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SLANDER Allegation is “a statement, especially one made without proof.” If allegation damages a person’s reputation it is called “slander”, “defamation”. If this slander is said about a person in his absence it is called ghaybah (backbiting). Allah prohibits it, when He said, ِ ِ ِ ‫يا أَيُّها الَّ ِذين آَمنُوا‬ ِ ‫ُا‬ ً ‫ُ ُُ ْْ بَ ْع‬ ُ ‫ب بَ ْع‬ ْ َ َ َ ‫اجتَنبُوا َكث ًريا م َن الظَّ ِّن إِ َّن بَ ْع‬ َ َ ْ َ‫ض الظَّ ِّن إ ْْثٌ َوََل ََتَ َّس ُسوا َوََل يَ ْغت‬ ِ ‫َخ ِيه ميتًا فَ َُ ِرهتُموه واتَّ ُقوا اللَّه إِ َّن اللَّه تَ َّو‬ ِ ُِ ‫أ‬ )21:‫يْ (اَلجرات‬ ُّ ‫َُي‬ ٌ َ ْ َ ‫َح ُد ُك ْْ أَ ْن يَأْ ُك َل ََلْ َْ أ‬ َ َ‫بأ‬ ٌ ‫اب َرح‬ َُ ُ ْ O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting!). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful. (Q. 49:12) Islam teaches us to have positive thinking, to be optimistic in life, and to have no negative thinking with people. A person is good as long as there is no evidence that he is bad. Wearing a pair of pink glasses makes everything looked pink, or at least there is pinkness in everything we see. Allah also says

)2:‫َويْ ٌل لِ ُُ ِّل ُُهََزةٍ لُ َمَزٍة (اهلمزة‬

Woe to every slanderer and backbiter (Q. 104:1) There are several interpretations of humazah and lumazah. Some commentators (Abū ’l-Ᾱliyah, al-Ḥasan, Mujāhid, and Ᾱṭā’) say that the former means “saying bad things about someone who is present”, and the latter means “saying bad things about someone who is absent”; Muqātil has the opposite interpretation. Allah also says, ٍ ‫ َُهَّا ٍز مش‬.‫ني‬ ٍ ‫وََل تُ ِطع ُك َّل ح ََّّل‬ ٍ ‫ف َم ِه‬ )22-21: ْ‫َّاء بِنَ ِمي ٍْ (القل‬ ْ َ َ َ And obey not (O Muhammad) everyone who swears much and is a liar, a slanderer, going


about with tales” (Q. 68:11) Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said, as narrated by Abū Hurayrah: ِ َ َ‫ ق‬،َْ‫ اهلل ورسولُه أَعل‬:‫«أَتَ ْدرو َن ما الْغِيبةُ؟» قَالُوا‬ »ُ‫اك ِِبَا يََُْره‬ َ ‫َخ‬ َ ‫ «ذ ْك ُرَك أ‬:‫ال‬ َ َ ُ ُ ْ ُ ُ ََ ُ ِ ،‫ول‬ ُ ‫ «إِ ْن َكا َن فِ ِيه َما تَ ُق‬:‫ال‬ َ َ‫ول؟ ق‬ ُ ُ‫ت إِ ْن َكا َن ِِف أ َِخي َما أَق‬ َ ْ‫يل أَفَ َرأَي‬ َ ‫ق‬ )ْ‫ َوإِ ْن ََلْ يَ ُُ ْن فِ ِيه فَ َق ْد بَ َهتَّهُ (رواه مسل‬،ُ‫فَ َق ِد ا ْغتَْبتَه‬ Do you know what backbiting is?” They answered: “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “It is to mention of your brother that which he dislike.” Someone asked, “What if he is as I say?” And he s.a.w. replied, “If he is as you say, you have backbitten him, and if not, you have slandered (falsely accuse) him. (Reported by Muslim) The Prophet s.a.w. also said: ِ َ ‫َن رس‬ ِ ‫اَل ِد‬ ِ ِ َ َ‫صلَّى اللَّهُ َعلَْي ِه وسلَّْ ق‬ ‫يث‬ َ ‫ول اللَّه‬ ُ ‫ال إيَّا ُك ْْ َوالظَّ َّن فَإ َّن الظَّ َّن أَ ْك َذ‬ َْ ‫ب‬ ُ َ َّ ‫َع ْن أَِب ُهَريْ َرَة أ‬ َ ََ ‫ُوا َوََل تَ َدابَ ُروا َوُكونُوا ِعبَ َاد اللَّ ِه إِ ْخ َوانًا‬ ُ ‫اس ُدوا َوََل تَبَا َغ‬ َ َ‫َوََل ََتَ َّس ُسوا َوََل ََتَ َّس ُسوا َوََل تَنَافَ ُسوا َوََل ََت‬ )‫(رواه البخاري و مسلْ و النساءي وأبو داؤد و الرتمذي و ابن ماجه و أمحد‬

