Allah s.w.t. has stress the need for TAQWA (to be conscious of Allah and safeguard ourselves) in matters of “ ukhuwwah ” (brotherhood) between Muslims to be a pre-requisite or a condition before we can receive Mercy ( Rahmah ) from Him.
Those who are engaged in feud and enmity, is actually endangering the whole ummah – depriving us of Allah’s Mercy.
So, we cannot remain aloof, or have a nonchalant ( couldn’t careless ) attitude when we see fellow Muslims quarrelling.
“ O ye who believe! let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former):...”
“ ... nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (Indeed) doing wrong.”
In our social relationship, some of us find it amusing to ridicule, mock, jeer, scoff at, laugh, make fun or taunt at others. It is especially so, when we are in a kind of cliques or grouping.
Why do we do this? It is due to our self-conceit and arrogance. Never for a moment do we consider that such behaviour is wrong. In such association or gathering, each one tries to deflect attention of their own defects by projecting the weakness of others, especially of those people we consider to be outside our circle, outside our group.
We feel secure with our buddies, joking and laughing like the old witches of " Macbeth " who fail to see their own evil and ugliness.
Some of us even considers it a norm to do this, and any attempt at changing this behaviour amongst our peers is met with accusations of having " no sense of humour ", " too serious ", " no fun to be with " etc. But the "joke" is actually on us if we indulge in such practice, as Allah s.w.t. says: "it may well be that the one derided is better" than ourselves.
Although in this verse, by using the male gender it generally is quite sufficient and usually applies to both, male and female, yet Allah repeated the command by specifically addressing the women, lest some people may try to excuse themselves from this command just because they are not men.
This, indeed, demonstrates the seriousness of the command, that it is to be observed by every Muslim, as it removes any ambiguity, lest some may try to seek excuse by legalistic arguments. There is no doubt that this commandment applies to every Muslim - both male & female.
Also, one aspect of the teaching of Islam is that it emphasises respect towards the honour and dignity of others - everyone - Muslim as well as non-Muslim. All mankind are the children of Adam a.s . and deserves the appropriate respect because Allah s.w.t . says:
وَلَقَدۡ كَرَّمۡنَا بَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ
" And We have honoured the sons of Adam"
So every mankind must be respected. Some perhaps may have tarnished this God-given honour upon themselves but, we are not to seek out nor assume this, but we are to give everyone the benefit of doubt, and unless there are clear evidence to the contrary, we are still to respect them.
As towards those whom Allah s.w.t. has chosen, especially the Believers, by virtue of them being a believer, Allah s.w.t. in fact has conferred special honour upon him/her.
Those Muslims who are the trend setters, or those who wield influence in media and entertainment industry, leaders in society and organizations, must be very careful not start something or suggest it in their works, be it trend or fashion or practices, that may lead to loss of Islamic values and identity amongst younger Muslims- especially amongst those who love to imitate ( Hub-but-taq-lid ).
Remember, after being a believer, to then choose to become less than this is demeaning and an act of injustice ( zulm ).
Unfortunately, artistes and public figure (idols) today would seek out the most controversial approaches & practices to gain publicity, rather than be the paragon of virtue showing what is most beneficial to the uplifting of the spirits ( Ruh-hiyah ).
To loose the dignity and honour already conferred by Allah s.w.t. upon Muslims, would indeed be most regretful and unjust.
Personal inner purity demands that our thoughts and opinion of others are never allowed to be clouded, such that it may become corrupted by insinuations, conjectures or unsubstantiated reports from other sources. But our Nafs (self) tends to develop certain inclinations towards wanting to judge others especially when we are infected by self-conceit and arrogance.
Thus, the commandment to avoid suspicion aims at preventing defilement of that innocence towards others already present in us. Observe the child, and we would marvel at how pure are their regard towards others.
Yet, as we grow, we become more self-aware and our personality develops complexity. We adopt traits which sullied that child-like innocence and we regard this neutrality (not harbouring any suspicion of others) not as innocence, but being a ‘naïveté.’
This is further compounded by other social influences that may encourage distrust in us (of various degrees) towards others, as well as our inner shortcomings of selfishness, conceit and arrogance which relish at looking down upon others.
These propensity, if not managed would propel us towards inquisitiveness that tantamount to sinning against others.
To be cautious is not justification to prejudge others negatively. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w . advises: “Avoid suspicion, for suspicion is the gravest lie in talk and do not be inquisitive about one another and do not spy upon one another and do not feel envy with the other, and nurse no malice, and nurse no aversion and hostility against one another. And be fellow-brothers and servants of Allah.”
"O assembly of those who have believed with their tongues, but into whose hearts faith has not yet reached! Do not backbite the Muslims, nor seek out their secrets! For, whoever seeks out the faults of his brother, Allah will seek out his secrets. And, whoever has his secrets sought out by Allah, Allah will disgrace him, even [if he hides] in the depths of his house."
"Beware of backbiting, for backbiting is more serious than adultery. A man may commit adultery, and drink [wine], and then repent, and Allah will forgive him. But, the backbiter will not be forgiven by Allah until his companion [i.e. the one being backbitten] forgives him."
[ Suyuti reports in “Al-Jami` as-Saghir”, hadith from Ibn Abid-Dunya, and Abush-Shaykh, Al-Tawbikh .]
Many people may not be aware that what may be doing is actually ' ghibbah '. Thus we need to remove any ambiguity and learn the actual meaning of ' ghibbah ' (backbiting). It has been defined precisely by the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. As:
One who has suffered injustice is entitled to mention the perpetrator of that injustice to someone who is capable of restoring his rights to him, such as a legitimate Muslim ruler or judge or police or the relevant authority - but not just anyone.
[c] Asking for a fatwa from qualified religious scholar.
“ On the authority of `A’ishah: Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, said to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), "Abu Sufyan is a miserly man, and he is not giving me what would suffice me and my child, unless I take from him without his knowing." He said, "Take what suffices you and your child according to common usage."
[d] As Warning, such as warning a prospective buyer that the merchant is a swindler, or warning a student that his prospective teacher is an innovator or a deviant. Also, revealing the faults of weak narrators and forgers of hadith , and giving someone a candid appraisal of a person whom the former is thinking of marrying.
On the authority of Fatimah bint Qays : she said, "I came to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and told him, "Abu Jahm and Mu`awiyah have [both] proposed to me." He said, "As for Mu`awiyah, he is a poor man with no money, and as for Abu Jahm, his stick never leaves his shoulder."
[e] Appellation: If someone is commonly known by a nickname which he do not object to being called by it, although if there is some alternative way to refer to him, it is preferable rather than nickname. When the nickname signify evil or bad, avoid using it, even if he do not object to people using it.
This is to honour him and perhaps may serve as lesson to him to not continue to demean himself.
Allah s.w.t. wish for us to be free of these sins, out of His Compassion for us. Thus He stresses upon us to strive always to being truly conscious Him ( Taqwa ) and fearful of His retribution - and therefore to hasten to repentance and seek forgiveness before the Day when regret is of no use i.e. in the Hereafter on Judgement Day.
" but fear Allah: for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful."