“O you who believe, avoid much suspicion…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-Hujuraat:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ ۖ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ

O you who believe! Avoid much suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And have taqwa of Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful. [49:12]

Commenting on this ayah in his tafsir, Imam al-Sa’di wrote:

نهى الله تعالى عن كثير من الظن السوء بالمؤمنين، فـ { إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ } وذلك، كالظن الخالي من الحقيقة والقرينة، وكظن السوء، الذي يقترن به كثير من الأقوال، والأفعال المحرمة، فإن بقاء ظن السوء بالقلب، لا يقتصر صاحبه على مجرد ذلك، بل لا يزال به، حتى يقول ما لا ينبغي، ويفعل ما لا ينبغي، وفي ذلك أيضًا، إساءة الظن بالمسلم، وبغضه، وعداوته المأمور بخلاف ذلك منه.ـ

Allah prohibited the people from engaging in an abundance of bad thoughts about the believers, for “indeed some suspicions are sins” and that is the truth, such as suspicion that is devoid of any true context, such as bad suspicion which is often associated with an abundance of speech and with unlawful actions. For indeed if bad suspicions are existing in the heart, then that person will not be limited to that alone. Rather, that will remain with him until he says something which is not appropriate and does something which is not appropriate. And that also brings about having evil thoughts about another Muslims, hating him and having enmity towards him, which is contrary to how one is commanded to be towards him.

ـ{ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا } أي: لا تفتشوا عن عورات المسلمين، ولا تتبعوها، واتركوا المسلم على حاله، واستعملوا التغافل عن أحواله التي إذا فتشت، ظهر منها ما لا ينبغي.ـ

And do not spy” – meaning do not search out the private affairs of the Muslims, and do not keep track of them, and leave the Muslim as he is, and practice overlooking his conditions which, if they were to be searched them, then things which are not befitting would be made public.

ـ{ وَلَا يَغْتَبْ بَعْضُكُمْ بَعْضًا } والغيبة، كما قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: { ذكرك أخاك بما يكره ولو كان فيه }ـ

And do not backbite one another“. And Gheebah (backbiting) is as the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “mentioning something about your brother which he does not like, even if it is so.”

ثم ذكر مثلاً منفرًا عن الغيبة، فقال: { أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَنْ يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ } شبه أكل لحمه ميتًا، المكروه للنفوس [غاية الكراهة]، باغتيابه، فكما أنكم تكرهون أكل لحمه، وخصوصًا إذا كان ميتًا، فاقد الروح، فكذلك، [فلتكرهوا] غيبته، وأكل لحمه حيًا.ـ

Then He mentioned a comparison which causes one to be averse to backbiting. So He said, “Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?” He likens the eating his dead flesh – something abhorrent to one’s self, the height of despicable – to backbiting. So just as you would abhor to eat one’s flesh – especially if it was dead flesh, devoid of a soul – then similarly you would hate to backbite him and eat his living flesh.

ـ{ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَحِيمٌ } والتواب، الذي يأذن بتوبة عبده، فيوفقه لها، ثم يتوب عليه، بقبول توبته، رحيم بعباده، حيث دعاهم إلى ما ينفعهم، وقبل منهم التوبة، وفي هذه الآية، دليل على التحذير الشديد من الغيبة، وأن الغيبة من الكبائر، لأن الله شبهها بأكل لحم الميت، وذلك من الكبائر.ـ

And have taqwa of Allah. Verily, Allah is al-Tawwaab (the One Who accepts repentance), Most Merciful.al-Tawwaab, the One who permits the tawbah (repentance) of His slave, for He gives him the accord to do it, then turns in repentance to him by accepting his tawbah. He is merciful to His slaves, such that He calls them towards what benefits them and accepts tawbah from them. And in this ayah there is a proof for the severe warning against backbiting, and that backbiting is one of the major sins, because Allah likened it to eating dead flesh and that is one of the major sins.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 945-946]

See also: The difference between sincere advising and shaming: Ibn Rajab

See also: “Do not Follow that of which you have no Knowledge”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: “If a Faasiq comes to you with news, verify it…”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee and al-Sa’di

See also: Investigate and Verify: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: al-Thann in the Qur’an: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: The Different Meanings of al-Thann in the Qur’an

4 thoughts on ““O you who believe, avoid much suspicion…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: “Do not Follow that of which you have no Knowledge”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: “If a Faasiq comes to you with news, verify it…”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee and al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Investigate and Verify: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: The Different Meanings of al-Thann in the Qur’an | Tulayhah

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