Abū Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet s.a.w. said: “Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales; and do not look for others’ faults and do not spy, and do not be jealous of one another, and do not desert (cut your relation with) one another, and do not hate one another; and, O Allah’s worshippers! Be brothers! (as Allah has ordered you!) With regard to slandering, one example in Islamic history was the case of ‘Ᾱ’ishah, the wife of the Prophet. After the Prophet had completed his campaign, the army rested near Madinah. ‘Ᾱ’ishah, who accompanied the army got out of her howdah to answer the call of nature. When she returned she noticed that her necklace had broken and fell down. She came back and looked for it, found it, but the army had left. She was so slender, that the people who lifted the howdah


did not realize that she was not in. Safwān ibn Mu‘aṭṭal al-Sulamī found her, said nothing except ‫“ إِنَّا للّه َو إنَّا إلَْي ِه َر ِاجعُ ْو َن‬Truly, to Allah we belong, and truly, to Him we shall return,” brought his camel and made it kneel so that she could ride upon it, until they caught up with the army. The head of the hypocrites of Madinah, who was also the leader of the Khazraj tribe, ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salūl, spread the slander that she was alone with a man who brought her with his camel. The news spread so fast that she took refuge to the house of her father, Abū Bakr. One day the Prophet, while standing on the pulpit, said, “O Muslims, who will help me against a man [i.e., Abdullah ibn Ubayy] who has hurt me by slandering my family? By Allah, I know nothing about my family but good, and the people blaming a man [i.e., Safwān ibn Mu‘aṭṭal] of whom I know nothing except good, and he has never entered upon my family except with me.” Sa‘d ibn Mu‘ādh stood up and said he would cut off his head, if he was from al-Aws tribe, and if he was from al-Khazraj, he would do what they told him to do. Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubādah stood up and said that the man was only overwhelmed with tribal chauvinism, and told Sa‘d ibn Mu‘ādh not to kill him, but his cousin stood up calling Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubādah a hypocrite arguing on behalf of the hypocrites. Luckily, the Prophet calmed them down. The two tribes, who had been at each other’s throat before becoming Muslims, were almost at each other’s throat again. Then the Prophet came to ‘Ᾱ’ishah, and told her that if she was innocent, then Allah would reveal her innocence, but if she had committed a sin, then she should seek Allah’s forgiveness, and Allah would accept her repentance. She asked her father and mother to answer the Prophet on her behalf, but each of them said that they did not know what to say to him. So, she said to them, “… if I tell you that I am innocent, you would not believe me, but if I admit


something to you, although I am innocent, you will believe me.” She then told them that what she could do was to be patient, like what Prophet Yusuf’s father said, when his sons lied to him that Yusuf had been eaten by a wolf, and his cloches smeared with blood. ِ َ‫َجيل واللَّه الْمستَ عا ُن علَى ما ت‬ ِ )21 : ‫ص ُفو َن (يوسف‬ َ َ‫ف‬ َ َ َ ْ ُ ُ َ ٌ َ ‫صْب ٌر‬ … so, (for me) patience is the most fitting. And it is Allah Whose help can be sought against that (lie) which you describe. (Q. 12:18)

