What does Islam say about judging someone? I have heard that “ We only judge by what is apparent ( Hz. Umar RA) “ but i have trouble understanding that.
When you judge a person you are forming an opinion about a person. Islam encourages us to have positive opinions about people and not to assume the worst. Allah the Almighty says in the Qur’an:
“O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin” (49:12)
The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said:
“Beware of suspicion, for it is the worst of false tales and don’t look for the other’s faults and don’t spy and don’t hate each other… ”
The narration of ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him is as follows:
“People were (sometimes) judged by divine revelation during the lifetime of Allah’s Prophet (may Allah be pleased with him) but now there is no longer any more (new revelation). Now we judge you by the deeds you practice publicly, so we will trust and favour the one who does good deeds in front of us, and we will not call him to account about what he is really doing in secret, for Allah the Almighty will judge him for that; but we will not trust or believe the one who presents us with an evil deed even if he claims that his intentions were good.”
These narrations inform us that we should form good opinions about people especially when there is no reason to think otherwise. We should not treat people based on speculation and doubts. It is very common today for false news to spread quickly without verification. Yes, if there is clear evidence for the corruption of a person then one will act according to the evidence.
On the other hand, this does not mean that we act without caution. For example, when engaging in business, or investing one’s wealth, a person should carry out all the necessary checks before hand and have detailed contracts in place to ensure that there is no chance for deception or dispute at a later stage. This will not come under judging someone negatively, rather such caution is encouraged in the teachings of Islam.
صحيح البخاري (8/ 148)
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «إِيَّاكُمْ وَالظَّنَّ، فَإِنَّ الظَّنَّ أَكْذَبُ الحَدِيثِ، وَلاَ تَحَسَّسُوا [ص:149]، وَلاَ تَجَسَّسُوا، وَلاَ تَبَاغَضُوا، وَلاَ تَدَابَرُوا، وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ إِخْوَانًا»
صحيح البخاري (3/ 169)
قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ عُمَرَ بْنَ الخَطَّابِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، يَقُولُ: ” إِنَّ أُنَاسًا كَانُوا يُؤْخَذُونَ بِالوَحْيِ فِي عَهْدِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَإِنَّ الوَحْيَ قَدِ انْقَطَعَ، وَإِنَّمَا نَأْخُذُكُمُ الآنَ بِمَا ظَهَرَ لَنَا مِنْ أَعْمَالِكُمْ، فَمَنْ أَظْهَرَ لَنَا خَيْرًا، أَمِنَّاهُ، وَقَرَّبْنَاهُ، وَلَيْسَ إِلَيْنَا مِنْ سَرِيرَتِهِ شَيْءٌ اللَّهُ يُحَاسِبُهُ فِي سَرِيرَتِهِ، وَمَنْ أَظْهَرَ لَنَا سُوءًا لَمْ نَأْمَنْهُ، وَلَمْ نُصَدِّقْهُ، وَإِنْ قَالَ: إِنَّ سَرِيرَتَهُ حَسَنَةٌ “
Ifta Research Fellow
Checked & Approved by:
Mufti Abdul Rahman Mangera
Mufti Zubair Patel