, by SYED AKBAR HASSAN
The ayat 12 of Surah Al-Hujuraat contains three ahkam in form of don’ts as was the case with ayat 11 which prohibited mocking, taunting and calling people with nicknames which all be hurting to the subject and may become a cause of dispute, hatred and weakness in the society which some rival group may exploit for their ulterior motives. Now, in the following ayat there is another hukm (commandment) in form of don’ts – prohibiting people from suspicion, spying and backbiting. These are great threat to the foundation of Muslim culture and generally spoil mutual relationships of people in a society and make the society weak and vulnerable to all sorts of exploitations by the enemies.
The first part of the hukm as mentioned in ayat 12 of this Surah Al-Hujuraat which says: “O you who believe! Avoid too much of suspicion, for some suspicion is sin.” Allah the Exalted forbids us from being suspicious, which includes having doubts and suspicions about the conduct of oneself, or one’s family, relatives and other people in general.
The conjecture which, in fact, is a sin is that we entertain a suspicion in respect of a person without any ground. Likewise, this also is a sin that when there is an equal chance of the evil and goodness in the word or deed of a person, one should regard it as only evil out of suspicion. For instance, if a gentleman while leaving a place of assembly picks up another one’s shoes, instead of his own, and we form the opinion that he has done so with the intention of stealing the shoes, whereas this could be possible because of oversight as well; there is no reason for adopting the evil opinion instead of the good opinion except the suspicion. So, if we don’t check our suspicion or become excessively suspicious about somebody, it becomes a sin. Love begets love and hatred begets hatred. Therefore, suspicion is a potential threat and danger to the integrity of the Muslim ummah.
The next part of this ayah says: “And spy not, (on each other)”. According to this hukm, we are advised not to spy on the hidden affairs of our fellow brothers, and should not try to peep into others’ affairs from behind the curtains to find out their defects and weaknesses. This is grave immorality which causes serious harm to society. The seriousness of the matter is very well reflected in the Hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him): “O people, who have professed belief verbally, but faith has not yet entered your hearts: Do not pry into the affairs of the Muslims, for he who will pry into the affairs of the Muslims, Allah will pry into his affairs, and he whom Allah follows inquisitively, is disgraced by Him in his own house.” (Abu Da’ud). Spying is not the way to reform the society; it is education, preaching, counselling and collective training of the people on the basis of the Qur’ān, Hadith, Life of the Sahabas, etc. that can only create a pure social environment. Therefore, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) has told us that even something bad comes to our knowledge without our being curious regarding the same, we must cover it up. If we cover the weaknesses and shortcomings of our brother, Allah will cover our own weaknesses and shortcomings on the Day of Judgement.
The third clause of the hukm is regarding ghibat (back-biting) which has been defined as “It is saying on the back of a person something which would hurt him if he came to know of it.” This definition has been reported from the Holy Prophet himself. This is most important of the ahkam as mentioned in ayaat 11 and 12 as, unfortunately, it is very much rampant in our society. We are strictly forbidden to speak ill of a person behind the back. If what is spoken is true, it is ghibat and if it is false, it is defamation; and if it is meant to make two persons quarrel, it is slander. The Holy Prophet has said: “If a person does not support and help a Muslim when he is being disgraced and his honour being attacked, Allah also does not support and help him when he stands in need of His help; and if a person helps and supports a Muslim when his honour is being attacked and he is being disgraced, Allah Almighty also helps him when he wants that Allah should help him. (Abu Da’ud). As for the backbiter, as soon as we realise that we are committing this sin, or have committed it, our first duty is to offer tauba (repentance) before Allah and restrain ourselves from this forbidden act. So grave is the commitment of this act and so much hated by Allah that the ayat further says: “Will anyone of you like to eat the flesh of your dead brother? You will surely detest it”. The simile in the interrogative tone has made it all the more impressive; so that every person may ask his own conscience and decide whether he would like to eat the flesh of his dead brother. What is the moral of the simile? Can we cut a piece of flesh from the body of a living person? Certainly not; he will resist and also we won’t have that courage. But if one is dead, one can cut away the flesh from which any part of the body he likes – at will. Same is the case if that person is not present in the meeting he is backbitten. Had he been present, he would have defended his honour and explained his position but since he is not present – just as a dead body can’t defend its flesh – that person also can’t defend his honour. Therefore, this act in its nature is not any different from eating the flesh of a dead brother. Thus, we must have fear of Allah and at the same time must also have iman (faith) then surely Allah is much prone to accept tauba (repentance) and is raheem (Most Compassionate).