The Seventy First Call: Verification of News
Almighty Allah says (what can be translated as): “O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.” (Al-Hujurat: 6)
This is one of the manners that rational people should adopt and use, i.e. if any disobedient person tells them any news, they should verify them first and not to believe without making sure they are true. This is very dangerous and it may cause them to sin, if they consider him to be truthful and trustworthy and take an action according to his news, then they might harm people and their belongings without any right due to the false news delivered to them causing them to regret. Their duty is to verify the news brought by someone who is religiously disobedient, if it is proved he is truthful, then they can act according to the news and if it turns out he is a liar, then he would be regarded a liar and his false news should be ignored. This is a proof that the news by the truthful are accepted and the news by the untruthful are unaccepted. The news of the religiously disobedient is subject to validation and confirmation first in case they might turn to be true, and this is why the predecessors used to accept narrations by so many Khawarij who are known to be truthful even if they could be religiously disobedient.
In this verse, Almighty Allah commands the believers not to hasten in taking decisions and believe the news brought by disobedient people who are not to be trusted in terms of their manners, religion and narrations. If someone does not care about being religiously disobedient, he is probably careless about lying too. Rashness in believing the news delivered by the religiously disobedient people might lead to harming innocent people without the knowledge of the believers, causing them to feel regretful of what they committed.
The verse specifically mentions the evildoer who is religiously disobedient because he is more likely to lie, it is important that suspicion should not be widely spread in the Muslim community. If every report is doubted the system of gathering intelligence and information becomes paralyzed. In a Muslim community individuals are normally treated as trustworthy, and theinformation they bring is considered reliable. An evil doer is treated differently: his information is not accepted until it is verified. Thus, the community steers a middle way between accepting and rejecting the information relayed to it. The community does not rush into action on the basis of a report given by someone whose behavior leaves much to be desired. Such rash action might lead to committing a wrong against other people, and subsequent regret. Furthermore, such rash action may incur Allah’s displeasure and put the community in a position of committing an injustice.
The import of this verse is general, making it clear that checking the accuracy of reports given by suspect people is necessary. On the other hand, a report by an Allah-fearing person is taken as correct, because this is the normal state of affairs in the Muslim community; a report by an evildoer is the exception, not the norm. Indeed, accepting reports by Allah-fearing people is part of proper verification and checking. To make doubt the norm, applicable to all sources and reports, is contrary to the principle of trust that is basic to the Muslim community. Furthermore, it could easily cause disruption in its life. Islam allows life to run its normal course while putting in place certain controls that guarantee its protection.