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What Is Considered Slander?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question: What is considered slander?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, The Most Merciful and Compassionate

Slander is to mention something false about someone and is strictly prohibited.

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Do you know what backbiting is?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “To mention your brother in a way that he dislikes.” It was said, “What if what I said about my brother is true?” He said, “If he is as you’ve said, then you have backbitten him. If it is not true what you said, you have slandered him.” [Muslim]

Argumentation

Even though what you said is not slander, it is best to leave argumentation. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever leaves dispute, while they are incorrect, a house will be built for them in the outskirts of Paradise. And whoever abandons it, while they are correct, a house will be built for them in the center of Paradise, and whoever’s character is made beautiful, one will be built for them in the highest part (of Paradise). [Tirmidhi]

May Allah bless us all with beautiful character

Allahu A’alam

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of Qur’an and the Islamic sciences.

Calumny and the Prophetic Response

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat details the evils of calumny and how to respond.

I want to know what Shari‘a says of a women who falsely accuses husband of impotence and rejects all medical evidence. Not only that, she has spread word about the impotence of the husband throughout the community, thereby bringing him into disrepute.

I pray you are well.

Calumny

What you are describing is calumny (buhtan). It is a serious sin. Sins against oneself are bad – but sins against others are much worse.

The Messenger of Allah said, “Five particular sins have no expiation: Worshipping another besides Allah (this can be extended to disbelief in general), unjustly killing a person, calumny against a believer, fleeing from a battle, and a false oath causing a believer to lose his property.” (Ahmad).

What is understood from the hadith is that good deeds, Ramadan, etc., usually expiate and remove sins from a believer – even if he does not repent from them. These sins, however, are not expiated automatically. Whoever commits them must repent from them specifically, otherwise he will have to answer for them on the Day of Judgement.

The Prophetic Response

The best thing you can do is to respond as the noble Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, did, with patience and forgiveness.

Abu Hurayra narrated that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace said, “No wealth has ever been diminished by charity; and Allah has never raised a servant due to his pardoning [those who wrong him] except in honor; and whoever humbles himself for the sake of Allah – Allah raises him.” (Bukhari). These are tried and tested truths – do your best to follow this advice.

You are not, however, expected to be a doormat to anyone. The believer does not allow people to humiliate him. If there is active harm coming your way from people you can do what you need to prevent it, and preserve your reputation. But beware of going to excesses in your response. We are human, and emotionally charged situations can take people there.

Get out of harm’s way, and keep forgiving internally to please Allah; and whatever happens externally will go in your favor – that I guarantee you.

May Allah inspire us to adopt the prophetic response in all situations.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

What Should I Do About Thefts Committed During Childhood?

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Assalamu alaykum

1. How should one view the material rights of others that were taken by one during childhood? To my shame, in my personal situation I remember having done such things more than once, and having been found out by my parents.

2. As a student of history, I often find myself confused about how to apply the rules regarding backbiting and slander in historical sources. Could you please clarify what is permissible and impermissible to read/write in an academic context?

3. Could you define ‘al-khawd fil-batil’ clearly for me so I know how to avoid it?

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

Thank you for your questions.

The Messenger of Allah said, ‘The pen has been lifted from [documenting and acts of] three particular types of people: someone who is sleeping until he wakes up, a child until he reaches puberty, and an insane person until he regains his sanity’ (Narrated by Imam Ahmad). Based on this hadith you are not sinful for having taken the material possessions of others, however the Noble Shari’a still demands that their property and financial rights be returned. This is even the case if someone damages the property of another whilst asleep by falling onto it, for example.

If you cannot recall exactly what you took and when, you should make a list of what you know for certain, repent from the acts, and pay them back. If you recall anything else at a later date do the same for that too. As for anything which you cannot recall, the great master of spirituality Shaykh Abdul-Wahhab al-Sha’rani mentioned in one of his works that one should regularly perform an act of worship and then donate its reward to anyone who he many have wronged in any way; this was he will have something to compensate them with on the Day of Judgement.

Backbiting.

