Assumption and Spying
The Most High said, (O you who believed, avoid much of the assumption! Surely, part of the assumption is sin. And do not spy) (49:12).
Surely this noble verse contains the command to avoid a lot of the assumption, that some of it is an offence, and the prohibition against spying. Spying is searching for the people’s faults; and it is certainly what occurs in consequence of poor assumption.
He said, «Beware of assumption, for surely assumption is the most untruthful of speech. Do
not probe [for each others faults]. Do not spy [on each other]. Do not be envious [of
each other]. Do not have mutual hatred [towards each other]. Do not have disparity
[amongst each other]. Be Allah’s servants, as brothers.» [Narrated by al-Bukhârî (no. 6064) and Muslim (no. 2563]
In his exegesis of a verse in chapter al-Ḥujurât (ch. 49), Ibn Kathîr mentioned [that] the Commander of the Believers, ‘Umar bin al-Khaṭṭâb t said, “Only assume good of a word that comes from your believing brother and find a good understanding for it.”
As [mentioned] in his biography in Tahdhîb at-Tahdhîb, Bakr bin ‘Abdillah al-Muzanî said, “Beware of the words in which if you were correct, you would not be rewarded, and if you erred in them, you would have offended, i.e., poor assumption of your brother.”
And as mentioned in al-Ḥilyah (2/285) by Abî Nu’aim, Abū Qilâbah ‘Abdullah bin Zaid al-Jazmî said, “If something you dislike was conveyed to you from your brother, then search your utmost for the excuse for him. Then if you do not find for him an excuse, say to yourself, ‘I hope my brother has an excuse I do not know of’.”
Sufyân bin Ḥusain said, “I mentioned a man in an ill [manner] near Iyâs bin Mu’âwiyah,
so he looked at my face and [asked], ‘Did you invade Rome?’ I said, ‘No.’ He [asked], ‘Then Sind, India, and the Turks?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘So Rome, Sind, India, and the Turks are safe from you, [but] your Muslim brother is not safe from you?!’” He said, “So I did not repeat it after it.” [al-Bidâyah wan-Nihâyah by Ibn Kathîr, (13/121)]
I say how good is this reply from Iyâs ibn Mu’âwiyah who was famous for intelligence;
and this reply is an example of his intelligence.
In Rawḍah al-‘Uqalâ’ (pg. 131), Abū Ḥâtim bin Ḥibbân al-Bustî said, The obligation upon the sensible [person] is the need of well-being by the leaving of spying on the people’s faults with being occupied with correcting his own faults. For surely, whoever is occupied with his own faults in place of others’ faults relieves his body and does not tire his heart. So the more he examines his own fault, he attaches no importance to what he sees of its like from his brother. And surely, whoever is occupied with the people’s faults in place of his own faults, his heart becomes blind, his body becomes tired and it becomes difficult for him to leave his own faults.
And on pg. 133, he said,
Spying is from the branches of hypocrisy, just as good assumptions are from the
branches of faith. The sensible [person] has good assumptions of his brothers and
stands alone with his griefs and his sorrows, just as the ignorant [person] has poor
assumptions of his brothers and is not reminded of his crimes and his anxieties.