Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Quran 49:12

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Quran: Chapter 26 ‘Ha Meem’, Sura: 49 ‘Al Hujurat’ ‘The Dwellings’, Verse: 12

Verse 12: O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful.

Difficult words: Suspicion: to think ill about others, doubt bad things about others, to suspect immoral actions. Flesh: soft tissue, fleshy tissue, meaty part of body.

Explanation by Ibne Kathir (‘Imad Ad-Din, Isma’il bin ‘Umar bin Kathir b.702 Hijri in Basra, Syria– d.774 H/ b. 1301 Christian Era– d. 1373CE)

The Prohibition of Unfounded Suspicion

Allah the Exalted forbids His faithful servants from being suspicious, which includes having doubts and suspicions about the conduct of one’s family, relatives and other people in general. Therefore, Muslims are to avoid suspicion without foundation.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ …                        

O you who believe!

Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicion is sin.

Allah the Exalted forbids His faithful servants from being suspicious, which includes having doubts and suspicions about the conduct of one’s family, relatives and other people in general. Therefore, Muslims are to avoid suspicion without foundation.

The Leader of the faithful Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “Never think ill of the word that comes out of your believing brother’s mouth, as long as you can find a good excuse for it.”

Malik recorded that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said that Allah’s Messenger said,

إِيَّاكُمْ وَالظَّنَّ فَإِنَّ الظَّنَّ أَكْذَبُ الْحَدِيثِ،

وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا

وَلَا تَحَسَّسُوا،

وَلَا تَنَافَسُوا

وَلَا تَحَاسَدُوا،

وَلَا تَبَاغَضُوا

وَلَا تَدَابَرُوا،

وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللهِ إِخْوَانًا

Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales;

do not spy on one another;

do not look for other’s faults;

do not be jealous of one another;

do not envy one another;

do not hate one another; and

do not desert (shun) one another.

And O Allah’s servants! Be brothers!

The Two Sahihs and Abu Dawud recorded this Hadith.

Anas said that the Messenger of Allah said,

لَا تَقَاطَعُوا

وَلَا تَدَابَرُوا

وَلَا تَبَاغَضُوا

وَلَا تَحَاسَدُوا،

وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللهِ إِخْوَانًا،

وَلَا يَحِلُّ لِمُسْلِمٍ أَنْ يَهْجُرَ أَخَاهُ فَوْقَ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّام

Do not shun each other;

do not ignore one another;

do not hate one another, and

do not envy one another,

and be brothers, O servants of Allah.

No Muslim is allowed to shun his brother for more than three days.

Muslim and At-Tirmidhi collected this Hadith, who considered it Sahih.

Difficult words by Samia2010oct: Muslim: Full name Imam Abu’l-Husain ‘Asakir-ud-Din Muslim b. Hajjaj al-Qushayri al-Naisaburi (202 H – 261H/ 817 CE- 874 CE) http://www.sunnah.org/history/Scholars/Imam_muslim.htm

At-Tirmidhi: Imam Abū ‛Īsa Muḥammad ibn ‛Īsa ibn Sawrah ibn Mūsa ibn al Ḍaḥḥāk al-Sulamīat-Tirmidhī (209-279 AH/824- 892 CE) http://sunnah.com/tirmidhi/about

Explanation by Ibne Kathir continued

Allah said,

…وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا …

And spy not, (on each other).

Tajassus, usually harbors ill intentions, and the spy is called a Jasus.

As for Tahassus (inquiring) it is usually done for a good reason.

Allah the Exalted and Most Honored said that Prophet Ya`qub said,

يبَنِىَّ اذْهَبُواْ فَتَحَسَّسُواْ مِن يُوسُفَ وَأَخِيهِ وَلاَ تَايْـَسُواْ مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّهِ

“O my sons! Go you and inquire (Tahassasu) about Yusuf and his brother, and never give up hope of Allah’s mercy.” (12:87)

Both of these terms, `Tajassus’ and `Tahassus’ could have evil connotations.

In the Sahih it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah said,

لَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا تَحَسَّسُوا،

وَلَا تَبَاغَضُوا

وَلَا تَدَابَرُوا،

وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللهِ إِخْوَانًا

Neither commit Tajassus nor Tahassus,

nor hate each other

nor commit Tadabur.

And be brothers, O servants of Allah.

Al-Awza`i said,

Tajassus means, to search for something, while

Tahassus means, listening to people when they are talking without their permission, or eavesdropping at their doors.

