The Safe Haven

Abu Huraira (RA) reported: A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, a woman prays in the night, fasts in the day, does many deeds and gives charity, yet she harms her neighbours with her tongue.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,There is no good in her. She is among the people of Hellfire.” The man said, “O Messenger of Allah, another woman prays the obligatory prayers and gives bits of food in charity, yet she does not harm anyone.” The Prophet said,She is among the people of Paradise.” (Source: al-Adab al-Mufrad 117)

We happened to meet again at the car park of our residence and yet again she refused to answer to my ‘Salam’. This had become a usual norm for her, behaving inappropriately towards me. Ever since I had started living in her vicinity, she had made it a point to gather information about me and pass it to people who shared similar interests. This was my neighbour, let’s call her Aiza.

Knowing that her behaviour wasn’t going to change, I couldn’t but ignore what she was and tried to behave as cordial as I could. Our husbands were friends and met quite often, and I had to make myself a part of their gatherings. So, I repeated my ‘Salam’, unwisely thinking she might not have heard it the first time. In reply, she merely turned away and had trained her children to do so. Often people think they can train their children to develop good manners, when they themselves portray bad attitude towards others.  

Since the very first day, Aiza was on a quest to create chaos in my life. Every move of mine was recorded and made a topic of public discussion. She was the sort of neighbour, who out of jealously and competition tried to ruin her neighbours reputation and spread lies about them. She turned her face every time she saw me, and whenever she did decide to speak it was harsh words and rude remarks. She seldom showed happiness at my sorrows and was unhappy when something good came my way. Despite her bad attitude, she expected me to help her whenever she needed it and also expected favours. I kept at it believing baselessly, that someday her behaviour would change.

I clearly recall this one incident, where during ‘Ramadan’ she invited me to go for ‘qayam’ (late night prayer) with her. I never asked her to take me along but I thought maybe this will help mend our relation. So, I agreed. To my shock, throughout those 4-5 hours that I was dependent on her (because I was traveling with her family and my husband wasn’t able to join us), she made me feel miserable. The reason she asked me to tag along was so that she could further pass mean comments and rude remarks at me.

The Prophet, (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: “By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer.’’ It was asked, “Who is that, O Messenger of Allah?’’ He said, “One whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil.” (Sahih Bukhari)

But if there are neighbours like Aiza, then there are neighbours like – ‘let’s call her – Fareeha too. This is Allah’s balance and the very fact on which this world still continues. Fareeha was also my neighbour – the one that Allah (swt) gives to those who He wants to bless and all three of us lived in the same locality.

I don’t have enough words to define what Fareeha was. A pious, god-fearing lady, who as soon as I came to live next to, showed me around the town. I was new to this locality and her advises and information was very useful. She was always available if I needed something, spoke kind words and advised appropriately on all matters. She was extremely kind, generous and very inviting. Every time I think about her, I can only picture her smile. She was always hospitable when I went over to her house and taught her children to act accordingly. She was good to me when no one else was. She was there for me when I had both my children and offered help in every possible way.

I remember one particular incident where my elder daughter was ill and we had to take her to the hospital. It was mid-night and no transport was available. It was Fareeha who offered to provide the ride. She could have merely asked her husband to help us, but she too came along and I will never forget this beautiful gesture. We had great times together and I will always cherish those moments I spent with her. Our family outings, our dine-ins’, our prolonged discussions on random topics – all priceless memories.

“and do good—to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbors who are strangers, and the companion by your side, the way-farer (you meet), and what your right hands possess: for Allah loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious.” (Surah Nisa, Verse 36)

At the end of everything, I believe that all we can give people are memories – whether good or bad depends on us. Aiza will always be remembered as the neighbour who no one should have because I never felt safe around her and Fareeha will always be in my ‘dua’, because of the sense of comfort I felt around her.  

رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلِإِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِينَ سَبَقُونَا بِالْإِيمَانِ وَلَا تَجْعَلْ فِي قُلُوبِنَا غِلًّا لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ

رَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ

‘Say: “Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in Faith, and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who have believed. Our Lord, you are indeed full of Kindness, the Most Merciful”. (Surah Hashr 59, Verse 10)

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