“O, you, who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it, to insult one’s brother after having faith. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Zalimun (wrong-doers, etc.).” (Al-Hujurat 49:11)
Allah (swt) says that as far as He’s concerned, the group you are making fun of is better than you.
Allah (swt) says that may be the group made fun off is better than the group making fun. Now making fun of by whose perspective? Now obviously, when you are making fun of someone there is an already underlined assumption, conscious or subconscious, that you are better than them – that is why you are making fun of them, they are the object of your ridicule. You would not make fun of someone, who you are convinced deserves more respect than you do or is above you in anyway; they wouldn’t be the point of ridicule for you, so obviously there is a sense of superiority in you, when you make fun.
Allah (swt) says that as far as He’s concerned, the group you are making fun of is better than you. A note about our society in general – one of the best sellers in the field of comedy and entertainment is to mock someones ethnicity and to imitate an accent; or make fun of what kind of food that ethnicity likes to eat; how they like to dress up or what kind of weird things they say amongst each other; how they drive their cars or how cheap they are; or how much they love spicy food or what kind of hot tempers they have; hence, people pick up some flaw of some ethnicity and make that the object of ridicule, which makes the above verse even more alive.
Sometimes you can insult someone without saying a single word and Allah (swt) knows that.
Maybe the group you are making fun of is better than you are. Neither should women be making fun of other women. In other words, Allah (swt) mentions about nations that include men and women; however, Allah (swt) specifically highlighted women doing so. And thus, what is being told here is the way women ridicule others is very different than the way men do it. So maybe the one’s made fun of are better than the one’s poking fun of them. This is one verse about not violating the rights of your tongue – this beautiful organ Allah (swt) has given you.
Criticizing someone, either by means of bodily gesture or by means of your eyes like rolling your eyes; or by sign or by taking a deep breath; or by snicker or the comment made under your breath – it’s a snicker or comment made under your breath, just so that they hear you say something, but they don’t comprehend what you said. And when you ask them: “What did you say?” They reply: “Nothing! I didn’t say anything.” You know – that subtle kind of criticism or undermining somebody’s speech or degrading someone; or condescending towards someone that’s not even captured in speech. Sometimes you can insult someone without saying a single word and Allah (swt) knows that – so He uses the words ‘Qala Talmizu An Fusakum’.
And because the verse is narrated to the believers, one of the many amazing facts about this verse is that Allah (swt) doesn’t say that don’t make this kind of sarcastic, condescending, critical type of gesture to others. He says ‘Anfusakum’ meaning ‘to yourself’! In other words, if you do this to a believer, you are they and they are you; you are one people, you are one nation. So who you are really making fun of is actually your own selves. And the other implication here is that when someone does this kind of a thing, the only one they are successfully insulting is their own dignity. The only one they are really harming is their own sense of self-worth. Wala Talmizu An Fusakum’- that’s a really powerful statement. Don’t do it!
An excerpt from a lecture transcript published on www.nakcollection.com – edited and posted by Hiba with permission.