Can we Say Mean Things Back in Self-Defense?

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel


I am a pretty meek person who doesn’t usually act on the offensive and say things to hurt someone. But sometimes, if someone says something mean to me, such as an insult to my appearance, can I say it back in retaliation or self-defense? I feel like merely defending myself gives the person the impression that I am too weak, and they may continue saying nasty things to me.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Humans go through many emotions that we feel unable to control. Anger is one of them and the strongest one too. Fortunately for us, Allah Most High in the Quran, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in his beautiful hadiths have told us how to deal with it. That is why the Quran is a source of guidance that will help us lead a meaningful and Islamic life. Allah has advised us to control our anger in all situations, no matter how testing they are.

Quran-Control of Anger

He has mentioned this in the Quran: “And hasten towards forgiveness from your Lord and a Paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, prepared for those mindful (of Allah). (They are) those who donate in prosperity and adversity, control their anger and pardon others. And Allah loves the good-doers.” [Quran, 3: 33-144]

Hadith-Control of Anger

Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “If two people exchange harsh words, it is against the provocateur as long as the one wronged does not transgress.” [Muslim]

This hadith means that the sin of using harsh words falls specifically and entirely on the provocateur unless the second person exceeds the limits of retaliation, such that he says to the provocateur worse than what was said to him. In this is permission to retaliate, and there is no disagreement on its permission… But despite this, patience and forgiveness are better.” [Nawawi, Sharh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim]

Abu Darda (Allah be pleased with him) reported: I said, “O Messenger of Allah, tell me about a deed that will admit me into Paradise.” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Do not be angry, and you will enter Paradise.” [Tabarani, Al-Muʻjam al-Awsat]

If someone provokes us, says the wrong things, or is even right in what he says, one should either explain oneself with calmness and wisdom or not retaliate and suppress one’s anger and the other person’s mean words. There is an immense reward for those who control their anger, a sign of being from amongst the Godfearing and a means to enter Paradise, too.

I recommend you read, follow and watch the links below.

Check these below given links:
A Little Fiqh on Controlling One’s Anger – SeekersGuidance
Purification of the Heart for Youth: Diseases of the Heart and Their Cure – YouTube
The Path of Muhammad: Birgivi’s Manual of Taqwa Explained – YouTube
Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart: Hamza Yusuf: 9780985565909: Books (Book)

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I pray this helps with your question.

[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied within UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.

He started his early education in UK. He went onto complete hifz of Qur’an in India, then enrolled into an Islamic seminary in UK where he studied the secular and Alimiyyah sciences. He then travelled to Karachi, Pakistan.

He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for a number of years. He has taught hifz of the Qur’an, Tajwid, Fiqh and many other Islamic sciences to both children and adults onsite and online extensively in UK and Ireland. He was teaching at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences.

He currently resides in UK with his wife. His personal interest is love of books and gardening.