Saturday, December 20, 2008

Our Neighbors

This neighbors hadith came up in a conversation this evening. I'm posting it here as a reminder and also because I'm trying to understand the different ways it can be interpreted.

The Prophet (pbuh) explained to us how to take care of our neighbors in matters of famine and hunger: He is not believing in me, the one who sleeps full while his neighbor is hungry. [Al-Bazar]

Food for thought:

  1. There is a followup definition of what a neighbor is (40 houses in each direction); has the definition broadened as a result of the virtual era and the global economy?
  2. Can this be interpreted to go beyond sharing what I had for dinner? Is it fair to interpret it in a manner in which all of our economic decisions are included in the conversation? Take for example supporting businesses that are known for not paying a living wage: our support of these businesses drives legitimate businesses out of the market as they cannot compete (with say WalMart wages?) and consequently forces wage rates lower (and lower). When it is our "neighbors" who labor for these corporations, are we not in effect walking-talking violations of the command to ensure our neighbors do not go hungry?

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