Tadabur refers to shunning each other.”

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this statement.

Allah the Exalted said about backbiting;

… وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا …

neither backbite one another,

thus prohibiting it, which was explained in a Hadith collected by Abu Dawud that Abu Hurayrah said,

“It was asked, `O Allah’s Messenger! What is backbiting?’

He said,

ذِكْرُكَ أَخَاكَ بِمَا يَكْرَه

Mentioning about your brother in a manner that he dislikes.

He was asked, `What if my brother was as I mentioned?’

He said,

إِنْ كَانَ فِيهِ مَا تَقُولُ فَقَدِ اغْتَبْتَهُ، وَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ فِيهِ مَا تَقُولُ فَقَدْ بَهَتَّه

If he was as you mentioned, you will have committed backbiting. But if he was not as you say about him, you will have falsely accused him.”

At-Tirmidhi collected this Hadith and said “Hasan Sahih.”

Backbiting was sternly warned against, and this is why Allah the Exalted and Most Blessed compared it to eating the flesh of a dead human being,

…أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ …

Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother You would hate it.

Just as you hate eating the flesh of a dead person, on account of your nature; so hate backbiting, on account of your religion. The latter carries a punishment that is worse than the former. This Ayah seeks to discourage people from backbiting and warns against it.

The Prophet used these words to discourage taking back a gift that one gives to someone,

كَالْكَلْبِ يَقِيءُ ثُمَّ يَرْجِعُ فِي قَيْئِه

He is just like the dog that eats its vomit.

after saying,

لَيْسَ لَنَا مَثَلُ السَّوْء

Ours is not an evil parable.

Using various chains of narration, the Sahihs and Musnads record that the Prophet said during the Farewell Hajj:

إِنَّ دِمَاءَكُمْ وَأَمْوَالَكُمْ وَأَعْرَاضَكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ حَرَامٌ كَحُرْمَةِ يَوْمِكُمْ هذَا، فِي شَهْرِكُمْ هذَا، فِي بَلَدِكُمْ هذَا

Verily, your blood, wealth and honor are as sacred among you as the sanctity of this day of yours, in this month of yours, in this town of yours.

Abu Dawud recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

كُلُّ الْمُسْلِمِ عَلَى الْمُسْلِمِ حَرَامٌ مَالُهُ وَعِرْضُهُ وَدَمُهُ، حَسْبُ امْرِىءٍ مِنَ الشَّرِّ أَنْ يَحْقِرَ أَخَاهُ الْمُسْلِم

All of the Muslim is sacred to the Muslim, his wealth, honor and his blood. It is evil enough for someone to belittle his Muslim brother.

At-Tirmidhi collected this Hadith and said “Hasan Gharib.”

Al-Hafiz Abu Ya`la recorded that a cousin of Abu Hurayrah said,

“Ma`iz came to the Messenger of Allah and said, `O Allah’s Messenger! I have committed adultery,’ and the Messenger turned away from him until Ma`iz repeated his statement four times. The fifth time, the Prophet asked him,

زَنَيْتَ؟

Have you committed adultery?

Ma`iz said, Yes.

The Prophet asked,

وَتَدْرِي مَا الزِّنَا؟

Do you know what adultery means?

Ma`iz said, `Yes. I have illegally done with her what a husband legally does with his wife.’

The Prophet said,

مَا تُرِيدُ إِلَى هذَا الْقَوْلِ؟

What do you seek to accomplish by this statement?

Ma`iz said, `I intend that you purify me.’

The Prophet asked,

أَدْخَلْتَ ذلِكَ مِنْكَ فِي ذلِكَ مِنْهَا كَمَا يَغِيبُ الْمِيلُ فِي الْمُكْحُلَةِ وَالرِّشَا فِي الْبِئْرِ؟

Have you gone into her just as the stick goes into the kohl container and the rope goes into the well?

Ma`iz said, `Yes, O Allah’s Messenger!’

The Prophet commanded that Ma`iz be stoned to death and his order was carried out.

The Prophet heard two men saying to one another, `Have you not seen the man who had Allah cover his secret, but his heart could not let him rest until he was stoned to death, just as the dog is stoned.’

The Prophet continued on and when he passed by the corpse of a donkey, he asked,

أَيْنَ فُلَانٌ وَفُلَانٌ؟ انْزِلَا فَكُلَا مِنْ جِيفَةِ هذَا الْحِمَار

Where are so-and-so? Dismount and eat from this donkey.

