Sunday, 14 June,

The Benefit of Doubt

Posted in (49) Tafsīr Sūraħ Al-Ḥujurāt tagged , , , , , at 3:27 pm by Ibn al-Kashmiri

بسم الله الرحمان الرحيم

السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

الحمد الله

If one studies Suraħ al-Ḥujurāt, one will find that is Suraħ is filled with laws dealing with social issues. And in this very chapter of the Qur’ān, Allāh سبحانه و تعالى tells us how to deal with our fellow Muslims.  The saying of Allāh سبحانه و تعالى,

ياَ أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ

“O you who believe! If a fāsiq comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what you have done”[1]

In this ayaħ, Allāh سبحانه و تعالى tells us to make sure if the news or narration we hear from any fāsiq is true or authentic before accepting or basing our opinion on it.

Al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Kathīr رحمه الله writes in his tafsīr,

“Allāh the Exalted ordered investigating the news that sinners and the wicked bring, to make sure of its authenticity. Otherwise, if the sinner’s word is taken for granted and a decision is based on it, regardless of whether the information is true or not, the authorities will be taking the lead of the sinners. Allāh the Exalted and Most Honoured forbade taking the path of the corrupted and sinners. This is why groups of the scholars of Ḥadīth refuse to accept narrations from narrators whose reliability is unknown, for they might be from among the wicked people, in reality”[2]

Imām Al-Māwardī رحمه الله writes,

“In this ayaħ is the proof that the report of one individual is acceptable if he is trustworthy.”[3]

Imām Al-Qurṭubī رحمه الله writes,

“…And whosever’s fisq is grounded (and proven) then his statement is rejected completely for reporting is a trust and the indication of fisq nullifies it.”[4]

We, the Muslims, are afflicted with the disease of accepting whatever is presented to us with any verification what so ever whether is be a Muslim or a non-Muslim source.  A prime example of this would be the onslaught of the media against Islām. They are trying their best to portray Islām in the worst way possible.  Even in Muslim countries, the liberals and secularists ‘Muslims’ try to put down those who follow or even attempt to follow the Sunnaħ of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. The non-Muslims accuse the groups of Muslims as ‘terrorists’ and when Muslims are told this, they hear and believe in instantly without trying to find the source of the news. And we learn from this ayaħ, that this is completely forbidden for a fāsiq, then what about a non-Muslim?

Not knowing the source of information and then accusing a fellow Muslim brother/sister of something can lead to slandering which is even worse than backbiting  as the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said in the following ḥadīth,

The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said

“Do you know what is meant by backbiting?” They said, “Allāh and His Messenger know best.” He said, “To say something about your brother which he dislikes.” One asked, “Even if what I say is true about my brother?” He replied, “If such defects you say are true about him, then you have backbitten him, and if he doesn’t have what you say, then you have committed slander against him.” [5]

And we see that Allāh سبحانه و تعالى tells us in ayaħ number 12,

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ ۖ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ

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 Allāh. Verily, Allāh is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful”.[6]

If one looks at this verse with an eye of a grammarian, he will find that the word  اجْتَنِبُوا starts with an alif known as ‘facl amr’ which means a commanding action and that means that avoiding the much suspicion is an obligation upon us as Muslims.

Al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Kathīr رحمه الله writes in his tafsīr,

“Allāh 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 cUmar bin Al-Khaṭṭāb 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.”

It is reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said,

“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 Allāh’s servants! Be brothers.”[7]

cAbdullāh bin cAbbās says,

“Allāh has forbidden a believer to have bad suspicions about believers.”[8]

Al-Ḥasan رحمه الله says,

“We were in a time in which having suspicion of people was forbidden, but today; you act, remain silent and be suspicious of people however you will.”[9]

So being suspicious of your brothers and sisters doing acts, in general, against the teaching Islām is not allowed at all.  As cUmar رضي الله عنه said, we should try to give our brothers and sisters good excuses when we see them doing wrong.  For example, we see a brother talking to a ghayr maḥram. Normally the people would start having ill thoughts about that brother thinking maybe she is his girlfriend or such stuff. But, he being our brother deserves that we only think good of him. Instead having doubts about his Islāmic personality, we should give the benefit of doubt that maybe he is seeking assistance from the lady or maybe the girl is his own sister.

But, we find that some Muslims are ready to accept whatever they hear from the non-Muslim sources who accuse our brothers and sisters of ‘terrorism’ and all other such nonsense.  Moreover, we see that the accused Muslims get insulted and mocked by their fellow Muslim brothers and sisters sometimes just to please the non-Muslims and at times due to their ignorance of the teachings of Islām. In Islām we know that a person is innocent until proven guilty as the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said,

“Were people to be given according to their claims, some would claim the wealth and blood of others. But the burden of proof is upon the claimant and the taking of an oath is upon the one who denies (the allegation).”[10]

But the enemies of Islām think that a Muslim is guilty even when proven innocent. The reality is, we should be careful with whatever we utter as we are going to be accountable for everything we utter on the Day of Judgement.