The Messenger of Allah told us that mentioning something about another person which they would dislike having said about them is backbiting (Muslim). The wording of the hadith is applies to any negative comment which could be made about someone; however, what we know from other sources in the Noble Shari’a that there are certain exceptions to this rule where criticising another is not impermissible:

1. When seeking to have a wrong redressed. For example, reporting someone to the police saying that he stole your property.

2. When someone well-known to have a particular name or quality. An example of this is the famous hadith narrator al-Hafiz Muhammad b. Ja’far al-Basri, who was affectionately referred to as Ghundar, troublemaker, after an incident in his days as a student. Despite this being a derogatory term, referring to him with this name is not backbiting, but this exception is conditioned upon the person not minding being referred to like that. This would also be the case for referring to someone with a description that defines them well such as ‘Zayd, the blind man, and Yasir, the short man.’

3. When warning someone. One can mention people when warning others about the potential harm that could occur through them, such as saying, ‘Don’t do business with so and so; he’s dishonest. However, due to the legal principle Necessity only allows the bare minimum (al-Darura tuqaddaru bi qadriha) one would not be allowed to make unrelated criticisms such as, ‘His breath stinks and he doesn’t change his socks for a week!’

4. When mentioning someone who publicly sins, whilst being unconcerned about people’s regard for him. An example of this is someone who walks down the street drinking a bottle of alcohol. Such a person loses the sanctity afforded to believers. Mentioning his misdeeds in the proper context is not sinful, whereas doing so without need could land one in another sin.

5.When seeking a legal verdict, such as asking a mufti something like ‘My father forces me to work and wrongfully claim benefits; what shall I do?’

6. Seeking help to undo a wrong, such as saying to someone ‘Will you speak to your son please? He keeps stealing from the donations box.’

Some of the scholars have added another category which allows one to mention something negative about another out of concern, such as a father saying, ‘I think my son takes drugs.’

In an academic context it would be permissible to documents the misdeeds of people of the past due to the benefit future generations can gain from it. Knowing about the consequences of the disobedience of the archers at the battle of Uhud, or the ultimate end of an unjust ruler is food for thought. Also, having an accurate historical record is essential to maintain the credibility of one’s historical record amongst other things. For these reasons and others the Ulema documented and transmitted matters which may ostensibly seem like backbiting.

Delving into the Forbidden (al-Khawd fi al-Batil).

Delving into the forbidden is a sin which is defined as discussing acts of sin without a worthy purpose. The great Damascan scholar, Shaykh Abdul-Ghani al-Nabulsi mentions in his commentary on Imam al-Birgivi’s al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya that this means discussing sins in a way which gives one pleasure and delight – and not necessarily just mentioning the act. From this we can see that someone talking about the the sinful acts of people in a nightclub, for example, is not impermissible if there is a Shari’a countenanced purpose to it. Simply discussing sinful matters to gain a few laughs is what is not permissible.

As for literature, there are many potential benefits to be gained from works which may have some questionable content, which renders reading it permissible. For example, when teaching Arabic Rhetoric, I instruct my students to read The Lord of the Rings because it will aid in them assimilating the concepts of rhetoric easily, which ultimately leads them to being able to see that the Qur’an is inimitable book of Allah.

The concepts of evil and magic in such books are important to know so that one can develop a keen sense of right and wrong. This is especially important for developing the morality of children, who cannot appreciate nuances in the way adults can. Parents should discuss these matters with their children alongside a reading of such literature and re-enforce the morality with Islamic standards. Not knowing about bad and harmful matters leaves one vulnerable to them, which is why the companion Hudhayfa b. al-Yaman habitually asked about the difficulties which would afflict the Muslims so he could remain safe from them.

Stories based on the concept of an ‘anti-hero’, someone who does good overall but by taking bad means, should be avoided as they give a mixed message, as should literature which one is not qualified to read, such as the convoluted arguments of atheists if one does not have a thorough grounding in Islamic Theology.

May Allah bless you with the best of both worlds.

Wassalam,
[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time.

Over the following eighteen months he studied a traditional curriculum, studying with scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.

In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years, in Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.

His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.

