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The Prohibition of mocking and ridiculing One Another

Allah the Exalted forbids scoffing at people, which implies humiliating and belittling them. In the Sahih, it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah said,

« الْكِبْرُ بَطَرُ الْحَقِّ وَغَمْصُ النَّاس »

(Arrogance is refusing the truth and belittling people.) And in another Version

« غَمْطُ النَّاس »

(And despising people) It is forbidden to scoff at and belittle people, for the injured party could be more honored and dearer to Allah the Exalted than those who ridicule and belittle them. This is why Allah the Exalted said,

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا يَسۡخَرۡ قَوۡمٌ۬ مِّن قَوۡمٍ عَسَىٰٓ أَن يَكُونُواْ خَيۡرً۬ا مِّنۡہُمۡ وَلَا نِسَآءٌ۬ مِّن نِّسَآءٍ عَسَىٰٓ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيۡرً۬ا مِّنۡہُنَّ‌ۖ

(O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former.) thus, stating this prohibition for men and then women. The statement of Allah the Exalted,

﴿ وَلَا تَلۡمِزُوٓاْ أَنفُسَكُمۡ

(Nor defame yourselves,) forbids defaming each other. He among men who is a slanderer, and a backbiter, is cursed and condemned as Allah states

﴿ وَيۡلٌ۬ لِّڪُلِّ هُمَزَةٍ۬ لُّمَزَةٍ

(Woe to every Humazah, Lumazah)(104:1) Hamz is defamation by action, while Lamz is by words. Allah the Exalted and Most Honored said,

﴿ هَمَّازٍ۬ مَّشَّآءِۭ بِنَمِيمٍ۬

(Hammaz (defaming), going about with slander.) (68:11) meaning, he belittles and defames people, transgressing and spreading slander among them, which is the Lamz that uses words as its tool. Allah's statement here,

﴿ وَلَا تَلۡمِزُوٓاْ أَنفُسَكُمۡ

(Nor defame yourselves,) just as He said in another Ayah,

﴿ وَلَا تَقۡتُلُوٓاْ أَنفُسَكُمۡ‌ۚ

(Nor kill yourselves) (4:29), meaning, nor kill one another. `Abdullah bin `Abbas, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Qatadah and Muqatil bin Hayyan said that the Ayah,

﴿ وَلَا تَلۡمِزُوٓاْ أَنفُسَكُمۡ

(Nor defame yourselves,) means, none of you should defame each other,' while,

﴿ وَلَا تَنَابَزُواْ بِٱلۡأَلۡقَـٰبِ‌ۖ

(nor insult one another by nicknames.) means, `you should not address people by nick names that people dislike.' Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Jabirah bin Ad-Dahhak said, "This Ayah was revealed about us, Banu Salamah;

﴿ وَلَا تَنَابَزُواْ بِٱلۡأَلۡقَـٰبِ‌ۖ

(nor insult one another by nicknames.) When the Messenger of Allah migrated to Al-Madinah, every man among us had two or three nicknames. When the Prophet called a man by one of these nicknames, people would say, `O Allah's Messenger! He hates that nickname.' Then this Ayah,

﴿ وَلَا تَنَابَزُواْ بِٱلۡأَلۡقَـٰبِ‌ۖ

(nor insult one another by nicknames.) was revealed.'' Abu Dawud also collected this Hadith. The statement of Allah the Exalted and Most Honored,

﴿ بِئۡسَ ٱلِٱسۡمُ ٱلۡفُسُوقُ بَعۡدَ ٱلۡإِيمَـٰنِ‌ۚ

(Evil is the name of wickedness after faith), means, the names and descriptions of wickedness are evil; meaning, `to use the nicknames that were used by the people of Jahiliyyah, after you embraced Islam and understood it,'

﴿ وَمَن لَّمۡ يَتُبۡ

(And whosoever does not repent,) means, from this sin,

﴿ فَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلظَّـٰلِمُونَ

(then such are indeed wrongdoers.)

