Monday 19 February 2018

Avoiding Bad Thoughts and Back-biting

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

By Hadhrat Moulana Abdul Hamid Saheb (Daamat Barakaatuhum)

Allah Ta’ala instructs us in Surah Al-Hujuraat:

 “O you who believe! Avoid much suspicions (negative assumptions), indeed some suspicions are sins. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.”
[Surah Al-Hujuraat 49 : 12]

There are many spiritual ailments which plague us, but we do not regard these as sicknesses and therefore do not treat them. We have not truly realised the seriousness, gravity and the consequences of these diseases. Like cancer, which spreads and destroys surrounding body tissue, we end up destroying our good deeds as well as our rewards with these spiritual diseases. Jealousy, malice, pride, conceit, back-biting and suspicion are so common … amongst both the laypeople and the learned ones. These sins darken our hearts and darken our souls. Many people are redeemed of their wrong-doings because of others back-biting them and entertaining ill-thoughts about them. 

There is a well-known incident of a person who would speak ill of Imam Abu Hanifa (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh). In return, Imam Abu Hanifa (Rahmatullah ‘alayh) would send him a tray of sweetmeats. After some time, the man felt ashamed of his behaviour. While he was back-biting the great Imam, the Imam would graciously send him sweetmeats. He thus stopped his bad habit. However, when he stopped backbiting, the Imam stopped sending sweetmeats. Confused, the man enquired as to why the Imam stopped sending him sweetmeats, whereas he had completely given up speaking ill of the Imam. Imam Abu Hanifa (Rahmatullah 'alayh) replied: “So long as you spoke ill of me, you were rendering great kindness to me, by gifting me your good deeds. Out of appreciation for your favour and to reciprocate your generosity, I sent the sweetmeats.”

By engaging in gossip, we are depositing our own precious good deeds into the accounts of those whom we dislike or have enmity for. Is this intelligence?  If it is anything, it is a very high level of foolishness. …Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Hasan Gangohi (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) had explained that we generally speak ill of a person or harbour ill thoughts about him when we consider him to be an evil person or because we see him to be an adversary, enemy or rival. Despite having enmity, we transfer our good deeds to the person by engaging in the sin of back-biting, etc. Where we are not prepared to give him our worldly wealth and possessions, we happily give him our good deeds!

Hadhrat Fudhail bin Iyaadh (Rahmatullah 'alayh) had said that when a person speaks ill of another, he assists him far more than a friend could possibly assist. Through back-biting, his own hard earned good deeds are gifted over generously, leaving him empty handed while filling up the other person's coffers with good. The person, who was spoken ill of, becomes the beneficiary of someone else’s hardwork!

Rasulullah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “The (real) pauper from my Ummah would be he who will come on the Day of Qiyamah with Salaah, fasts and Zakaah but he had hurled abuses upon someone, slandered others, unlawfully consumed the wealth of someone, shed the blood of another and struck others. So his good deeds will be credited to these people (who suffered at his hand). If his good deeds get depleted before he can settle (those he oppressed), then their sins will be flung onto him and he would be thrown in the Fire.[1]

It is mentioned in a Hadith: “On the Day of Judgment, a person’s book of deeds will be given into his hands (and he will not see therein any of the good deeds he did). He will ask Allah: “Why are my good deeds not recorded in here?” and Allah Ta’ala will answer: ‘They (your deeds) have been deleted because of you back-biting the people.’[2]

Our respected Sheikh, Hadhrat Moulana Hakeem Muhammad Akhtar Saheb (Rahmatullahi 'alayh) would advise that if anyone indulged in Gheebat and it is known to the person, it is Waajib (obligatory) to ask him for forgiveness – since he has been hurt. His respect was taken away due to backbiting and gossiping. If he is unaware, sincere Taubah should be made. Together with Taubah, Dua and Isaal-e-Thawaab should be made on the person’s behalf.

Some Thoughts are Sin

It is common behaviour that when we like someone, we overlook their faults, but when we dislike someone, we entertain bad thoughts. We not only look for their faults – we search for faults. When we cannot find faults, we assume that they have faults. We even “cook up” some faults and attribute them to the person. Although there are a hundred good qualities, these are totally ignored. …Looking for faults in others surely indicates that we have our own faults, which we have become blind to! If a person sees no weakness in himself, his condition is a very sad one. Someone has rightly said: “Should your eye ever reveal to you the faults of others, say to it: ‘O my eye, other people have eyes too’!”