When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul-Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.

How to Repent From Backbiting?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

One of my friend has hurt me. I told this to another friend. But then this friend told this to the friend who hurt me. Now I realise that I have slandered him and despite my apologies he won’t forgive me. I feel very bad.

What can I do?

Answer: Assalam ‘alaykum. Jazakum Allah for writing in. I pray you’re well insha’Allah.

The general ruling in regards slander or backbiting is that one must make sincere repentance to Allah. As for informing the person slandered, then there is some difference of opinion as to whether it is obligatory to confess to them or not.

It would be permissible to follow the opinion that one does not have to inform the person of what was said, especially if it will result in bad feelings. [Al Majmu’, Al Hamidi ala Tuhfa]

However, if the person knows what was said, then one should apologise as the damage has already been done.

Given what you have mentioned, the person already knows what you said, and you also apologised many times to them. All that remains, if you haven’t already, is to pray two cycles of Salat al Tawba. The Prayer of Repentance, and then make sincere supplication for Allah to forgive you. Once done, then you have done all you can to make amends, so consider the matter closed and a lesson learnt.

If you want to do an additional act, you can give some charity as a way as atonement for the sin.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

What Constitutes as Slander, Backbiting and How to Avoid It?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalamu Alaikum

I have recently been trying to attain more self-control in my everyday life, by holding back from doubtful things in speech and action. I am finding this challenging because I do not have an exact understanding of what backbiting, slandering entails. Do you have any advice?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.

Masha’Allah, may Allah Most High grant you success in your desire to behave in a manner pleasing to Him.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say the good or remain silent.” [Bukhari]

The general rule is that you can talk about others insofar that the conversation is generic and not indicative of any derision against them, such as “so and so went to the park yesterday,” yet not that which is revealing of a sin, “so and so was in the pub again last night,” nor mere complaint or mockery of them, “so and so is an imbecile.”

Nawawi, for instance, writes, “Slander (ghiba) means to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike, whether about his body, religion, everyday life, self, disposition, property, son, father, wife, servant, turban, garment, gait, movements, smiling, dissoluteness, frowning, cheerfulness, or anything else connected with him.”

The way of safety, thus, is clear. Otherwise, take things step by step, asking Allah Most High for His Good Pleasure, and then if you feel yourself slipping or you actually slip up, seek His Forgiveness, dust yourself down and proceed forth on your journey. If things are unclear, seek some clarification.

[Keller, Reliance of the Traveller (r2.0)]

I’d highly recommend taking the following two free courses at SeekersHub: (1) Fiqh of Life: The Everyday Halal and Haram and: (2) The Sunna of Speech: Prohibitions of the Tongue

Please also see: Backbiting (Ghiba) and Seeking Counsel and: What To Do When you Hear Slander and Backbiting and: How To Repent From Gossiping and: A Reader on Tawba- Repentance

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

Should I Write Letters of Excuse to Public Figures for Having Slandered Them?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: In the past i have slandered some celebrities and politicians. Should I write letters to these people to apologize to them?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

No, it is not necessary to seek the apology of the person you slandered if the slander did not or will not reach them. The scholars, thus, encourage that the person should instead simply seek forgiveness for their error. Moreover, it would be good to supplicate for the person spoken against or give something in charity on their behalf, for instance. However, when such a person is a non-Muslim, then any supplications should remain generic.

[Nabulsi, al-Hadiqa al-Nadiyya Sharh al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya (2.226)]

Please also see: What To Do When You Hear Slander and Backbiting and: What Can I Do to Repent From Slander When the Person I Have Spoke Ill of Does Not Want to Forgive Me? and: A Reader on Tawba (Repentance)

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

I Need to Get Things off My Chest. Can I Confide in My Husband or Is That Gossiping?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I am trying to cut out gossiping. I struggle to hold things in because I have OCD and anxiety. Can I confide in my husband? He doesn’t gossip at all, and will keep what I say confidential.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for clarifying this matter.

Permissible Backbiting

Please refer to this article – When Is Backbiting Permissible?

