By Dr. Ahmad Al Khalidi
This topic highlights the social diseases that cause societal problems among people of the same community.
Such illnesses are so dangerous that they can weaken the strong relationship between people and corrupt the life of any social establishment.
That is why Allah (Exalted be He) prohibits offensive suspicion, spying as well as backbiting and portrays the backbiter in a disgusting image where he sits by his dead brother and snaps his flesh.
O you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it…But fear Allah: For Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. (Al-Hujurat 49:12)
First of all, Al Ashqar, (1985) points out that this verse enjoins believers not to suspect innocent people; evil suspicion of good people is considered sinful; but they can suspect wicked people who are known of their wickedness. However, believers should not speak out of such suspicion, otherwise they would be sinful.
There is another kind of harmful suspicion which its danger mainly refers to the person himself who may keep saying to himself, “Allah will not forgive me”. Being desperate of Allah’s mercy and His forgiveness may lead him to follow the footsteps of the Satan which eventually may lead him to Hell.
However, the Prophet (peace be upon him) says: “You should have good hope with Allah till your death-bed.” (Muslim) Besides, Allah says in a hadith Qudsi: “I treat my servant the way he feels about me.”
Moreover, Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: “The Messenger of Allah said, “Allah the Exalted says: ‘I am as my slave expects me to be’”. (Muslim)
Imam Abu Bakr Al-Jassas divided suspicion into four categories as described in his book Ahkamul-Qur’an. These four categories are: 1- Unlawful (haram), 2- Mandatory (wajib), 3- Permissible (mustahab), and Acceptable (mubah).
The example of unlawful suspicion is to keep saying to himself that Allah will definitely punish or torture him and lose total hope in the forgiveness and mercy of Allah; while the example of permissible suspicion is to keep good feelings about every Muslim.
It is, however, permissible to use precautions in daily dealings without considering someone a thief or a traitor without a just cause. The example of mandatory suspicion is that if, for example, you do not know the direction of Qiblah and there is nobody to guide you, it is permissible to use your best judgment. And the example of acceptable suspicion is that if one is not sure of completing three or four rak’aats in prayer, it is acceptable to use the most prevalent assumption in one’s mind.
Spying is also one of the worst social manners. It is not allowed and it is shameful to snoop at people’s own life or private works or tasks and disclose their secrets. However, to quote Sahih International website, ”if there is a possibility of another party harming you or harming another Muslim, then such spying is allowed”
Let us now think about backbiting. It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Backbiting is talking about somebody which if he heard, would grieve him.” (Muslim & At-Tirmidhi)
Hence, to cite Sahih International.com, “it is not allowed to talk about somebody in his absence, even if what was narrated was true. If it was not true, then it would be a bigger sin and it is called Buhtan”
Moreover, backbiting violates the rights of Allah and the rights of people simultaneously. Hence, it is necessary to ask for forgiveness from the victim first, since Allah will not forgive until the victim forgives. If the victim has died or is untraceable or, if something worse may happen if the victim is asked for forgiveness, then ransom has to be done.
Al Sa`di (1995) sees that the person who injured his brother with backbiting should repent to Allah (Exalted be He), apologize to his brother, ask Allah forgiveness for him and praise his brother instead of dispraising him.
To lead an honorable life, young Muslims should enjoy good dealings with others and avoid the above mentioned illnesses that may distort the nice relations with relatives, friends, colleagues or others.
Not only this, such bad traits may cause Allah’s anger; hence the sinful should haste to repent and ask forgiveness from Allah and from the victim, or to do the ransom. In short, the ideal Muslim society indisposes offensive suspicion, spying and backbiting.
Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Al khalidi is Researcher and translator, E L teacher and lecturer, an old member in the presentation to Islam committee.