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

Allah commands the believers in surah al-Hujuraat by saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ

O you who believe! If a faasiq (rebellious evil person) comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful of what you have done. [49:6]

In his book of tafsir, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following regarding this ayah:

نزلت هذه الآية الكريمة في الوليد بن عقبة بن أبي معيط ، وقد أرسله النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – إلى بني المصطلق ليأتيهم بصدقات أموالهم فلما سمعوا به تلقوه فرحا به ، فخاف منهم وظن أنهم يريدون قتله ، فرجع إلى نبي الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وزعم له أنهم منعوا الصدقة وأرادوا قتله ، فقدم وفد منهم إلى النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فأخبروه بكذب الوليد ، فأنزل الله هذه الآية ، وهي تدل على عدم تصديق الفاسق في خبره . ـ

This noble ayah was revealed concerning al-Waleed ibn ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’ayt. The Prophet (ﷺ) had sent him to the Banu al-Mustaliq tribe to collect the zakaah from them. When they heard that he was coming, they excitedly went to meet him. However he was afraid of them and thought that they wanted to kill him, so he went back to the Prophet of Allah (ﷺ) and claimed that they had withheld the zakaah and had intended to kill him. Later a delegation from that tribe came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and informed him of al-Waleed’s lie, and so Allah revealed this ayah, which indicates that one should not affirm news given by a faasiq.

 وصرح تعالى في موضع آخر بالنهي عن قبول شهادة الفاسق ، وذلك في قوله : ولا تقبلوا لهم شهادة أبدا وأولئك هم الفاسقون [ 24 \ 4 ] ، ولا خلاف بين العلماء في رد شهادة الفاسق وعدم قبول خبره . ـ

And elsewhere Allah has explicitly mentioned the prohibition of accepting the legal testimony of a faasiq, which was His statement:

وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا لَهُمْ شَهَادَةً أَبَدًا ۚ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

And do not accept their testimony, ever. Those ones are the defiant sinners [24:4]

and there is no disagreement among the scholars about rejecting the legal testimony of the faasiqoon and not accepting what they say at face value.

وقد دلت هذه الآية من سورة الحجرات على أمرين : الأول منهما : أن الفاسق إن جاء بنبأ ممكن معرفة حقيقته ، وهل ما قاله فيه الفاسق حق أو كذب – فإنه يجب فيه التثبت . ـ

والثاني : هو ما استدل عليه بها أهل الأصول من قبول خبر العدل لأن قوله تعالى : إن جاءكم فاسق بنبإ فتبينوا بدل بدليل خطابه ، أعني مفهوم مخالفته أن الجائي بنبأ إن كان غير فاسق بل عدلا لا يلزم التبين في نبئه على قراءة : فتبينوا . ولا التثبت على قراءة : فتثبتوا ، وهو كذلك . ـ

This ayah in surah al-Hujuraat shows us two things:

  1. That if a faasiq comes to you with some news for which it is possible to know its reality and for which it is possible to find out whether what this disobedient person said is true or false, then it is obligatory to try to verify it (i.e. before accepting it as true).
  2. This is what the experts on the foundations of the religion use to argue for the acceptance of news brought by upright honest people, because Allah’s statement, “If a faasiq comes to you with a news, verify it” carries an implication of the opposite: that if someone who is not a faasiq – rather, he is an upright honest person – comes with news, then it is not necessary to verify it. And it is as they say.

وأما شهادة الفاسق فهي مردودة كما دلت عليه آية النور المذكورة آنفا . ـ

But as for the legal testimony of a faasiq, this it is rejected just as the aforementioned ayah from surah al-Noor above shows.

وقد قدمنا معنى الفسق وأنواعه في مواضع متعددة من هذا الكتاب المبارك . ـ

And we have already mentioned the meaning of al-fisq and its various types in a number of other places in this blessed book.

وقوله : أن تصيبوا قوما أي لئلا تصيبوا قوما ، أو كراهة أن تصيبوا قوما بجهالة ، أي لظنكم النبأ الذي جاء به الفاسق حقا فتصبحوا على ما فعلتم من إصابتكم للقوم المذكورين نادمين لظهور كذب الفاسق فيما أنبأ به عنهم ; لأنهم لو لم يتبينوا في نبأ الوليد عن بني المصطلق لعاملوهم معاملة المرتدين  ولو فعلوا ذلك لندموا .  ـ

And Allah’s statement:

أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ

lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful of what you have done.

meaning: due to your thinking that the news which the faasiq brought you is true and so you would become regretful over the harm you had done to those people when the lie that the faasiq told in his news about those people became known and clear. For if the Prophet and his companions had not sought clarity regarding the news that al-Waleed brought about Banu al-Mustaliq, then they would have dealt with them as apostates, and they would certainly have been regretful if they had done that.

[Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan 7/411-412]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di also commented on this ayah in his tafsir of surah al-Hujuraat, where he segued from the explanation of the previous ayah to this one by writing:

 وهذا أيضا، من الآداب التي على أولي الألباب، التأدب بها واستعمالها، وهو أنه إذا أخبرهم فاسق بخبر أن يتثبتوا في خبره، ولا يأخذوه مجردا، فإن في ذلك خطرا كبيرا، ووقوعا في الإثم، فإن خبره إذا جعل بمنزلة خبر الصادق العدل، حكم بموجب ذلك ومقتضاه، فحصل من تلف النفوس والأموال، بغير حق، بسبب ذلك الخبر ما يكون سببا للندامة، ـ

This ayah too is dealing with proper behaviors for the people of intellect, the ways in which they should conduct themselves and which they should adopt. And that is that if a faasiq brings them some news, they should seek to verify his news and not merely accept it at face value, for that would be a grave mistake and would cause them to fall into sin. For if they treat his news in the same way that they would treat the news of an honest upright person, then his news would take the ruling and requirements of that case as well. But that would result in loss of life and property without good reason, all because of that news, which would then be a cause of regret and remorse.

بل الواجب عند خبر الفاسق، التثبت والتبين، فإن دلت الدلائل والقرائن على صدقه، عمل به وصدق، وإن دلت على كذبه، كذب، ولم يعمل به، ـ

Rather, what is required when it comes to the news of a faasiq is to verify it and seek out the truth. So then if the evidence and the context of the situation point to his truthfulness, you should act on it and affirm it. But if these things point to his news being false, then you should treat it as false and you should not act on it.

ففيه دليل، على أن خبر الصادق مقبول، وخبر الكاذب، مردود، وخبر الفاسق متوقف فيه ، ولهذا كان السلف يقبلون روايات كثير من الخوارج، المعروفين بالصدق، ولو كانوا فساقا. ـ

This ayah also contains an evidence that the news of an honest person is accepted, the news of a liar is rejected, and the news of a faasiq is neither immediately accepted nor immediately rejected but is dependent on other factors. Because of this, the salaf used to accept many narrations from members of the Khawaarij who were known to be truthful despite their overstepping the bounds in other ways.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 943]

See also: Applying Allah’s Guidance regarding the News of the Faasiq: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

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

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

See also: Referring issues back to their experts – Imam al-Sa’di

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

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

  2. Pingback: “O you who believe, avoid much suspicion…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Applying Allah’s Guidance regarding the News of the Faasiq: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: Referring issues back to their experts – Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: The sad story of ‘Imran ibn Hittaan | Tulayhah

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