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The Law of Doing Good to Your Muslim and non-Muslim Neighbors

For years, the great sufi Sahal al Tustari (d 897 AD) were neighbors with a Majus (Zoroastrian), and they got along very harmoniously, just like a pack of pigeons.

Not only that, the two men shared goods and foods, just like folks in Indonesia do whenever Eid Mubarak comes. The religion difference between them did no evil to their friendship whatsoever. Each man considered their difference in religion as a way to show noble characters. For Sahal, that difference in religion was definitely not a reason to hate his neighbor.

So there they were, living side by side, their everyday communication were soaked in deep friendship and brotherhood, from their turban-covered hair till the tips of their toes.

Not a single soul knew that behind this harmonious relationship Sahal was hiding a secret, a secret that actually tortured him every day throughout their neighborhood life, which was only revealed when he was near to his death. Never once did Sahal protest his neighbor. He chose to seal his mouth shut.

The secret was that the sewage from his Zoroastrian neighbor’s toilet had leaked, and as the result all the muck and poop of a day would piled in front of Sahal’s house. Each night Sahal had to go out to clean the revolting waste piling in front of his house.

He did that for tens of years without a single word escaping his mouth, sincerely cleaning the ick, all alone. But all the work he did every night finally took its toll, for Sahal fell ill. The illness brought the sufi down, and when it was near to the end, he sent for his Zoroastrian friend. The great sufi told his neighbor that he had something important to say.

“O neighbor, I feel that my end is near. When I am no longer in this earth, this house would be inherited by my heir. I am so sorry, neighbor, for I don’t think they could bear the ordeal that I had been through all these years we lived as neighbors. I am very concerned about this issue,” said Sahal. Then he launched to tell his neighbor of how, throughout the long years they lived side by side, he had gone outside every night to clean his neighbor’s waste piled in front of his house, without aid, without telling anyone.

The Zoroastrian was beyond shocked. He sunk, subdued. His lips rigid, his face ashen. Not a word jumped from his mouse. He was frozen, transfixed. His heart was pounding from shame, and sadness, mixed with awe and amazement, as the old man’s noble apology steeped down his heart. At last the Zoroastrian gathered himself up and said,

“For tens of years you treated me so nobly, while I kept my heathen mind with me. O noble neighbor, give me your hand, witness my testimony, for I am now surrender,” stuttered the Zoroastrian, as he softly but firmly recited the shahadat, marking his converting to Islam.

Thus the story of Sahal al Tustari, who carried the Prophet’s message about not to hurt our neighbors, although they are from a different faith with us. (This story is adapted from the book Is’âdur Rafiq wa Bughyatus Shadîq, written by Habib Abdullah ibn Husein ibn Thahir Ba’alawi).


Abu Muhammad Sahal ibn Abdullah ibn Yunus ibn ‘Isa ibn Abdullah ibn Rafi’ al Tustari (Ahwaz/Kazakhstan) was one of leaders of a sufi group in his time. He was friends with other notable ulama like Khalid and Muhammad ibn Sawar. He had also met Dzun Nun al Mishri. Sahal al Tustari died in 283 Hijri or 897 AD.

Life principals for him consisted only seven points: “Adhere to the Holy Book, follow sunah (examples) set by the Prophet PBUH, eat only halaal earnings, don’t hurt others, stay away from depraved matters, always repent, and always do your duties,” that was what he Said. (From At Thabaqâtul Kubrâ by Abdul Wahhab as Sya’rani.)

By: Alhafiz Kurniawan

Bahasa Indonesia version of this article has been published in Muslimedianews