In short, for the sake of your emotional health, you are permitted to confide in someone who can help you.
Please do your best not to give identifying information such as the person’s name or other incriminating details. Be as vague as possible, and give only just enough information in order to help you reduce your anxiety. For example, it would be better for you to say something like “So-and-so did this and it really upset me.” It would be impermissible for you to specifically name the person who upset you, unless your husband is capable of righting that wrong. In other words, it is impermissible to name someone just for the sake of venting.

For your long-term recovery, I suggest that you consider seeing a counsellor, therapist or psychologist.

I pray that Allah grants you lasting healing, and places tranquility in your heart.

Please see:

Slander, Backbiting and Talebearing

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Paulo Philippidis

Commit to Speak Ill of No One (30 Deeds, 30 Days), by Shaykh Walead Mosaad

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Speak No Evil: Commit to Speak Ill of No One During Ramadan – and Beyond, by Shaykh Walead Mosaad

30 Days, 30 Deeds
Sacred Acts to Transform the Heart

Every night, our scholars in residence explore one simple deed that could have far reaching spiritual impact on our lives – and the lives of others. Every day we’ll make the intention to put that teaching into practice. Whether it’s forgiving someone who’s wronged us or putting service to others at the top of our list of priorities, these powerful lessons will remind us of the great gift the Prophet ﷺ‎  gave us: the best of character.

Daily at 8:10 pm EST. Attend in person at SeekersHub Toronto or watch live.

 

Let’s #GiveLight to Millions More

We envision a world in which no one is cut off from the beauty, mercy and light of the Prophetic ﷺ example. A world where the dark ideology of a few is dwarfed by radiant example of the many who follow the way of the Prophet ﷺ. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support. This Ramadan, we need you to help us #GiveLight to millions more. Here’s how.

Sunnahs for a Healthy Community

Is your community torn apart by petty jealousies, conflicts and apathy? Do you feel like you don’t belong, or have nowhere to turn to for spiritual fulfillment?

Our friends from SeekersHub Perth Point composed a list from the One Body Study Circle, where Ustadh Amjad Tarsin offered from practical tips of how to rejuvenate those community bonds and nurture healthy communities.

The greatest crime: Apathy of good people & spiritual cannibalism

  • The greatest crime is not the evil of evil people, it is the apathy of good people.
  • One of the great scholars (ulema) of our times, Murabit Al Hajj, could never handle backbiting. When it occurred, he would stop it, or walk away.
  • The Prophet said, whoever relieves a tribulation or difficulty for a believer, Allah will remove a calamity from them on the Day of Judgement. We have a degree of duty of mercy to all of humanity and all of creation.
  • Whoever veils the faults of another Muslim, Allah will veil their faults in this world and the hereafter, and whoever exposes the fault of another Muslim, Allah will expose their faults.
  • A lot of people commit sins, then they feel like they can never get close to Allah. That is from the devil (Shaitaan), not from our faith.
  • Backbiting is like spiritual cannibalism, and it’s very easy to fall into.

Prevention of harm…or establishing the good?

  • A principle of sharia is the prevention of harm is of a higher priority than the establishment of benefit. The Prophet ﷺ, said at the end of times there would be a lot of bloodshed. He gave us advice: to keep our tongue and keep our hands away from evil. This means not to incite not to incite things verbally, and to not actually engage in the harm of others.
  • The Prophet ﷺ said to assist your brother whether he is the oppressor or the one being oppressed. Assisting an oppressor means to stop them.

I was sick and you did not visit Me…

  • Visiting the sick builds love, and the Prophet ﷺ said the one who does not show compassion to the elderly is not one of us.
  • Allah will say on the Day of Resurrection, “O son of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit Me.” The person will say, “O my Lord, how can I visit you when you are the Lord of the Worlds, You are unlike your creation, You are free of any possibility of even having something like this.” Allah will say, “Did you not know my servant was sick and you did not visit them?” If you had visited that person you would have found Me with them.”

Watering the tree of love…not macho enough?

