إِنَّ الَّذِينَ جَاؤُوا بِالْإِفْكِ عُصْبَةٌ مِّنكُمْ لَا تَحْسَبُوهُ شَرًّا لَّكُم بَلْ هُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُم مَّا اكْتَسَبَ مِنَ الْإِثْمِ وَالَّذِي تَوَلَّى كِبْرَهُ مِنْهُمْ لَهُ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ
Indeed those who come forth with a baseless lie or accusation (against others) are many among you; they dont think it is bad for them. they think it is good for them. For each person is the wrong that he or she acquires (i.e. the wrong they do is to themselves). And those who make it bigger (enhance the lie) among them, for such a one is grievious suffering.
Is it the case that I can be inclined to make up a lie (any lie), without sound witness, by which I put down another, lessen their worth in some way, accuse them so that by so doing I enhance my own position in relation to them and in the eyes of others and in my own eyes? Can my self-worth become, in my eyes, dependent on lessening or lowering the worthiness of others in some way? If my answer is yes, then this verse speaks to me.
What I deem good for me – a lie about someone – the verse presents as meriting grievous punishment and a wrong that I acquire. What is the wrong that attaches to me when I lie? A lie is a claim that is not supported by my witnessing. What I say is true without witnessing its truth is a lie. When I lie, I take up the position that I can claim something to be true without witnessings its truth. It is a position that says anything can be true and hence it is a claim that nothing is really true. Nothing needs to be witnessed. I witness nothing because I don’t deem it important for determining what is true and what is false. By foregoing the process of witnessing something before affirming it or claiming it (it is what telling a lie is), I would be one who can no longer tell the difference between a lie and a truth. While my soul seeks for and needs truth, it feels the need to be able to tell truth from falsehood, I deny it the fulfillment of this need so long as I deny the necessity of witnessing for a claim to be affirmed or recognized or acknowledged as true. Without witnessing, I am left with nothing but words and claims. If words are powerful and big, I get inclined to affirm them as true even as I have not wtinessed their truth. Power, and not truth, becomes the reason for what I affirm and what I ignore or reject. Subjecting thus myself to a condition where I cannot recognize truth as distinct from its opposite and to the power of general opinion and influence of others which my soul supports/affirms as true while not at all sure whether it is or not, makes my soul suffer greivously. When I find myself regularly affirming, without witness, the worst about others based on lies, I find myself living in a hopelessly evil world, lacking in goodness.
لَوْلَا إِذْ سَمِعْتُمُوهُ ظَنَّ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بِأَنفُسِهِمْ خَيْرًا وَقَالُوا هَذَا إِفْكٌ مُّبِينٌ
Why do you not, (if you want to be among those who would be safe with their Lord) hear such a lie, think the best of one another (because of being created by the Absolutely perfect One) and say, “This is an obvious falsehood”?
This next verse recommends a different course of action for those look for safety with their Lord and see each other in His name – each soul is from pure good and its essence and reality are good. Whatever is bad about it is a lie – it is contrary to the soul’s reality. It is a mistake and not that person’s reality. To be reminded that all human beings are from the One who is absolutely good and are in truth good and therefore only bad as a lie (against themselves). No one is to be characterized as a ‘bad’ person in truth. Its not that I refuse to think that a person may do wrong to themselves. But as one who wants safety with God, I can see that all goodness is from the One who must be the owner of absolute good. The soul is from this One. Any suggestion that the person, qua human being, are a bad person is a lie. Their action may be wrong and against themselves but it is wrong only when it is against themselves and not when they are themselves – for they are not random, natural beings but are creatures of the absolute One and their life and existence and their soul is from such a One. The goodness of all beings is restored in the mind of the one who finds the absolutely good source of all beings. All beings are secure (as good) by being connected to Him. Human beings have the choice to subvert this goodness by covering it up. And they have the choice to accuse others of covering up goodness without witnessing such a covering up, to make themselves feel better about themselves. But when they do this i.e. when they make up lies and when their actions are lies against themselves (i.e. when they department from their creator’s goodness, compassion, wisdom etc), they are the one’s who suffer. I am the one who suffers being a bad person in my eyes or living in world where I can’t tell truth from falsehood and find myself affirming lies about others being terrible and bad. I give reality to evil when it has no reality except as a consequence for the human being of their own human choice to lie.