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱجۡتَنِبُواْ كَثِيرً۬ا مِّنَ ٱلظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعۡضَ ٱلظَّنِّ إِثۡمٌ۬‌ۖ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُواْ وَلَا يَغۡتَب بَّعۡضُكُم بَعۡضًا‌ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُڪُمۡ أَن يَأۡڪُلَ لَحۡمَ أَخِيهِ مَيۡتً۬ا فَكَرِهۡتُمُوهُ‌ۚ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬

(12. O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicion is sin. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother You would hate it. And have Taqwa of Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful.)

The Prohibition of Unfounded Suspicion

Allah the Exalted forbids His faithful servants from being suspicious, which includes having doubts and suspicions about the conduct of one's family, relatives and other people in general. Therefore, Muslims are to avoid suspicion without foundation. The Leader of the faithful `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, "Never think ill of the word that comes out of your believing brother's mouth, as long as you can find a good excuse for it.'' Malik recorded that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that Allah's Messenger said,

« إِيَّاكُمْ وَالظَّنَّ فَإِنَّ الظَّنَّ أَكْذَبُ الْحَدِيثِ، وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا تَحَسَّسُوا، وَلَا تَنَافَسُوا وَلَا تَحَاسَدُوا، وَلَا تَبَاغَضُوا وَلَا تَدَابَرُوا، وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللهِ إِخْوَانًا »

(Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales; do not spy on one another; do not look for other's faults; do not be jealous of one another; do not envy one another; do not hate one another; and do not desert (shun) one another. And O Allah's servants! Be brothers!) The Two Sahihs and Abu Dawud recorded this Hadith. Anas said that the Messenger of Allah said,

« لَا تَقَاطَعُوا وَلَا تَدَابَرُوا وَلَا تَبَاغَضُوا وَلَا تَحَاسَدُوا، وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللهِ إِخْوَانًا، وَلَا يَحِلُّ لِمُسْلِمٍ أَنْ يَهْجُرَ أَخَاهُ فَوْقَ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّام »

(Do not shun each other; do not ignore one another; do not hate one another, and do not envy one another, and be brothers, O servants of Allah. No Muslim is allowed to shun his brother for more than three days.) Muslim and At-Tirmidhi collected this Hadith, who considered it Sahih. Allah said,

﴿ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُواْ

(And spy not), on each other. Tajassus, usually harbors ill intentions, and the spy is called a Jasus. As for Tahassus (inquiring) it is usually done for a good reason. Allah the Exalted and Most Honored said that Prophet Ya`qub said,

﴿ يَـٰبَنِىَّ ٱذۡهَبُواْ فَتَحَسَّسُواْ مِن يُوسُفَ وَأَخِيهِ وَلَا تَاْيۡـَٔسُواْ مِن رَّوۡحِ ٱللَّهِ‌ۖ

("O my sons! Go you and inquire (Tahassasu) about Yusuf and his brother, and never give up hope of Allah's mercy.'') (12:87) Both of these terms, `Tajassus' and `Tahassus' could have evil connotations. In the Sahih it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah said,

« لَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا تَحَسَّسُوا، وَلَا تَبَاغَضُوا وَلَا تَدَابَرُوا، وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللهِ إِخْوَانًا »

(Neither commit Tajassus nor Tahassus nor hate each other nor commit Tadabur. And be brothers, O servants of Allah.) Al-Awza`i said, "Tajassus means, to search for something, while Tahassus means, listening to people when they are talking without their permission, or eavesdropping at their doors. Tadabur refers to shunning each other. '' Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this statement. Allah the Exalted said about backbiting;

﴿ وَلَا يَغۡتَب بَّعۡضُكُم بَعۡضًا‌ۚ

(neither backbite one another), thus prohibiting it, which was explained in a Hadith collected by Abu Dawud that Abu Hurayrah said, "It was asked, `O Allah's Messenger! What is backbiting' He said,

« ذِكْرُكَ أَخَاكَ بِمَا يَكْرَه »

(Mentioning about your brother in a manner that he dislikes.) He was asked, `What if my brother was as I mentioned' He said,

« إِنْ كَانَ فِيهِ مَا تَقُولُ فَقَدِ اغْتَبْتَهُ، وَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ فِيهِ مَا تَقُولُ فَقَدْ بَهَتَّه »

(If he was as you mentioned, you will have committed backbiting. But if he was not as you say about him, you will have falsely accused him.)'' At-Tirmidhi collected this Hadith and said "Hasan Sahih.'' Backbiting was sternly warned against, and this is why Allah the Exalted and Most Blessed compared it to eating the flesh of a dead human being,

﴿ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُڪُمۡ أَن يَأۡڪُلَ لَحۡمَ أَخِيهِ مَيۡتً۬ا فَكَرِهۡتُمُوهُ‌ۚ

(Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother You would hate it.) Just as you hate eating the flesh of a dead person, on account of your nature; so hate backbiting, on account of your religion. The latter carries a punishment that is worse than the former. This Ayah seeks to discourage people from backbiting and warns against it. The Prophet used these words to discourage taking back a gift that one gives to someone,

« كَالْكَلْبِ يَقِيءُ ثُمَّ يَرْجِعُ فِي قَيْئِه »

(He is just like the dog that eats its vomit.) after saying,

« لَيْسَ لَنَا مَثَلُ السَّوْء »

(Ours is not an evil parable.) Using various chains of narration, the Sahihs and Musnads record that the Prophet said during the Farewell Hajj:

« إِنَّ دِمَاءَكُمْ وَأَمْوَالَكُمْ وَأَعْرَاضَكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ حَرَامٌ كَحُرْمَةِ يَوْمِكُمْ هذَا، فِي شَهْرِكُمْ هذَا، فِي بَلَدِكُمْ هذَا »

(Verily, your blood, wealth and honor are as sacred among you as the sanctity of this day of yours, in this month of yours, in this town of yours.) Abu Dawud recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

« كُلُّ الْمُسْلِمِ عَلَى الْمُسْلِمِ حَرَامٌ مَالُهُ وَعِرْضُهُ وَدَمُهُ، حَسْبُ امْرِىءٍ مِنَ الشَّرِّ أَنْ يَحْقِرَ أَخَاهُ الْمُسْلِم »

(All of the Muslim is sacred to the Muslim, his wealth, honor and his blood. It is evil enough for someone to belittle his Muslim brother.) At-Tirmidhi collected this Hadith and said "Hasan Gharib.'' Al-Hafiz Abu Ya`la recorded that a cousin of Abu Hurayrah said, "Ma`iz came to the Messenger of Allah and said, `O Allah's Messenger! I have committed adultery,' and the Messenger turned away from him until Ma`iz repeated his statement four times. The fifth time, the Prophet asked him,

« زَنَيْتَ؟ »

(Have you committed adultery؟) Ma’iz said, Yes. The Prophet asked,

« وَتَدْرِي مَا الزِّنَا؟ »

(Do you know what adultery means) Ma`iz said, `Yes. I have illegally done with her what a husband legally does with his wife.' The Prophet said,

« مَا تُرِيدُ إِلَى هذَا الْقَوْلِ؟ »

(What do you seek to accomplish by this statement) Ma`iz said, `I intend that you purify me.' The Prophet asked,

« أَدْخَلْتَ ذلِكَ مِنْكَ فِي ذلِكَ مِنْهَا كَمَا يَغِيبُ الْمِيلُ فِي الْمُكْحُلَةِ وَالرِّشَا فِي الْبِئْرِ؟ »

