This is a true story. A man named Stephen was enjoying a quiet subway ride when a father boarded, along with his kids. Soon after, the kids began to misbehave – yelling, grabbing newspapers out of people’s hands, throwing things, etc. But the father did nothing. This continued for sometime. Finally, Stephen had enough, and told the father to control his kids. The father looked up, apologized, and gently said, “Their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”
Of its many lessons, the story tells us to do our best to give people the benefit of the doubt. Oftentimes, a person may have limited information and incorrectly form a negative opinion about another individual. Hazrat Masih Maud (as) explains, “Things go wrong when man starts making erroneous conjectures and is suspicious. Positive thinking enables him to move onwards. It is difficult to reach the destination if he stumbles at the very first stage. Thinking ill of others is a terrible trait and it deprives man of many virtues. So much so that man begins to think ill of God … We do not know what is hidden in hearts and it is sinful to make conjectures in this regard. Man considers another to be evil and then becomes worse than him…It is not good to hastily think ill of others. Imagining that one knows what is in hearts is a highly sensitive matter and this caused ruination of many a nation for they thought ill of prophets of God and their families” (Tafseer Hazrat Masih Maud, Vol. 4, p. 218).
In this regard, a man once accused Prophet Muhammad (saw) of unjustly distributing some wealth (God forbid). Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) face became visibly red and he reprimanded the man, saying, “By Allah! You will not find a man after me who is more just than me!” (Nisai). Similarly, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) recalled an incident where some Jamaat members had the audacity to accuse Hazrat Masih Maud (as) of spending langar khana funds for his own personal use. In fact, Hazrat Masih Maud (as) even spent money people gave him as offerings on the langar khana (FS 5/22/2015).
At times, thinking well of others also translates into thinking lesser of oneself. For example, Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Auf (ra) was one of the Ashra Mubashra – the 10 blessed companions whom Prophet Muhammad (saw) informed that they had been promised Jannah (Abu Daud); he was one of six people appointed for the electoral college of the third khalifa (Bukhari); and he was one of the first eight converts to Islam (Ibn Ishaq). Despite this status, when a meal was once brought to him while he was fasting, Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Auf (ra) remarked, “Mus`ab bin Umar was martyred, and he was better than I, yet he was shrouded in a sheet so that if his head was covered, his feet became naked, and if his feet were covered, his head became naked … Hamza was martyred and he was better than I. Then worldly wealth was bestowed upon us and we were given thereof too much. We are afraid that the reward of our deeds have been given to us in this life.” Upon saying these words, Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Auf (ra) became overwhelmed and wept so much that he could not eat his food (Bukhari).
Thus, a spiritually fit Muslim always does their best to think well of others and does as Prophet Muhammad (saw) instructed:
“Do not look for the fault of others” (Bukhari).
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