Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said (to his companions) :”Do you know what backbiting is?” They said, “God and His Messenger know best.” He then said, “It is to say something about your brother that he would dislike.” Someone asked him, “But what if what I say is true?” The Messenger of God said, “If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him.” (Muslim)
One of the hallmarks of righteous behaviour is good speech. If a Muslim feels at all uncertain, he should keep quiet. This doesn’t mean that a person can’t engage in casual conversation, but rather that he should guard his speech and choose his words carefully.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Whomsoever protects his tongue from unlawful utterances and his private parts from illegal sexual intercourse, I shall guarantee him entrance into Paradise.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
What else does Islam say about this particular sinful act? Allah says; ”O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, verily some suspicions are sinful. And spy not nor backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear God, verily, God is the one who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” (Quran; 49: 12)
Islam is a religion of peace, love and compassion. Lies, suspicion, back biting, slander and gossip is not allowed in Islam. In fact they are considered amongst the most destructive of sins. They cause hostilities between people of the same household, and between neighbours, friends and relatives and could lead to the destruction of society. Here as always Islam stresses on society.
Islam demands that our relationship with mankind should be one of sincerity and responsibility. It should be one where we have respect for the honour, reputation and privacy of others. Islam teaches us that we are not only held accountable for our own attitudes and actions but also for anything else over which we have control or influence over, in our society or the world around us. The differences that exist between human beings in the world should urge them to become acquainted with each other and to cooperate with each other in various walks of life Allah says: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other” (Quran; 49:13)
Slandering can be done through speaking, writing, nodding, hinting, texting, twitting, e-mails or signalling. Why do people slander against others? There are many reasons besides ignorance of the prohibition of slandering and the gravity of this sin, to get things off one’s chest such as hatred and malice; to hurt or harm the person being discussed or someone else that could be hurt indirectly, many would just be joking or fooling around.
Just as slander is unlawful for the one who says it, it is also unlawful for the person hearing it to listen and acquiesce to. It is obligatory whenever one hears someone begin to slander another to tell him to stop if this does not entail manifest harm to one. If it does, then one is obliged to condemn it in one’s heart. Thus the slandering incident should not have been highlighted by the media even.
Unfortunately slander which is the malicious, false and defamatory statement, had recently befallen on an innocent 11 year old non-Muslim boy and previously on several important individuals in our society and it seems that this incident has continued unabated.
But since this has already happened, what could be done? This sinful act must stop.
Islam teaches us that if people are being ridiculed in our presence, we should defend their honour. If we neglect this, we shall deprive ourselves of ever needed help and mercy from God. The present scenario entails such situation.
The above slander on the 11 year old child is the violation of the right of non-Muslims to be treated with kindness and total justice when not acting with hostility to Islam and Muslims.
Allah says “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with justice.” (Quran; 60:8)
It is also the violation to his right to privacy and non-interference in his affairs except that which is manifested so that it is harmful to society. The citizens have a right to privacy and not to be spied upon. Islam even prohibits the government to spy on its own people whether Muslim or non-Muslim.
It is another violation of his right not to be exposed to public indecency and the likes. Abu Darda(ra) reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said “Allah hates the profligate and the obscene” (Tarmizi). Futhermore what had been said about the boy is not true at all.
What can the boy do? He can just engage a lawyer and sue the accuser in the Malaysian courts. The parents have been consoling him and if everything goes well, it would be a magnanimous act on their part to forget the whole matter and move on. The sin committed will be a burden on the slanderer in this world and in the hereafter.
Those who indulge in such acts are oblivious of the fact that they are only harming themselves. They will be ridiculed and be worthless in this world. Then on the Day of Resurrection both the wrongdoer and the wronged will stand before God, Who is the Just Judge. A slanderer is an evil person and his or her testimony is rejected; that person is blacklisted and cannot be accepted as witness in the Shariah Court.
If he chose to seek justice under Shariah Law it should be under takzir; a misdemeanour committed by Muslims; crimes that are not specifically detailed on the type and form of punishment in the Quran so judges are free to punish the offender in any appropriate way. The punishment may not be more severe than the punishment of a hudud crime. But still it can range, depending on the crime or circumstances, from death to imprisonment, financial compensation to even community service. The punishment is meant to fit the crime. To redeem himself or herself of the sin committed, he or she must repent, ask for forgiveness from the victim and repent and ask forgiveness from God too.
Please note that this is entirely a different form of slander as accusing an innocent woman of adultery which specifically falls under the sub Hudud Law that is Qazaf.
Takzir crimes should be set by legislation and to clearly state the form of slander act and as mentioned in my previous article, Muslims must prepare these documents comprehensively before implementing the Shariah Law in Malaysia.
Does it mean that all forms of slander are not allowed in Islam? Some situations allow us to inform others of what someone has done. It is allowed for us to inform the authorities when someone does injustice to us or others. It is allowed for us to inform someone who can help a perpetrator from committing further vice. It is also permissible for us to tell whoever seeks our advice on a person for business dealings or marriage. In this case it is not allowed for us to hide what we know about the person so that the enquirer will not be deceived. All these are lawful.