(Have you gone into her just as the stick goes into the kohl container and the rope goes into the well) Ma`iz said, `Yes, O Allah's Messenger!' The Prophet commanded that Ma`iz be stoned to death and his order was carried out. The Prophet heard two men saying to one another, `Have you not seen the man who had Allah cover his secret, but his heart could not let him rest until he was stoned to death, just as the dog is stoned' The Prophet continued on and when he passed by the corpse of a donkey, he asked,

« أَيْنَ فُلَانٌ وَفُلَانٌ؟ انْزِلَا فَكُلَا مِنْ جِيفَةِ هذَا الْحِمَار »

(Where are so-and-so Dismount and eat from this donkey.) They said, `May Allah forgive you, O Allah's Messenger! Would anyone eat this meat' The Prophet said;

« فَمَا نِلْتُمَا مِنْ أَخِيكُمَا آنِفًا أَشَدُّ أَكْلًا مِنْهُ، وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ إِنَّهُ الْانَ لَفِي أَنْهَارِ الْجَنَّةِ يَنْغَمِسُ فِيهَا »

(The backbiting you committed against your brother is worse as a meal than this meal. By He in Whose Hand is my soul! He is now swimming in the rivers of Paradise.)'' This Hadith has an authentic chain of narration. Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir bin `Abdullah said, "We were with the Messenger of Allah when a rotten odor was carried by the wind. The Messenger of Allah said,

« أَتَدْرُونَ مَا هذِهِ الرِّيحُ؟ هَذِهِ رِيحُ الَّذِينَ يَغْتَابُونَ النَّاس »

(Do you know what this odor is It is the odor of those who backbite people.)''

Accepted Repentance from Backbiting and Slander

Allah the Exalted and Most Honored said,

﴿ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ‌ۚ

(And have Taqwa of Allah), that is, regarding what He has commanded you and forbidden for you. Fear Him and beware of Him,

﴿ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬

(Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful.) He forgives those who repent to Him, is merciful with those who go back to Him and trust in Him. The majority of scholars have stated that repentance for committing the sin of backbiting is that one refrains from backbiting intending not to repeat it again. There is a difference of opinion if whether feeling remorse is required in this case, and also if one should apologize to those who he has backbitten. Some scholars stated that it is not necessary for one to ask those whom he has backbitten to forgive him, because if they knew what was said about them, they could be hurt more than if they were not told about it. It is better, they said, that one should praise those whom he has backbitten in audiences in which he has committed the act. It is also better if one defends the injured party against any further backbiting, as much as one can, as recompense for his earlier backbiting.

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقۡنَـٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ۬ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ شُعُوبً۬ا وَقَبَآٮِٕلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓاْ‌ۚ إِنَّ أَڪۡرَمَكُمۡ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتۡقَٮٰكُمۡ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ۬

(13. O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.)

All of Mankind are the Children of `Adam and Hawwa'

Allah the Exalted declares to mankind that He has created them all from a single person, `Adam, and from that person He created his mate, Hawwa'. From their offspring He made nations, comprised of tribe, which include subtribes of all sizes. It was also said that `nations refers to non-Arabs, while `tribes refers to Arabs. Various statements about this were collected in an individual introduction from the book, Al-Inbah, by Abu `Amr Ibn `Abdul-Barr, and from the book, Al-Qasad wal-Amam fi Ma`rifah Ansab Al-Arab wal-`Ajam. Therefore, all people are the descendants of `Adam and Hawwa' and share this honor equally. The only difference between them is in the religion that revolves around their obedience to Allah the Exalted and their following of His Messenger . After He forbade backbiting and belittling other people, alerting mankind that they are all equal in their humanity. Allah said,

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقۡنَـٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ۬ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ شُعُوبً۬ا وَقَبَآٮِٕلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓاْ‌ۚ

(O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another.) so that they get to know each other by their nation or tribe. Mujahid said that Allah's statement,

﴿ لِتَعَارَفُوٓاْ‌ۚ

(that you may know one another.) refers to one's saying, "So-and-so the son of so-and-so, from the tribe of so-and-so.'' Sufyan Ath-Thawri said, "The Himyar (who resided in Yemen) dealt with each other according to their provinces, while the Arabs in the Hijaz (Western Arabia) dealt with each other according to their tribes.''