If we let suspicion to creep in our hearts, then this gives a solid foundation to have more illnesses in our hearts such as finding faults in one another, being envious of one another, hating others and so on.


The saying of Allāh سبحانه و تعالى,

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

“The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allāh, that you may receive mercy.”[11]

This ayaħ is a general ayaħ, which means it does not specify that there comes a situation or a time when a believer does not remain another believer’s brother. Whether or not he practises his religion properly or he goes and carries out heinous crimes, a believer is a believer’s brother.

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ

Imām aṭ-Ṭabarī رحمه الله explains in his tafsīr,

“(Brothers) in religion.”[12]

The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said,

“The Muslim is the brother of the Muslim, he is not unjust with him nor does he forsake him.”[13]

Al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar al-cAsqalānī رحمه الله writes in his book of sharḥ,

“‘The Muslim is the brother of the Muslim’ this is the brotherhood of Islām. For all the unity that is between the two people, takes the name of brotherhood.  ‘He is not unjust with him’ this report is of the meaning of a command for the oppression of a Muslim to another Muslim is forbidden. ‘Nor does he forsake him that he does not leave him with someone who is harmful or something that is harmful to him.”[14]

Imām al-Qurṭubī رحمه الله writes as an explanation of the verse,

“That is (brotherhood) in religion and sanctity, not in lineage. It was said regarding this, that the brotherhood in religion is stronger than the brotherhood in lineage for the brotherhood in lineage is disrupted due to the difference in religion whist the brotherhood in religion is not broken off due to the difference in lineage.” [15]

Part of injustice is having bad suspicion about your brother and it is one of the ingredients of the destruction of brotherhood as the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said,

“Do not be envious of one another; do not artificially inflate prices against one another; do not hate one another; do not shun one another; and do not undercut one another in business transactions; and be as fellow-brothers and servants of Allāh. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him nor humiliates him nor looks down upon him. Piety is here – and he pointed to his chest three times. It is evil enough for a Muslim to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for another Muslim: his blood, his property and his honour.”[16]

From this ḥadīth we understand that holding a Muslim on contempt is also forbidden according to the Sharicaħ of Prophet Muḥammad صلى الله عليه و سلم. We should deal with our Muslim brothers and sisters with a clean heart and having no ill feeling having for them. This way one achieves two benefits:

1)      Having good relations with one another

2)      Possibility of committing injustice lessens as the heart is devoid of evil

فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ

This ayaħ was revealed in connection to the ayaħ preceding it but it can also be used for general purposes.

Imām al- Qurṭubī رحمه الله writes in his tafsīr,

“Abū cUbaydaħ said, ‘Reconcile between all the brothers.’”[17]

Then he goes on and says,

“In this verse and the one before, is evidence that the ones tyrannise (like khawārij) do not cease to carry the name of Imān because Allāh, the Exalted, named them brothers of believers in spite of the fact that they are wrong doers.  Al-Ḥārith al-Acūr said that cAlī bin Abī Ṭālib was asked and he was exemplary in fighting the people of tyranny (khawārij or hypocrites) from the people of the Jamal and Ṣiffīn, ‘Are they polytheists?’ He said, ‘No, the one who do shirk have fled.’ Then it was asked, ‘Are they hypocrites?’ He said, ‘No, for the hypocrites do not remember Allāh except little.’ Then it was said to him, ‘Then what is their condition?’ He said, ‘They are our brothers who have transgressed against us.’”[18]

I have personally read statements of kufr against the brothers and sisters who are accused by the west of murdering many innocent people. The situation of cAlī رضي الله عنه was worse and still he considered them as his brothers.

In conclusion, we should try our best to refrain from all sorts of evils we could indulge in when dealing with our brothers and sisters. Not judging them, nor being suspicious of them nor speaking ill of them would solve many of the current problems this Ummaħ is facing. And indeed, Allāh سبحانه و تعالى knows best.

I ask Allāh سبحانه و تعالى to accept this work and give benefit to whoever reads it and save them from misguidance. Āmīn

[1] Suraħ al-Ḥujurāt, 49:06ħ

[2] Tafsīr al-Qur’ān al-Karīm

[3] An-Nakat wal-‘Uyūn & Jāmic li Aḥkām al-Qur’ān (similar statement mentioned)

[4] Jāmic li Aḥkām al-Qur’ān

[5] Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, Sunan Abī Dāwūd, Sunan At-Tirmidhī

[6] Suraħ al-Ḥujurāt, 49:12

[7] Mu’ṭa Imām Mālik

[8] Jāmic al-Bayān Fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān

[9] Jāmic li Aḥkām al-Qur’ān

[10] Sunan al-Bayhaqi

[11] Suraħ al-Ḥujurāt, 49:10

[12] Jāmic al-Bayān Fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān

[13] Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim  ħ

[14] Fatḥ al-Bārī Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī

[15] Jāmic li Aḥkām al-Qur’ān

[16] Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim

[17] Jāmic li Aḥkām al-Qur’ān

[18] Ibid