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Sometimes it’s sinful to assume

Are all our assumptions wrong?

In the Qur’an we are constantly warned not to think badly of Allah SWT but we are also warned that having a bad opinion of others is sometimes sinful.

O, you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.”

[Qur’an 49:12]

Reading this ayah (verse) with this month’s theme of ignorance in mind it becomes so clear that the views that we hold in ignorance are still sinful sometimes. For example, when a young Muslim man has to go through extra security at the airport, this might be because of discrimination as a result of Islamophobic prejudice which is caused by the ignorant belief that all Muslims are dangerous terrorists. To try and prevent more young Muslim men going through the indignity of having extra security checks, and to prevent more black people being stopped and searched by the police, and to prevent women from being turned away from the mosque, we need to address the ignorant views that lead to discriminatory actions.

We are reminded in the Qur’an to always have a good opinion of Allah SWT but we often forget that we need to have a good opinion of the creation as well for His sake. We shouldn’t assume that others are dangerous or a threat. In this environment that’s much easier said than done, we turn on the news and see reports of so many awful crimes and that’s making us all much more distrustful of each other. Having spoken to elderly people they themselves have noticed this decline in trust – where children once played together in the street freely and without much fear on the side of the parents, it’s now incredibly uncommon, playdates are scheduled, we are much more wary and cautious.

We need to be well-informed, and make our decisions carefully to avoid harm to ourselves and others; to assume that an email offering you £100 is spam is simply responsible, but to assume that someone is sinning, to assume that they will blow up the aeroplane or steal your wallet simply because of the way someone looks, the language they speak, their religion or their gender is absurd and will never be right. Sometimes we show our negative beliefs light heartedly, “all men are trash” is something many women say flippantly for example but even said as a joke it reveals a lot about the person saying it, and reflection can help them to understand why they have this view and the evidence they have from their life to show that this is false.

Besides this we need to understand that our personal experience is not representative of what is going on around the world, for example, if we only come across 2 ducks in our life and those two ducks bite us, that does not mean that all ducks bite human beings. This is just a funny light-hearted example but sometimes we see patterns in behaviour where there is no pattern at all. For example if you meet two people called “Kamran” in your life and they are both rude and nasty to you, it would be odd to automatically assume that another Kamran that you’ve never met before is horrible. 

We are wired for self-preservation and that means that we need to respond to patterns for our survival but we need to know that sometimes that part of our brain that is just primal instinct and driven by fear isn’t right. Just like it isn’t right when a white woman is terrified of sitting next to a woman in hijab (veil). Maybe that woman isn’t doing anything outright that is rude, maybe she’s just scared but there’s a phrase “love is the opposite of fear” and I’d like to add that love is the opposite of fearing someone will intentionally harm you. Part of loving Allah SWT is loving His creation and treating them with the most kindness, just like the Prophet emulated for us, so ignorant views which are almost always driven by fear, is something we need to fight against within ourselves. 

Do you think we, sometimes, assume things too quickly?

Farida El Kafrawy

Farida is an undergraduate student studying social and political science at UCL. Having seen many struggle with their mental health, and having experienced poor mental health herself, she believes that it is important to speak up, destigmatise the topic and, inshallah, help others to understand what is happening, and how they can help themselves and others. As a regular reader of the Inspirited Minds blog, she knows first hand how reassuring it is to read an article addressing what you are experiencing with your faith in mind, and she hopes she can help reassure and support others in turn.

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