In a verse of the Holy Qurʾān, Allāh says:

يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱجۡتَنِبُواْ كَثِيرً۬ا مِّنَ ٱلظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعۡضَ ٱلظَّنِّ إِثۡمٌ۬‌ۖ وَلَاتَجَسَّسُواْ وَلَا يَغۡتَب بَّعۡضُكُم بَعۡضًا‌ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُڪُمۡ أَن يَأۡڪُلَ لَحۡمَ أَخِيهِ مَيۡتً۬ا فَكَرِهۡتُمُوهُ‌ۚ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬
Oh believers! Abstain excessively from speculation (conjecture) for indeed some instances of conjecture are a sin. Do not investigate, do not search for each others’ faults and do not backbite one another. [Surah Hujurat: 49:12]

In a hadīth, the Prophet ﷺ has said,

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ إِيَّاكُمْ وَالظَّنَّ فَإِنَّ الظَّنَّ أَكْذَبُ الْحَدِيثِ وَلَا تَحَسَّسُوا وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا تَنَافَسُوا وَلَا تَحَاسَدُوا وَلَا تَبَاغَضُوا وَلَا تَدَابَرُوا وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ إِخْوَانًا

5719 صحيح البخاري كتاب الأدب باب يا أيها الذين آمنوا اجتنبوا كثيرا من الظن إن بعض الظن إثم ولا تجسسوا

2563 صحيح مسلم كتاب البر والصلة والآداب باب تحريم الظن والتجسس والتنافس والتناجش ونحوها

Beware of conjecture (speculation) for indeed speculation is the greatest lie. Do not eavesdrop, do not search for each others faults, do not undercut or harm one another, do not be envious of each other, do not hate each other, do not turn your backs towards each other and be servants of Allāh as brothers.

[Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5719, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2563]

So many different things are mentioned here with the hadīth ending with mention of people turning their backs towards each other which means absolute enmity. There is a beautiful progression in this hadīth; but the first thing that the Prophet ﷺ says is ‘beware of  conjecture (speculation)’. Similarly, the verse of the Holy Qurʾān begins with the same thing.  It all begins in the mind. Before we see enmity and violence, before we see hatred and envy and the effects of that envy, before we begin actively searching for one another’s faults, eavesdropping, trying to harm one another, before all of that the origin is in the mind.

When we first start to indulge in conjecture and speculation of each other, it means we do not think good of each other. That is the very beginning.

[This short excerpt is based on  a talk entitled ‘Be Just in Judgement’ which was delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 21st February 2014].