Hello, I am #YourMuslimNeighbor

Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are arrogant and boastful. (Qur’an, 4:36)

YourMuslimNeighbor

Do you know your neighbors? Are you friendly and speak together regularly? Have you helped them in their yard, pulling weeds or shoveling snow? Did you know that our neighbors have rights over us? Some include looking after their property, helping them when they are in need or ill, protecting their privacy, sharing food and resources, and even not being a nuisance. Of course respect is essential and should be extended to everyone we encounter.

I’ve lived in this home for two years, yet I’ve never introduced myself to the neighbors. I smile and wave hello, but never approached their doorstep to speak to them. This campaign stems from my own lack of taking initiative to meet my neighbors. How can I expect them to have good thoughts of us if they don’t actually know our family. They’ve seen me playing in the street with my daughters, but do they know that I make awesome chocolate chip cookies? We’ve passed each other coming to and from the community mailbox, but do they know my husband can offer them a great deal on a car from his lot? We both take daily walks, but do they know that my daughters are Girl Scouts and contribute regularly to the community?

On Wednesday, February 10, Deah Barakat (23), his wife Yusor Abu-Salha (21), and her sister Razan Abu-Salha (19), were shot and killed by their neighbor in their own home. The news has left the Muslim community devastated and frustrated. How can such wonderful individuals, that had so much to offer the world, be targeted for such a heinous crime?

I did not know them, though I can’t help but wish that I did. Yet even though they were strangers to me, they were still my brother and sisters in Islam. I wanted to honor their legacy and do something positive with their memories.

I urge us all to take initiative, if you have not already done so, to meet our neighbors. Take them a treat, a basket of fruit, or a sampling of our delicious dinner. Tell them a little bit about ourselves, where we work, about our kids,  our hobbies. Let them know we noticed their grass is a little long and we’d like to cut it for them. Offer to take in their garbage cans or pick up their newspaper from the driveway.

Our neighbors are not only the people we live next to, but it extends to our coworkers in the next cubicle, the other shops next to our own businesses. It’s reaching out the the parents in the next classroom. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is said to have defined the “neighbor” in these words: “Your neighbor is 40 houses ahead of you and 40 houses at your back, 40 houses to your left and 40 houses to your right.”

Together, we can begin to change the perception of Muslims starting in our own communities. We must stand up to be productive Muslim neighbors. It should be so that if anyone we deal with in our daily lives sees the negative image of Islam and Muslims portrayed in the media, that they do not believe it. “That’s not true, my neighbor is Muslim and they are none of those things.”

My mother has always reached out to our neighbors. I’ve grown up watching her take care of them and share her amazing homemade bread, amongst other things, with those in our neighborhood. Yet, as an adult I found myself too shy to follow her beautiful and gracious character. I start with myself. This is directly because of my own lack of connection. I will be the change I wish to see in the world. I will lead by example for my daughters. I will be a source of peace, kindness, and help for my entire community. My name is Amnah Ibrahim, I am your Muslim neighbor.

24 Comments

  • Allison says:

    I think your post is beautifully written and inspiring!

  • Sakinah/Teri says:

    Beautifully written Amnah, masha’Allah. May Allah bless and keep your and your family.

  • Saida says:

    This blog post has inspired me to the soul, I’ve had the same thoughts since the incident happened, too close to home. But your words have been what I’ve wanted to say, but couldn’t find the words. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ll be taking your advice and sharing it. Jazakallah khayr

  • nicole says:

    Asalam Alaykum, Amnah, my name is Nicole and a Muslima friend of mine shared your post on facebook and I just wanted to leave a note to say God bless you in your attempts to know and love your neighbors more. Also know that as. christian I try to make sure I extend greetings and friendship to my muslim neighbors (nearby and throughout our city) as I know that too often people in your community can feel judged or isolated and it is my desire to build bridges whenever possible. My prayer is that as both Muslim and Christian (and everyone else) attempt to get out of our comfort zones and extend ourselves with friendship, we will have better communities for our children. God bless and super cute blog by the way!! 🙂

  • Nadia says:

    Beautifully said. I’m next to a sound wall so I only have neighbors to my right of us. The first two houses are Muslim homes but one of these days I want to extend some generosity and kindness to the third neighbor and beyond. This article might just be the push I needed to start up the mixer and make some cookies to share with them as an ice breaker

  • mary says:

    This was beautifully written. We have a wonderful Muslim family that are our neighbors and friends. We have seen each other’s children grow up, marry,and now have children. We have always exchanged baked goods at Eid and Christmas. Other neighbors have purchased cars from this family so they are respected in our town as solid business men. As a Christian family, I hope they are know that we love them as neighbors and friends. I hope others will reach out as this post encourages. You can’t accept something you don’t try to understand.

  • vafa favas says:

    Salamalaikum. ..
    A beautifully written words.feels like truly from the heart…same emotions when I heard those incidents. .including all in my dua ….

  • Evelyn nius says:

    excellently written! Very beautiful and true.

  • Sister Azrina says:

    Masyallah tabarakallah sister. Jazakillah for the inspiring write up. I live with all Muslims neighbor, but because I am so busy with works….we never talk to each other, just a smile across our yards. Thank you sister. Insyallah, need to work it out for me.

  • Dr.Norol Aine Aguam says:

    May Allah accept i Jannah those three Ummat ul Rasulillah.

  • Humaira says:

    Everything i wanted to say and more. We are recovering from a burglary, and this post highlighted how my neighbours don’t know me as well. This is why I should make more of an effort. It saddens me 3 young people had to die for us to realise this.

