Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
On numerous occasions, it has been said that a person should give “70 excuses” for any (wrong) action done by a fellow Muslim. For example, if you see a person doing doing/incorrect then give them 70 excuses. First it was said that this originated from a hadith, then that it was mentioned by a sahaba (radi Allahu anha). Is this valid? If it was stated by a particular sahaba radi Allahu anha), then whom, and where?
This is from the words of Hamdun al-Qassar, one of the great early Muslims, as narrated by Imam Bayhaqi in his Shu`ab al-Iman [7.522].
He said (Allah have mercy on him),
If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves [ibid]
This is because the default assumption about all humans and their actions is that they are sound and free of error. This is considered our operating certainty.
After this, if we find something that makes us doubt about them, we are not permitted to leave this operating certainty that they did not err for mere doubts or misgivings.
Allah Most High commanded us:
O you who believe! Shun much doubt; for lo! some doubt is sinful. [Quran, 49.12]
The doubts and misgivings about others that are sinful are those that do not have a sound basis that would be sufficient to leave our operating assumption about others that they are upright and their actions free of error.
And Allah knows best.
This answer was indexed from Qibla.com, which used to have a repository of Islamic Q&A answered by various scholars. The website is no longer in existence. It has now been transformed into a learning portal with paid Islamic course offering under the brand of Kiflayn.