Are we held responsible for the hungry people in our apartment building or neighborhood?

The Details of the Question

- According to the hadith, ‘he who sleeps on a full stomach while his neighbor is hungry is not one of us’, are we held responsible for an apartment building or a street?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

A hadith regarding the issue is as follows:

“He who sleeps on a full stomach while his neighbor is hungry is not one of us.” (Hakim, Mustadrak, 4/183, h. no: 7307)

Responsibility is in question not only related to the neighbor in the apartment building but also the neighbor in the street.

According to what scholars state, the concept of neighbor was evaluated differently.

Regarding the scope of the word neighbor, Ali (r.a.) is of the opinion that those “whose voices are heard” are neighbors.

Aisha (r.a.) states that forty houses from all directions are neighbors and they have the rights of neighbors.

In addition, the term neighbor includes all neighbors, without any discrimination, Muslim-unbeliever, worshipper-sinner, friend-enemy, inhabitant-guest, good-bad, near-far. (Tecrid-i Sarih Tercümesi, 12/130)

When a Companion asked the Prophet (pbuh) what rights his neighbor had on him, the Prophet replied as follows:

“If he gets sick, visit him; if he dies, organize his funeral. If he asks for a loan from you, lend him money. If he gets in trouble, help him. If a misfortune hits him, console him. Don’t make the roof of your house higher than his so that you will not block his wind. If he notices what you cook, give him some of it.” (Y. Kandhlawi, Hayatus-Sahaba, 3/1068)

However, the expression “is not one of us” in the hadith does not indicate unbelief; it indicates that it is a deed contrary to the ethics of the Prophet regarding the issue.

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