Surah Al Hujurat | Ethics and Moral Etiquettes

Hujurat means chambers, room or compartment. Al-Hujurat (الحجرات‎,  The Chambers) is the 49th chapter of the Quran. The surah contains etiquettes and norms and social valves to be observed in the Muslim community. It also includes the proper conduct towards the Prophet, Muhammad. Its major focus is a ruling against acting on the news without verification, defamation, suspicion and backbiting. It discusses a call for peace and reconciliation and proper conduct towards Allah and Prophet.

Etiquettes of meeting Holy Prophet

surah hujurat 1-5
49:1-5
  • At the start of the ayah (hujurat:1), Allah order believers that “do not proceed ahead of Allah and His Messengerﷺ.” The phrase بَینَ الیَدَین literally, means “between the two hands”, in Arabic its usage is as “in front of or ahead of”. It means: do not go ahead of or in front of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ. The Qur’an does not clear specific matters preceding Him. 
  • The second etiquette while in the presence of the Holy Prophet ﷺ is to not raising voices above the voice of the Holy Prophet ﷺ(hujurat:2). Moreover, the verse teaches not to speak aloud to Him as one speaks aloud to another in general discussions. Allah warns here that neglecting this etiquette may cause the nullification of one’s good deeds. Because speaking like this is disrespect to the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
  • The third etiquette for dealing with the Holy Prophet ﷺ is that when he is at home, one should not call him from outside. And Particularly calling him by his name is an unmannered attitude.
  • Next verse Allah teaches believers that people must wait outside until the Holy Prophet ﷺ emerges to talk to them. Also, the speakers should wait until a suitable situation or sign from the Holy Prophet ﷺ to speak comes.

These etiquettes are not only applicable for dealing the Holy Prophet ﷺ directly as now He is not amongst us. For now, these rules are also followed. We have to respect Him, obey him in each and every matter. One should take care not to proceed in actions and deeds to teachings of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. We have to show respect in words and actions and speak gently in Holy places.

These rulings are also applicable to teachers and scholars of Islam.

Surah Hujurat | Social Ettiquetes

surah hujurat 6

Investigate

This verse has ruled that if mischief, sinner, the wicked or corrupt person complains about any person or nation, or charge them of any wrong-doing, it is unlawful to accept the sole information or evidence. One must not accept such information or act upon it unless it is investigated by other sources and confirmed.

surah hujurat 9
49:9
surah hujurat 10
49:10

Then make peace

These verses 9 and 10 of surah Hujurat focus on the importance of peace. It’s ruled upon a fight between two Muslim persons or parties. Umm Kulthum bint `Uqba narrated from Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying:

He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things is not a liar.

Sahih al-Bukhari 2692

There are three cases of fight when Muslims are involved.

  1. When both parties are subjects of a Muslim government.
  2. Neither of the parties is the subject of a Muslim government;
  3. one party is the subject of a Muslim government, but not the other.

Making a settlement between two Muslims brothers is the duty of every Muslim. One has to strive for peace and love in society. When two Muslims fight it is compulsory for common Muslims to bring about an understanding between their two Muslim brothers. If they do not cease fighting by negotiations, then it is imperative for the Muslim ruler to take measures against them such as to put them in prison and take weapons in custody. The laws of retaliation, retribution and blood-wit will apply. And if they come in peace then the government must deal with fairness and justice.

Whenever two Muslims brothers are not peaceful, then others have a duty to create understanding between them. It’s important to bring peace to society and the purify of hearts.

And act justly

Whenever there is a dispute between Muslim parties or individuals, other Muslims brothers must try for settlement. And act justly among both parties as Allah loves those who act justly.

surah hujurat 11

This verse of surah hujurat prohibits three social evils:

  1. Ridiculing one another.
  2. Finding fault with one another.
  3. And calling one another with nicknames.

(Do) not ridicule

Ridiculation is laughing at other people in an unkind way. It is insulting and hurting other people. According to Qurtubi, mocking, laughing or scoffing does not only indicate mimicking with the tongue, but it also implies ridiculing someone with others gestures. It includes pointed references to someone, laughing at words, works, appearance, or dress. Deriving attention of people to some of his defects, to make them laugh. It includes all acts to make another person source of laughing in an insulting way.

Allah Almighty forbids all such acts in the Holy Quran. He called it a sin and evil act and reminded men and women to refrain from it. because it is very likely that the person who is mocked may be better than the mocking person. Abu Hurairah narrated that the Holy Prophet ﷺ said:

Surely, Allah does not look at your Faces and your wealth; He looks at your hearts and your works.

Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2564

(Do) not insult

The next thing prohibited in the verse is “lamz” which means to find fault with someone or to rebuke him. The verse says, “Do not find fault with your selves, which actually means “Do not find fault with one another. It is similar to a phrase in another place “And do not kill yourselves”[ 4:29], which pretend to say “do not kill one another”. This expression indicates that not find fault with yourselves means when one person finds fault with others, others will find fault with him as no one is perfect. This is like finding fault in oneself. As if someone seeks out the shortcomings of some other person, the latter will do the same in return.

