Shunning and Reviling a Fellow Believer
Answered by Sidi Faraz A. Khan
Question: Assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I hope you and your family are well and healthy.
In the hadith mentioning that it is not lawful to ostracize a Muslim above three days, is this referring to separations that are for worldly reasons such as not talking to a Muslim one knows for three days after one argues with him over politics?
Also, is separating for such a worldly reason permissible?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.
The Legal Criteria of Shunning a Believer
Imam Khalil Nahlawi (Allah have mercy on him) mentions the following in his discussion of the vice of shunning a fellow believer and harboring animosity towards him:
“It is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayra (Allah be well-pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and send him peace) said, ‘It is not permissible for a believer to shun a fellow believer for more than three [days]. If three [days] pass, then let him meet him and offer his greetings. If the other replies [with greetings], then they both partake of the reward. If he [the other] does not respond, then he has incurred sin.’ And in another narration, ‘So whoever shuns for more than three [days] will enter the fire.’ [Abu Dawud]
This is understood as shunning for the sake of this world. As for doing so for the sake of the next world, due to an act of disobedience, to discipline the person, it is permissible, in fact recommended, without any set limit [for how long to shun], since that has been transmitted from the Prophet (Allah bless him and send him peace) and the Companions, may Allah be well-pleased with all of them.” [Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha fi ‘l-Hazar wa ‘l-Ibaha]
The basic criteria, then, is that to shun one’s fellow Muslim over a worldly matter is a vice, and the matter should be resolved within three days. As Shaykh Abdul Ghani Nablusi comments, doing so for a worldly matter is nothing short of succumbing to one’s ego and base selfish desires. [Hadiqa Nadiyya Sharh Tariqa Muhammadiyya]
Yet to shun a Muslim because of his disobedience is not blameworthy, as even the Beloved Messenger and Noble Companions did so when appropriate. Scholars do mention that this would not apply to family members though, due to the precedence of the obligation of maintaining family ties.
The Enormity of Hurting or Reviling Muslims
Allah Most High states, “Those who hurt believing men and women who have done nothing to deserve it shall bear the burden of calumny and open sin.” (33:58)
And the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The Muslim is the brother of the Muslim. He does not oppress him, betray him, or belittle him. It is sufficiently wicked for one to demean his fellow Muslim.” [Sahih Muslim]
As our teachers emphasize, it is only from one’s ego that one jumps at the opportunity to put his fellow Muslim down, whether by speech or action. The sincere believer will instead subdue his lower self and not aim to put down his brother, let alone shun him altogether.
The Blessing of Hearts United
Allah Most High states, “And remember [with gratitude] the favor of Allah upon you—how you were enemies, then He joined your hearts [in love]. So you became, by His favor alone, brethren.” (3:103)
Notice—Allah have mercy on you—how Allah mentions the word “favor” twice in this verse. A tremendous blessing indeed.
The following hadiths are sufficient in reminding us of the immense virtue of mending relations and loving one another for the sake of Allah.
(1) Our Prophet (Allah bless him and send him peace) said that Allah says, “Those who love one another for the sake of My majesty shall [on the Day of Judgment] be seated on thrones made of light, [such that even] prophets and martyrs would be jealous of them.” [Tirmidhi, well-authenticated]
That is to say, if prophets and martyrs had jealousy for anyone [which they do not], they would be jealous of such people. [Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir]
(2) Our Prophet (Allah bless him and send him peace) said that Allah says, “My love is incumbent upon those who love one another for My sake; who sit together for My sake; who spend on one another for My sake; and who visit one another for My sake.” [Musnad Ahmed; Tabarani. With a sound chain of narration]
May Allah make us among them. Amin.
And Allah alone gives success.
Faraz A. Khan
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani