Real Talk will be a weekly blog where I will reflect on issues pertinent to us as MusIims. I hope to address “real” world problems from an Islamic perspective. If you have any suggestions as to what you would like covered, please holla (in a halal way) salam!
This week, I will talk about making assumptions. Often, making assumptions is encouraged and we may try to extrapolate that to the rest of our lives. For example, engineers are taught that making a valid assumption is a great thing.
Notice, however, the word valid. You cannot make any assumption you please out of your own volition. There must be a basis for it. Even then, the assumption you make is meant to bring about good by either simplifying a problem or facilitating a solution.
One of our biggest mistakes is assuming the worst of one another. We witness one small, random action and allow our minds to warp it into something entirely different. We develop an entire story line and come to conclusions, all based off of one small data point.
Our minds and imaginations are powerful. We have been blessed with greater cognitive ability than any other animal. We have the choice to use these powers for good or for evil, take it as a gift or a curse. If I knew any more superhero clichés I’d throw them in, but I don’t.
The Qur’an and hadith warn us against forming false assumptions. When speaking about the non-believers from the Quraish and their false deities, Allah says, “…They follow not except assumption and what [their] souls desire, and there has already come to them from their Lord guidance” (53:23). Although Allah is referring to non-believers, this concept can be readily applied to our lives.
In Surah Hujurat, Allah reminds us of the repercussions of making such assumptions. “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” (49:12). Allah reminds us that not only is making a negative assumption a sin, but that it leads to more sin – backbiting.
Have you ever said, heard or even thought: “Dang look at that bro and sister chopping it up in a secret meeting behind Kerckhoff…” or: “Man, look at all these people chillin in the MSA office.”
These small thoughts are what start gossip fires within the MSA and other communities. Maybe that brother and sister had a meeting of sorts. Maybe they purposefully stood behind Kerckhoff in order to be in a public place.
Who knows…you don’t. That is the point. We throw around the words “Allahu ‘Alim” (God knows best) all the time, yet do we even mean or believe it? We need to seriously reflect on this.
When you see someone engaging in something questionable, do not assume the worst. Create a thousand excuses for that person. Maybe they had a bad day. Maybe they just received bad news. Maybe their favorite sports team just lost (this is currently very applicable to our community).
I am not saying ignore the action. I am just saying to make sure you have done all you can to view it positively. We have heard this advice multiple times. This is just another reminder to help keep us in check.
I pray that Allah allows me to overcome my own negative thoughts and think the best about people. Good luck. We’re all in this together.