Answered by Shaykh Umer Mian
Question: Assalamu alaykum
If someone was to curse an object such as chair or a car for example, would this mean that he can’t use it or sell it? I read a hadith in which someone cursed their camel and the prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) told them they could no longer use it.
Also if someone was to say for example “that damn car” does this come under cursing?
Answer: Wa alaikum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
Ibn Abidin states in his Radd al-Muhtar [‘al-Hashiya’]:
“The reality of cursing (la`n) is to distance from Mercy, which cannot be for other than an unbeliever (kafir).”
As Muslims, we have been prohibited from cursing others. Abdullah bin Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “The believer is not one who defames nor curses, nor is he indecent nor obscene” (Recorded by Tirmidhi).
The specific hadith you are referring to is as follows:
‘Imran b. Husain (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
We were with Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) in some of his journeys and there was a woman from the Ansar riding a camel and she became annoyed and cursed it. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) heard that and said: “Unload it and set it free for it is accursed” (Recorded by Muslim as above. Also recored by al-Nasa’i, Abu Dawud, and Ahmad).
The correct understanding of this hadith, as explained by the scholars of hadith, is as follows:
Since animals have no legal obligation in the Sacred Law (ghayr mukallaf), they cannot be truly cursed. Therefore, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)’s calling the animal “accursed” is not to be taken literally (i.e. distanced from Allah’s mercy), but rather it was intended linguistically, i.e. “you have cursed it.” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) only said “unload it and set it free” as a reprimand and punishment for the woman for doing something the believers have been prohibited from doing (i.e. cursing). The animal still remained property of the woman and it would have been permissible for her to slaughter it or sell it.
Sources: al-Nawawi’s commentary on Sahih Muslim, and Fath al-Mulhim
Regarding your second question:
“To damn” in English is a verb which has been defined as follows:
1. : to condemn to a punishment or fate; especially : to condemn to hell
a. : to condemn vigorously and often irascibly for some real or fancied fault or defect
“damned the storm for their delay”
b. : to condemn as a failure by public criticism
3. : to bring ruin on
4. : to swear at : curse — often used to express annoyance, disgust, or surprise
“damn him, he should have been careful”
“I’ll be damned”
: curse, swear
Source: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Ed.
As you can see from the above, the word “damn” is used in English to curse, just as the word “la’n” is used in Arabic. Therefore, a Muslim should avoid using this word.
Arabic source texts are below.
[Shaykh] Umer Mian
عَنْ عِمْرَانَ بْنِ حُصَيْنٍ قَالَ بَيْنَمَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي بَعْضِ أَسْفَارِهِ وَامْرَأَةٌ مِنْ الْأَنْصَارِ عَلَى نَاقَةٍ فَضَجِرَتْ فَلَعَنَتْهَا فَسَمِعَ ذَلِكَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ خُذُوا مَا عَلَيْهَا وَدَعُوهَا فَإِنَّهَا مَلْعُونَةٌ
قَالَ عِمْرَانُ فَكَأَنِّي أَرَاهَا الْآنَ تَمْشِي فِي النَّاسِ مَا يَعْرِضُ لَهَا أَحَدٌ (رواه مسلم)
إِنَّمَا قَالَ هَذَا زَجْرًا لَهَا وَلِغَيْرِهَا ، وَكَانَ قَدْ سَبَقَ نَهْيهَا وَنَهْي غَيْرهَا عَنْ اللَّعْن ، فَعُوقِبَتْ بِإِرْسَالِ النَّاقَة ، وَالْمُرَاد النَّهْي عَنْ مُصَاحَبَته لِتِلْكَ النَّاقَة فِي الطَّرِيق ، وَأَمَّا بَيْعهَا وَذَبْحهَا وَرُكُوبهَا فِي غَيْر مُصَاحَبَته صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ، وَغَيْر ذَلِكَ مِنْ التَّصَرُّفَات الَّتِي كَانَتْ جَائِزَة قَبْل هَذَا فَهِيَ بَاقِيَة عَلَى الْجَوَاز ؛ لِأَنَّ الشَّرْع إِنَّمَا وَرَدَ بِالنَّهْيِ عَنْ الْمُصَاحَبَة ، فَبَقِيَ الْبَاقِي كَمَا كَانَ . (شرح النووي على صحيح مسلم)