The Sin of Spying on Others

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Allah Almighty says, “And do not spy on one another,” (49:12)

Imam Al-Nawawi (rh) said: Some of the scholars said that tahassus with letter HA, ‘snooping’ means listening to other people’s conversations, and tajassus with letter JEEM, ‘spying’ means seeking out other people’s faults. it was also suggested that tajassus means looking for secrets. The word is mostly used in the sense of evil. The Jasūs ‘spy’ is the one who seeks out secrets for evil purposes and the nāmūs is the one who seeks out secrets for good purposes. And it was suggested that tajassus refers to looking for information for someone else, and tahassus means looking for information for oneself. This was the view of Tha’lab. And it was said that they mean one and the same, which is seeking out information about people’s state of affairs.

Ibn Kathir, said in his Tafsir commenting upon this Ayah: “Allâh said ‘and spy not’ on each other. Tajassus, usually harbors ill intentions, and the spy is called a Jasus….In the Sahih it is recorded that the Messenger of Allâh said: “Neither commit Tajassus nor Tahassus nor hate each other nor commit Tadabur. And be brothers Oh servants of Allâh.”  Al-Awza’i said: ‘Tajassus means, to search for something, while Tahassus means listening to people when they are talking without their permission, or eavesdropping at their doors. Tadabur refers to shunning each other.’ Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this statement.[Tafsîr Ibn Kathîr, Vol. 9, pp. 201 / 202]

Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Beware of suspicion. Suspicion is the falsest kind of speech. Do not spy or pry. Do not be rivals nor envy one another. Do not hate one another nor show enmity to one another. Be slaves of Allah, brothers, as you have been commanded to be. The Muslim is the brother of the Muslim. He does not wrong him nor disappoint him nor despise him. Godfearing is here,” and he pointed to his chest. “It is enough evil for a man that he should despise his Muslim brother. The blood, honour and property of every Muslim is sacred to another Muslim. Allah does not look at your bodies nor your forms, but He looks at your hearts and your actions.”

In one variant, “Do not envy one another nor hate one another nor spy nor pry nor bid against one another to raise the price and be slaves of Allah, brothers.” Continue reading

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