The Evils of the Tongue 3

The Evils of the Tongue 3


Swearing By Other Than Allah

Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with them both, said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Allah prohibits you from swearing by your fathers, so whoever swears, let him swear by Allah or keep quiet.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

It is stated in another Hadeeth of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that:

 “Whoever swears by other than Allah has committed shirk.” [Ahmad, Tirmidhee & Al-Haakim]

Swearing is allowed in Islam, but a person can only swear by Allah. If he swears by anything else, then this is an aspect of Shirk. To swear by the moon or the star or any of Allah’s creation, is Haraam. Allah can swear by whatever He wants, but we can only swear by Him. The common practice among many Muslims to swear by the Qur’aan is a Bid‘ah (innovation), and should be discouraged. What is even more heinous, is to swear by Allah while knowing full well that one is lying.


Denying a Name or Description of Allah or Changing its Apparent Meaning

This occurs when someone denies any Name or Attribute of Allah that He affirmed for Himself, or that His Messenger (peace be upon him) affirmed for Him, the Most High. For example, to deny or cast doubt on the fact that Allah has Two Hands, or that He hears, or that He is above the heavens are aspects of Shirk which fall within this category. To seek to explain the Hands of Allah as His Mercy, Strength, Power, etc., falls into the above category also. This type of explaining of Allah’s Attributes is also prohibited in Islam.

It must be noted that the belief of Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah regarding Allah’s Names and Attributes is:

“That Muslims must believe in all of Allah’s Names and all of His Attributes that are found in the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah. They must accept them exactly and literally as they are.”

The above demands the following:

(a) Not seeking to explain any of them by similitude (i.e. by saying for example that Allah’s Hands are like the hands of mankind).

(b) Not seeking to explain “How it is” (i.e. by seeking to explain, for example, how Allah is established above His Throne).

(c) Not declaring it to be figurative language and not literal (i.e. by saying, for example, that the meaning of ‘the Hand of Allah is with the Jamaa‘ah’ means ‘His Mercy or Blessings’ and not literally ‘Hand’. Or to say that Allah does not have Hands or a Face because these are human or animalistic characteristics, and thus the “Hands” and “Face” is figurative and not literal.[1]


To Blaspheme Allah, His Quraan or His Messenger (peace be upon him)

Another aspect of disbelief is to blaspheme Allah, His Messenger (peace be upon him), the Qur’aan, the Sunnah of the Messenger, the Deen of Islam, Muslims, the angels, etc.

Ibn Taimiyah said: “If the one who blasphemes is a Muslim, he has disbelieved, and therefore, should be killed (by the Khaleefah). This is a consensus among the four Imaams.”

Allah, the Almighty said:

“Verily, those who harm Allah and his messenger (by, abusing or telling lie against Allah and his messenger), Allah has cursed them in this world, and in the hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating torment “ [Al-Ahzaab 33:57]


Deniers of Qadr

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Every Ummah has its Majoos (Magians) and the Majoos of my ummah are those who say: “There is no Qadr (Predestination)’ if they become sick do not visit them and if they die do not witness them (i.e. to attend their funerals)”. [Ahmad]

It Is Prohibited To Sit in the Company of Those Who Give Deviant or Wrong Interpretations About the Qur’aan or Islam.

This evil is so great that Allah, the Wise, even prohibits Muslims to allow themselves to overhear the conversations of those who involve in the wrong interpretations about the Qur’aan or Islam. Allah, the Great, said:

“And when you see those who engage in false conversation about Our Verses by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Satan causes you to forget, then after you have remembered, sit not in the company of the evil-doers.” [Al-A’raaf 7:68]

And He, the Most High said:

“And stay away from those who take their religion as play or amusement and are deceived by the Life of this world...” [Al-A’raaf 7:70]

Allah, the Glorious said:

“And We have already revealed in this Qur`aan, that whenever you hear the verses of Allah denied and mocked at, then sit not in such a company until they change the subject of discussion. (If you sit in such company), then, verily you are just like them. Surely Allah will gather all the disbelievers and hypocrites in Hell.” [An-Nisaa 4: 140]

In his Tafseer, Imaam Al-Qurtubi has noted that the scholars of Islam have declared it totally forbidden for anyone to remain in any such company (i.e. the company of sinners), whilst they are committing these sins, or the people of Bid‘ah, or of anyone who distorts the teachings of Islam. [Al-Qurtubi Vol. 5 Pg. 268]


Chapter Three:

Afflicting a Muslim with the Tongue


The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“The whole of the Muslim is sacred, his blood, his property and his honor.” [Muslim]

