Answered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam
Question : Having Hatred for a Sinful Person & Falsely Accusing Someone of Fornication
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
Answer: To begin with, we must always remember that although we should detest sins and acts of sin, but it is never permitted to hate and dislike a sinful person. Let alone sinful people, one is not even allowed to hate a non-believer; rather one should hate and dislike the act of disbelief (kufr).
Thus, the actions of the sisters in question of deserting their fellow Muslim sister and turning against her is completely wrong and not permitted in any way. These sisters should realize that Islam places allot of emphasis on not breaking ties and being kind to others. Rather, having good manners, being polite and gentle, not hurting others is more important than many other acts of worship (ibadah).
The principle is that the rights of fellow servants of Allah are given precedence over the rights of Allah. Committing a sin which involves harming other servants of Allah is far worse than committing a sin which is purely between one’s self and Allah Almighty. Sins such as fornication, adultery, drinking alcohol, etc can all be forgiven by repenting, but sins such as breaking ties, backbiting, slandering and hurting others cannot be forgiven unless one is forgiven by the one whom one harmed.
Even if this sister (whom the other sisters have accused of fornication and turned against her) was actually guilty of committing fornication, she would be much better than those who accuse her of committing fornication, treat her badly and talk ill of her behind her back, as fornication is a sin that is between one’s self and Allah, whereas breaking ties with a fellow Muslim and harming her is a sin that is between one’s self and another servant of Allah Most High.
Let us look at the following few Hadiths of our beloved Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace):
Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Do not nurse mutual hatred, nor jealousy, nor enmity, and become as fellow brothers (and sisters) and servants of Allah. It is not lawful for a Muslim to desert his brother (or sister) beyond three days.” (Sahih Muslim, no: 2563)
Sayyiduna Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “It is not permissible for a Muslim to break ties with his brother (or sister) beyond three nights, the one turning one way and the other turning the other way when they meet. The better of the two is one who is the first to give a greeting (salam).” (Sahih Muslim, no: 2560)
Sayyiduna Jubayr ibn Mut’im (Allah be pleased with him) narrates on the authority of his father that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “One who breaks ties will not enter Paradise.” (Sahih Muslim, no: 2556)
At times, people think that we are breaking ties for a valid and legitimate reason such as breaking ties with a person who commits a sin. This understanding is correct to a point, but we need to understand the reality behind this.
The Ulama state that it would be permitted to break ties for a valid reason such as breaking ties with an individual who sins in the open to the point that he/she does not care about committing the sin, for example, one openly drinks alcohol or boasts about committing fornication. In such a case, one would first have to try one’s utmost best to explain to the individual. However, if despite explaining and advising this individual, he/she does not abstain from openly sinning, it would be permitted to break ties with him/her, but that too with certain conditions:
a) There is genuine hope that he/she will rectify his/herself if ties are broken,
b) One may break ties only for a certain period of time,
c) One should not dislike the person from the heart; rather the intention should be to make the other person better. (See: Sharh Sahih Muslim by Nawawi & other commentaries of Hadith)
When we look at the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), we see that he never hated anyone regardless of how sinful the person may be. He would advice people gently and with mercy, and not by being harsh and ruthless. This is the very reason why many people entered into Islam. And compare that with our actions, it is hardly surprising why people turn away from Islam by looking at our doings.
Allah Most High says to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace):
“It is part of the Mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them. Were you severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from around you. So forgive them and ask for ((Allah)’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment).” (Surah Ali Imran, V: 159)
One of the main reasons why many people entered into Islam was that they were affected by the manners, character and personality of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace). They would find him to be a gentle, polite, caring, loving, soft-hearted person, and not a rough, impolite and harsh-hearted person. This is what Allah Most High is saying to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in the above verse that you deal with people in a very gentle and polite manner. Had you been harsh-hearted, people would have left you and turned away from you.
