Beware of Suspicion

Abu Hurayrah quotes the Prophet (Pbuh) 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 as servants of God, brothers and sisters.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood and Al-Tirmidhi).

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 Hurayrah. He quotes the Prophet 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 as 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 neighbors 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.
Sometimes 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 offense 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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