Defend and Support Others

One’s etiquette in social situations is the key foundation to having strong relationships with others. This article is the eleventh in a series taken from the On Demand Course: Discussion on Sulami’s Adab of Keeping Company.

Some of these proper etiquettes overlap. The wisdom of that is educational. There are key points that the author is emphasizing. 

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was described that if he said something he would repeat it. Other narrations mentioned if he said something he would repeat it three times.

Defending and Supporting Them as Much as Possible

In general, if somebody backbites another, slanders them, gossips about them, or is about to divulge their private affairs, one has a duty towards one’s fellow human being to defend their honor. 

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reportedly said:

“Everything of one’s fellow Muslim is inviolable for the Muslim: his blood, his property, and his honor.”

This applies in general, but it applies even more to family, friends, and people one has relationships with.

How does one defend them? If somebody is slandering them, one is obligated to speak up. Say, “I am sorry, that is not correct.” One defends their good name. 

In a situation where one cannot put a good word in for them, be strong about it. Say a good word, and you would be surprised how often people will just be quiet. 

As for supporting them, this is particularly in the context when people criticize them.

Defend Your Companions

There is a beautiful story of Imam Junaid al-Baghdadi, one of the great Imams of the spiritual path. Some people came to complain about his students.

His students included great scholars. Someone came to him and said, “Why do your students eat so much?” He replied, “Because they do not drink wine so they get more hungry than the people who drink.” 

Then it was said, “Why do they have such strong desire?”

The reply was, “Because they do not engage in the prohibited.”

Then it was said, “Why do not they get elated when they listen to the Quran?” He replied, “Because the Quran does not make one elated. It is the words of the Real and it is commands and prohibitions, promises and threats, so it causes one to be overwhelmed and humbled.”  

He kept getting asked about his companions and he kept defending them. 

When people criticize, you give good interpretations for things that are not outright prohibited. 

Even if someone did the haram, then if something is done and someone remarks, “Oh you know, there was that concert going on, so and so went there.” Even then you have a duty to defend them, “We are not sure that that happened.” Or, one says something good about them. 

A Time and a Place

To live is to be hurt. When people get old, they have been hurt, they get bitter, and so on. One has to assess. If one is not able to outright defend another, and it could make it worse, change the topic. 

Where you can actually defend and support the person, do so. If not, then one can say the good about the person without defending them. If you cannot even say something good about the person without defending them, change the topic. 

One does remind the elder but sometimes that can be a challenge. There is a time for everything. At times, one needs to discuss it with them later on. If at times they are upset it might not be the time to tell them but one changes the topic and later one tells them when they are calm or less upset. 

It gets sensitive in situations like social media. If someone is speaking ill of one of one’s teachers etc.. One has to counterbalance. The slander on one side, but on the other side, getting involved in pointless argumentation.

Sometimes, just the fleeting bad comment, one ignores. But, it is very important to defend the honor of people. 

Defending someone does not mean attacking the offender.