Generalizing Judgments
Author : Dr. Hassan Abu_Arqoub
Date Added : 27-12-2022

Generalizing Judgments is one of the Leading Causes of Conflict


One of the biggest mistakes a man could fall into is generalizing judgments, and doing so is a signal of inaccuracy as far as judging things and people is concerned. Although generalizing is the first thing that crosses human mind, the wise person overcomes this dilemma by giving it further thought and arriving at a more precise result.

If a person bought some fruits and vegetables and after going home, he realized that they were of poor quality, he will immediately judge all greengrocers as cheaters. This reflects a high degree of injustice to other greengrocers. Here, the bad news is that this is what we do all the time. For example, when a woman discovers that her husband has been cheating on her, she would accuse all men of treachery and vice-versa. This leads to living in a sea of unfair generalizations, which aren`t accepted by reason and logic and, at the same time, are contrary to reality.

The question that arises here is how to handle such generalized judgments?

As a listener, one shouldn`t accept generalized judgments nor take them for granted. When your child tells you that all the other children go picnicking with their parents on Fridays, there is no doubt that this is inaccurate since many parents work on that day, some prefer to rest and relax while others conduct family visits and the like.

As a speaker, one should make sure not to generalize judgments. Thus, one should say: a greengrocer had cheated me, some husbands cheat on their wives and vice versa, some children go picnicking with their parents on Friday, and the like. This way is acceptable and accurate.

When something is said: "it may seem simple, but extremely difficult to apply." If we give it more thought, we would realize that generalizing judgments ruins many relationships and undermines the security of the country and the people. For example, a member of a certain clan kills someone from another clan, then the family of the killed attack the family of the killer and set their properties on fire. The key question that arises here is that what is the fault of the killer`s family? One individual committed the crime but all his family members were harmed as a result. Why does such thing happen? It is because the judgment has been generalized and every member of the killer`s family was considered a killer. This is the practice of the people of Jahhiliyyah (Pre-Islamic times of ignorance) for they used to kill many for one. As a result, Allah Prescribed Qisas (Retaliation in kind); "Eye for an eye", or "Retributive justice.") where the killer alone is punished."

The same goes in case a non-Arab killed an Arab. A judgment is generalized whereby it will be said that non-Arabs are plotting to kill us so it is allowed to kill them in self-defense. The same goes when a non-Muslim kills a Muslim. It will be said that non-Muslims are killing Muslims so Muslims must kill them first. All of this is due to generalization, which makes a person feel that his/her identity is at risk and then becomes driven to wage a sacred war to defend that identity although the root of the problem has nothing to do with the issue of identity in the first place. It is simply a fight between two individuals each of whom belongs to a certain religion or denomination.

This is where the role of the wise people come into play. They address the problem according to its actual size and keep it under control. In fact, Islam teaches us to deal with issues in this manner since Allah Says (What means): "No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another." [Az-Zumar/7], as well as, The Almighty Said (What means): "That man can have nothing but what he strives for;" [An-Najim/39], and He, The Most Exalted, Said (What means): "(Yet) is each individual in pledge for his deeds." [At-Tur/21]. As reflected in these texts, each person must be held accountable for his/her own deeds.

As Muslims, we experience the injustice resulting from generalizing judgments on steady basis since whenever a terrorist attack takes place in the west, western countries adopt tough positions towards Islam and Muslims. In a survey conducted by Prof. Mohammad Abu An-Nimer, it was found out that five thousand sources of the Library of Congress connect violence to Islam. 

As Muslims, we must portray the magnanimous image of Islam and never assume that the true beautiful image of Islam is self-evident. This is in addition to avoiding falling into the trap of generalizing judgments since the others aren`t essentially the same.


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Summarized Fatawaa

A man has married a second wife and deprived the first from provision and overnight stay. He spent most of his time and wealth on his second wife. After sometime, the latter got sick and was diagnosed with breast cancer, which made him forsake her in bed and return to his first wife. What is the position of Sharia on this?

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.
It is forbidden for a woman to forsake her husband in bed without a lawful excuse since this is one of the mutual rights of spouses. When the wife abstains from making love to her husband without a lawful excuse, she is considered sinful. This is because the Prophet (PBUH) said: "If a woman spends the night deserting her husband's bed (does not sleep with him), then the angels send their curses on her till she comes back (to her husband)." [Agreed upon]. And Allah The Almighty Knows Best.

What is the ruling on a Muslim who slaughters an animal while being in a state of Janabah(ritual impurity)?

Slaughtering is permissible for the ritually impure man and the menstruating woman because ritual purity isn`t a condition for the validity of the slaughtering. Moreover, it is permissible for the uncircumcised person to do the slaughtering as well.

Is it permissible for a pious Muslim woman to stay with her husband who had quit praying out of laziness?

Quitting prayer is one of the major grave sins that come after disbelieving in Allah, but the wife of such a person isn`t considered divorced, rather, she should exert all her efforts in order to bring him back to the way of Islam. However, if his sin is likely to lure her from the way of Islam, then she had better separate from him by lawful means such as Mokhal`aa(When a wife pays a compensation for her husband in return for divorcing her). Moreover, if she exercises patience, and remains steadfast on her faith, then there is no harm in doing that.

I work for a company whose manager refuses to allow employees to leave during work hours. Do I incur sin if I secretly went out to join the congregation at the Masjid? Is doing so considered a breach of trust?

Praise be to the Lord of the Worlds.

We recommend that you pray at work to encourage your colleagues to follow suit, because whoever guides to good has the like of the reward of the person who actually does it. And Allah The Almighty Knows Best.