Definition of neighbor from the Islamic perspective
Neighbor is translated as “al Jar” in Arabic terminology. It is derived from the word “jawara” which is a verb. Literally, “al-jar” has been defined as “al-musakanah” which means living, residing, lodging, dwelling or inhabiting side by side. Indirectly, it also refers to believers and unbelievers, religious and irreligious, friends and enemies, foreigners and fellow countrymen, those who treat you well and those who would do you harm relatives and strangers, those whose houses are near yours as well as those who are further away. Another meaning given to “al-jar” is ‘al-mulasaqah” which has been translated as sticking, holding fast, adhering to as in the case of a building or a tract of land. It can also be translated as adjoining or touching. Basically, the definition of “al-mulasaqah” conveys the concept of the three way relationship (Total Planning Doctrine, JPBD) and furthermore broadens the concept of neighbor which is believed to be more appropriate in current situation. In addition, it was stated in Faruqi’s Law Dictionary that “al-mulasiq “is juxtaposition while “mulasiq al-jar” is an abutter. It is understood that “al-mulasiq” can be Almighty who is close to us and the environment in which we live. Meanwhile, “mulasiq al-jar” refers to a person who resides or dwells near to another person. He or she can be either a partner in residence or a partner in land possession or a spouse. According to Islamic scholar, Al-Shafi’i, every person who is physically close to another person is called a neighbor. However, the common opinion is that a neighbor is a person whose house is located near to another’s house. That person is considered as neighbor to another and vice versa. The technical meaning of “al-jar” is the same as the literal meaning. It is the closeness or proximity of residence. In the fourth chapter of the Qur’an, entitled Nisa (Women) God commands us to Serve 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, . . . (Nisa 4:36).
Boundaries of neighborhood in Islam
There are many opinion based on Muslim scholars regarding the boundaries of neighborhood. According to al-Shafi’iyyah and al-hanabilah, the residents of forty houses in every direction are considered as neighbors. However, according to al-Malikiyyah, he opined that the neighbors can be those who live side by side or opposite or the residents who assembles in a mosque or two mosques in which the residents congregated must not be situated far away. Therefore, the residents will be deemed as neighbors. However, al-Malikiyyah concluded their opinion with the statement that the limitation of neighborhood depends to great extent on customary practices (“urf”). Abu Hanifah and Zufar confined their definition of neighbor to an abutter only. On the contrary, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad suggested that a neighbor is an adherent person and others who assemble in a mosque. Their definition of neighbor is a combination of local practices and the technical meaning of the term as mentioned earlier. Subsequently, Ali bin Abi Talib prescribed the meaning of neighbor as being as far as the call to prayer can be heard from a particular mosque. Otherwise, people who cannot hear the call to prayer (azan) from that mosque are not considered as neighbor. Apart from that, there is also an additional condition been imposed on the meaning of neighboring or “al-mujawarah” which is “al-Ikhtilat” which means socialize. In other words, there is no concept of neighborliness without socializing among the community and in order to well verse the concept of socializing; they must be assembled in a mosque. As additional information, according to Islamic teachings, the closest neighbor is one’s spouse. The next closest neighbor is the one whose door is closest to ours. It is narrated from the Prophet’s wife Aisha that she asked,...
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