Mind Your Own Business!
“A good practicing Muslim” is a phrase we usually hear in many Muslim circles. However, what usually comes to our minds when we hear this phrase? Many people may typically visualize images of praying, fasting, giving charity, reciting the Quran, and so forth. There is no doubt that such acts are ingredients for our spiritual journey; yet, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ stresses a social quality that might be neglected by many religious people. This quality serves as an indicator for one’s practice of Islam and is based on a Hadith reported by Imam al-Tirmizi, who narrated, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Part of your good practice of Islam is to leave whatever does not concern you.”
In other words, one should mind one’s own business. The Hadith teaches that practicing Muslims should stay away from any talk or action that is of no concern. Instead, as a top priority, Muslims should be busy purifying themselves and taking care of their own faults. If people involve themselves only in the things that concern them, they will not find time to label others or waste their time in gossiping or the like. Allah says: “Successful indeed is the person who uplifts it [their soul] and a failure indeed is that the person who lowers it [their soul]” (Quran 91: 9-10). As a disclaimer, the Hadith does not encourage leading a self-centered life and disregarding people’s rights. In general, our moral and legal code determines the matters that do not concern us. Here, we seek to list examples of the quality of “leave that which is of no concern to you,” a quality that practically illustrates our embodiment of the beauty of our faith.
Situations where you should mind your own business:
There is a difference between keeping in touch with friends and intruding on their privacy. You should treat people’s private information in the way you like yours to be treated. If you know that asking a person about their salary, spouse, or children will violate their privacy, you must avoid these questions. Similarly, one should not share personal information about people without their permission.
Judging People’s Final Destiny
There is a difference between saying this is lawful or unlawful and saying this person will surely be Heaven or Hell. Teaching people about what is permissible and what is prohibited is a religious obligation. However, a Muslim is forbidden from claiming that a specific Muslim will be doomed to Hell simply because judging people’s final destiny is an exclusive work of God Himself. To claim that a Muslim will go to Hell, regardless of their sins, is like claiming divinity—which is indeed more dangerous than any other grave sin. Moreover, such acts of judgment are heinous acts of pride. Any person who is judgmental in this way will suffer, losing all their good deeds on the Day of Judgment. Imam Muslim reported, on the authority of Jundub, that a man said: ‘By Allah, Allah will not forget this person. So Allah said: ‘Who is he who swears by Me that I will not forgive that person. Indeed, I shall forgive that person and nullify the accuser’s deeds.”
Judging people’s final destiny requires a comprehensive knowledge of people’s inner intentions, hidden actions, and all of their life circumstances. Thus, no one is qualified to determine people’s destiny due to insufficient knowledge and human prejudices. The Prophet ﷺ told us the story of a man who spent his life in excessive sins and ended up getting his sins forgiven. The Prophet ﷺ said: “There was a man who used to sin excessively. When he was about to die, he said to his family: ‘when I die, burn me, then grind my corpse and throw it in the air, because if my God got control of me, he will severely punish me. When he died, everything was done in the way he described. However, Allah commanded the earth to bring the man’s particles together, and it did. When the man appeared before Allah, Allah asked him: ‘why did you do that?’ ‘I was afraid of You, my Lord!’ Because of this [reply], the man was forgiven.” Remember the prostitute who was forgiven because of giving water to a thirsty dog to drink in the desert, as the Hadith tells us?
Claiming that sinful Muslims will be doomed in Hell will not change them. It may make them more rebellious, resistant, and indifferent. The Prophet ﷺ taught his companions about the psychology of a sinful person when being cursed. It happened that a man was brought to the Prophet ﷺ because of his frequent sin of drinking. People started throwing shoes at him! Moreover, a Muslim said to him: “May Allah keep you away from His mercy! How often you are brought here!” Upon this, the Prophet ﷺ said: “Do not ally with Satan against your brother, for this man loves Allah and His Prophet!” What a great teacher the Prophet was! Everyone was looking at the negative side of the sinner, making the man more uncaring. However, the Prophet ﷺ was looking at the bright sight that if it is rightly nurtured will lead to the best results: this man loves Allah and His Prophet.
The Past of Those Who Repent
Sometimes people repent of severe sins and become determined to lead a meaningful life as Allah ﷻ wants. However, their former bad friends may keep bothering them and discouraging them from following the Way of Allah. They keep reminding those who repent of their sins claiming that Allah is not going to forgive them. Moreover, some “good” Muslims, instead of welcoming them sincerely, may look down on them as they see them as unequal and unqualified for a change. We should understand that sin and forgiveness is something between the sinner and Allah alone. A person sinned against Allah and Allah promises them forgiveness when they turn to Him in repentance. So we have no right to interfere in this relation at all.
Finding Faults in Others
The Prophet ﷺ taught us very clearly not to search for faults in others. Fault-finding may result in making sinners worse. Mu’awiyah said: I heard the Prophet say: “Indeed if you searched for people’s faults pryingly, you would corrupt them.” Moreover, trying to find faults in others will prompt them to find flaws in you or, even worse, slander you. Abu Birzah al-Aslami narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said: “O people who believe by their tongues whereas Faith does not touch their hearts! Do not backbite Muslims and do not look for their faults. Whoever finds faults in others, Allah will find faults in them and expose them even in their home!”
Thinking badly of people usually leads to finding faults in them. That is why Allah said: “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.” (Quran 49:12).
People’s Inner Intentions
We should avoid judging people’s inner intentions, for it is only Allah who knows them. Judging people by the way they look is most probably deceiving. The Prophet ﷺ set the rule for us as he says: “I have not been ordered [by Allah] to search into the hearts of the people or cut open their bellies.” On a battlefield, it happened that Usamah ibn Zayd killed a man though he had declared his Shahadah, claiming that the man had announced it out of fear! Immediately the Prophet ﷺ reproached him, “Did you tear his heart to find out whether it professed that or not?”
Things You Know Nothing About
Many people tend to act ‘Miss Know-It-All’ or ‘Mr. Know-It All.’ The Quran teaches: “Do not follow whatever you have no knowledge about; indeed, hearing, sight, and heart—all of these you will be questioned about” (Quran 17:36). Moreover, Mu’ath ibn Jabal reported the Prophet ﷺ as saying: “You are safe as long as you are silent. Yet when you talk, it will be counted for you or against you.”
Involving yourself in impractical questions that do not lead to anything good to be applied in your life is a waste of time and a sign of Islam’s incomplete practice. It is said that half of knowledge is the right question. The Prophet ﷺ used to direct his companions to ask the right questions of concern. One day a man came to the Prophet ﷺ asking: “When will be the Day of Judgment?” Eloquently enough, the Prophet ﷺ responded: “What did you prepare for it?”
Matters That, If Revealed, May Hurt You
Avoid asking questions, the answer of which may bother you. Allah ﷻ said: “O believers, do not ask [questions] about things that once they are revealed to you will cause you trouble” (Quran 5:101). Imam al-Bukhari reported that the Prophet ﷺ addressed his companions, inviting them to ask questions. Abdullah ibn Huzafah As-Sahmi rose and asked: “O Prophet of Allah, who is my father? ‘Your father is Huzafah.’ When he returned to his mother, she reproached him very severely, saying: “I have never seen a man more undutiful to his mother than you are to me. We lived in the pre-Islamic era. What if I committed sins like people back then used to do? Would you like to expose me in public?”
Indeed, Allah is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise!