On suspicions By S N Smith , Ottawa
Because our knowledge is so limited, we arrive at conclusions based on partial information. What’s more, we think that the partial information that we do have is both correct and constitutes the totality of all there is to know about a given situation or person. We even become cocky or arrogant in our insistence that we are right and refuse to entertain the possibility that we may be wrong because we have been overtaken by our feelings.
But the truth of the matter is we don’t know. We gather bits of information together here and there and piece them together with a view to forming a narrative that makes sense to us. And that narrative forms the basis of our beliefs and actions on a host of things, even though most of it is a figment of our imaginations.
Take for example the many suspicions we embrace. Suspicion is a feeling or thought that something is possible, likely, or true. Note, the evidence, based upon this definition, is rather flimsy at best for it is based on how we are feeling or originates from some thought that has entered our minds. And based on that, we arrive at the conclusion that what we are thinking or what we are feeling about a given topic or a person is true, or most likely so.
But when we reflect upon this more deeply, we have to admit that this is a very shaky foundation on which to base our beliefs about anything or anyone.
One stray word, one odd look, one simple gesture and inward feelings are generated. A whole book of assumptions is written in our heads which we refer to when we act, and we believe that book is 100% THE TRUTH.
Allah says in the Surah al-Hujarat verse 12:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ ۖ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَبْ بَعْضُكُمْ بَعْضًا ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَنْ يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَحِيمٌ
“O you who believe! Avoid most suspicion—some suspicion is sinful. And do not spy, nor backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat his dead brother’s flesh? You would hate it. So reverence Allah. Allah is the Acceptor of Repentance, the Mercy-Giver.”
And in Surah al-Isra verse 36:
وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۚ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَٰئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا
“And do not follow what you have no knowledge of. The hearing, the sight, and the intellect—all these will be questioned.”
And in Surah al-Hujarat verse 6:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنْ جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَنْ تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ
“O you who believe! If a sinner comes to you with any news, investigate, lest you harm some people out of ignorance, and you become regretful for what you have done.”
And the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) also warned us:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَفَى بِالْمَرْءِ كَذِبًا أَنْ يُحَدِّثَ بِكُلِّ مَا سَمِعَ
“It is enough of a lie for someone to narrate all that he hears”. (Sahih Muslim)
We must remain in a state of humility when it comes to what we know and what we don’t know and acknowledge that only Allah is All-knowing, All-hearing, All-seeing and All-wise. If we entertain and act upon our suspicions there is the potential that we will inflict a lot of damage on ourselves and others, and this kind of damage will have a negative impact not only on individuals but on the society at large.