By Lubna Dadabhoy
Alhamdulilah, through Allāh's Infinite Grace and Mercy, we have been fortunate to experience the blessed month of Ramadan this year.During this month of spiritual renewal, prayer, and of re-commitment to bettering oneself, we enjoy the increased opportunities to spend time and strengthen bonds with our families, friends, and the community.
The Prophet has attached great importance to the rights and care of neighbors – that we live in peace and harmony with them and treat them with kindness.
Aisha reported: I heard the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings be upon him, say, “Gabrial continued to advise me to treat neighbors well until I thought he would make them my heirs.”
Source: Sahih Muslim 2624
عَائِشَةَ تَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ مَا زَالَ جِبْرِيلُ يُوصِينِي بِالْجَارِ حَتَّى ظَنَنْتُ أَنَّهُ لَيُوَرِّثَنَّهُ
2624 صحيح مسلم كِتَاب الْبِرِّ وَالصِّلَةِ وَالْآدَابِ بَاب الْوَصِيَّةِ بِالْجَارِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ إِلَيْهِ
Not only does this act make us compassionate human beings, but inshā'Allāh, it will also open up the lines of communication, appreciation, and understanding between our different cultures and faiths – something so important for Muslims, especially in this day and age.
For the past three years, my family and I have been preparing and delivering Iftar platters to our neighbors as a way of spreading the Ramadan cheer and spirit; this year we continued the tradition. We made an eclectic mix of traditional savories from my ethnic background and American sweets, including chicken tikka (barbeque) with raita (yogurt dip), spinach pakoras (fritters), cholay (chickpeas), fresh fruit salad, California medjool dates, meat pies, and blueberry muffins.
We plated and wrapped up our platters with cello paper and ribbon. Strung from the ribbon were three note cards; a cover wishing everyone a Happy Ramadan from our family, a description of each food item we included, and an informational card with a short summary of what Ramadan means to Muslims.
Here is the downloadable pdf for the note card we shared for those who would like to share with their neighbors -iftar_notecards
My children loved going door to door, carefully balancing each platter and beaming with excitement as they rang doorbells and wished everyone a “Happy Ramadan!” Our neighbors were delighted with the gesture and were happy we included them in celebrating our holy month.
The next morning, we received the following lovely note from one of our neighbors (names have been changed for privacy purposes):
Thank you so much! The entire platter was delicious! Both “Bob” and I enjoyed every morsel! Loved the meat pie, the spinach fritters, the chickpeas, chicken, fresh fruits and dates, and the scrumptious blueberry muffin!
I especially liked the card that spoke about the purpose of Ramadan— it is very heartwarming.
You and your family have always been special, kind, and loving neighbors to us. Though the neighbors around us seem very nice, it's really only you and your family that I feel I can trust. I hope all of you and your family know that we think very highly of you. Whenever I talk with my friends and family, when also there are instances of media bias about the Islamic faith and people, I do find myself defending and reminding anyone that they should not generalize nor make conclusions based on racism, bigotry, and lazy ignorance; that I know of a people of kind faith and devotion to their family and community—-our neighbor and his faith community.
Thank you for the continued and unconditional lessons you give your neighbors.
May all of you have the peace and renewal this Ramadan.
Subhan'Allāh! These kind words warmed our souls and brought smiles to our faces. Alhamdulilah, we were able to bring awareness about Islam through the simple act of sharing food. The beautiful impact this small form of Da'wah had in return is priceless.
If you haven't already done so this Ramadan, please try to share something with your neighbors – be it samoosas, mana'eesh, cookies, fresh fruit, or dates. You too, will inshā'Allāh, feel closer to your neighbors and develop a better understanding between our different faiths.
Narrated Abu Shuraih Al Adawi : My ears heard and my eyes saw the Prophet when he spoke, “Anybody who believes in Allāh and the Last Day, should serve his neighbor generously… [Sahih Bukhāri]
May Allāh purify our intentions, make us all amazing neighbors and accept all our good deeds. āmīn!