  • Saeyu says:

    Walaikumsalam Amnah Ibrahim (:
    I strongly agree with your inspirational written, we are as an agent and member to spread the beauty of Islam in right ways.

  • Amnah says:

    Salams Amnah. This is such a brilliant idea. We met all of our neighbors when we first moved in years ago, but you have inspired us to make some cookies and go say “hi”.

    Thank you for not being fearful. I don’t wear hijab so my burden is far less than that of the amazing women I know who do. If you are not afraid, I am not afraid.

  • I’m from Barcelone (Spain) but i’m feeling like your neighbor too because i follow your blog a lot of time ago!

  • Amnah,

    This is so incredibly awesome! Thank you so much for doing this and for sharing about it and encouraging others to do the same. We couldn’t agree more that this is the way forward! We just had a young Muslim woman come to the exact same conclusion as yourself and do the same thing: http://www.missunderstanding.co/?p=451

    Very wonderful!! Thank you for your shining light!

  • Tasneem says:

    I moved recently from a prodominantly mixed muslim and Christian neighbourhood (people of colour) to an area that has very little people of colour. This is in South Africa thus race in conjunction with faith is mentioned by me. In my previous area, we had relationships with our neighbours. Shared savoury treats in Ramadaan. Watched over each other homes without being intrusive and still respecting privacy. Somehow I had the same ideas when I moved to this new area. I was a tad apprehensive about moving as this area is one of the strongholds of the people who had benefitted the most of apartheid. I was so pleased to find out that my directly opposite neighbour was a Muslim lady. We moved the day before Ramadaan started and I knew I would feel the loss of community immediately. Fortunately my neighbour and I practiced the art of sharing from the start. I had this insane idea of sending food over to my other neighbours as well when and if I had some gathering at my place. This had not happened as yet though but I planned on it. Well I certainly realised pretty soon that some people do not share a sense of community on the way others would. We received a snotty note from another neighbour complaining of our alarm. The note was so abrasive I was rather taken aback. When we moved We went over to introduce ourselves to them. The meeting was pleasant enough. I never in my wildest dreams thought that our second interaction would be filled with such animosity. I understand that our alarm going off at odd times is annoying however why they did not come over to discuss this or pen a less aggressive note is beyond me. This never happened where I lived before. If my alarm went off my neighbour would send me a message to say it’s going off but they’ve looked over the wall and everything looks ok. After this incident with this neighbour I told my husband I am not interested in meeting any more neighbours as I don’t know how to behave with them after our first meeting was pleasant and the second interaction this abrasive. Do I wave helo when I see them now or do I ignore them. I don’t know. This is new to me. So I’d rather not meet any new neighbours and share pleasantries and then have to deal with some complaint they have. I’d rather have our first interaction be the one where they complain. I was quite upset about what had occurred. Reading your article has made me re think my stance though. I’m not ready to rush over with a plate of samoosas to the neighbours who complained but I might be willing to meet the other neighbours. Just thought I’d share my experience.

  • um sidra says:

    Thanks for your beautiful written. It describes everything I feel since the incident of the three amazing individuals that were killed by their neighbor. I felt very sad, depressed and lost my hope. But after acknowledging their great charters, and how they were trying to change the world, I felt that it’s time for me to offer anything and let the world know that we Muslims are not as many think. However, I couldn’t think of anything until I read ur beautiful words. You are right, we all should start with our neighbors, but I would like to share with you what happened between my neighbor and I. My neighbor who lives under my apartment always complains of the noise, she knocks my floor very time my kids walk or run even during the day. I yell at them all the time and I even hit them if the ran, for example, once They come home from school. To avoid problems, I used to send them to my other neighbor who is a Muslim like me. There, they spend most of their time every day. It was 5:30 that day I made a party for my daughter because she did good in school, so we invited her friends. She started knocking very hard and the kids got really scared. I was so mad and angry because she doesn’t appreciate anything. the was the fist day we argued, so she told me that I am a bad Muslim and a bad neighbor. Also, she said that because she is Spanish I don’t care about her and she accused me that I tell my kids to jump and play telling them”its ok she is Spanish who cares about her” even though I try my best to claim them down and I always send them to my other neighbor. We had an argument and she called me racist even though I didn’t mention anything About that. After I heard the story of Deah, his wife and her sister, I regretted that I argued with her. Do u think that I should go and apologize cuz I do feel guilty? I don’t know what to do, but Allah knows how hard I was trying not to upset her.

  • Tawnia Amleh says:

    A beautiful message. Be the change. I am the outgoing neighbor who knows almost everyone in my area and our children are outgoing like myself. I have family who are like you though and just don’t feel they have the ability. I will help them be the change. It’s my promise. Thank you.

  • kandyce says:

    i love this! i work with immigrants and refugees from around the world and so very much appreciate your words. my life and heart have grown so much bigger and more beautiful because i’ve been afforded this beautiful opportunity to know my neighbors, and i wish it for everyone in my life.

    we now play holi and attend baby naming ceremonies with our nepali friends, attend mon and chin and karen new year celebrations with our burmese friends, feast at eid with our iraqi/palestinian/ syrian/ sudanese friends. every day, i am grateful for the diversity, beauty and depth of experience my community can offer. and to think, when i first moved to denver i thought only boring, white, midwestern transplants lived here!

  • Jp says:

    Hello,I have just stumbled across your beautifully written post, I never comment on anything I read on line,but your words touched me.I am English and catholic,living in the uk,i have to tell you that you are a shining light in the dark.Any person would be privileged to have you as a neighbour.

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