‘Ᾱ’ishah knew that Allah only Who could help her. She had been patient over one month. She hoped that the Prophet might see a dream in which Allah would prove her innocence. What she got was more than she had expected. Allah revealed her innocence, as follows: ِ ِْ ِ‫إن الَّ ِذين جاءوا ب‬ ْْ ‫صبَةٌ ِمْن ُُ ْْ ََل ََْت َسبُوهُ َشًّرا لَ ُُ ْْ بَ ْل ُه َو َخْي ٌر لَ ُُ ْْ لِ ُُ ِّل ْام ِر ٍئ ِمْن ُه‬ ْ ‫اْلفْك ُع‬ ُ َ َ َّ ِ ِْ ‫ما ا ْكتسب ِمن‬ ِ ِ ِ ‫ لَ ْوََل إِ ْذ ََِس ْعتُ ُموهُ ظَ َّن الْ ُم ْؤِمنُو َن‬. ْ‫ي‬ ٌ ‫اْل ِْْث َوالَّذي تَ َوََّّل كْب َرهُ مْن ُه ْْ لَهُ َع َذ‬ ٌ ‫اب َعظ‬ َ َ ََ َ ِ ‫ لَ ْوََل َجاءُوا َعلَْي ِه بِأ َْربَ َع ِة ُش َه َداءَ فَِإ ْذ‬. ‫ني‬ ٌ ْ‫ات بِأَنْ ُف ِس ِه ْْ َخْي ًرا َوقَالُوا َه َذا إِف‬ ٌ ِ‫ك ُمب‬ ُ َ‫َوالْ ُم ْؤمن‬ ِ ‫ََل يأْتوا بِالش‬ )21-22:‫ك ِعْن َد اللَّ ِه ُه ُْ الْ َُ ِاذبُو َن (النور‬ َُْ َ ِ‫ُّه َداء فَأُولَئ‬ َ Verily, those who brought forth the slander (against ‘A’ishah, the wife of the Prophet) are a group among you. Consider it not a bad thing for you. Nay, it is good for you. To every man among them will be paid that which he had earned of the sin and as for him among them who had the greater share therein, his will be a great torment. Why then, did not the believers, men and women, when you heard it (the slander), think good of their own people and say : “This (charge) is an obvious lie?” Why did they not produce four witnesses? Since they (the slanderers) have not produced witnesses! Then with Allah they are the liars. (Q. 23:11-13) Here Allah did not mention ‘Ᾱ’ishah or any person of the Prophet’s contemporary by name in the Qur’an, except his freed slave


Zayd, who preferred living with him rather than returning to his tribe, and Abū Lahab, the Prophet’s own uncle who turned to be his enemy. Here the table turned, the slave became a noble person, and the noble person became a base person. What the verse means is that it is a good thing that Allah revealed ‘Ᾱ’ishah’s innocence in the Qur’an which is, “Falsehood cannot come to it from before it or behind it…(Q. 41;42). It also indicated the honourable position of the family of Abū Bakr. When ‘Ᾱ’ishah was dying, Ibn ‘Abbās said to her, among other things, that her innocence was revealed from heaven. With regard to the slanderers, each of them will have their share in punishment, whereas the initiator of the rumors, ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salūl, will have a great torment. He was the head of the hypocrites of Madinah. The Prophet did not punish him and his followers, because as hypocrites they behaved like Muslims, and the Prophet s.a.w. did not want people to say that he had killed his own followers, and would be recorded in history. Otherwise, you could kill a Muslim by slandering him to be a hypocrite. This slandering, according to the Qur’an was good for her and the Muslim community. (1) they became aware that there were some bad people among them with whom they had to be careful (2) this incident happened to the Prophet’s own wife, and he solved this issue with Allah’s guidance, and with patience (3) there should be no deep emotion, grief, sorrow and anger which could harm themselves (4) there should be no evening gathering where gossip takes place (5) the hearsay should not be accepted without evidence and should not be spread. In Islam every good deed will be rewarded at least tenfold. Tenfold reward could be considered not enough compared to the risk of defamation in doing good. Safwān ibn Mu‘aṭṭal had done an excellent job by picking ‘Ᾱ’ishah who had been left behind, but some people who were not happy with her took this chance to slander her


and him. In this case the rescuer and the rescued both become victims. A rescuer could become a victim. There is always risk in doing good. A priest was said to have rescued a scorpion in the flood, but the scorpion stung him. He was blamed for doing it, but he said that it was his duty to help, but what the scorpion could do was to sting. (CIVIC, 13.09.13) :‫املراجع‬ ‫املُتبة الشاملة‬ ‫تفسري أبن كثري‬ ‫زهرة التفاسري للشيخ حممد أبو زهرة‬

(3) slander  

A Friday khutbah/sermon delivered at CIVIC, on13 September, 2013

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