Suspicion could ruin the relations between people, particularly when it is based on flimsy evidence, or hearsay. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) spoke in very clear terms about misplaced suspicion, giving clear orders to refrain from it. One clearly authentic hadith that combines some of the actions that cause discord within the community and make people dislike one another is reported by Abu Hurairah. He quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings 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 [in worldly gains selfishly]. Do not boycott, envy or hate one another, but remain — you servants of Allah — brothers and sisters.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This hadith stresses the importance of maintaining good relations within the Muslim community. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) highlights certain things that could undermine such relations, and he tells us not to allow ourselves to indulge in them. Boycott, envy and hatred 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 consider 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 Allah the Almighty.

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

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

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) teaches us that we should help one another not to entertain any doubt that leads to suspicion. One of the Prophet’s wives, Safiyyah (may Allah be pleased with her), mentioned that one day, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) 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 (peace and blessings be upon him) walked with her toward her home. As they were close to the door of the mosque, they passed close to the door of Umm Salamah (another of his wives), two men from the Ansar passed by and greeted him. The Prophet said to them: “Wait a moment. This is Safiyyah.” They wondered saying: ”Subhan Allah” 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 [suspicious] into your minds.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

There are different versions of this hadith, but the one mentioned here is the most detailed. All the versions agree that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) sought to clear away any doubts that might have occurred to the two passersby, even before they happen. The two passersby were upset that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) thought they might have suspected him. In one version, one of them even said to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him): “Whoever I might doubt, I would not [ever] doubt you.” (Muslim)

This is clearly the attitude of believers toward the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) whom they loved and trusted. How could they suspect him when they believed that he received revelations from on High? However, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was clear on this point. Yet, he wanted to teach his companions something that would benefit them in their social relations. He explained this by telling them about the closeness of Satan to man and his thoughts. Satan 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 (peace and blessings be upon him) expressed in a most graphic description: “Satan goes as close to man as his own blood.” Hence, a wrong thought could be implanted 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 (peace and blessings be upon him) did when he told his two companions that the woman walking with him was his wife, Safiyyah.

Sometimes, suspicion arises because of an event or a misfortune. In this regard `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud was reported to have said: “A person who has been a 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 obviously true. When we suffer from a misfortune like theft, we are so aggrieved that we begin to suspect people, thinking that they might have been the perpetrators. However, when we entertain such doubts without a firm basis, we soon become guilty of an even worse offense, which is suspicion without evidence.

The Prophet’s companions, particularly the scholars among them, understood this well and acted on it. Abu Ad-Darda’ was one such scholar among the companions. One day he received a letter from Mu`awiyah, the caliph, asking him to write down the names of all the transgressors in Damascus. Abu Ad-Darda’ 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 who they are? You cannot know that they are transgressors unless you are one of them. Begin by 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 Ad-Darda’ refused the caliph’s request on the grounds that he could not ascertain for certain anyone unless he had clear information. How could he do so 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 by reforming himself. We should note that Abu Ad-Darda’ 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 Yazid ibn Mu`awiyah.

By  Adil Salahi