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Misunderstanding is a common phenomenon in social life. People tend to believe everything that is reported to them without scrutiny. And it is a common experience for reporters always to report things selectively or in a partial manner. It is selective reporting or partial reporting that creates problems. Sometimes people fall into grave misunderstanding and the result is disastrous. Chapter Al- Hujurat (The Apartments) of the Qur’an deals with this problem. It gives a clear direction in this regard. The translation of the relevant Qur’anic verse is as follows: Believers, if an evil-doer brings you news, ascertain the correctness of the report fully, lest you unwittingly harm others, and then regret what you have done. (49:6)

There is a background to this Qur’anic verse. When the Prophet of Islam established a state in Arabia making Madina its capital, he sent one of his companions, Walid ibn Uqba, as a collector, to a tribe called the Banu al-Mustaliq. When Walid reached the tribal area, he saw that a crowd had gathered outside the town. He feared, due to some preoccupation, that the tribe wanted to kill him or beat him. After seeing this, Walid returned to Madina and told the Prophet that the Banu al-Mustaliq had rebelled and they must therefore send an army against them. Then the chief of that tribe, Haris ibn Zarar, himself came to Madina. He said that they had gathered on the outskirts of their town only to receive the collector, Walid ibn Uqba, but that without meeting them, he had returned to Madina. The above verse was revealed in the Qur’an after this incident. By taking this example, the Qur’an gives the general direction that, before forming an opinion, we should scrutinize any news we receive. That is, before proper scrutiny, we should not accept its veracity.

Before forming an opinion, we should scrutinize any news we receive. The principle to be followed is that if you are going to form a positive opinion, then scrutiny is not necessary. You can believe that Mr. So and So is a very good person but, when you are going to form a bad or negative opinion about anyone, then you have to investigate the matter before forming your opinion. In such a situation, you have only two options: either to remain silent or, if you want to form an opinion, then you have to go into the matter in depth. Only then do you have the right to form a negative opinion.

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