Is It Sinful to Say a Curse Word When Quoting Someone?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


Is it sinful to say a curse word when quoting someone? I was conversing with someone, and I knew the author who used the N-word in the book, so I mentioned him saying the N-word (in full) in the conversation. Is it sinful to say the N-word when quoting someone?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

No. Saying a bad word while quoting someone else’s words is not a sin like it would be to say such a word of one’s own initiation.

The Reason

The scholars of language distinguish between initiated speech (insha) and quoted speech (hikaya). There are many instances where one’s quoting of another is not given the same rulings as initiated speech.

Allah Most High quotes the disbelievers’ statements of disbelief. The worse type of sinful word one can say is statements of disbelief.

Allah Most High says, “They say, ‘Allah has offspring.’ Glory be to Him! In fact, to Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth—all are subject to His Will.” [Quran, 2:116]

Even though the statement “Allah has offspring” is a major sin and disbelief, it is permissible to say if one is quoting.

Another example is in the issue of divorce or other court declarations. If someone said: Zayd said, “I divorce my wife,” this would not be taken as an initiation of divorce for his own wife. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

A Higher Level of Modest Speech

The above reasoning is as reflected by the letter of the Sacred law. The believer, however, should uphold a higher level of modesty in speech.

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The believer is not one who constantly makes insults, curses, speaks shamelessly, or speaks lowly speech.” [Bukhari, Adab al-Mufrad]

This is a sign of dignity and respect for the blessing of the tongue. Imam al-Ghazali (Allah be pleased with him) states that a believer should not even say “armpit” rather, they should say “underarm.” [Ghazali, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din]

Many of the righteous, even today, don’t say I have to urinate – they would use a more subtle dignified statement in order to high such explicit speech: they would say, “May I renew my wudu?” They would then use the restroom and make wudu.

Allah Most High, Himself, uses modesty in His Divine speech, the Quran. For instance:

  • Instead of saying “passing stool,” He uses “coming back from a place of soft ground.”—the place where people would relieve themselves was a place with soft ground.
  • Instead of marital intercourse, He uses “when he covered her.”

There are many examples of this in the Quran, Hadith, and speech of the righteous.


Instead of quoting the N-word in full, one can indicate what was said by using the minimum need to get the point across: such as saying “N-word” instead of the full word.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch teaches Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York, where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences.

He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he studied for three years in Dar al-Mustafa under some of the most outstanding scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib.

In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Quranic exegesis, Islamic history, and several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.