And in his farewell Khutbah, he (peace be upon him) said:

“...Indeed your blood, your wealth and your honor are all Haraam (sacred) to each other, just as this day is sacred (the Day of ‘Arafah), in this sacred month (Dhul Hijjaa) in this sacred place (the sacred precinct of Makkah).” [Al-Baihaqee]



Allah, the Most High said:

“Do not backbite one another, would any one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother, verily you detest this....” [Al-Hujuraat 43:12]

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Backbiting is mentioning something about your brother that he dislikes.” [Maalik & Ibn Mubaraak]

And in another narration, he (peace be upon him) said:

“Backbiting is to mention about a person something about him in his absence”. [Abu Dawood]

The Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

“Do you know what is gheebah (Backbiting)? They said “Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) know best.” He (peace be upon him) said: “Mentioning about your brother what he would hate (in his absence)’. It was said: ‘What about if what I say about my brother is true?’ He (peace be upon him) said: “If what you said about him is true then you would have backbited him, and if it is not true, then he is slandered (buhtaan).” [Muslim]

Based on the above ahaadeeth backbiting can be defined as: “Mentioning about a person in his absence something he would hate even if it is a characteristic he possesses.” Backbiting is haraam and the person who involves in it must repent.

When is talking about your brother not considered to be backbiting? Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyaan, came to the Messenger (peace be upon him) and said:

“Abu Sufyaan is a miserly man and he does not give me enough for me and my child except that I take from him and he does not know. “ The Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Take what is commonly known as enough for you and your child.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

It is clear from the above Hadeeth, that in certain specific cases, a Muslim is permitted to talk about someone behind his or her back. For example:

a) If a man is oppressed, he can go to the ruler or judge or someone who has the ability to stop the oppression, and make a petition, as Hind did.

b) Also, when seeking an Islamic ruling, it is allowed to mention a person’s bad quality, as is established in the hadeeth of Hind above, as when Hind asked: “Abu Sufyaan is a miserly man and he does not give me enough for me and my child except if I take from him and he does not know”.

c) Seeking help to change a wrong by taking one’s right. If someone cannot change it himself, then he can go to someone who is in a position to change it. Thus, he will have to backbite his oppressor to inform the person who can give him authority. The hadeeth of Hind above exemplifies this.

In the case of “commanding good and forbidding evil”, a person is allowed to mention the known innovation or sin of another person, in order to warn others about it. However, if one declares the actions of people that are done in secret, this is considered to be backbiting.

One is also permitted to inquire about a person who has a specific nickname, like the deaf man, or blind man. However, if his correct name is known, then it would not be allowed to use other false names.

In the same vein, one is allowed to forewarn and caution his brother or sister, about someone who is a sinner or innovator, in order for them to be free from their influence. Allah, the Most High said:

“Help one another in righteousness and piety; but do not assist one another in sin or transgression” [Al-Maaidah 5:2]

Some factors that cause backbiting and their cures:

1. Subsiding anger. This is done by backbiting the person who kindles his anger - so every time this person makes him angry, he subsides it by backbiting the person. Through this (the backbiting), he feels he is getting even with the other person. The cure for this is the advice of the Messenger (peace be upon him):

“Whoever suppresses his anger while in a position to enforce it, Allah will call him at the head of the creation until he chooses for him from the hoor ‘een (special women of Jannah that are promised to the believer), for him to marry from them as he pleases.” [Ahmad and At-Tabaraanee]

2. Wanting to keep Mends. In order to maintain friends with others, a person indulges in backbiting because he is afraid of losing their friendship. Thus he does not reprimand them when they backbite, but indulge in it with them. To cure this he must remember the saying of the Messenger (peace be upon him):

“Whoever solicits the pleasure of men by displeasing Allah, Allah will consign him to mankind.” [At-Tirmidhi]

3. Wanting to raise one’s status with other people. This is done by debasing others, by saying things like such and such a person, is ignorant or his understanding is weak, thus indirectly implying that he is more knowledgeable than the one he debases. In order to cure this sickness, the perpetrator must be reminded that Allah is the final judge and this person that he is claiming is ignorant, might be better than him with Allah. Furthermore, that person may be excused because of his lack of understanding.

