What is the meaning of this hadith?
حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ يَحْيَى, قَالَ قَرَأْتُ عَلَى مَالِكٍ عَنْ أَبِي الزِّنَادِ, عَنِ الأَعْرَجِ, عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ, أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ إِيَّاكُمْ وَالظَّنَّ فَإِنَّ الظَّنَّ أَكْذَبُ الْحَدِيثِ وَلاَ تَحَسَّسُوا وَلاَ تَجَسَّسُوا وَلاَ تَنَافَسُوا وَلاَ تَحَاسَدُوا وَلاَ تَبَاغَضُوا وَلاَ تَدَابَرُوا وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ إِخْوَانًا ”
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The Authenticity of the Hadith
The majority of scholars agree that all hadiths in the authentic compilations of Imams Bukhari and Muslim are authentic. [Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim]
The Meaning of Suspicion
As regards the meaning of the hadith, you use the word “suspicion” to translate “الظن.” This refers to a suspicion that has no basis or foundation in fact. It is just hearsay, talk, or imagination.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) prohibited that kind of suspicion. He said one must avoid suspicion for it is the greatest lie. The reason for this is that if one entertains a thought or idea, one allows it to become established in one’s heart. This, in turn, results in one believing it. As a consequence, one would have innumerable problems in life.
For instance, a man may suspect his wife’s fidelity and vice-versa. A son may suspect that his parents are not truly his parents because of an error that occurred in the hospital. The Prophet says one must avoid such suspicion.
Imam Nawawi comments on this hadith. He says that the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) is referring to the suspicion that remains within the person. As a result, it becomes settled in his heart (as if it is the truth). He did not prohibit suspicion that enters a person’s heart, which the person forgets, ignores, or brushes aside. [Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim]
The Meaning of Inquisitive
You use the word “inquisitive” to translate “التحسس.” It refers to listening to people’s speech or looking into that which is private.
In other words, inquisitiveness leads one to listen to private conversations and delve into people’s private lives. [Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim]
And Allah knows best.
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.