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Making 70 Excuses for Others in Islam – A Key Duty of Brotherhood

In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful

Hamdun al-Qassar, one of the great early Muslims, said, “If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves.” [Imam Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman, 7.522]

Imam Ghazali (Allah have mercy upon him) also quotes this in the Ihya.
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The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Overlook the slips of respected people.” [Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad; Abu Dawud; Nasa’i in al-Kubra; and others–rigorously authentic (sahih), from A’isha (Allah be pleased with her)]

The General Basis for Making Excuses

Ibn Ajiba (Allah have mercy upon him) mentions that making excuses for others returns to the Prophet’s words (peace and blessings be upon him) that, “A believer is a mirror of the believer.” [Abu Dawud, from Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him); sound (hasan)] So what you see in your brethren is a reflection of what is within you–so beware.

The way of purity and sincerity is to look at everyone–friend and foe–with the eye of sincere concern (nasiha) and mercy. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said that, “Religion is sincere concern (ad-dinu’n nasiha).” [Muslim and Nasa’i, from Tamim ad-Dari] And, “It is only the merciful who are granted mercy by the All-Merciful. Be merciful to those on earth and the Lord of the Heavens will be merciful to you.” And, “None of you believes until they wish for others as they wish for themselves.” [Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi, from Abdullah ibn Amr (Allah be pleased with him); soundly authentic (hasan sahih) according to Tirmidhi]

This is why Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Munazil (Allah have mercy upon him), of the early Muslims, said, “The believer seeks excuses for their brethren, while the hypocrite seeks out the faults of their brethren.” [Sulami, Adab al-Suhba]

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20061026/jk.jpgWhy 70 Excuses?

This is because the default assumption about all humans and their actions is that they are sound and free of error. This is considered our operating certainty.After this, if we find something that makes us doubt about them, we are not permitted to leave this operating certainty that they did not err for mere doubts or misgivings.

Allah Most High commanded us: “Believers! Leave much doubt, for most doubt is sinful.” [Qur’an, 49.12]

The doubts and misgivings about others that are sinful are those that do not have a sound basis that would be sufficient to leave our operating assumption about others that they are upright and their actions free of error.

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani

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16 Responses
  1. Abu Yusuf says:

    Salam. May Allah reward you. I have a question though – if someone is mistreating another and being very rude and disrespectful, which entails clear harm to the other’s feelings, how should the recepient of such behavior balance making excuses for the rude person with protecting himself and warding off that harm? Making excuses entails keeping a good opinion of the person, while protecting oneself essentially entails an internal labeling of him as “rude/obnoxious/etc”…

  2. jawad saeed says:

    Masha Allah. This is the first time i have finally understood what the hadith “A believer is a mirror of the believer.” means. Thank you Ustadh Faraz for sharing this beautiful reminder.

  3. blue says:

    Shukran, for sharing this article. It’s a good reminder. May Allah swt reward you with beneficial wisdom and knowledge. amin.

  4. Langston says:

    jazak’Allah khayr!

  5. The believer doesn’t think ill of others–rather, they think well of their intentions and motives.

    With this, they are also careful and cautious in dealings, so that rights are protected; disputes prevented; and relations thereby maintained.

  6. […] Hamdun al-Qassar, one of the great early Muslims,  is reported to have said, ‘If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves’. (Imam Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman, 7.522: source) […]

  7. […] call it a character flaw, when really, we can’t know. Muslims try to live by the principle of ’70 excuses’ – an ideal anyone can relate […]

  8. Ayesha says:

    love it!!! JazakAllahkhair!

  9. […] source: Making 70 Excuses for Others in Islam — A Key Duty of Brotherhood […]

  10. […] from: http://seekersguidance.org/blog/2010/02/making-70-excuses-for-others-in-islam-a-key-duty-of-brotherh… Tags: brotherhood, ukhuwwah, ukhwah LikeBe the first to like this […]

  11. […] But we see this all the time – people are in a hurry to make conclusions about others and judge them. People want to talk about applying rules when it concerns others, and the same people  want to talk about understanding their intentions when it concerns themselves. Anyone seen chatting away with the opposite gender in Muslim circles is branded as a flirt implicitly or explicitly, and at times even embarrassed by being pulled away, rushing to make a judgement and act as guardians of morality.  The same people talk of their pure intentions when they are found be-friending the same people of the opposite gender or talk of the restrained response/repel they gave to an advancing member of the opposite gender. The religion I follow, i.e., Islam, asks us to always make a default assumption of the good nature of people, always make the assumption that people are good and do no wrong, that they are innocent of any crime or bad deed (even of lying, back-biting, adultery etc ). Even in the face of actions that seemingly fly in the face of their professed good nature, we must try as much as possible to think in terms of excuses, explanations, or wrong understanding on our part about those actions, and refrain from making a judgement about their character. Metaphorically, we have been asked by the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to make 70 excuses for such actions that apparently contradict the assumption of the good nature of people, and not judge them. Shaikh Faraz Rabbani, a popular scholar from Seeker’s Guidance has a wonderful article linked below that prompted this post.(Now don’t start judging my beliefs :-)). SeekersGuidance – Making 70 Excuses for Others in Islam – A Key Duty of Brotherhood &#8…. […]

  12. ousmael says:

    mashaallah,this is a nice advice for me which i will benefit.pls send me such advice since it is a pill for socialization.

  13. a muslim says:

    Jazakum Ullahu khair. Side note about the hadith of the believer being the mirror of the believer. With a mirror you also look at it to see your faults and fix them and when you walk away from the mirror, the image of your faults don’t stay on the mirror for others that come to the mirror to see. To explain a take on the analogy is that when you go to a believer, as a believer, you should be open to their advice and their observation of your mistakes for things to correct should only be to you, not sharing your issues with others. Also with mirrors, depending on what is wrong, sometimes you can fix it in front of the mirror, sometimes you need to go and take a shower or wash your clothes before you come back and look good in front of the mirror.

  14. Michael Brewster says:

    I would not have become muslim if I made 70+ excuses for my culture my religion and the cultural constructs that were my default settings. Without the corrective nature of the principles and examples of Islam, and the admonishment to think were would I be. I have given excuse and made allowance for Muslim brothers who have stolen, disgraced and demeaned me, and I understand why. If I wanted to turn the other cheek and board the cultural slave ship once more I would have stayed christian. This system of thought may work in monocultures….but Muslims from colonialized countries, retain their oppressors pardigims of thought. You must deeply discern these cultures and the people you deal with before you make excuses for the unexcusable… They carry the disease of racism like an infectious pox. This may sound like and extreme case but where do you draw the line? Where do you say enough. Some People do not have the tool needed to escape their cultural conditioning. They oppress themselves and others and call it tradition…

    Anyway my point is that you assume no malice in other peoples actions overt or unconscious…you have no defense against them….you merely accept and give them your neck to butcher.

  15. […] al-Qassar, one of the great early Muslims, said, “If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to … Islam teaches us to make 70 excuses for our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters – so, although […]

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