Honor is earned through Taqwa of Allah

Allah the Exalted said,

﴿ إِنَّ أَڪۡرَمَكُمۡ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتۡقَٮٰكُمۡ‌ۚ

(Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa.) meaning, `you earn honor with Allah the Exalted on account of Taqwa, not family lineage.' There are many Hadiths from the Prophet that support this meaning. Al-Bukhari narrated that Abu Hurayrah said, "Some people asked the Prophet , `Who is the most honorable among people' He replied,

« أَكْرَمُهُمْ عِنْدَ اللهِ أَتْقَاهُم »

(The most honorable among them with Allah is the one who has the most Taqwa.) They said, `We did not ask you about this.' He said,

« فَأَكْرَمُ النَّاسِ يُوسُفُ نَبِيُّ اللهِ، ابْنُ نَبِيِّ اللهِ، ابْنِ نَبِيِّ اللهِ ابْنِ خَلِيلِ الله »

(Then the most honorable person is Yusuf, Allah's Prophet, the son of Allah's Prophet, the son of Allah's Prophet, the son of Allah's Khalil.) They said, `We did not ask you about this.' He said,

« فَعَنْ مَعَادِنِ الْعَرَبِ تَسْأَلُونِّي؟ »

(Then you want to ask me about the Arab lineage) They said, `Yes.' He said,

« فَخِيَارُكُمْ فِي الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ خِيَارُكُمْ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ إِذَا فَقُهُوا »

(Those among you who were best in Jahiliyyah, are the best among you in Islam, if they attain religious understanding.)'' Al-Bukhari collected this Hadith in several places of his Sahih, An-Nasa'i did as well in the Tafsir section of his Sunan. Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

« إِنَّ اللهَ لَا يَنْظُرُ إِلَى صُوَرِكُمْ وَأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَلكِنْ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ وَأَعْمَالِكُم »

(Verily, Allah does not look at your shapes or wealth, but he looks at your hearts and actions.) Ibn Majah also collected this Hadith. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Abdullah bin `Umar said, "On the day Makkah was conquered, the Messenger of Allah performed Tawaf around the Ka`bah while riding his camel, Al-Qaswa', and was touching the corners with a stick he had in his hand. He did not find a place in the Masjid where his camel could sit and had to dismount on men's hands. He led his camel to the bottom of the valley, where he had her sit down. The Messenger of Allah later gave a speech while riding Al-Qaswa' and said, after thanking Allah the Exalted and praising Him as He should be praised,

« يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ اللهَ تَعَالَى قَدْ أَذْهَبَ عَنْكُمْ عُبِّيَّةَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ وَتَعَظُّمَهَا بِآبَائِهَا، فَالنَّاسُ رَجُلَانِ: رَجُلٌ بَرٌّ تَقِيٌّ كَرِيمٌ عَلَى اللهِ تَعَالَى، وَرَجُلٌ فَاجِرٌ شَقِيٌّ هَيِّنٌ عَلَى اللهِ تَعَالَى، إِنَّ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَقُولُ:
﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقۡنَـٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ۬ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ شُعُوبً۬ا وَقَبَآٮِٕلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓاْ‌ۚ إِنَّ أَڪۡرَمَكُمۡ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتۡقَٮٰكُمۡ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ۬

(O people! Allah the Exalted has removed from you the slogans of Jahiliyyah and its tradition of honoring forefathers. Men are of two types, a man who is righteous, fearful of Allah and honorable to Allah, or a man who is vicious, miserable and little to Allah the Exalted. Verily, Allah the Exalted and Most Honored said, (O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.)) The Prophet said,

« أَقُولُ قَوْلِي هذَا وَأَسْتَغْفِرُ اللهَ لِي وَلَكُم »

