How can we have good thoughts about people?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

When a righteous believer evaluates people and incidents, he interprets them in a good way and thinks of good things. Hawing a good intention and good thoughts is an indication of the inner beauty and goodness of a person. The Prophet (pbuh) states the following:

"There are three things because of which hatred does not enter the heart of a Muslim: Sincerity in doing an action for the sake of Allah; having good thoughts about all Muslims and giving them advice; being in unity with Muslims in thought and deeds." (Ibn Majah, Muqaddima, 1 8)

It is among the essential duties of Muslims to wish goodness for people and to lead them to goodness. The Prophet (pbuh) received allegiance from people "on condition that they will have good intentions toward all Muslims..." to attract attention to this fact. (Bukhari, Iman, 42). However, what should not be forgotten here is the Prophet’s word "all Muslims". It is the duty of a Muslim to wish good things for all Muslims without any exception and to have good thoughts about them.

A Muslim must be mature and perfect in his deeds and attitudes toward unbelievers and polytheists in terms making their hearts feel warm toward Islam; his heart should not love them and their bad traits.  

One of the attributes of righteous Muslims is not to have bad thoughts about people. The following is stated in the Quran:

"O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin." (al-Hujurat, 49/12)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following about having bad thoughts (suspicions) about people and telling lies about them:

"Avoid suspicion because it is the worst lie." (Bukhari, Wasaya, 8, Nikah, 45, Muslim, Birr 28)

Thus, he described zann (suspicion/having bad thoughts about others) as the worst lie. A truthful Muslim will not utter words resembling lies.

A Muslims should decide about people based on appearance. He should keep away from suspicion, doubt, gossip, delusion and slander. Trying to find secret things about people, intervening others’ private affairs and talking badly about their honor are not among the ethical characteristics of a Muslim. A Muslim acts based on what he sees. He says what he has seen. He does not make a judgment based suspicion and his ideas. Umar b. Khattab stated as follows:   

"People decreed based on revelation during the time of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Revelation has ended now. We will decree based on your deeds that we see. We will protect those who do good things and allow them to approach us. We are not interested in what they conceal. Allah will call them to account for what they conceal. We will not rely on those who do bad deeds and will not approve of them even if they say that their hearts are clean." (M. Y. Kandahlawi, Hayatus-Sahaba, translated by A. Meylani, IV, 253).

Therefore, a conscious and pious Muslim will never forget the following verse when he speaks and makes a judgement:

"And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning)." (al-Isra, 17/36)

A Muslim will not speak against others. For, he believes that every word he speaks is recorded by an angel:

"Behold, two (guardian angels) appointed to learn (his doings) learn (and noted them), one sitting on the right and one on the left. Not a word does he utter but there is a sentinel by him, ready (to note it)." (Qaf, 50/17, 18)

A Muslim who is conscious of those orders is afraid of the responsibility of every word he utters. Therefore, we see him uttering every word carefully. For, he knows that a word he utters can elevate him to the rank of the consent of Allah or lower him to the lowest layer of Hell. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) states the following regarding the issue:

"A slave of Allah may utter a word which pleases Allah without giving it much importance, and because of that Allah will raise him to degrees of reward: a slave of Allah may utter a word carelessly which displeases Allah without thinking of its gravity and because of that Allah will record a penalty for him up to the Day of Judgment." (Bukhari, Riqaq, 23; Muslim, Zuhd, 49, 50)

A pious Muslim who has a clean heart will not heed the illogical words of others and what he hears from the gossips, rumors and doubtful words; he will not report to others what he hears before checking its trueness. On the contrary, he knows that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) regards reporting whatever one hears to others without finding out that they are true as haram. He acts based on the following principle: "It is enough as a sin for a person to report to others whatever he hears."

(Şâmil İslam Ansiklopedisi)

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