Good Neighborliness: A Virtue of the Past?

Good Neighborliness: A Virtue of the Past?
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By Mushtaq Hurra

Lonely though he might possess all the pre-requisites of life. If solitariness suits anyone, it is Allah(SWT) alone”
Man is a social animal, and can’t live separately without his fellow beings for one or the other reason. Since his inception on the planet earth, man has been living with his fellows, commonly known as neighbors. The word deepens the sentiments and feelings of nearness and carefulness .The word neighbor is full of warmth of love and sympathy. Prophet Mohammad(SAW) has said that blessed is the one neighbor is pious, generous and virtuous.
If an individual or a family will be asked to reside on a lonely place where there are no other humans, (I mean where there are no neighbors), though there might be every facility under their feet, the man or the family will reject everything because humans without neighbors are like bodies without souls. We can’t imagine our existence without our fellows and neighbors; even we can’t dare to live at all without our neighbors. They add color to our monotonous world.
Allah (SWT) has created us all in such a way that we can’t think of life without our neighbors. We all have been made interdependent in such a way that one can’t live lonely though he might possess all the pre-requisites of life. If solitariness suits anyone, it is Allah(SWT) alone.
Our valley is known for its unparalleled hospitality and unprecedented brotherhood across the globe. Though the region is mostly Muslim populated but Sikhs and Hindus are an integral part of our centuries old social and cultural ethos. Sharing and lending has been the hallmark of our rich cultural heritage and brotherhood. Though many Hindus have migrated to other parts of the country but still Sikhs and a good number of Hindus live happily among their Muslim neighbors.
Shaikh ul Aalam and Lal Ded are equally respected by both Muslim and Hindu communities. Even Kashmiri Muslims and Hindus celebrate Eid and Mahashivratri (Hehrath) together. Hindus neighbors are served separate vegetarian cuisines during Muslim marriages and Muslims are served with separate non-veg dishes on Hindu marriages. Last rites of many Pandits have been performed by their Muslim neighbors given the fact that their own people have migrated to other parts of globe. Thus, neighbors here are taken care of irrespective of their religions and faiths.
Some years ago, we used to distribute the first cheese among our neighbors, made from the colostrum of a cow after the parturition. Two or three pieces of cheese were not sufficient enough to feed our neighbors but it was a token of our care and love for them. In return, they would fill the cup with sugar or salt as a token of gratitude. We used to borrow eatables and other necessary things from our neighbors without any complex. We used to extend our all possible help to our needy neighbors in case they had to plant paddy saplings or any other agricultural activities
Even, neighbors were helped in different domestic chores. Any misfortune in a neighbor’s home was equally lamented and mourned by his other neighbors. The sick and the old were taken care of irrespective of blood relations and other affiliations. Marriages and other social get-togethers was a treat to watch when neighbors would make all the necessary arrangements. Any girl’s marriage was considered to be the marriage of the whole village. Children of neighbors were treated as one’s own .There was no envy and jealousy in the hearts of our fathers and forefathers. Hearts were filled with love, affection and sympathy. Neighbors were treated as one’s own brothers( even like one’s own family members).This is how our elders used to treat their neighbors. Though some glimpses are still seen in our rural areas but the overall scenario is somewhat displeasing and disappointing.
Everything has changed since we have taken over the reins from our fathers; we have stopped the flow of love and sympathy by erecting tall metallic and concrete fences. We, as the heads of families , have changed the meaning of the word “ neighbor “.We neither ask for anything nor lend anything to the needy because our pseudo status and dignity is hindering us from being good neighbors. The concept of mutual help has exhausted. Sick and ailing people are hardly visited by their neighbors, particularly in our urban areas where the news of neighbors death or misfortune makes no difference to man.
We try our best to torment our neighbors in one or the other way. We, no more, consider neighbor’s daughter as our own daughter. We, no more, consider our neighbor’s prosperity as our own prosperity. We no more celebrate the selection of a neighbor’s son like our fathers would celebrate.
Something is surely wrong with us. God forbid, our hearts have probably been stamped so we are not able to distinguish between good and bad .We all need to introspect. The stars and the sky above our heads might be ashamed of our dealings. The warmth of faith (Eemaan) and sympathy has gone. We no more consider ourselves accountable before Allah(SWT) on the day of judgment.
The made race of material pursuits has blinded us to the extent that we have forgotten our responsibilities and obligations as the caliph of Allah on the planet. Angels had objected to our creation but Allah(SWT) had silenced them and ordered them to bow in prostration before our ancestor Adam (AS).
But, our demonic and satanic traits might be adequate enough for angels to make complaints against us in the revered Royal court of Allah (SWT).We and our deeds have proven their apprehensions true. Alas!

The writer is a teacher and can be reached at: