By Abdul Malik Al-Qasim

In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

"O you who believe! If a Fasiq (liar - evil person) comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful for what you have done." (49:6)

Definition of terms:

Mukallaf : a competent person in complete control of all faculties.
Gheebah : backbiting
Buhtaan : saying something untrue about a person
Nammaam/Nammaamah : male/female performing Nameemah
Ijmaa': consensus of the Muslim scholars
Kidhb : lying
Hasad : envy
Nifaaq : hypocrisy

The Muslim Ummah is distinctive with the qualities of love and brotherhood, affection adorns the hearts and smiles beautify the faces. The principles among the believers are those of brotherhood and good friendship. Allah has said:

"The believers are nothing else than brothers." (49:10)

Allah has prohibited the believers from anything that may induce enmity and hatred amongst them:

"Shaitan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from Salat. So, will you not abstain?" (5:91)

Allah has conferred His favor upon His slaves in joining their hearts. He said:

"And remember Allah's favor on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together so that by His Grace you became brethren." (3:103)

"He it is Who has supported you with His help and with the believers, and He has united their hearts. If you had spent all that is in earth you could not have united their hearts, but Allah has united them." (8:62-63)

Every Mukallaf should safeguard his tongue against all kinds of loose talk except when it is evident that talking will be a means of beneficence. When talking and being quiet are both equal as a prudent measure, then the Sunna is to abstain from speech. This is because even lawful speech may lead to unlawful or unpleasant matters. This is, unfortunately, a common practice. Abu-Hurairah reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

"Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak what is good or be silent." (Agreed upon)

This Hadith is clear and indisputable that a person should not talk unless what he wants to say is good and there is benefit from it. However, when he doubts whether there would be benefit or good, he should then not speak. Imam Shafi'ee said:

"If a person wishes to say something then he should think before he starts talking. If there is good, then he should speak, otherwise he should not."

Definition of Nameemah (Slander)

The word Nameemah (Slander) usually refers to the act of carrying tales from one person to another. However, Nameemah is not limited only to that. It includes disclosing things that are disliked, whether by the person being told, the person being discussed, or a third party. This disclosure can be by speaking, writing, nodding, intimating (hinting) or signalling. The disclosed matters can be actions or speech, and may be a defect in the person being discussed or not. The reality of Nameemah is to disclose a secret and expose something about someone who doesn't like having such thing exposed.

A person should not talk about anything that he may see in people and dislike. He should only say something if, inherent within it, it is good for a Muslim and to block a wrong or a harm. If he sees, for example, someone mistreating another's property, then he should testify to obtain the right of the person. But if he sees someone hiding his own property and he discloses this, then it is Nameemah - the revealing of a secret. If what is stated is actually a fault or defect about the person being discussed, then it is a combination of Gheebah and Nameemah.

Nameemah is carrying discussions from one to another for the intention of mischief, disclosing secrets and exposing secret matters. Buhtaan about an innocent person is heavier in sin than the weight of the skies. Woe to the one who goes around telling lies about an innocent person to one in authority or others, such that they believe him. He may bring about evil to an innocent person.

Yahya Bin Aktham said: "The Nammaam is a greater evil than a magician. The Nammaam does in one hour what a magician cannot do in one year." It was also said, "The acts of Nammaam are more harmful than the acts of Shaitan. Shaitan acts by imagination and whispering, while the Nammaam acts face-to-face and openly."

The Islamic Ruling on Slander

Nameemah is an abomination. It is very widely spread amongst people and very few are safe from it. Nameemah is prohibited by Ijmaa'. There are many clear references from the Qur'an, Sunna and Ijmaa' of the Ummah about the prohibition of Nameemah. Al-Hafiz Al-Munthiri said: "The Ummah has agreed on the prohibition of Nameemah and that it is one of the greatest sins in consideration with Allah." Nameemah was prohibited because of the hatred and enmity that it might cause amongst Muslims.

The Daleel (evidence) On the Prohibition of Nameemah

Allah has said:

"A slanderer going about with calumnies." (68:11)

"Not a word does he utter but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it.) (50:18)

"Woe to every slanderer and backbiter." (104:1)

The slanderer is the Nammaam.

"...and his wife too, who carries wood." (111:4)

In reference to this Sِrah, it was said that she was a Nammaamah who used to carry tales to spread mischief among people. The tales were called wood because she used to spread enmity and hatred among the people just like wood spreads fire. Nameemah is a harm that affects the believers and spoils relationships amongst them. Allah has said:

"And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly, they bear the crime of slander and plain sin." (33:58)

Hudhaifah reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

"A Nammaam will never enter Paradise." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

If the Nammaam does not enter Paradise, then his abode will be nothing but Fire, since there is nothing but Paradise or Fire. The Prophet (pbuh) is also reported to have said:

"Shall I tell you about the most evil ones from amongst you?" They said, "Of course." He said, "Those who go around with Nameemah. They make enmity between friends and they seek problems for the innocent." (Ahmad and Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)

Let us see what kind of retribution awaits the Nammaam in his grave. Ibn Abbas said:

"Allah's Messenger (pbuh) was passing by two graves and said, 'They (the dead laying in these graves) are being tortured not for a major (sin), but in fact it is a minor (sin). One of them used to carry Nameemah and the other didn't save himself from being soiled by his urine.'" (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Scholars have said that this Hadith means that they were being tortured for what seems to be minor sins. It has also been interpreted as meaning that a major effort is required to avoid these two sins. It has also been said that one- third of the torture in the grave is because of Nameemah. Allah ( has prohibited going about with Nameemah because it causes enmity and hatred amongst Muslims. While the Lord gave allowances for lying to reconcile people, and He recommended reconciliation amongst Muslims. Allah has said:

"So fear Allah and adjust all matters of differences among you." (8:1)

The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said:

"Shall I tell you about acts of a higher rank than Salat, Siyam and Sadaqah?" They said, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah." He said, "Effecting peace among people, for the spoiled relationships amongst people is destruction." (Abu-Dawud and Tirmidhi)

Motives for Slandering

There are hidden motives that incite men to carry Nameemah from person to person, among these are the following:

1. Some are ignorant of the prohibition of Nameemah or the fact that it is a major sin that leads to a great evil, as well as causing enmity, separation amongst friends, destruction of houses, spreads malice and causes fights amongst Muslims.

2. To get things off one's chest, such as hatred and malice. A Nammaam does this by spreading Nameemah among friends. He criticizes the person that others like.

3. Joining - by agreeing - with a group of friends. A person tries to get closer to the group by bringing news to them and telling them about new things about others.

4. The intention of hurting the person being discussed; such as talking to a person in authority or power with the intention of harming the person by any means.

5. To show love and loyalty to the person he tells things. He acts in a way that he did not like what was said about his friend, so he tells his friend what the people say about him.

6. Joking or "fooling around". There are many gatherings that are held for only joking, laughing, "fooling around" and talking about others.

7. Pretending knowledge of people and their secrets and status. The person talks about someone and discloses secrets of another.

What Should Be Done With the Slanderer

Dear brothers, any person to whom the Nameemah was carried and was told so-and-so said such-and-such about you or did such-and-such against you, etc. should do all of the following:

1. Do not believe the Nammaam because he is an evil person and his testimony is rejected. Allah has said:

"O you who believe! If a Fasiq (rebellious evil) person comes to you with news, verify it lest you harm people in ignorance." (49:6)

2. Stop the Nammaam and advise him. He should be told how ugly and despised his actions are, for Allah said:

"Enjoin (people) to Al-Ma'ruf (good) and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (evil)." (31:17)

3. Dislike the Nammaam for the sake of Allah. Allah does not like the Nammaam, so we should dislike whom Allah dislikes.

4. Do not think bad of your absent brethren. Allah said:

"O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sins...." (49:12)

5. Do not be pushed by what has been said to go and check on others and spy. Allah said:

"... and spy not, ... ." (49:12)

6. Do not accept for yourself what you have forbidden the Nammaam from doing. Don't tell his Nameemah and then say, "a person has said such-and-such." If you do, then you become Nammaam and Mughtaab. You would then have done what you have forbidden.

Al-Hasan said "Whoever carries Nameemah to you, will carry one about you." This is an indication that the Nammaam should not be trusted in his statements or friendship but be hated. How could a Nammaam not be hated while he continues to lie, cheat, make Gheebah, envy, spread mischief among people, and cut what Allah has ordered to be joined? Allah has said:

"The way (of blame) is only against those who oppress men and wrongly rebel on the earth without justification...." (42:42)

And the Nammaam is one of them.

The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said:

"The worst people before Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be those whom the people leave (undisturbed) to be away from their evil."

"The Qaati' will not enter Paradise." They asked, "Who is the Qaati'?" He said, "The one who severs the bonds among the people." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This is the Nammaam. It was also said that the Qaati' is the one who severs the bond of kinship.

Mus'ab Bin 'Umair said:

"We believe that accepting the tale is worse then telling it. Telling it is carrying the news but accepting it is approving of it and the act, so be aware of the person conveying tales. Even when he tells the truth he is actually mean because he did not observe the honor of his brother neither did he cover his brother's faults."

Characteristics of the Slanderer

Allah has said:

"And obey you not everyone Hallaaf Maheen. A slanderer going about with calumnies, Hinderer of the good, transgressor, sinful, Cruel, and moreover base born." (68:10-13)

In these Verses, Allah has described the Nammaam with nine characteristics, all of which are ugly:

1. He is Hallaaf: one who swears (vows and attests) much. The person who swears too much is often an untruthful person. He suspects that people don't believe him and don't trust him, so he swears to cover his lying and to convince the people.

2. He is Maheen: worthless. People do not respect him. One of the signs of a lack of respect is evident in his need to swear all the time. Being worthless or low is actually a psychological characteristic that is attached to a person even if he is wealthy or powerful.

3. He is Hammaaz: a slanderer. He criticizes and insults people using words or signals in their presence as well as in their absence.

4. He goes about with calumnies - (misrepresentations and vilifications). He spreads Nameemah to harm people and create enmity among friends. Such nasty acts are done only by one who is low and evil.

5. He is an obstacle for good in that he hinders it only for himself and others.

6. He is a transgressor as he violates the truth and justice.

7. He is a sinner, for he does not care about committing sins and performing that which has been prohibited.

8. He is cruel, harsh, rough and hard - a personality that people don't like or accept.

9. He is Zaneem: a bastard. Abdullah Bin Al-Mubarak said: "An illegitimate son who doesn't hold his tongue."

The Two-Faced

Dear brothers, more serious than Nameemah is the person that instigates two people who have enmity between themselves. He tells everyone what they would like to hear. If he does not convey any talk but only made enmity between the two people seem right to both of them, then he is one with two tongues. If he promises everyone of them that he will be with him on his side or if he praises everyone for their enmity to the other, or he praises one of them then leaves and criticizes him, then he is a double-faced person. A person should either be quiet or praise the person who has the right. He should praise him in his absence or presence as well as in front of his opponent. The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said:

"Whoever has two faces in this world, will have two tongues of fire on the Day of Resurrection."

(Related by Abu Dawud but the Sanad for this Hadith is not sound) The Prophet (pbuh) is also reported to have said:

"You will find that the worst of Allah's slaves on the Day of Resurrection is the two-faced person. He comes to some people with one face and to others with another face." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said:

"You find people like metals in their qualities). The best of them during the days of Jahiliyyah are the best when they enter Islam if they understand Islam. The worst people are the ones who do not accept Islam. You will find the worst among people the two-faced person. He comes to some people with one face and to the others with another face." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

It was narrated that Hammad Bin Salamah said:

"A man sold a boy-slave to another person. He told the buyer that the slave is with no defects except that he was Nammaam. The seller did not think much of it when he bought him. A few days later the slave said to the wife of his master, 'Your husband does not love you and he intends to have marital relations with a maid. Do you wish that he would have affection for you?' She said, 'Yes.' He said to her, 'Take a razor and cut some hair from the bottom of his beard when he goes to sleep.' He then went to the husband and said, 'Your wife has established a relationship with an another man and she intends to kill you. Do you want to check on this yourself?' His master said, 'Yes.' The slave said, 'Then pretend in her presence that you're sleeping.' So the man did and his wife came with a razor to cut some hair from his beard. The husband opened his eyes and thought that she was coming to kill him for real. He took the razor from her and killed her. Her family came and killed him. The family of the man then came and a feud began between the two groups."

This is the two-faced person.

He conveys tales against you as he does to you, So do not trust the evil plots from the cunning two-faced person. (Poetry)

Jewels from the Sayings of the Salaf

Be aware, dear brothers, that Buhtaan against an innocent person is heavier in its sin than the weight of the skies. Safety is in silence and it should be the rule. To be quiet at the right time is the quality of true men. Also to speak at the appropriate time is the noblest of all characteristics. The following are some sayings and actions of the Salaf:

* A man from the Salaf visited his brother. His brother conveyed Nameemah to him about a friend of his, so he told his brother: "My brother, you have made a long Gheebah and caused me three offenses: made my brother disliked to me; made my heart think about what you said; and made me suspect your honesty."

* A Nammaam sent a letter to As-Saahib Bin 'Abbad, encouraging him to take some of the money from an orphan because it was too much. As-Saahib wrote on the back of the letter:

"Nameemah is ugly and evil even when it is true. If you meant to advise me by writing to me, then be assured that your loss is better than the profit. I ask Allah for refuge from accepting a tale from a dishonored person about another with a blameless record. If you were not in your old age, we would have treated you with your intention. So avoid the same, for Allah knows the hidden and unseen. May Allah cover the dead with His mercy and support the orphan with patience. The money is increased and blessed by Allah, and the conveyer of Nameemah is cursed by Allah."