They said, `May Allah forgive you, O Allah’s Messenger! Would anyone eat this meat?’

The Prophet said;

آنِفًا أَشَدُّ أَكْلًا مِنْهُ، وَفَمَا نِلْتُمَا مِنْ أَخِيكُمَا الَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ إِنَّهُ الْانَ لَفِي أَنْهَارِ الْجَنَّةِ يَنْغَمِسُ فِيهَا

The backbiting you committed against your brother is worse as a meal than this meal. By He in Whose Hand is my soul! He is now swimming in the rivers of Paradise.”

This Hadith has an authentic chain of narration.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir bin `Abdullah said, “We were with the Messenger of Allah when a rotten odor was carried by the wind. The Messenger of Allah said,

أَتَدْرُونَ مَا هذِهِ الرِّيحُ؟ هَذِهِ رِيحُ الَّذِينَ يَغْتَابُونَ النَّاس

Do you know what this odor is? It is the odor of those who backbite people.”

Accepted Repentance from Backbiting and Slander

Allah the Exalted and Most Honored said,

… وَاتَّقُوا اللَّه …

And have Taqwa of Allah,

that is, regarding what He has commanded you and forbidden for you. Fear Him and beware of Him,

… إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ ﴿١٢﴾

Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful.

He forgives those who repent to Him, is merciful with those who go back to Him and trust in Him.

The majority of scholars have stated that repentance for committing the sin of backbiting is that one refrains from backbiting intending not to repeat it again. There is a difference of opinion if whether feeling remorse is required in this case, and also if one should apologize to those who he has backbitten.

Some scholars stated that it is not necessary for one to ask those whom he has backbitten to forgive him, because if they knew what was said about them, they could be hurt more than if they were not told about it. It is better, they said, that one should praise those whom he has backbitten in audiences in which he has committed the act. It is also better if one defends the injured party against any further backbiting, as much as one can, as recompense for his earlier backbiting.

{Disclaimer;  Explanation by Ibne Kathir is researched and written by http://www.quran4u.com/Tafsir%20Ibn%20Kathir/049%20Hujurat.htm#اجْتَنِبُواْ   – I just copy-pasted from that site. I only added the date of births, date of deaths of the scholars and the places at which they took place. I also added some more text color than in the original article.}

Notes by samia2010oct: Suspicion is an act of mind. Sometimes there is no control over mind and thoughts. Thoughts come to mind unintentionally. Those thoughts which come unintentionally are not included in sins. These unintentional thoughts are just a few but when one intentionally starts thinking about some actions which Allah forbids e.g. thinking ill about others is one of them, that thought becomes intentional. Those intentional forbidden thoughts (for e.g. thinking/ doubting ill about others or suspecting others of some actions that are disliked by Allah) are Big Sins, Gunaah e Kabira, and for them is the punishment of unbearable Burning of Fire.

Spying on a personal level i.e. spying on one’s family, friends, and colleagues, is also strictly forbidden. Spying on a personal level on people around is a Big Sin, Gunaah e Kabira, because any actions which Allah concealed and did not reveal to people, one must never tell others around neither in public nor in privacy. If Allah wanted Allah would have revealed it Himself.

Backbiting is strictly forbidden. Backbiting is Big Sin, Gunaah e Kabira, not only if done against the unknown people. But if one knows the person well and knows his bad actions as well, even then one must not talk about those bad actions in his absence because the absent person cannot defend himself when he is not present. Repeating a person’s bad actions in his absence is considered as bad as eating the flesh of one’s own brother because the absent person is considered just like a dead person in this situation as he is not present to defend himself. Understand it this way; a person is doing something wrong, something prohibited by Allah, that person commits Big Sin and will experience the Burning of Fire. A second person who has the knowledge of it is just talking about these bad actions of this bad committer in his absence. The second person is also committing Big Sin, Gunaah e Kabira, by doing so i.e. by just repeating first person’s bad actions in his absence. Therefore the second person will also be punished with the unbearable Burning of Fire.

One who has already done these Big Sins in the past must repent and ask Allah for forgiveness and never ever to do them again.

The best way to live is to have good thoughts about people around. And avoid thinking or doubting ill about others or suspecting others of some actions that are disliked by Allah. But never forget the bad reputation of a person, one is dealing with, so that one does not make a bad decision. One can take opinion of people who know the other party well, so as to avoid any wrong decision making. It must be done in privacy and must never be repeated in public or privacy with other unconcerned people.

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