“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.”
Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) addresses the believers saying: “O you who believe” to indicate that belief requires them not to ridicule others. So, ridiculing others indicates a diminished or weak faith.
Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) forbids scoffing at other men or women. Ridiculing a person’s appearance or features includes making fun of height, size, shortness or bodily weakness. It also applies to mocking a person by foolishly imitating the way he speaks which includes derision of reciters and scholars. As well, it implies ridiculing his way of walking, etc.
All forms of mockery and ridicule are included in this verse.
Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) clarifies that the latter, who are mocked, might be better in status with Him than the ones who mock.
Also Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) forbids defaming one another:
وَلَا تَلۡمِزُوٓاْ أَنفُسَكُمۡ
“nor defame one another (yourselves)”
Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) mentions the word “Nafs” to emphasize the point that your brother is in the same position as yourself, meaning: as you dislike being defamed, similarly, you should hate defaming your brother.
Then Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says:
وَلَا تَنَابَزُواْ بِٱلۡأَلۡقَـٰبِۖ
“nor insult one another by nicknames”
This means not mocking others with disliked nicknames and so forth.
Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says:
بِئۡسَ ٱلِٱسۡمُ ٱلۡفُسُوقُ بَعۡدَ ٱلۡإِيمَـٰنِۚ
“How bad is it, to insult one’s brother after having Faith [i.e. to call your Muslim brother (a faithful believer) as: ‘O sinner’, or ‘O wicked’]”
Whoever does this is considered one of the Fasiqeen (rebellious ones, disobedient to Allaah).
This indicates that mocking, scoffing, ridiculing, and defaming other Muslims are all considered to be major sins.
Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says:
“And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Dhaalimun (wrong-doers).” [49:11]
So whoever persists in committing these sins and does not repent to Allaah is considered a Dhaalim(wrong-doer).
Imaam an-Nawawi (Rahimahullaah) also mentioned evidence on the prohibition of despising Muslims in Surat al-Humazah:
وَيۡلٌ۬ لِّڪُلِّ هُمَزَةٍ۬ لُّمَزَةٍ
“Woe to every slanderer and backbiter.”[104:1]
The word Wayl (woe) implies a threat. It is mentioned in the Qur’an in many verses, all of them indicating a threat.
In these verses, whoever defames another Muslim, either by slandering or backbiting him, by tongue or limbs, is threatened with Wayl.
Evidence from the Sunnah indicating the prohibition of despising Muslims
Abu Hurairah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “It is enough evil for a Muslim to look down upon his (Muslim) brother.” [Muslim]
Ibn Mas’ood (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The haughty (arrogant person), even with pride equal to a mustard seed in his heart, will not enter Paradise.” A man enquired, “What about a person who likes fine dress and fine shoes?” He (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Allaah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Pride amounts to disclaiming (rejection) truth out of self esteem and despising people.” [Muslim]
These Ahadeeth indicate the prohibition of despising Muslims. Allaah’s Messenger’s statement, “It is enough evil” indicates the severity of despising the Muslims and that it is a great evil. If one did not commit any evil except this, it would be a sufficient amount of evil for him.
Never defame or despise your Muslim brother, either in his created features, or his clothing, speech, etc. Your Muslim brother has great rights upon you, so you should respect and dignify him. Despising him is considered Haraam (forbidden, unlawful).
Regarding the Hadeeth narrated by Ibn Mas’ood (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu), “Whoever has an atom of pride in his heart will not enter Paradise”, the Companion asked if it included a man who loves to wear good quality clothes and shoes, thinking this behavior was a type of haughtiness or pride. Therefore, the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) clarified the matter saying: “Verily, Allaah is Beautiful and loves beauty.” Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) is Beautiful in His Essence, Actions and Attributes and He loves beauty and that one beautifies oneself.
When a person beautifies himself, his action is loved by Allaah as long as it is not beyond what he can afford (i.e. he is not poor so he can afford to buy and wear beautiful clothes), because Allaah loves to see the impact of His blessing (favor) upon His slave.
Jundub ibn ‘Abdullah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Once someone said: ‘By Allaah! Allaah will not forgive such and such (a person).’ Thereupon Allaah, the Exalted and Glorious said: ‘Who is he who takes an oath in My Name that I will not grant pardon to so-and-so? I have granted pardon to so-and-so and rendered your good deeds fruitless.‘” [Muslim]
Some people become conceited as a result of their excessive worship, to the extent that they start disparaging and underestimating their Muslim brothers and their deeds.
In this Hadeeth, the man was a worshipper who became conceited through his deeds. He saw his brother committing sins, so he swore by Allaah that Allaah will not forgive him. Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) said: “Who is he who takes an oath in My Name that I will not pardon so-and-so!”
This man forgot that in Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala)’s Hand is grace to grant forgiveness to whoever He wills.
Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) said: “I have granted pardon to so-and-so and rendered your good deeds fruitless.”
The man uttered an oath which destroyed his life and Hereafter because he was conceited. He despised his brother, so he swore that Allaah would not forgive him.
However, Allaah forgave the sinner because his sins were less serious than Shirk. Allaah bestowed His favor upon him and he repented, whereas Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) rendered the other man’s good deeds in vain because he took an oath in the Name of Allaah that He will not forgive his brother. Allaah is of Perfect and Complete Power and Authority; no one should swear in His Name that He will not forgive.