(I say this and invoke Allah for forgiveness for me and for you.)'' This was recorded by `Abd bin Humayd. Allah the Exalted said,

﴿ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ۬

(Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.) means, `He is All-Knowing of you and All-Aware of all of your affairs.' Allah guides whom He wills, misguides whom He wills, grants mercy to whom He wills, torments whom He wills, elevates whom He wills above whom He wills. He is the All-Wise, the All-Knowing, the All-Aware in all this. Several scholars relied on this honorable Ayah and the honorable Hadiths we mentioned as evidence that compatibility in marriage is not a condition of marriage contracts. They said that the only condition required in this regard is the adherence to the religion, as in the statement of Allah, the Exalted,

﴿ إِنَّ أَڪۡرَمَكُمۡ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتۡقَٮٰكُمۡ‌ۚ

(Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is the one with the most Taqwa. )

﴿ قَالَتِ ٱلۡأَعۡرَابُ ءَامَنَّا‌ۖ قُل لَّمۡ تُؤۡمِنُواْ وَلَـٰكِن قُولُوٓاْ أَسۡلَمۡنَا وَلَمَّا يَدۡخُلِ ٱلۡإِيمَـٰنُ فِى قُلُوبِكُمۡ‌ۖ وَإِن تُطِيعُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥ لَا يَلِتۡكُم مِّنۡ أَعۡمَـٰلِكُمۡ شَيۡـًٔا‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ إِنَّمَا ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ بِٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦ ثُمَّ لَمۡ يَرۡتَابُواْ وَجَـٰهَدُواْ بِأَمۡوَٲلِهِمۡ وَأَنفُسِهِمۡ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلصَّـٰدِقُونَ قُلۡ أَتُعَلِّمُونَ ٱللَّهَ بِدِينِڪُمۡ وَٱللَّهُ يَعۡلَمُ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۚ وَٱللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عَلِيمٌ۬ يَمُنُّونَ عَلَيۡكَ أَنۡ أَسۡلَمُواْ‌ۖ قُل لَّا تَمُنُّواْ عَلَىَّ إِسۡلَـٰمَكُم‌ۖ بَلِ ٱللَّهُ يَمُنُّ عَلَيۡكُمۡ أَنۡ هَدَٮٰكُمۡ لِلۡإِيمَـٰنِ إِن كُنتُمۡ صَـٰدِقِينَ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَعۡلَمُ غَيۡبَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۚ وَٱللَّهُ بَصِيرُۢ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ

(14. The Bedouins say: "We believe.'' Say: "You do not believe. But say, `We have submitted,' for Faith has not yet entered your hearts. But if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not decrease anything in reward for your deeds. Verily, Allah is Forgiving, Most Merciful.'') (15. Only those are the believers who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and afterward doubt not but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah. Those! They are the truthful.) (16. Say: "Will you inform Allah of your religion while Allah knows all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and Allah is All-Aware of everything.'') (17. They regard as a favor to you that they have embraced Islam. Say: "Do not count your Islam as a favor to me. Nay, but Allah has conferred a favor upon you that He has guided you to the Faith if you indeed are true. '') (18. "Verily, Allah knows the Unseen of the heavens and the earth. And Allah is the All-Seer of what you do.'')

There is a Difference between a Believer and a Muslim

Allah chastises the Bedouins who, when they embraced Islam, claimed for themselves the grade of faithful believers. However, Faith had not yet firmly entered their hearts,

﴿ قَالَتِ ٱلۡأَعۡرَابُ ءَامَنَّا‌ۖ قُل لَّمۡ تُؤۡمِنُواْ وَلَـٰكِن قُولُوٓاْ أَسۡلَمۡنَا وَلَمَّا يَدۡخُلِ ٱلۡإِيمَـٰنُ فِى قُلُوبِكُمۡ‌ۖ

