For a More Livable WorldMeral Günel
مَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَلاَ يُؤْذِ جَارَهُ وَمَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَلْيُكْرِمْ ضَيْفَهُ وَمَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَلْيَقُلْ خَيْرًا أوْ لِيَصْمُتْ
Anyone who believes in Allah and the next life should not give injury to his neighbor. Anyone who believes in Allah and the next life should treat his guests well. Anyone who believes in Allah and the next life should either say something good or keep quiet.
Faith is devotion from the heart and surrender
With an overflowing enthusiasm faith intervenes in man's life and gives it direction and guidance. This characteristic of faith emerges when it is realized with conscious choice. Blind belief brings defect to the quality of faith.
A believer has the duty of raising his faith from imitation to the level of inquiry and verification. Helplessly bowing one's head is not a definition of faith. There must be a side to faith that motivates one to make good and admirable works. It should take man from his current level and direct him to a higher level; at least it should be able to present a formula for doing this. Otherwise, a belief that remains trapped in the heart will become a burden on the person - a burden not able to explain to people the benefits of the principles one believes in.
Real faith tries to establish a world/other-world balance by presenting suggestions suitable to one's nature regarding the interaction of individual and social thought/feeling and behavior. Formulas most suitable to the need come from the founder and envoy of religion.
Knowing that the loneliness of man during the period when he first stepped on this earth was not suitable for him, Almighty Allah created a mate for him and separated man into various tribes so they could come to know one another (Al-Hujurat 13), and thus protected him from isolation. Saved from living alone, man can not live independently; he must conform to social rules at least on a minimum level. The above hadith gives us a bouquet of these rules; get along well with your neighbors, treat guests generously and hold your tongue.
Getting Along Well Should Begin with Your Neighbor
We are not able to see clearly enough the strong tie between our beliefs and our social relations from the window that modern life has squeezed us into. When we perceive of religion as a phenomena that is only necessary for our religion, this hadith of the Prophet and similar ones surprise us. Seeing the connection between being a good Muslim and living the values one believes in like being a good neighbor, being a good host and good speaking manners, which are human relations that reflect a cultural texture, can astound today's Muslims whose minds have become fragmented. I say fragmented minds because distinctions like work-time, worship-time, worship-place, etc. do not correctly reflect a Muslim's outlook on life. There are not two separate aspects of life for Muslims - a religious one and a non-religious one. Religion does not allow you to neglect your neighbors while you are making arrangements for giving everyone their rights. When we correctly read the message that our Prophet does not count as a good Muslim someone who goes to bed with a full stomach while his neighbor is hungry (Al-Hakim 4/167), we see that means for fulfillment in the spiritual world are almost all nurtured from our material life. As a result, we understand that we have to first be sensitive to our social environment. Not knowing who comprises our close environment, not being aware of their illnesses, their physical and spiritual difficulties, their losses and their joys breaks us off from the sensitivity of our Prophet who advises to add more water to the soup so it can be shared with the neighbors (Muslim, Birr 142).
It is expected that there be love, patience, justice, tolerance and mercy where there are human beings. A web of relations devoid of these values will drag life to chaos in a short period of time and make a hell in this world. In this situation it is obvious where we should begin making our environment more livable: To declare our faith and be good human beings as a natural result of this beginning with our neighbors. While with warnings from Gabriel our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that a neighbor was almost considered as an heir (Buhari, Adab 28), it can be said that he invited us to illuminate our environment with a torch of goodness and to be sensitive in regard to who lives there and their material and spiritual needs. For our neighbors comprise the next circle in social life after the family.
Guests Bring Abundance
At a time when people's trust in each other has dwindled, important changes are occurring in our understanding of residence. The area in our homes designated for guests is losing its functionality. Under the influence of the fast pace brought by modern life, neighborly relationships have been greatly damaged. If we add to this the self-sufficiency complex that is falsely interpreted, we will not be wrong in saying that neighbors need each other's faces rather than their "ashes," as the Turkish saying goes.
We are children of a civilization that considers guests to bring abundance to a home. In today's world where virtual relations that eliminate the human factor have become central in our lives, it appears that the caravan of "the lonely crowds" is destined to grow. As our outlook on life gives priority to ourselves, our concept of guests no longer carries the meaning of "guests of God." Dropping by without notice is perceived now as rudeness. Our houses which actually should be to serve people have become so narrow as not to be able to accept guests. We have been relieved of this burden (!) by hosting our guests outside of our homes.
We have begun to seek the satisfaction that serving guests in one's home with a smiling face gives in ostentatious and flawless organizations; whereas, according to our inheritance, guests bring abundance. There was no distinction between rich and poor, physical difficulties like tiredness would not be exhibited and the guests' prayer would be sought. The best offering to a guest was a smiling face and cheerfulness. Now the weariness of the day is not relieved by visiting or receiving visits. The tension that parents, especially mothers, show when they hear guests are coming affect their children most. Seeing that guests cause tension, not contentment, and that they should be avoided, tomorrow's adults increasingly refrain from even saying "welcome" to the guests. If they make some noise, then we understand that children or young people are at home. As carriers of our cultural heritage, we have to find formulas that will decrease damage brought to our relationships by modern life and technology. Without ignoring the fact that we are servants equalized by our creation, we need to know how to give people value, not to bestow blessings on them, but to be subject to the blessings of Allah.
"Either Speak About Good or Keep Quiet"
One of Islam's most important matters in suggestions regarding worship or topics of faith and virtue is a person's acting consciously. Just as religion does not approve of turning everything into a joke and witticism and showing carelessness in behavior, spending words negligently can cost Muslims a lot. A mistake made from neglect can destroy your worship, and words spoken recklessly can destroy a marriage. For this reason, those who have insufficient intelligence are not considered to be responsible by religion, and the Holy Quran frequently calls for man to act consciously. Invited to use their tongues consciously in regard to speaking goodness or evil, Muslims must first attain the maturity of determining what and where goodness is. Steps taken with caution and care do not lead to big regret. If we do not want to become a slave to our words, which are our captives until they leave our mouths, we must always try and speak positively.