* Bakr Bin Abdullah is reported to have said:

"Always do something where if you do it and you're right then you will be rewarded and if you are wrong you will not be punished. And avoid doing something where if you are right you will not be rewarded and if you are wrong you will be punished." They asked, "What is that thing?" He said, "Ill suspicions of people; if you are right, you will not be rewarded; but if you are wrong, you are sinners."

* Muhammad Bin Ka'b was asked what qualities are low and not fitting for a believer. He said:

"Talking too much, uncovering the secret and accepting the sayings of everyone."

* A man said to 'Amr Bin 'Ubaid, "A man has been saying bad things about you." 'Amr said to him:

"Listen! You have not honored the sitting in this man's company because you conveyed to me his speech. Further, you did not consider brotherly rights when you informed me about what I dislike about my brother. But inform him that we all are dying. The grave will surround us all and the Day of Resurrection will collect all of us. And Allah will judge amongst us, He is the Best of judges."

* It was narrated that a person once came to 'Omar Bin 'Abdul-Aziz and mentioned something about another man. 'Omar is reported to have said: "If you wish, we will look into your claim. If you're lying then you're among the people mentioned in this Verse:

"...If a Fasiq (rebellious evil) person comes to you with news, verify it...." (49:6)

"If you're telling the truth then you are among the people mentioned in this Verse:

'A slanderer, going about with calumnies.' (68:11)

"But if you wish, we would forgive you." The man then said, "I want to be pardoned O Chief of the Believers. I promise I will not do such a thing again."

* Luqman said to his son:

"My son I admonish you with qualities that if you hold to, you will always be honored as the head of your people: be good (have good manners) with the near and far; do not lose your temper with the respected people; protect your brothers and their honor; and join your kin. Have your brothers and relatives trust about you that you would not accept any tales from any person who intends to deceive you and corrupt the relationships. Take friends in a way that if you leave them, you will not say bad about them, neither will they say bad about you."

Some Salaf have said that Nameemah is based on Kidhb, Hasad, and Nifaaq. These three are pillars of lowliness and depravity. Others have said that if what a Nammaam has conveyed to you was true, then be informed that this Nammaam was more daring to tell you the bad thing about you. The one that said it to the Nammaam should be entitled more of your patience since he didn't confront you with the criticisms.

* A man came to Sulaiman Bin Abdul-Malik and Sulaiman reportedly said to him:

"I was told that you have said bad things about me." The man said, "I have not done or said anything." Sulaiman then said, "The one who told me is truthful." Upon that Az-Zuhari, who was in the company of Sulaiman said, "The Nammaam is never truthful." Sulaiman then said, "You are right." And then he said to the man, "Go in peace."

Dear brothers,

The friend of a Nammaam is never safe from his scorpions (i.e., stings). Neither can he be safe from his snakes (i.e., bites). The Nammaam is like the flood at night, No one knows where it came from and how it can be avoided. The covenant is humiliated by him in the way he breaks it. And love is humiliated by him in the way he kills it. (Poetry)

The Cure for Slander

Allah has conferred His favor upon His slaves by joining their hearts together and uniting them. He has said:

"And remember Allah's favor on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that by His Grace, you became brethren." (3:103)

"The believers are nothing else than brothers." (49:10)

Anyone who goes around igniting the Fitnah and enmity among the believers, is indeed transgressing against Allah's limits, and falling in His disobedience.

"Shaitan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants." (5:91)

If a person wishes to treat his tongue for Nameemah then he should occupy his tongue and time with the remembrance of Allah and anything else that is useful. He should always remember the following:

1. Not incite the Anger of Allah and His Wrath and Punishment by talking about others.

2. Think of the great corruption of hearts and friendship caused by Nameemah.

3. Remember the Verses and Ahadith about Nameemah and hold his tongue.

4. Spread love amongst Muslims. He should mention their good qualities and honor them in their absence.

5. Know that safeguarding his tongue is one of the means for entering Paradise.

6. Know that anyone who looks for the faults of people, Allah will expose his faults even if he hides within his home. 7. Be with righteous companions who command the good and get together for good.

8. Be certain that those he talks about and dishonors today, will be his opponents on the Day of Judgment.

9. Remember death and the short life within this world. Death is very near and the Second Life is so close.

Dear brothers, the Nammaam should be hated and distrusted. He should not be taken as a friend, because he does not fear Allah and doesn't respect and guard the honor of Muslims. He likes division and dissension. So do not let the Nammaam pollute your meetings and make dirty your hearing with sins and shameful things. You should command him to do good and prohibit him from evil. Scold him harshly and explain to him how what he is saying and doing is bad and evil. Do not pay attention to him and ask Allah to make you free from any responsibility for his actions.

May Allah protect our tongues, hearing and sight.

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