  • Imam Al Haddad said brotherhood and sisterhood is like a tree; you water that tree by visiting each other from time to time.
  • According to hadith, a man was walking on a path for the sake of Allah to visit a brother. An angel appeared before him and asked, “Where are you going?” The man said, “I’m visiting someone who is beloved to me.” The angel asked, “Is there something you need from him, like a favour?” The man said, “No, I’m just doing it for Allah. “The angel said, “I bring you glad tidings from Allah, that Allah loves you for you going to visit your brother.”
  • The Prophet ﷺ said that if you love someone you should tell them. Nowadays, people feel too macho to tell each other that they love them.
  • Another thing that cultivates love is giving gifts; gifts that they would like.
  • Nowadays people give nicknames that are offensive or silly. Give people nicknames that are beautiful.
  • Defend the honour of people even if they don’t know about it, and make duaa for people in their absence. Make duaa without them even asking you.
  • Make excuses for people, look for their good qualities. It’s easy to look for the bad qualities of any human, however, we should be searching for their good qualities.
  • Reconciling between people is very important, as people are able to hold a lot of grudges against each other. It’s so important that it’s even permissible to lie to reconcile between people.
  • Habib Ali Jifri mentioned that a good way to know your place in another’s heart, is look inside yourself and see how much you love them.
  • A teacher’s love for their students is far greater than the students love for them. The teacher may not express it in words however their love and concern is greater.
  • Cornell West said that he has seen a lot of people who are successful in life because they were supported by someone who gave them a lot of love. In contrast, many people who have difficulty in life were not shown much love. That’s why the Prophet ﷺ said, “You will not enter paradise until your faith is complete and your faith is not complete until you love one another. Should I tell you what will build love between each other? Spread the Salaam (greetings of peace) between each other.
Feature photo by IIOC Masjid Omar AlFarouk.

 

Resources for Seekers

 

What To Do When You Hear Slander and Backbiting

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When a poor opinion of others occurs to mind, recognize that it is a type of whispering the devil has sent your way. You should consider it a fabrication, as he is the most evil of evildoers, and Allah has said, “When an evildoer brings you news, verify it before you harm others in ignorance and are then sorrowful over what you have done.” It is therefore not permissible to lend credence to the devil.

If there happens to be some circumstantial evidence that indicates impropriety, but it is also possible that the charge is not true, it remains impermissible to harbor malignant thoughts towards another.

Tenuous Threads

One of the signs of having such thoughts towards others is that your heart is no longer the same with respect to them; you flee from them and find their company burdensome; you are unable to give them due consideration, to be hospitable towards them or to feel pain at their situation.

That is simply because the devil tries to convince the heart, with even the most tenuous of threads, of the evilness of another. He even throws into the heart the idea that this observation of another’s state is actually due to one’s own perspicacity, intelligence, and sharpness of mind, and that after all a believer can see clearly with the light of the Divine, while he is really speaking through the deception of satan and his darkness!

Even were one trustworthy person to tell you something about another person, do not lend credence to it, but do not at the same time consider it false. This is just so that you don’t end up thinking badly of another.

Do The Opposite

Whenever a malevolent thought towards another Muslim comes to mind, respond by doing even more to treat him well and honor him. That alone angers the devil and drives him away from you, such that he no longer throws those kinds of thoughts your way, for fear that you would respond by busying yourself with prayers for that person.

Whenever you learn of the misstep of another Muslim, through clear proof that does not admit doubt, advise them secretly. Do not allow yourself to be deluded by Satan, who calls you towards speaking about them behind their backs.

When you admonish them, do not do so happy that you’ve managed to come across a deficiency on their part, such that they have to look up at you in your position of strength, while you look down at them as if they are nothing.

Rather, have as your ultimate goal ridding them of this sin, while being in a state of sorrow, the way in which you would be sad over your own character when it is found to be be in some way deficient.

It’s Not About You

And finally, let it be the case that this person’s leaving off this blameworthy trait without you having said anything is more beloved to you than them having done so due to your having admonished them.


May Allah reward Shaykh Shuaib Ally for unearthing this valuable advice from Imam al-Ghazali, as quoted in Nawawi’s Adhkar.

 

Resources for seekers: