Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

Jamadi Thani / Rajab 1425 H July 2004
Volume 17-07 No : 211
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Hadith


Suspicion Ruins Relationships

Suspicion Ruins Relationships

Abu Hurayrah quotes the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying: "Beware of suspicion, for it is the most untrue of what people say.
Do not spy against one another, or compete with one another.
Do not boycott, envy or hate one another, but remain - you servants of God - brothers and sisters."
(Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood and Al-Tirmidhi).


Commentary by Adil Salahi

Suspicion could ruin relations between people, particularly when it is based on flimsy evidence, or hearsay. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) has spoken in very clear terms about misplaced suspicion, giving clear orders to refrain from it. One clearly authentic hadith that groups together some of the actions that cause discord within the community and make people dislike one another is reported by Abu Hurairah. He quotes the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying: “Beware of suspicion, for it is the most untrue of what people say. Do not spy against one another, or compete with one another. Do not boycott, envy or hate one another, but remain — you servants of God — brothers and sisters.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood and Al-Tirmidhi).

This hadith stresses the importance of maintaining good relations within the Muslim community. The Prophet highlights certain things that would undermine such relations, and he tells us not to allow ourselves to indulge in them. Boycott, envy and hate should never be allowed to exist, let alone flourish in any Muslim community. Relations between Muslims should always be close. All members of the Muslim community should look at one another as brothers and sisters. They must value this tie of brotherhood, because it is established on the best basis, which is servitude to God.

But the hadith begins with a warning against suspicion describing it as the most untrue of speech.

This is an apt description because whatever said on the basis of suspicion has no basis in reality. It is all conjecture, leading to false accusation and false ideas. It poisons relations and leads to discord and hostility. It also encourages what the Prophet mentions next, which is spying on one another. People would not spy against their neighbours or competitors unless they have some sort of suspicion which they want to explore. Hence, they try to gather information secretly, perhaps through spying. This is again forbidden.

The Prophet teaches us that we should help one another not to entertain any doubt leading to suspicion. One of the Prophet’s wives, Safiyyah, mentions that one day, as the Prophet was spending the last ten days of Ramadan in the mosque, devoting his time to worship, she came to visit him. She sat with him for sometime before she left. The Prophet walked with her towards her home. As they were close to the door of the mosque, passing close to Umm Salamah’s (his other wife) door, two men from the Ansar passed by and greeted the Prophet. The Prophet said to them: “Wait a moment. This is Safiyyah.” They said: “Limitless is God in His glory.” They felt very bad, but the Prophet said to them: “Satan goes as close to man as his own blood, and I feared that he might put something into your minds.’” (Related by Al-Bukhri, Muslim and Abu Dawood).

There are different versions of this hadith, but the one included here is the most detailed. All agree that the Prophet sought to clear any doubts that might have occurred to the two passersby, even before they occur. They were upset that the Prophet thought they might suspect him. In one version, one of them said to the Prophet: “Whoever I might doubt, I would not doubt you.” This is clearly the attitude of believers towards the Prophet whom they loved and trusted. How could they suspect him when they believed that he received revelations from on high? But the Prophet was clear on this point. Yet he wanted to teach his companions something that benefits them in their social relations. This he explains by the closeness of Satan to man and his thoughts. He can creep into one’s mind so as to be as close to him as his own blood. This means that at any time suspicion might arise at the slightest indication, or the smallest gesture. This is what the Prophet expresses in a most graphic description: “Satan goes as close to man as his own blood.” Hence, a wrong thought could be planted in someone’s mind very easily. Therefore, when we feel that a particular situation we are in might give rise to some thought or doubt, we should clarify it, as the Prophet did when he told his two companions that the woman walking with him was his wife, Safiyyah.

Sometime suspicion arises because of an event or a misfortune. Abdullah ibn Masoud says: “A person who has been victim of theft continues to suspect until his offence becomes greater than that of the thief.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad). This is clearly true. When we suffer a misfortune like theft, we are so aggrieved that we begin to suspect people, thinking that they were the perpetrators. But when we entertain such doubts on no firm basis, we soon become guilty of a worse offense, which is suspicion without evidence.

The Prophet’s companions, particularly the scholars among them, understood this well and acted on it. Abu Al-Dardaa was one such scholar among the Prophet’s companions. One day he received a letter from Mu’awiyah, the caliph, asking him to write down for him the names of all transgressors in Damascus. Abu Al-Dardaa said: “What business would I have with the transgressors in Damascus? How would I know who is a transgressor?” His son, Bilal, said: “I will write their names.” He did so. His father said to him: “How do you know them? You cannot know that they are transgressors unless you are one of them. Begin with mending your own conduct.” He refused to send their names to Mu’awiyah. (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad).

We note here that Abu Al-Dardaa refused the caliph’s request on grounds that he could not for certain judge anyone unless he had clear information. How could he when he did not have firm first hand information? How could he have such information unless he was there and spoke to them? Hence, when his son wrote down their names, he told him that his action was not acceptable, because having the necessary information required associating with such transgressors. Hence, he told his son to start with reforming himself. We should note that Abu Al-Dardaa refused to accept his son’s information as correct because it did not rely on first hand knowledge. His son was later to become the chief justice in Damascus, during the time of Yazeed ibn Mu’awiyah.

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