An expression of solidarity and brotherhood
Depending on the sighting of the moon, Muslims in Sri Lanka would
have ended the holy month of Ramazan and would have either celebrated
Eid-ul-Fitr , the festival of breaking the fast, yesterday (Saturday) or
are celebrating it today.
Muslims symbolise their faith by celebrating two important events -Eid
- ul - Fitr, celebrated on the first day of the lunar month of Shawwal
after enduring thirty days of fasting and Eid - ul - Adhha on the tenth
day of the lunar month of Dhul Hijjah , after the completion of the
performance of Haj in Arafath in Mecca.
There are two very significant practices that are enthusiastically
performed by the faithful during these two festivals. Before celebrating
Eid - ul - Fitr, (that is before sunset on the day before Eid), each
person has to give two sa'a (equivalent to 3 kilograms) of the staple
food of the country on his own behalf and on behalf of all those on whom
he spends for their living.
This is to be given to those who are needy. Thus expressing
solidarity with those who would otherwise not have the means to
celebrate this auspicious occasion with at least a meal. During Eid - ul
- Adhha, those Muslims who could afford are required to sacrifice a
camel, bull, sheep or goat and distribute the flesh to others while
taking a share for himself. These are significant events
enthusiastically observed by the faithful entirely seeking a reward from
Peace and harmony
On this most auspicious occasion, Muslims, while celebrating the
conclusion of the fast are also required to reflect on what they have
achieved during the month of Fasting.
Peace and harmony that one has achieved by observing the rites of the
Ramazan fast needs to be extended throughout one's life to be effective.
Having thus established a greater understanding with our neighbours
Muslims must also realise that whoever, their neighbours are, Muslims,
Buddhists, Christians or Hindus , they have certain rights as proclaimed
by the beloved Prophet.
The Noble Qur'an tells us that all of mankind is descended from one
couple, Adam and Eve. Thus we are all brothers and sisters, and our
differences in languages and colours are but a mercy that we might know
one another. Language and race should never be a reason for
discriminating against people.
A Muslim undoubtedly should maintain good relations with his
relatives, but he should not unjustly favour them over others. Further,
a Muslim must be good to his neighbours, no matter their religion.
The Prophet Muhammad (Sal) also taught us that a "neighbour" is not
just the one next door but includes all those up to forty houses in all
directions - effectively a whole neighbourhood as confirmed in the
An Ansar (emigrant) came to Prophet Muhammad and said he has recently
purchased a house in a particular area and that his nearest person was
such that he had no hope of any goodness from him and that he felt
unsafe from his mischief. Prophet Muhammad (Sal) told Imam Ali (RA),
Salman Al-Farsi (RA), Abu Zar Ghaffari (RA) and Miqdad ibn Aswad (RA) to
go to the Mosque and announce: "He is not a believer whose neighbour is
unsafe from his mischief." They announced it thrice and then to Prophet
Muhammad pointed towards forty doors to his right and forty to the left
indicating that forty houses in every direction constitute ones
neighbourhood. One is obliged to observe their rights.
Prophet Muhammad on the rights of the neighbour, said: "It is to help
him if he asks your help, to lend him if he asks to borrow from you, to
satisfy his needs if he becomes poor, to console him if he is visited by
an affliction, to congratulate him if is met with good fortune, to visit
him if he becomes ill, to attend his funeral if he dies, not to make
your house higher than his without his consent lest you deny him the
breeze, to offer him fruit when you buy some or to take it to your home
secretly if you do not do that, nor to send out your children with it so
as not to upset his children, nor to bother him by the tempting smell of
your food unless you send him some." Thus by sharing their pleasures
with our non-Muslim neighbours Muslims have the excellent opportunity to
promote communal harmony
This concern for our neighbours can take many forms. It means to
ensure that our neighbours have the basic necessities, for a Muslim
should not eat if his or her neighbour is going hungry. It means that
Muslims should wish for their neighbours what they wish for themselves.
It means sharing their happiness and sorrow. Further, it means to not
spy on them and respect their privacy, to not gossip about them, to not
harm them in any way, and to keep common use areas - such as apartment
building entrances, streets and sidewalks - clean.
Islam advocates a special status for neighbours and does not
distinguish between a Muslim neighbour or a non-Muslim neighbour.
Ayesha, the Mother of the Believers, stated that she once asked
Prophet Muhammad (Sal), "O Messenger of Allah! I have two neighbours. To
whom shall I send my gifts?" Prophet Muhammad (Sal) said, "To the one
whose gate is nearer to you."
The Prophet (Sal) did not respond to say send it to your Muslim
neighbour nor did he inquire the religious beliefs of the neighbour thus
recognising that the neighbour could be of any faith, but deserves
In a Hadith, related by Jabir (RA.), the Prophet (Sal) is reported to
"Neighbours are of three kinds. Firstly, the neighbour who enjoys
only one right (and as far as rights are concerned) he is of the lowest
grade. Secondly, the one who enjoys two rights and thirdly the neighbour
who enjoys three rights. The neighbour with only one right is the
Polytheist (i.e. a non-Muslim neighbour with whom there are no family
The neighbour with two rights is the neighbour who is also a Muslim
(as such he has a claim as a neighbour as well as a fellow Muslim) and
the one with three rights is the neighbour who is a Muslim and a
Relative - he has a claim as a neighbour, as a fellow Muslim and as a
relative". This Hadith clearly explains that the obligation to live in
peace and harmony with neighbours, as demanded in the Holy Quran and the
Traditions, also includes the non-Muslim neighbours.
They too have a claim to our kindness and sympathy.
We treat the animals with kindness and we have been warned against
ill - treating them, then what of our fellow humans - more so our
neighbours. It will be significant to note that in all Ahadith
mentioned, with regards to the basic rights of neighbours, no
distinction had been made between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Let us therefore while celebrating the festival of Ramazan,
altogether in the similar manner in which partook in the Ifta events,
all pray to God Almighty to guide us all, believers and non-believers
towards the right path and to give the rulers of this country the
courage and good sense to protect every citizen of this country from
threats from whatever quarter.