It is most harmful and dangerous to entertain bad thoughts of those who are the friends of Allah Ta’ala. The person who harbours evil thoughts of the Ahlullah is one who will be deprived; who will be cut off from many spiritual blessings.

When we consider our own faults, we know 100% that these are our weaknesses and failings and we also know the extent and details of those weaknesses and failings. When it comes to others, whom we entertain negative thoughts, negative assumptions and suspicions of, generally the thoughts are speculative or possibilities and not definite. Our faults are definite and the faults of others can well be merely probabilities. When we see or think of the faults of others or entertain bad thoughts, think: My faults are 100% real. The faults that I am thinking of, in the other person, may be there or they may not be there.

Hadhrat Moulana Hakeem Muhammad Akhtar Saheb (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) related an incident of two friends who were staying in the same room. One friend had a jar of honey which he kept on a shelf. He noticed that his honey was getting less and less, with the passing of each day; whereas he, himself, was not eating so much of honey. He said to his friend, accusingly: ‘You are eating my honey!”

The friend replied: “I take a Qasm that I did not touch your honey.”

The person said: “There is no one else in the room. There’s just you and me. Who else is there to eat the honey?”

… Any person would think that the friend is the guilty one, and spoke a lie.

Soon thereafter, late one night, the person heard some sounds. He got up to see what was the cause of the noise; only to observe a rat trying to put its mouth into the jar of honey. Since it could not get its mouth into the jar, it put its tail inside the jar and after a little while pulled it out and sucked its tail, enjoying the sweet treat!

Hadhrat Moulana (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) explained a few lessons from this:

-          The person was sure that his friend was eating the honey, since no one else was with them. There was this suspicion; these negative thoughts, yet his friend was innocent.

-          We also learn the lesson of Tawakkul. When Allah Ta’ala feeds a rat with honey, won’t Allah Ta’ala feed you? …And especially if you are a Muslim and you are doing Dien’s work. Allah Ta’ala will most certainly feed you. Allah Ta’ala is the Giver of sustenance, to each and every person and creature.

Allah Ta’ala says:

وَمَا مِنْ دَآبَّةٍ فِى الْأَرْضِ إِلَّا عَلَى اللّٰهِ رِزْقُهَا

 “And there is no living being that moves on earth, but his sustenance depends on Allah…”
[Surah Hood 11 : 6]

…We can imagine the discomfort that the person must have felt realising that he was sharing his honey with a rat – and how too!

Hadhrat Moulana Hakeem Muhammad Akhtar Saheb (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) further explained that we are like a person who has cancer, yet looking down upon the person who has a fever or the flu. Our condition is so critical, yet we show contempt for other people. Harbouring ill thoughts and suspicions about people is a grave sin and loathsome behaviour. Sometimes we fool ourselves that we are pious based on some good deeds and the dress of the pious, which we have adopted – but our hearts are sometimes polluted with major sins.

These sins of the heart may be hidden from the people, but they are manifest before Allah Ta’ala. Nothing is hidden from Allah Ta’ala. Just as Zina, Riba, gambling, etc. are categorised as major sins, so too are the sins of the spiritual heart, such as malice, jealousy, pride, and so forth. We are accountable for these dark deeds and can also be punished for them. …There is a need for complete purification of our Baatin (internal) and Zaahir (external). Allah Ta’ala commands us:

وَذَرُوْا ظَاهِرَ الْإِثْمِ وَبَاطِنَهٗ ۚ

“And leave sin, the outward and the inward…”
[Surah Al-An’aam 6 : 120]

Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) had said that every person should, on a daily basis, say to himself:

 حال مے تمام مسلمانوں میں سے  تو (نام لےکر) بدتر اور کمتر ہے

Presently, I – (take your own name) - am the worst amongst all the Muslims in the world.

It is compulsory to regard ourselves as the lowest in Allah Ta’ala’s creation.