We see an example of this compassion, mercy and gentleness of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in the following incident:
Sayyiduna Imran ibn Husayn (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that a woman from (the tribe of) Juhayna came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) – she had become pregnant because of adultery – and said: “O Messenger of Allah! I have done something (adultery) for which the prescribed punishment must be imposed upon me, so impose it. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) called her master and said: “Treat her well, and when she gives birth bring her to me. He did accordingly. Then the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) ordered for her cloths to be tied around her and then he commanded for the legal punishment to be enforced upon her, hence she was stoned to death. He then prayed over her (Janaza prayer), upon which Sayyiduna Umar (Allah be pleased with him) said to him: “You pray over her O Messenger of Allah, when she has committed adultery? The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) said: “She has made such a repentance (tawba) that if it were to be divided amongst seventy people of Madina, it would be enough for them. Have you found any repentance better than this that she sacrificed her life for Allah Most High.” (Sahih Muslim, no: 1696)
Subhan Allah! Just look at the way the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) would treat sinful people. The woman was given the legal punishment as that was the prescribed punishment of Shariah. However, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) praised her and her repentance greatly, saying that her Tawba would be enough for seventy people of Madina. If only we all followed in the footsteps of the beloved of Allah (Allah bless him & give him eternal peace).
Another well known incident is of a villager who had newly accepted Islam. This villager, not knowing the etiquettes of the Masjid, began urinating in it. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) did not stop him instantly, rather he let him finish first and then explained to him in a polite, gentle and kind manner that, it is inappropriate to urinate in the house of Allah, rather the house of Allah is for worshipping Allah. (See: Sahih Muslim) There are numerous such examples in the life of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace).
At times people think that they are “practicing” and “good” Muslims and that it is their duty to have hatred and revulsion for someone who they think committed a sin. This is completely wrong and very unfortunate indeed. It has all the ingredients of pride, arrogance and Kibr written all over it.
Having pride (kibr) and looking down upon a fellow Muslim is considered to be amongst the major sins that take one to the fire of hell. (May Allah save us all). These sisters should realize that even if the other sister did commit fornication, it is not permitted for them to talk ill of her and look down upon her. In a Hadith, backbiting (gheeba) is considered to be worse than committing fornication (the chain of transmission of the Hadith is weak), hence do these sisters consider themselves to have never backbited in their lives? If they have, then their sin is worse than fornication and Zina. If that is the case, then what right do they have in treating another Muslim sister badly, regarding her to be sinful and themselves to be free and immune from sins?
As mentioned earlier, sins such as backbiting, hatred, jealousy and talking ill of others are worse than Zina and fornication, for these sins are connected to the servants of Allah. Therefore, we are all sinful people, and the best amongst us is the one who repents from his/her sins.
Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “All the children of Adam are wrongdoers, and the best of the wrongdoers are those who repent.” (Sunan Tirmidhi)
Therefore, we must not treat others badly because they may have committed a sin, for we also commit many sins. If this sister in question did commit fornication, then the other sisters may have committed far worse sins such as backbiting, slandering, talking ill of others, jealousy, enmity and the list goes on. Thus, they should not think good of themselves and be arrogant, for Allah does not like the proud and arrogant person.
Moreover, you state that “some sisters feel that it is their duty to tell people who think highly of the girl, about her apparent sin”. By reading this, I was in complete shock and disbelief and could not believe that Muslims such as these really exist.
It is definitely not their duty to inform others about other people’s sins, neither is it permissible for them to do so. If they do, then they will be committing a major sin. They should do what concerns them and not go after other people’s faults and sins. We should all first look at our own selves and at our own faults. Unfortunately many of us fail to realize our own faults but keep pointing fingers at other people’s sins.
If we want our sins to be hidden from other people on the Day of Judgment, then we must learn to hide and conceal other people’s faults in this world.
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “No servant conceals the faults of others in this world except that Allah will conceal his faults on the Day of Resurrection.” (Sahih Muslim, no: 2590)
Therefore, the sisters in question must avoid spreading bad things about the other sister and talking ill of her, for that is unlawful.
