Serve Allah and join not any partners with Him: and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the way-farer (ye meet) and what your right hands possess: for Allah loveth not the arrogant the vainglorious; - An-Nisaa (4),36 Allah created mankind on the basis of equality to constitute a single fraternity. He hates prejudice and favoritism and clearly mentions that no one Human being is superior over the other due to any aspect but their respective deeds for Allah Subhanahu Taala. He has ordained the duties towards mankind a higher station than duties towards Himself. Huqooq ul Ibad (duties towards mankind) has such a high regard in Islam that Allah clearly mentions that he shall forgive the sins committed in ignorance of carrying out His commands but in order to seek forgiveness of disregard of Huqooqul Ibad, one will have to revert to the respective person to seek forgiveness first, subsequent to which Allah shall grant his mercy. In huqooqul Ibad, every relation enjoys a certain status wherein it is characterized by certain obligations and duties towards each other, which if reneged upon elicits Allahs displeasure. The social sphere of our daily lives consists of our family, ties of kinship and blood relations and then neighbours. There is a general code of conduct which Islam guides us to abide by, when fulfilling our obligations towards each group. Neighbours hold a very significant status according to the teachings of the Holy Quran. The Quran has divided them into three categories: a neighbour who is also a relation; a neighbour who is a stranger; and a casual or temporary neighbour with whom one happens to live or travel for a certain time. All of them are deserving of sympathy, affection, kindness and fair treatment. In one Hadith the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, said: Anyone whose neighbour is not safe from his misdeeds is not a true Believer. (Bukhari and Muslim) Again, he said: A person who enjoys a meal while his neighbour is starving is not a true Believer. (Ahmad, Baihaqi). The Prophet (Pbuh), was once asked about the fate of a woman who performed many Prayers and fasted extensively and who was a frequent almsgiver, but whose neighbours complained of her abusive tongue. He said: Such a woman shall be in the Hell-fire. He was, then, asked about another woman who did not possess these virtues but did not trouble her neighbours either, and he said: She would be in Paradise. (Ahmad, Baihaqi) The Prophet (Pbuh) has laid so much emphasis on being considerate to neighbours that he has advised that whenever a Muslim brings home fruit for his children he should either send some to his neighbours as a gift, or at least take care not to offend them by throwing the peelings away outside their door. On another occasion he said: A man is really good if his neighbours regard him as such, and bad if they consider him so. Islam, therefore, requires all neighbours to be loving and helpful and to share each others sorrows and happiness. It enjoins them to establish social relations in which one can depend upon the other and regard his life, honor and property safe among his neighbours. A society in which two people, separated only by a wall, remain unacquainted with one another for years, and in which those living in the same area of a town have no interest or trust in one another, can never be called Islamic. It is narrated, Abdullah ibn Amr, a companion who was well versed in Hadith had a sheep slaughtered. He repeatedly asked his servant: Have you sent some meat as a present to our Jewish neighbour? When he said that several times, he added: I have heard Allahs messenger (Pbuh) saying: Gabriel has repeatedly recommended me to be good to my neighbour until I have thought that he would include him among my heirs. It is obvious from this narration that Abdullah ibn Amr considered his Jewish neighbour as entitled to his kind treatment as any other neighbour he may have had. When he is questioned about mentioning him too often, he does not reply that the Jew is a good neighbour or that he has been very hospitable to him, but his only reason for his kindness to that Jewish neighbour is the Hadith he heard from the Prophet. But we note, however, that kindness to neighbours is taken for granted. There must be something which tells us what is the minimum degree of kindness to neighbours. This is explained in the following Hadith in which Abdullah ibn Abbas, the Prophets cousin, states that he heard the Prophet saying: A believer is not the one who eats his fill when his neighbour is hungry. (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Al-Hakim and Al-Baihaqi). This is a very significant statement. It speaks of mutual care by neighbours. They must know how their neighbours live, and if they are poor, then they must send them food. Indeed, this has been a tradition of Muslim societies which has survived for centuries. The Prophet even gives us a hint of how we can share our food with our neighbours without increasing our expenses a great deal. He tells his companion, Abu Tharr: If you cook something with gravy, increase the gravy and send some of it to your neighbours. (Related by Muslim, Ahmad and Al-Bukhari). The Prophet is telling us here not to think too little of anything which we can give to our neighbours. Even a person who is not rich can give his neighbours some food which may not be the best they can have, but would be more than useful in a neighbourhood where poverty is common. The neighbour holds a special status in Islam. Islam encourages Muslims to treat their neighbours in a gentle way that reflects the true and genuine spirit of Islam as exemplified in its tolerant aspect especially with people of other faiths. It makes no difference whether the neighbours are Muslim or non-Muslim. Hazrat Ayesha (RA), stated that she once asked the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), O Messenger of Allah I have two neighbours. To whom shall I send my gifts? the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said, To the one whose gate is nearer to you. Neighbours have rights towards us. Our actions towards our neighbours reflects our kind nature and our good morals. We should all know our duty towards our neighbours whether it is a neighbour at home or at work. In order to create a solid basis for its closely-knit community, Islam begins by encouraging good-neighbourliness. One of the worst social acts a person can commit is to be unkind to his neighbours. The reasons for this insistence on good-neighbourliness are too obvious to need any discussion. In a neighbourhood where people quarrel and one set of neighbours try to harm another, there is no chance of harmony prevailing there. Indeed, people try to move out from such an area, peace being the basic condition for development. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Prophet emphasized at every occasion, the importance of good-neighbourly relations Expanding the concept of good neighbourliness, we must recognize that even a state, especially those that are Islamic, have a duty towards their neighbouring countries. We only need to imagine and recognize, what a beautiful place this world would be, if only such ordained duties and rights become an integral part of our respective foreign polices, when Islam is part of constitution of any state (Islam a religion of peace) such a country would only be a peaceful and peace loving state. (Writer is the CEO Bank Alfalah, Pakistan)