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

How many pieces of cloth are used to enshroud a deceased man, and a deceased woman?

A deceased woman is enshrouded in five pieces of cloth: head cover, wrapper, shirt , and two folds of cloth. On the other hand, a deceased man is enshrouded with three pieces of cloth.

A woman committed adultery with several men and gave birth to a baby. Who is the father?

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.
The adulterers must be punished as prescribed in Sharia for they have incurred the wrath of Almighty Allah. Therefore, they must hasten to make repentance and ask Allah for forgiveness. However, the child born out of this unlawful relation is attributed to the mother. And Allah The Almighty Knows Best.

Is it permissible for a wife`s family to demand her husband to divorce her although she doesn`t want that?

It is forbidden for them to do that in case their daughter doesn`t want divorce unless there was a sin that continues as long as the marriage survives.

Is it permissible for a woman to ride a taxi without a Mahram(unmarriageable kin) in order to attend a gathering of knowledge?

It is permissible for the woman to pursue the knowledge that she needs in order to perform the religious requirements due on her if there was nobody to teach her at home, provided that there is no temptation involved. Moreover, we don`t recommend that she rides a taxi without a Mahram although such an act isn`t from the forbidden Khulwah(seclusion).