Satisfaction, well-being and happiness of man lie in examining his own faults and finding ways to correct them. This approach to life will give him no time to find fault with others. It is not only bad for our own self but also for the victim person, as it is like playing with someone’s respect and honour, It is dishonouring the person in others eyes.

(Do) not call eachother

The third thing that is prohibited in the verse is calling one another with nicknames that are unpleasant to them, for example, calling a person lame, hands cropped, blind, one-eyed, ignorant or pointing to some other shortcomings. Islam also forbids to call a person unfair names such as a thief, a drunkard or any such name, who has committed a sin of which he has repented. There are some nicknames where the intention is not to insult or defame others, but rather to complete identification, it is permitted. It is Sunnah to call people by Good Titles.

surah hujurat 12

Verse 12 of surah Hujurat discuses three social evils and sins

  1. ظن Zann, It is an unfounded suspicion.
  2. تَجَسُّس tajassus, spying, looking secretly into the faults of others.
  3. and غِیبَہ ghibah that is backbiting, speaking in of a person behind his back which if he heard would hurt or injure his feelings.

Avoid many suspicions

The Quran says “Abstain from many of the suspicions, some suspicions are sin”. This shows that not all types of suspicion are sins. So, important to discover which type is a sin

Zann is an “accusation”, which is a charge of wrongdoing, as with guilt, crime, offence or blame without any strong evidence. According to scholars, Zann is divisible into four categories.

  1. Prohibited. Distrust of Allah or doubting His any of quality and power is prohibited. Hazrat Mohammad (PBUH) guide us as: “None of you should die without having favourable thoughts about Allah. Allah says for His servants: “I treat my servants the way they think about me.” So ill thoughts and doubts about Allah are prohibited. It will definitely harm us in the World and hereafter also.
  2. Imperative: In this context, Zann by the common consent of scholars stands for thinking ill of a Muslim without any concrete proof. However, if there is a matter in which it is necessary to take a decision in either way, and there is no absolute and clear-cut proof based on the Qur’an and Sunnah for that particular situation, it is imperative to act on the strength of the best possible assessment,
  3. Recommended or desirable. It includes making a decision on the best possible assessment so that the final decision will be exact or near-exact. For example when the direction of qiblah is not known, nor is there a person that can show one the direction of the qiblah, it is compulsory for a person to determine it on the basis of “best possible assessment”. Moreover, If a person has destroyed a valuable thing of someone else, and compensation has been imposed on him, he is liable to pay the value on the basis of ‘best possible assessment. And desirable Zann refers to having favourable thoughts about every Muslim
  4. And permissible: It includes zanns that are allowed to believe and act according to it. For example, a person performing prayers and in the case of doubt that he performed three or four rakahs, thinking that he has certainly performed three Rakat, and thus completes the fourth one, is permissive. He is also allowed to go for the best assessment or certainty.

(do) not spy

The second social evil in verse 12 of the surah Hujurat is تَجَسُّس tajassus, spying or “prying secretly into the faults of others”. It also includes looking into the affairs of others which they want to or have kept hidden. Holy Prophet(PBUH) said about spying that “do not spy on one another; do not look for other’s faults”.

Searching for other faults is a social evil that stops the growth of a positive society. It brings hatred and derives people to sins and mischief. In some cases spying to protect innocent and peaceful people, and search for people who are a danger to society is acceptable.

surah hujurat

(do) not backbite one another

The third social evil is ghibah or backbiting. It is speaking ill of a person behind his back which if he heard would hurt or injure his feelings, even it is the truth. As if words about others back are untruth about them, then it will slander or false accusation. Allah the Almighty compare backbiting with eating the flesh of own brother, as says in Quran:

Does one of you like that he eats the flesh of his dead brother.

hujurat:12

Backbiting is severely prohibited in Islam. It brings distress and hatred to society. It destroys the self-respect and honour of the victim person Speaking ill of someone in his absence is an unkind, mean and malicious act, it is not an act of bravery. Even the listener is also equally involved in this sin, he has the same charges as a backbiter has. It is not only a violation of the Divine right but also a violation of human rights. backbiting is a sin which Allah will never forgive unless the sinner seeks the forgiveness of the injured party.

It is necessary for Muslims to defend their brothers when people speak ill of him in their absence. If It is not possible, then they should at least abstain from listening to it. Specific circumstances and situation where backbiting is allowed are:

  1. Complaining against a tyrant before a person who can relieve him from injustice.
  2. Complaining about the wife and children to the father and husband who can put them right.
  3. In order to obtain a fatwa.
  4. Warning the Muslims of the mischief of a mischief-monger or trader so that they may be protected.
  5. Consulting another person in any matter, it is obligatory for him to discuss all aspects.
  6. If a person commits sins openly, then it is not prohibited to make mention of his bad deeds. However, it is allowed only for rectification not for wasting time or harming others.

But the obligatory condition for following these exceptions is that speaking ill of someone is not with the intention of insulting or dishonour him, but only to fulfil a genuine need.