Slander and Talebearing – الغيبة و النميمة

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
اللّهمّ صلّ على سيدّنا و حبيْبنا وشفيْعنا رسوْل الله محمّد ابْن عبْد الله و آله و صحْبه و سلّم

Excerpt from Reliance of the Traveller, Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Book R on Holding One’s Tongue

(Nawawi:) Slander and Talebearing are two of the ugliest and most frequently met with qualities of men, few people being safe from them. I have begun with them because of the widespread need to warn people of them.

SLANDER

Slander 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.

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

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

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.

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.

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 (if mentioned derogatorily)

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

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.

TALEBEARING consists of quoting someone’s words to another in a way that worsens relations between them.

The above define slander and talebearing. AS for the ruling on them, it is that they are unlawful, by the consensus of Muslims. There is much explicit and intersubstantive evidence that they are unlawful from the Koran, sunna, and consensus of the Muslim Community.

Allah Most High says:

1) “Do not slander one another” (Koran 49:12)

2) “Woe to whomever disparages others behind their back or to their face” (Koran 104:1)

3) “…slanderer, going about with tales” (Koran 68:11)

The Prophet s.a.w. said :

1) “The talebearer will not enter Paradise”

2) “Do you know what slander is?” They answered: “Allah and His Messenger knows 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 slandered him, and if not, you have calumniated him.”

3) “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.”

Mimicking another’s Idiosyncracies

We have mentioned above that 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 Muslim’s (or non-Muslim’s) shortcomings to another is slander, and unlawful. 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 unlawful.

Slander in Published Works

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 rewarde 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.

SLANDER BY ALLUSION AND INNUENDO

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,” “A certain person regarded as good,” “Someone who claims to be an ascetic,” “One who passed by us today,” “One of the people we saw.” This includes the slander of some would be scholars and devotees, who make slanderous innuendos 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 improves 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,” …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 is no way he can manage this,” or “We all do it.”

We seek refuge in Allah from falling into any of the above. Indeed safety lies in remaining silent, safety lies in remaining silent, safety lies in remaining silent!

May Allah guide us all. Amin!

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