Moreover, if she did commit fornication, she could have repented from her sin, and the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) tells us that the one who repents from his/her sin is like he/she never committed a sin. Therefore, they must abstain from considering her to be sinful.
Accusing another of fornication without concrete evidence:
All of the above explanation is in the case where this sister did actually commit fornication (zina) and the other sisters have concrete evidence to prove it. However, if they are unable to provide clear, concrete and unambiguous evidence, then their sin is even worse.
As far as the evidence for proving someone to be guilty of fornication is concerned, the great Hanafi jurist, Imam al-Mawsili (Allah have mercy on him) states:
“It (legal punishment) is established by evidence and confession. Evidence is that four people give testimony against a man and woman that they committed fornication. When they testify (in the courts), the judge (qadhi) will inquire from the witnesses the particulars and details of what took place, the place of incident, the time of incident, and the identity of the woman involved. When they give details of all of this and they state that the woman was unlawful upon the man in every way, and that they testify the observing of sexual intercourse taking place like they see a Kohl needle entering the Kohl bottle, and the four witnesses are considered upright both privately and publicly, then the judge will give the order for the legal punishment to be enforced upon the perpetrators.” (See: al-Ikhtiyar li ta’lil al-Mukhtar, 2/312-313)
The above and other such texts of the jurists (fuqaha) are clear on the fact that there are strict and stringent rules to prove someone being guilty of fornication. If one was to look at the books of Fiqh, one will become aware of the many strict conditions mentioned therein.
Someone being guilty of fornication is proven by four people testifying that they clearly observed the couple engaged in unlawful sexual intercourse without any doubt or ambiguity. They are able to say that they saw their private parts meet like the Kohl needle entering the Kohl bottle. The judge would ask them all the various details concerning the time and location of the incident, and who were the people involved and other such matters, in order to remove any doubt. These four witnesses themselves must be pious and upright both privately and publicly.
You state that the sisters are accusing the girl of fornication without any concrete evidence, and merely on the fact that they firmly trust the person from whom they heard of it. If this is the case, then these sisters are guilty of committing grave sins.
Suspicion and falsely accusing another of committing a sin are both considered to be amongst the major sins.
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Avoid suspicion, for suspicion is the greatest of lies in talk and do not be inquisitive about one another and do not spy upon one another and do not feel envy of one another, and nurse no malice, and nurse no aversion and hostility against one another. And be fellow-brothers and servants of Allah.” (Sahih Muslim, No: 2563)
Thus, we must avoid suspicion and spying on others. How can one find time to spy on another and try to find his/her faults, when one has so much to take care of regarding one’s own self.
Had it been an Islamic country (where the Islamic legal punishments are enforced), these sisters who accuse the other sister of fornication would have been punished by receiving 80 whips on account of false accusation (had al-Qazf).
The Fuqaha state that if one accuses another of fornication without being able to provide four upright witnesses who are able to testify in the manner explained above (i.e. that they saw their private parts meet like the needle entering the Kohl bottle), then these accusers themselves would receive 80 lashes for falsely accusing another of fornication. (See: al-Ikhtiyar)
Therefore, these sisters who have turned against the other sister and express their disgust and hatred for her should recognize that they may be committing a number of sins:
1) Falsely accusing another of fornication (unless they have four upright and pious witnesses who are able to testify in the manner explained earlier)
6) Breaking ties,
8 Considering one’s self better than another,
All these sins are such that each one of them individually is worse than actually committing fornication, for these sins are connected to another servant of Allah Most High.
Therefore, you should not sit on the fence, rather it is your duty and responsibility to explain to the sisters that what they are doing is wrong. Normally such actions come about due to not having adequate knowledge of Deen, hence they should learn about their Din, and thereafter try correcting others. May Allah give us all the true understanding of Deen, Ameen.
And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK