for severing family ties and bonds of kinship, there are so many things in our religon that teach us the severity of this. We have a hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim that states: “The one who servers (family ties) will not enter into Paradise.” Imam Bukhari also mentions in Al Adab al Mufrad: “The children of Bani Adam, their actions are shown every eve of Jum‘a and the actions or deeds of the severer of kinship ties are not accepted.” In another Hadith also narrated by Imam al Bukhari, he says: “Mercy will not descend upon the people among whom there is a severer of kinship ties.”

All of this is to teach us the severity of severing our kinship ties. We have to remember as a basic standpoint that the presence of blood relatives is a mercy. It is a bounty. There is a wealth of evidence to support this from the religious perspective, but also in relation to physical health, cognitive functioning, life expectancy.

It has been proven that happiness is linked to the quality of relationships as opposed to wealth and things of this nature. There is a beautiful article for those who want to read further titled “The Fall of the Family” by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad which is highly recommended. It is of utmost importance that we understand the nature of the family and the time in which we live and the challenges we face to preserve the traditional family structure that is encouraged by the Qur’an and the Sunna.

Family Is the Basic Unit of Society

The family is the basic unit of society and if it breaks down every subsequent level of society will also break down. We must always take into consideration the importance of preserving family ties and not severing them.

People often think about certain individuals when reading or hearing about this topic. The way that we must deal with these situations is that we need to understand the foundation, which is that family is essential to the individual and to society, and under no circumstance should we break those family ties unless there is something so severe such that it would be permissible for us to do so according to the sacred law, and that is a rare occurrence.

What does it mean to sever the family ties? It means to forsake them, to avoid them, to not speak to them or to harm them – that is, you don’t show excellence towards them. When someone does this, they are severing that basic family unit that is so important to the stability of society. We need to understand the gravity of severing ties and we should strive our best to avoid it.

We have to understand how to balance that out with our interaction with our family. It doesn’t mean necessarily that you have to be extremely close to everyone. However you must respect your family members, give them their rights, find a balanced way to uphold this foundation, and at the same time deal with some of the issues that might arise in a family.

It is important that we see this as being part of the religion. Our success in this realm is a sign of our success in religion.

Obnoxious Neighbors

We also have in this Hadith the idea of being a bad neighbor. And yet again we have Qur’anic references as well. Allah Most High says in the Qur’an:

وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا ۖ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَبِذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْجَارِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْجَارِ الْجُنُبِ وَالصَّاحِبِ بِالْجَنبِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ مَن كَانَ مُخْتَالًا فَخُورًا

Worship Allah and do not associate partners with Him and to show excellence to your parents and to your relatives and to orphans and to the needy and then also to the neighbor who is close and to the neighbor who is further away. (Sura al Nisa 4:36)

We have an understanding in the Qur’an that Allah encourgaes us to show excellence to the neighbor who is close and also to the neighbor who is further away. You will also find in the Tafsir literature that some say that your neighbors are up to around forty houses around you. So a forty house radius in all directions. Other scholars say the number is seven.

Nevertheless, the neighbors have rights over you and we know that to harm your neighbor is something very serious. We should, as believers, be aware of the rights of neighbors which come to us in a hadith narrated by Imam al Bayhaqi:

The rights of the neighbors are as follows: if he seeks your help, you help him. If he asks to borrow money, you lend it to him. If he is in strained circumstances, you help him. If he is sick, you visit him. When good happens to him, you congratulate him. When tribulation befalls him, you console him. When he dies, you attend his funeral.

And then follows the specifics of not building the walls of your home so high as to block the wind from his home except with his permission; not to offend him with the smell of the food you’re cooking unless you give him some. When you buy fruit, gift him some and if you do not intend to do so, then bring it into your home secretly, and do not let your children eat it in the street, so his children feel left out.

The Reality of the Sunna

Look at the beauty of our religion. This is the reality of the teachings of our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, who was sent as a mercy to all of the worlds. Who encouraged us to interact with our neighbors in this way and to think about the benefits of having a healthy society where neighbors treat each other like this.

Our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, went on to say:

“Do you know what the right of the neighbor is? By the One in whose hand is my soul, no one will fully give the neighbor their rights except those upon whom Allah has shown Mercy.”

We should strive our best to be good to our neighbors whether they be part of our faith or of a different faith or if they have no faith. They have a right upon us and we should be good to them.

Examples to Put into Practice

We conclude with a number to a number of other etiquettes in addition to what was mentioned. When we move into a place we should introduce ourselves. We should get to know our neighbors, perhaps maybe get some a welcoming gift.

We should consider the way that they live. what their schedule is. Whether they have children. We want to make sure that we don’t harm them or open up our garage door at a time they might be sleeping for instance.

We need to develop lines of communication with them, so that if there is something that might affect them, that we let them know in advance. If we share a fence with them; we park properly; do not slam doors at night; make sure when driving in late at night that our lights are off; inviting them into our home, keep our landscape tidy.

We should all be clean. Our cars, yard, home should be clean. Things like taking out the garbage on the right day matter greatly.

We should stand up for them, protect them and their property, making sure they are not harmed in anyway, even mow their lawns for them.

These are just examples and we could develop more if we do all of these different things, even if there might be difficult situations in relation to our neighbors. Often it wont be the case. They will be beautiful from the beginning. But even if there was a bit of resistance showing ihsan will lead to a beautiful relationship between neighbors.

May Allah give us Tawfiq and may we all receive the Divine Gaze. May we fulfill the rights of our families and our neighbors and live in a way that is pleasing to Him and His messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace.

The Content of Character podcast is brought to you by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus of Al-Maqasid Institute, and powered by SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary. Listen to this episode in full on the SeekersHub website, or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, Android, or RSS.