Good Thoughts

Whilst we live in a time where trust is a rare commodity, and where caution needs to be exercised in our dealings with people, we should nonetheless incline towards good thoughts and not unduly entertain suspicion of others. Allah Ta'ala has instructed us to avoid suspicion since some suspicion is sin. So we should be weary that we don't fall into this sin or any sin. May Allah Ta'ala safeguard us all. 

Hadhrat Moulana Maseehullah Khan Saheb (Rahmatullahi 'alayh) was very particular about maintaining good thoughts of people and would cover up people’s errors and conceal their wrong-doings. He would say: “We entertain only good thoughts of others.” Allahu Akbar! What a good heart! We too should do the same. Insha-Allah, this reality will then settle in our hearts. …Hadhrat Moulana (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) would say that there are many different versions to a story. If one witnesses something first-hand, then too, interpret it in a good way. It is possible that we did not see properly, or we did not witness the surrounding factors to what was observed.

Once, Hadhrat Moulana Maseehullah (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) advised a Mureed: “As far as possible keep good thoughts about people. If you hear something about someone and it can be interpreted in two ways – that is, in a good way and a bad way – you should choose the good interpretation. Always have good thoughts about people. On the day of Qiyamah, Allah Ta‘ala will not question us regarding the good thoughts we had about people but He will certainly question us regarding the bad thoughts we harboured about others. Having bad thoughts about others leads to much evil and Fitnah. Unfortunately, in these days, this is very common with people. No one is prepared to accept his or her own faults. They have no concern for their own faults but keep on looking at the faults of others. This is a great weakness in us.”

Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Hasan (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) advised that when negative thoughts creep into the mind, regarding any person, we should reflect on our many deficiencies and think that we do not know how Allah Ta’ala will deal with us. Just as we hope for Allah Ta’ala to forgive us, Allah Ta’ala’s forgiveness can easily extend to those whom we look down upon. They may be doing some good deed/s which are unknown to us, but so pleasing to Allah Ta’ala that He grants them His forgiveness and grants them great rewards. There may also be some bad deeds that we are doing, like entertaining these bad thoughts, whereby Allah Ta'ala takes us to task for them. So think: What will be my condition if I am asked regarding these bad thoughts?

Free the heart of hatred. Once Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) addressed Hazrat Anas (Radhiyallahu ‘Anhu) and said to him: “O my beloved son. If it is possible that you could commence the day or night in such a condition that your heart is free of malice for anyone, then do so.” Thereafter Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “This (keeping the heart clean from harbouring any malice) is from my Sunnah. The one who loves my Sunnah has indeed loved me. The one who loves me will be with me in Jannah.”[3]

The Best of Thoughts about Allah Ta’ala

We should also entertain the best thoughts about Allah Ta'ala, because Allah Ta'ala is Kind, Compassionate, Merciful and Loving. Allah Ta'ala wants the best for His Believing Servants. Rasulullah  said, “Allah Ta’ala said: ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am.’”[4]

Whatever our expectations and hopes in Allah Ta'ala, will be realised and will be seen in our lives. If we have good and positive thoughts, great good will accrue. If we entertain negative and bad thoughts about Allah Ta’ala, then we have harvested for ourselves adversity and unhappiness in our lives.

…A brother shared the story of another Muslim brother. He and his wife had just welcomed the priceless gift of a baby into their home. This was their first born - but the baby did not survive more than one week. Allah Ta’ala had granted a beautiful baby boy but the baby had come with a lifespan of one week. Naturally, that was a huge and difficult test for the husband and wife but Alhamdulillah, they adopted Sabr and maintained the best of thoughts of Allah Ta’ala, believing whole-heartedly that Allah Ta’ala does not ever wish for anything bad for His Believing servants and that Allah Ta’ala also rewards graciously on Sabr and Tafweez (resigning oneself to the Decisions of Allah Ta’ala). Thereafter, Allah Ta’ala rewarded the couple with triplets – three healthy sons. This was a reward of patience and having good thoughts of Allah Ta’ala!

Always have the best thoughts about Allah Ta’ala.

May Allah Ta’ala forgive us, purify our hearts and grant us hearts which are clean and pure.


[1] Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2581
[2] At-Targhib wat Tarhib, Hadith: 4188
[3] Tirmidhi
[4] Sahih Al-Bukhari