“Do not follow that of which you have no knowledge. Surely, the hearing, the sight, the heart – each of these shall be called to account.”
(Al-Qur’ān – 17:36)
The purpose of this Qur’anic verse is that people should be guided by knowledge rather than conjecture both in their individual and collective lives. In an Islamic society, this directive found its reflection in ethics and law, in politics and administration, and in arts, sciences and education; in short, in every sphere of human life. This perspective ensured that human thought and action were made safe from many evil consequences which ensue from relying on guesswork and conjecture instead of knowledge.
In matters of conduct and behaviour, people are asked to abstain from entertaining misgivings about others and to avoid levelling unfounded charges against both individuals and groups.
Similarly, Islamic law prohibited both the consigning of people to prison or their manhandling merely on the grounds of suspicion. Additionally, in their relations with other nations, Muslims were prevented, by law, from taking steps against them merely on the grounds of unsubstantiated misgivings. Rumour-mongering based on unsubstantiated suspicions were also proscribed. In the field of education, disciplines based on sheer speculation and conjecture were discouraged. Above all, a blow was struck against all superstitions in matters of religious belief since believers were asked to accept only that which had some basis in the knowledge vouchsafed by God or His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be to him). In the verse 17:38 it is emphasised how such a trait is hateful in the sight of God.