Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Holding One's Tongue 102



Slander and talebearing (spreading gossip, secrets etc. that may cause harm) - are two of the ugliest and most frequent qualities among men and women, few people being safe from them. It is one of the strongest pullers of people into Jahannam.

Slander (ghiba) means to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike, whether about his body, religion, everyday life, self, disposition, property, son, father, wife, servant, turban, garment, gait, movements, smiling, dissoluteness, frowning, cheerfulness, or anything else connected with him - to anyone else.

Mention anything here means by word, writing, sign, or indicating him with one's eye, hand, head, and so forth, etc.

Body refers to saying such things as that someone is blind, lame, bleary-eyed, bald, short, tall, dark, or pale, etc.

Religion includes saying that he is corrupt, a thief, cannot be trusted, is a tyrant, does not care about the prayer, does not watch to avoid filth, does not honour his father, does not spend zakat on what it should be spent on, or does not avoid slandering others, etc.

Everyday life includes saying that his manners are poor; he does not care about others; does not think he owes anyone anything; that he talks, eats, or sleeps too much; or sleeps or sits when he should not, etc.

Father refers to saying such things as that his father is corrupt, his father is an Indian, Nabatean, African, cobbler, draper, carpenter, blacksmith, or weaver; all these if mentioned derogatorily, etc.

Disposition includes saying that he has bad character, is arrogant, a show-off, overhasty, domineering, incapable, fainthearted, irresponsible, gloomy, dissolute, and so forth, etc.

Clothing means saying such things as that his sleeves are too loose, his garment hangs too low, is dirty, or the like. Other remarks can be judged by the above examples. The determining factor is; mentioning about a person what he would not like if he/she hears about it.

As for talebearing (namima), it consists of quoting someone's words to another in a way that worsens relations between them.

The above define slander and talebearing.


There is much explicit and intersubstantiative evidence that slander and talebearing are unlawful from the Qur'an, the Sunnah and consensus of the Muslim Scholars.

Allah SWT says in the Qur'an :

Ayat 01

"Do not slander one another" (Surah 49: Ayat 12)

Ayat 02

"Woe to whomever disparages others behind their back or to their face" (Surah 104: Ayat 1)

Ayat 03

"...slanderer, going about with tales" (Surah 68: Ayat 11)

Below, are several Ahadith relating to the above topic of discussion:

Hadith 01

The Prophet SAW said:

"The talebearer will not enter Paradise."

Hadith 02

Rasulullah SAW spoke to his Companions RA:

"Do you know what slander is?"

They (RA) answered:

"Allah and His Messenger know best."

He (SAW) said:

"It is to mention of your brother that which he would dislike."

Someone asked:

"What if he is as I say?" (i.e. what if what is said of that person - is a true fact)

Rasulullah SAW replied:

"If he is as you say, you have slandered him, and if not, you have calumniated (made fitnah of) him."

Hadith 03

Rasulullah SAW said:

"The Muslim is the brother of the Muslim. He does not betray him, lie to him, or hang back from coming to his aid. All of the Muslim is inviolable to his fellow Muslim: his reputation, his property, his blood. Godfearingness is here (pointing to his heart). It is sufficiently wicked for someone to belittle his fellow Muslim."


As mentioned above, slander is saying anything about a person that he would dislike, whether aloud, in writing, by a sign, or a gesture. Anything by which one conveys a person's shortcomings to another is slander, and is Haraam. It includes doing imitations of someone, such as by walking with a limp, with a stoop, or similar posture, intending to mimic the person with such a deficiency. Anything of this sort is unquestionably Haraam.


Slander also includes the author of a book mentioning a specific person in his work by saying, "So-and-so says such and such," which is unlawful if he thereby intends to demean him. But if he wants to clarify the person's mistake so that others will not follow him, or expose the weakness of his scholarship so others will not be deceived and accept what he says, it is not slander, but rather advice that is obligatory, and is rewarded by Allah for the person who intends it as such.

Nor is it slander for a writer or other person to say, "There are those (or "a certain group") who say such and such, which is a mistake, error, ignorance, and folly," and so forth, which is not slander because slander entails mentioning a particular person or a group of specific individuals.


When the person being spoken to understands whom one is referring to, it is slander and unlawful to say, for example, "A certain person did such and such," or "A certain scholar," "Someone with pretensions to knowledge," "A certain Mufti certain person regarded as good," "Someone who claims to be an ascetic," "One of those who passed by us today," or "One of the people we saw."

This includes the slander of some would-be scholars and devotees, who make slanderous innuendoes that are as clearly understood as if they were plainly stated. When one of them is asked, for example, how so-and-so is, he replies, "May Allah improve us," "May Allah forgive us," "May Allah improve him," "We ask Allah's forbearance," "Praise be to Allah who has not afflicted us with visiting oppressors," "We take refuge in Allah from evil," "May Allah forgive us for lack of modesty," "May Allah relent towards us," and the like, from which the listener understands the person's shortcomings. All of this is slander and is unlawful, just as when one says, "So-and-so is afflicted with what we all are," or "There's no way he can manage this," or "We all do it."

The above are but examples. Otherwise, as previously mentioned, the criterion for slander is that one gives the person being addressed to understand another's faults.

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