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Not all suspicion, spying and backbiting is blameworthy! [No room for ambiguities]

In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.


Not all evil suspicion is blameworthy

Allaah [The Most High] said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِنْ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ

O you who believe! Avoid much suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins. [Surah Al-Hujuraat. Aayah 12] Imaam As-Sa’di [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: Allaah [The Most High] has forbidden much evil suspicion towards the believers because some suspicions are sins. And that is like the suspicion devoid of reality and factual evidence, and like the suspicion accompanied by much forbidden speech and action, for indeed the settlement of evil suspicion in the heart does not restrict the one (in whose heart is that evil suspicion) only to that; rather, he does not cease until he utters and does that which is not permissible. (1)

Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: Not every suspicion is a sin and there is no harm regarding the suspicion that is based on clear indications regarding the validity of an affair. As for mere assumption, it is not permissible. For example, if a man – who is known to be upright – is seen with a woman by another man, then it not permissible to accuse him that the woman he is seen with is a stranger (who he should not be with), because this is the type of suspicion that is tantamount to sin. But if this suspicion is based on a reason found in the Islamic legislation, then there is no harm to harbour such suspicion. (2)

Destructive good suspicion 

Al-Allaamah Rabee Bin Haadee Al-Madkhalee [may Allaah preserve him and prolong his life upon righteous deeds] said: Destructive Good Suspicion is to have a good suspicion of the people of falsehood whether are they disbelievers, innovators or evil (open) sinners. And that which led the disbelievers to belie the Messengers, (harbouring) a severe disbelief in them and their message was due to their evil suspicion towards the people of truth (i.e. the Prophets and their true followers), and having a good suspicion of their forefathers and their religions of falsehood and disbelief. Ahlul Bidah such as the Rawaafid, the khawaarij, the soofiyyah, the murji’ah, the qadariyyah and the people of Tahazzub Al-Baatil [false partisanship] are destroyed by good suspicion towards their shuyookh and figureheads, and their corrupt creeds. On the other hand, they are destroyed by their evil suspicions towards the truth and its people. Abul Hasan Al-Maribee and his followers have a share of both this destructive good suspicion and destructive evil suspicion. (2.1)



The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “Whoever listens to the talk of some people who do not like him (to listen) or they run away from him, then molten lead will be poured into his ears on the Day of Resurrection”. [Sahih Al-Bukhaari Number 7042]. Al-Allaamah Saaleh AlFawzaan [may Allaah preserve him] said, “This is a severe threat, so one should not listen to the speech of the people if they do not want anyone to know what they are talking about”. (3)

Al-Allaamah Zayd Bin Haadee Al-Madkhalee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “It may be that two or more people gather to speak about a particular affair that concerns them, and they do not want anyone else to know about it; but then a person or more than one person becomes an obstacle by listening to their speech and [wants] to know what they are talking about, whilst they are not pleased with that. This is an act of transgression and foolishness – that a person involves himself into something that does not concern him. And from the perfection of a person’s Islaam is to leave that which does not concern him. However, there is an exception to this prohibition such as when a person listens into the speech of those who are focused or (involved) in seeking to breach the state of safety and security of the Muslims”. (4)

Situations in which backbiting is permissible due to an overriding sharee’ah benefit

Backbiting is permissible in several situations when the need arises: When enquiring about the affair of someone you want to marry or before establishing a business partnership with someone. When complaining to the ruler about the oppressive behaviour of someone and seeking to stop the oppression. In these situations, there is no harm- due to an overriding benefit – in mentioning about a person in his absence that which he hates to hear. Some of the scholars mention the situations in which backbiting is permissible: [a] Complaint given by one who is wronged; [b] When describing a person; [c] When giving a warning against open evil [i.e. bidah committed by certain people]; [d]: Warning against a person who openly commits his sins. [e] When seeking a fatwa and [f] when seeking the help to stop evil. (5)

[Ref 1: Tafseer As-Sadi]

[Ref 2: Fataawaa Islaamiyyah 4/537]

[Ref 2.1: Majmoo 13/363-364]

[Ref 3: An Excerpt from It’haaf At-Tullaab Bi-Sharhi Mandhoomah AlAadaab. page 149]

[Ref 4: An Excerpt from ‘Awnul Ahadis Samad Sharh Al-Adabil Mufrad’ Vol 3 page 281′. paraphrased]

[Ref 5: Fataawa Lajnah Ad-Daa’imah 20/26]. slightly paraphrased]