(The Bedouins say: "We believe.'' Say: "You do not believe, but say, `We have submitted,' for Faith has not yet entered your hearts...'') This honorable Ayah provides proof that Faith is a higher grade than Islam, according to the scholars of the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah. This is also demonstrated in the Hadith of Jibril, peace be upon him, when he questioned the Prophet about Islam, then Iman then Ihsan. Thus moving the general matter to one more specific, then even more specific. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Amir bin Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas said, "The Messenger of Allah gave (something to) some men and did not give one of them. Sa`d said, `O Allah's Messenger, you gave to so-and-so and so-and-so. However, you gave nothing to so-and-so, even though he is a believer.' The Prophet said,

« أَوْ مُسْلِمٌ؟ »

(Or say, a Muslim.) Sa`d repeated his statement thrice each time the Prophet answered,

« أَوْ مُسْلِمٌ؟ »

(Or say, a Muslim.) The Prophet then said,

« إِنِّي لَأُعْطِي رِجَالًا وَأَدَعُ مَنْ هُوَ أَحَبَّ إِلَيَّ مِنْهُمْ، فَلَمْ أُعْطِهِ شَيْئًا مَخَافَةَ أَنْ يُكَبُّوا فِي النَّارِ عَلَى وُجُوهِهِم »

(I might give some men and give nothing to others, even though the latter are dearer to me than the former. I do not give them things for fear that they might be thrown on their faces in the Fire.)'' This Hadith is recorded in the Two Sahihs. Therefore, the Prophet made a distinction between the grade of believer and the grade of Muslim, indicating that Iman is a more exclusive grade than Islam. I mentioned this subject in detail supported by evidence, in the beginning of the explanation of the chapter on Iman in Sahih Al-Bukhari, all praise is due to Allah and all the favors are from Him. So this proves that the Bedouins whom the Ayah mentioned were not hypocrites, rather they were Muslims in whose hearts Faith was not yet firmly established. They claimed a higher grade for themselves than the grade that they earned, and they were taught a lesson as a consequence. This meaning agrees with the meaning given by Ibn `Abbas, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i, Qatadah and that preferred by Ibn Jarir. These Bedouins were taught a lesson,

﴿ قُل لَّمۡ تُؤۡمِنُواْ وَلَـٰكِن قُولُوٓاْ أَسۡلَمۡنَا وَلَمَّا يَدۡخُلِ ٱلۡإِيمَـٰنُ فِى قُلُوبِكُمۡ‌ۖ

(Say: "You do not believe, but say `We are Muslims,' for Faith has not yet entered your hearts...'') meaning, `you have not yet achieved the reality of Faith.' Allah the Exalted said,

﴿ وَإِن تُطِيعُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥ لَا يَلِتۡكُم مِّنۡ أَعۡمَـٰلِكُمۡ شَيۡـًٔا‌ۚ

(But if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not decrease anything in reward for your deeds...) `He will not decrease any of your rewards,' as Allah said;

﴿ وَمَآ أَلَتۡنَـٰهُم مِّنۡ عَمَلِهِم مِّن شَىۡءٍ۬‌ۚ

(We shall not decrease the reward of their deeds in anything.) (52:21) Allah said:

﴿ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ

(Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) for those who repent and return to Him. Allah's statement,

﴿ إِنَّمَا ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ

(Only those are the believers), who have perfect Faith,

﴿ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ بِٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦ ثُمَّ لَمۡ يَرۡتَابُواْ

(who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and afterward doubt not) They do not have doubts and their Faith was not shaken. Rather, their Faith remained on conviction,

﴿ وَجَـٰهَدُواْ بِأَمۡوَٲلِهِمۡ وَأَنفُسِهِمۡ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ

(but strive for the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives) meaning, they gladly gave away their life and the most precious of their wealth in obedience to Allah as a means of seeking His pleasure,

﴿ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلصَّـٰدِقُونَ

(Those! They are the truthful. ) `in their statement if they say that they are believers, unlike some Bedouins who are faithful only by words outwardly!' Allah said,

