SAFspace

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Assumptions


A good friend of mine recently contemplated visiting her homeland. Because she is of marriageable age, friends and relatives assumed she was taking the trip to find a suitable mate from "back home". When I happened upon her circle of friends and heard the news, I told them it couldn't be true. After all, I'd seen "Sarah" just a few days ago and she had indicated her parents would be going on their own. But her friends brushed me off. She doesn’t want to admit the truth to you, they insisted. Look how old she is. Obviously she can't find someone here. And so the assumptions built upon themselves, eventually becoming a fantasy of her friends' making.

When the truth came out, it was embarrassing not for Sarah but for those "friends" who had concocted a fanciful tale about Sarah's imaginary trip. Apparently, Sarah had decided not to go after all. Unsurprisingly, the real story had difficulty getting out while the false one had already spread far and wide. Most people knew Sarah had gone back to her home country. Few realized the plane had left without her.

Those who jump to conclusions are almost always wrong. And they run the risk of misunderstanding the very individuals they judge. Though the allegations are sometimes quite funny – as in the case of Sarah – suspicion and baseless assumptions have the potential to ruin people's lives. I will always remember the tragic story of Aishah (RA), a wife of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). She had accompanied the Prophet on an expedition, and on the way back, when the caravan had stopped to allow the group some rest, Aishah slipped out of her litter in search of a missing necklace. When she returned, she found the caravan had already continued onward. Safwan, a young man who had been left behind for some reason, arrived at the camp and found Aishah sleeping. He offered her a ride and led her back to Medina.

Rumours swirled upon their arrival. People assumed the worst, and it soon became a very public scandal. The incident placed great strain on the household of the Prophet and on the Prophet himself. He withdrew from Aishah. She returned to her parents' home in anguish and sickness and remained there for quite some time. Eventually revelation came down to establish her innocence while rebuking those who had spread gossip against a pious woman without providing the requisite evidence.

Trust in the overall goodness of people is one of the basic principles of a civilized society. We are all guilty of forming baseless assumptions of one another at one time or the other. But if one harbours suspicions of another person, the proper way to handle the situation is to approach the individual privately seeking clarification. There is nothing to be gained from broadcasting one's suspicions to the world – especially when they may not turn out to be true. Perhaps we can learn a lesson from the incident with Aishah and Safwan and avoid the very actions God sees fit to condemn through revelation.

6 Comments:

  • At 5/25/2005 11:30:00 AM, Blogger Squeeky said…

    Assalaamu Alaikum :D
    Masha'Allah that was an excellent post! People don't seem to realize the consequences that occur when speading false rumors unfortunately. By the way, you don't look familiar but it's a small world ... maybe we've crossed each other's paths? hehe take care hun

     
  • At 5/25/2005 12:22:00 PM, Blogger Asmaa said…

    Squeeky knows saffiyah?! whoah.

     
  • At 5/25/2005 06:35:00 PM, Anonymous brotherhood said…

    salaam :D cool blog. interesting posts :)

     
  • At 5/26/2005 01:34:00 AM, Blogger Asmaa said…

    I brought Squeeky and brotherhood here, inadvertently.

    LEAVE SAFFIYAH ALONE. She's MY friend, you hear?!

     
  • At 6/01/2005 02:13:00 AM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said…

    There's a law in Judaism called Lashon Hara, which is basically similar slander, you are not allowed to tell tales about people, even if it is in fact true!

    Does Islam have something similar?

     
  • At 6/01/2005 05:35:00 PM, Blogger Safiyyah said…

    TRK: The scholars have worked out rules to determine guilt in those circumstances, and the complexity and details that are involved in the procedure make it very difficult for false testimony to be accepted.

    In the case of Aisha (RA), whom I've mentioned in this post, the following verses were revealed:

    Surely those who fabricate the lie are a group from among you. Do not think it is a bad thing for you; no it is good for you. Every man will receive what he has earned for this sin, and whoever had the greater part in it will have a great punishment. Why did the men and women believers, when they heard it, not think good in their selves and say: 'This is clearly a lie?' Why did they not produce four witnesses? Since they did not produce witnesses, they are certainly liars in the sight of God. If it were not for the grace of God, and God's mercy on you in this world and in the next world, an awful doom would have overtaken you for what you repeated. Since you received it with your tongues, and repeated what you did not know anything about with your mouths, you thought it was a trifle, but in the sight of God it is serious. Why, when you heard it, did you not say: 'It is not for us to repeat this, Glory be to You (Oh God), this is a serious rumor. God warns you to never repeat anything like this again, if you are indeed believers and God makes the signs clear to you; and God is Knowing, Wise. Surely those who love to spread around slander about those who believe will have a painful punishment in this world and in the next world; and God knows, and you do not know.
    (Quran 24:11-19)

     

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