It is narrated in a hadith that Abu Shuraih Al-Adawi said: ”My ears heard and my eyes saw the Prophet (Peace and blessing be upon him) when he spoke say: ‘Anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his neighbor generously.” [Bukhari]
This statement sets the foundation through which cohesive societies can be built, strong communities merged, and the ‘self’ manifests its sincerity and compassion for a fellow human being.
Now in a time where Muslim minorities are constantly scrutinized for how they engage, the act of serving our neighbours is something we need to give deep thought. Mash’Allah, we see many great initiatives emerge in the West, striving to showcase the beauty of Islam. We see major projects, numerous PR campaigns to improve the ‘Muslim’ brand, but are we overlooking an effective dawah strategy close to home?
It seems that if we were to invest our time in making consistent and small gestures at a community level and reaching out to our neighbors regardless of their religion or ethnicity, we could achieve a remarkably positive impact on our communities insha’Allah. You may be asking, why do I say this so confidently? Well, because the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessing be upon him) gave us this advice.
He linked the very essence of us having belief in our hearts to the way we engage our neighbors, and the enormity of this concept must be contemplated on.
In the hadith that I opened this article with, the narration begins by calling to all those who have faith (imaan) – the implications are enormous as generosity and kindness to our neighbours is essentially being linked to the most fundamental concept of belief.
Reasons to Serve your Neighbour
For those who seek out to do good deeds consistently, our neighbours are a goldmine of opportunity waiting to be embraced. Showing kindness and generosity to our neighbors is a virtuous deed that does not require much time or effort. The Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) was the best of examples, and we should learn from his behavior towards his neighbours. He (Peace and blessings be upon him) would visit them when they were sick, send them food, share wealth with them, and much more. He was the model neighbor and his practices were such that all of us could emulate without too much difficulty insha’Allah.
Many of us are out there trying to save the world, when in reality we don’t even know our own neighbours. This advice is for myself first and foremost, and insha’Allah I commit to making this a reality in my life.
To actively care for your neighbors is undoubtedly a prophetic tradition, and wouldn’t it be phenomenal to revive a sunnah? The Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: ”Whoever revives a Sunnah from my Sunnah and the people practice it, will have the same reward of those who practice it without their reward diminishing.” (Ibn Maajah)
Finally I want to close on this note: these current times present phenomenal opportunities to engage with our neighbors who are in need. There are people around the world who are going through challenges, and whilst we can only do so much – it is important to remember that you can make a change in your locality.
For example, if you are in Australia, dear productive Muslims, you are home to an enormous flood. Embrace your community, and add value to the people as they are in need. If you are from the flood-affected areas, muster up the energy and find ways to respond to the needs of your people. If you are from anywhere else in Oz, come to the affected region and showcase Islamic citizenship; when they ask you why, explain to them you are a Muslim and seek to follow the teachings of The Quran and the example of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessing be upon him), undoubtedly a mercy to mankind.
You can do this in many ways, and Mercy Mission have many ways you can begin to help your local and global neigbours.
Therefore, dearest productive Muslims, let us engage with our communities and become the most phenomenal neighbors in the world. Reviving this prophetic tradition with sincerity will not only be a good deed insha’Allah, but it would also challenge the stereotype and call people from darkness to light. In the next part, we’ll touch upon a story that illustrates the power of kindness to our neigbours in giving dawah.
Share thoughts below on productive deeds to know your neighbour.
Continued – Series on Increasing Productivity
About the Author:
Azim Kidwai, an aspiring productive Muslim, General Manager of Mercy Mission UK.