﴿ قُلۡ أَتُعَلِّمُونَ ٱللَّهَ بِدِينِڪُمۡ

(Say: "Will you inform Allah of your religion...'') `will you inform Allah of what is in your hearts,'

﴿ وَٱللَّهُ يَعۡلَمُ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۚ

(while Allah knows all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth,) Nothing in the heavens and earth, even the weight of a speck of dust, all that is bigger or smaller, ever escapes His observation,

﴿ وَٱللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عَلِيمٌ۬

(and Allah is All-Aware of everything.) Allah said,

﴿ يَمُنُّونَ عَلَيۡكَ أَنۡ أَسۡلَمُواْ‌ۖ قُل لَّا تَمُنُّواْ عَلَىَّ إِسۡلَـٰمَكُم‌ۖ

(They regard as a favor to you that they have embraced Islam. Say: "Do not count your Islam as a favor to me...'') meaning the Bedouins who considered embracing Islam, following and supporting the Messenger as a favor to him. Allah the Exalted refuted their false statement,

﴿ قُل لَّا تَمُنُّواْ عَلَىَّ إِسۡلَـٰمَكُم‌ۖ

(Say: "Do not count your Islam as a favor to me...'') `for the benefit of your Islam will only be yours, and this is a favor from Allah to you,'

﴿ بَلِ ٱللَّهُ يَمُنُّ عَلَيۡكُمۡ أَنۡ هَدَٮٰكُمۡ لِلۡإِيمَـٰنِ إِن كُنتُمۡ صَـٰدِقِينَ

(Nay, but Allah has conferred a favor upon you that He has guided you to the Faith if you indeed are true.) `in your claim that you are believers.' The Prophet said to the Ansar on the day of the battle of Hunayn,

« يَا مَعْشَرَ الْأَنْصَارِ أَلَمْ أَجِدْكُمْ ضُلَّالًا فَهَدَاكُمُ اللهُ بِي؟ وَكُنْتُمْ مُتَفَرِّقِينَ فَأَلَّفَكُمُ اللهُ بِي؟ وَكُنْتُمْ عَالَةً فَأَغْنَاكُمُ اللهُ بِي؟ »

(O Ansar! Have I not found you astray and Allah guided you through me Were you not divided and Allah united you around me Were you not poor and Allah gave you riches through me) Whenever the Prophet asked them any of these questions, they would reply, "Allah and His Messenger have most favored us.'' Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bazzar recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "Banu Asad came to the Messenger of Allah and said, `O Allah's Messenger! We embraced Islam, and before that, the Arabs fought against you, yet we did not fight against you.' The Messenger of Allah said,

« إِنَّ فِقْهَهُمْ قَلِيلٌ وَإِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ يَنْطِقُ عَلَى أَلْسِنَتِهِم »

(Verily, they understand but little and the Shaytan speaks through their words.) This Ayah was later revealed,

﴿ يَمُنُّونَ عَلَيۡكَ أَنۡ أَسۡلَمُواْ‌ۖ قُل لَّا تَمُنُّواْ عَلَىَّ إِسۡلَـٰمَكُم‌ۖ بَلِ ٱللَّهُ يَمُنُّ عَلَيۡكُمۡ أَنۡ هَدَٮٰكُمۡ لِلۡإِيمَـٰنِ إِن كُنتُمۡ صَـٰدِقِينَ

(They regard as a favor to you that they have embraced Islam. Say: "Do not count your Islam as a favor to me.'' Nay, but Allah has conferred a favor upon you that He has guided you to the Faith if you indeed are true.'')''' Then Allah reminds that He has complete knowledge of all creations and that He sees them all;

﴿ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَعۡلَمُ غَيۡبَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۚ وَٱللَّهُ بَصِيرُۢ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ

(Verily, Allah knows the Unseen of the heavens and the earth. And Allah is the All-Seer of what you do.) This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Hujurat. Verily, all praise is due to Allah, all the favors are from Him, and from Him comes the success and protection from error.