Do not interfere in matters that do not concern you
“From the excellence of one’s Islam is to leave that which does not concern him.”
How beautiful is this expression, especially if you were to hear it from the righteous and pure mouth of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ! Yes, to leave that which does not concern him!
How many are those cumbersome people who bother you by interfering in matters that do not concern them? They bother you when they see your watch, “How much did you buy this for?”
You reply, “This was given to me as a gift”.
Then they would say, “A gift? From whom?”
You reply, “From a friend.”
He would continue, “Your friend from the university? Or your locality? Or elsewhere?”
You reply, “Well, a friend of mine from the university.”
He keeps pressing, “Okay, but what was the occasion?”
You respond, “Well, an occasion, from our university days.”
He then says, “Yes, but what occasion in particular? Graduation? Or when you went on a trip? Or something else?”
He would continue to ask you questions about an utterly worthless matter! I ask you, by Allaah, wouldn’t you feel like shouting at him, saying, “Do not interfere in that which does not concern you!’ And even worse is if he were to put you in an awkward situation by asking you an embarrassing question in public!
I remember, once I was in a gathering with a group of my friends. After the Maghrib prayer, one of my friends’ mobile phone rang. He was sitting next to me. He answered the phone,
His wife shouted on the phone, “Hello! Where are you, you donkey?” Her voice was so loud that I could hear their conversation well. He said, “I am fine, may Allaah protect you.” It seemed as though he had promised her to take her to her family, but became busy with us. His wife became really angry and said, “May Allaah not protect you! You are quite happy to be with your friends all the while I wait for you. By Allaah, you are a bull!”
He said, “May Allaah be pleased with you. I will come to you after ‘Ishaa.”
I realised that his speech did not exactly correspond to hers. Thereafter I realised that he was speaking in this manner in order to save himself from embarrassment.
He then finished his call. I began to look at those present, thinking to myself that one of them will ask him, “Who was that on the phone? What does he want from you? Why did your face change after the conversation?” But Allaah had mercy on him; no one interfered in a matter which did not concern them.
Likewise, if you were to visit a patient and ask him about his illness, and he were to reply vaguely, “al-Hamdulillah, nothing major, just minor illness”, and such expressions that do not explicitly answer the question, do not embarrass him by persisting on asking detailed questions, such as, “I am sorry, but what exactly is the illness? Please clarify what you said” and so on. Why the need to embarrass him?
From the excellence of one’s Islam is to leave that which does not concern him. I mean, are you really waiting for him to tell you, “I have haemorrhoids”, or “I have an injury, in an embarrassing place”, etc? As long as he gave you a vague response, there is no need to ask him for details. I do not mean that he should not question the patient about his illness. What I mean is that one should not ask detailed questions about another’s illness.
Another example of this is a person who called out to a student in front of all the people in a public gathering, and asked in a loud voice, “Hey! Ahmad! Did you pass?” Ahmad said, “Yes’. He asked, “What percentage? What grade?”
If he truly cared for him, he would have asked him when he was alone. There was also no need to go into details by asking “What percentage? Why didn’t you revise? Why weren’t you accepted in the university?” If he was really ready to help him, then he could have taken him to the side and spoken to him about whatever he liked. But as for displaying his dirty laundry in public, then that certainly was not genuine!
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “From the excellence of one’s Islam is to leave that which does not concern him.”
However, be careful. Do not make a matter larger than it is. Once I was travelling to Madinah and was busy delivering a number of lectures. So I agreed with a kind young man to take my two sons, ‘Abd ar-Rahman and Ibrahim, after ‘Asr, to their Qur’an memorisation circles, or some summer amusement centre, and to return with them after ‘Isha.
‘Abd ar-Rahman was ten years old. I feared that that young man may ask him some useless questions, such as, “What is your mother’s name? Where is your house? How many brothers do you have? How much pocket money does your father give you?” So I warned ‘Abd ar-Rahman and said, “If he were to ask you an inappropriate question, just say to him that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘From the excellence of one’s Islam is to leave that which does not concern him.’” I repeated to him the Hadith until he had memorised it.
‘Abd ar-Rahman and his brother then sat in the car with this young man. ‘Abd ar-Rahman was at the time both very tense and respectful. The young man said out of kindness, “May Allaah prolong your life, O ‘Abd ar-Rahman!” ‘Abd ar-Rahman replied, “May Allaah prolong your life, too!” The poor young man wanted to lighten up the atmosphere a bit, so he said, “Is the Shaykh delivering any lecture today?” ‘Abd ar-Rahman tried to remember the Hadith, but his memory did not help him, so he yelled, “Do not interfere in things that do not concern you!” The young man said, “I mean, I would just like to attend his lecture and benefit.”
‘Abd ar-Rahman then thought that he was trying to be clever, so he repeated the same response, ‘“Do not interfere in things that do not concern you.” The young man then said, “I am sorry, ‘Abd al-Rahman. But what I mean is…”, but ‘Abd ar-Rahman again shouted, “No! Do not interfere in that which does not concern you!” They remained on these terms until I returned. ‘Abd ar- Rahman then informed me of the entire story with pride, so I laughed and had to explain the concept to him once again.
Struggling against yourself to free yourself from interfering in others’ affairs is exhausting in the beginning, but easy in the end.