Avoid suspicions (DW# 916)

Today let us start exploring another verse from Chapter 49, Sura Hujarat which discusses social relationships.
In verse 12, the Quran cautions the believers: O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion. Indeed some suspicions are sins. [Holy Quran 49:12]
A habit that can poison even a strong relationship is constant suspicion and negative interpretations about the thoughts, intentions, and motivations of the other person.
The human mind, as we may have all experienced, is a meaning-making machine. Thoughts pop in and out of our minds at a furious pace (60,000 plus a day according to some experts). And many of those thoughts can be negative.
When those thoughts involve other people with whom we are in a relationship with, they can cause havoc in the relationship. They can destroy trust and goodwill in the relationship itself while robbing us of our own peace of mind. And it can be exhausting to keep guessing motivations of another.
Spiritual masters explain that these suspicions and assumptions in the mind are planted by the Shaytān who does not wish to see believers having good relationships with each other. Harmony between believers would strengthen them and cause their faith to grow – an unbearable prospect for Shaytān.  
Imam Ali (as) explains this with a graphic metaphor when he talks about the hypocrites:
They have made Satan the master of their affairs, and he has taken them as partners. He has laid eggs and hatched them in their bosoms. He creeps and crawls in their laps. He sees through their eyes, and speaks with their tongues. In this way he has led them to sinfulness and adorned for them foul things like the action of one whom Satan has made partner in his domain and speaks untruth through his tongue. (Sermon 7, Nahjul Balāgha)
Given that this tendency is very human and one which we are all suspectable to, how do we navigate through the negative thoughts about others that come into our heads?
In a Hadith Imam Ali (as) advises: During every hardship, say, ‘There is no power or strength save in Allah, the High and the Great’ and you will surmount it.
Imam Zain ul Abedin (as) also gives us some solid advice Du‘ā Makārimul Akhlāq in Sahīfa Sajjadiyya:
The Dua says:

O God, make
the wishing, the suspicion, and the envy which Satan throws into my heart

  • a remembrance of Your Mightiness,
  • a reflection upon Your Power,
  • and working against Your enemy!  (Dua 20, passage 13)
In other words, each and every time we notice our thoughts straying towards negative assumptions about others, we need to refocus our attention towards remembrance of the All Merciful.

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