4. Playing around and making fun of others. This could involve mockery and sarcasm. It is enough to remind those indulging in this practice of what Allah, the Most High said:

“O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter is better than the former...” [Al-Hujuraat 49:11]

At other times, it could involve lies, as mention is made of some people in a way to make others laugh. It is enough to answer with the statement of the Messenger (peace be upon him):

“Woe to the one who speaks and lies to make people laugh, woe to him, woe to him.” [Ahmad, Abu Dawood & others]

5. Envy. Through envy, a person is backbitten because of his noble position and high standing, in order to debase and reduce his worth in people’s eyes. The envier should reflect upon the statement of the Messenger (peace be upon him):

“Faith and envy cannot exist together in the heart of the slave”. [Ahmad 8: 436]

6. Fear of Blame. Something is attributed to a person who wants to free himself from it, by blaming another person totally, although they both had shared in the act. He does this so that he can free himself from being blamed. The correct thing to do is to acquit himself honestly, and not try to throw the blame upon anyone else.

7. Having too much spare time. This can cause a person to fall into backbiting, because it is easy for such an idle mind to become busy with men, their honor and their faults. To correct this a person must spend his time in acts of obedience to Allah, worship, seeking knowledge, and teaching others. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Two blessings are misused by people, good health and spare time to do good.” [Bukhari]

8. Trying to get close to a person in authority to acquire material gains. In order to get close to those in authority and to gain their favors, someone may backbite his workmates with his boss. To cure this, he must realize the true value of this world with Allah, the Glorious, and that He is the Provider, and that He would allow him to get only what he deserves. And no boss can give him anything if Allah, the Sublime does not will such for him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“...know that if the nation (all mankind) were to gather together to benefit you with something, it would only benefit you with something that Allah had already prescribed for you...” [At-Tirmidhi]

Aspects of backbiting that people might not feel is backbiting:

1. If someone is involved in backbiting, and when he is reprimanded he responds: “I am prepared to say it in front of him.”

He can be replied to with the following: You mentioned about him something he would not like in his absence. This is backbiting, and being prepared to mention it in front of him, is a different issue altogether. There is no proof from the Shar‘eeah to show that being prepared to mention it to him allows backbiting.

2. If a specific person is mentioned, and someone says something loudly that implies something negative, like: “We seek refuge with Allah from being misguided” then this is also backbiting, because it is mentioning something bad about a person in his absence in an indirect way.

3. A statement about a person like: “Such and such a person is being tested with such and such” or “we used to do the same thing,” implies it is something bad, and mentioned in his absence. Is that not what we have defined as backbiting?

4. Thinking it is allowed to backbite someone because he is a younger person. There is no proof for this.

5. Finding it easy to talk about someone because he is poor, or because he is weak, or a sinner, or the like.

How should the Backbiter be treated? The backbiter should be corrected by stopping him from backbiting and he should be warned that he is involved in a great sin.

The one to whom the backbiter comes should defend the brother who is being backbitten.

Also, the person who listens to the backbiter should be aware that he is encouraging an evil, and if the person does not stop, then he should walk away from him.


Slander & False Accusations

Slander and the making of false accusations, are considered to be major sins in Islam. This involves fabricating or spreading a lie about your brother (Muslim) in his absence.

The Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

“Do you know what is gheebah (Backbiting)? They said: “Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) know best. He (peace be upon him) said, “Mentioning about your brother what he would hate (in his absence)’. It was said: ‘What about if what I say about my brother is true?’ He (peace be upon him) said: “If in him is what you say you would have backbited him, and if it is not in him. then he is slandered (Buhtaan).” [Muslim]

Of course, slander is a more heinous sin than backbiting, since it involves not only backbiting but also lying with intent to maliciously dishonor a Muslim.

The Messenger (peace be upon him) also said:

“...And whoever knowingly argues uselessly, Allah will continue to be angry with Him until he refrains from it, and whoever says about a believer, that which is not in him Allah will house him in a mill of the people of the fire of Jahannam until he leaves off what he said...” [Abu Dawood, Al-Haakim & others]

Some of the punishment for backbiting and slandering are:

1. They are both major sins in Islam, and the one who does not cease from it and repent, would be punished severely in the grave. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“...On the night that I was taken (to Jerusalem and up to the heavens), I saw a set of people who were (being punished by) taking their own finger-nails (which were long and metallic) and scraping the flesh of their own faces (and eating it). When I asked Jibreel about them, he said: ‘these are people who used to be engaged in backbiting’.” [Ibn Abi Duniya - Kitaab Al-Ghiba wan Nameemah]

Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, said; the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) passed by two graves and said:

“The inhabitants of (these graves) are being punished for major sins; one of them used to engage in slandering others...” [Al-Bukhari Vol. 2 Pg. 259]

2. Whoever backbites or slanders, Allah, the Most High vows to expose their faults. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“O you who believe with your tongue and not your hearts, do not seek after the faults of Muslims, nor pry into their mistakes or downfalls. For whoever amongst you will investigate the mistakes of Muslims, then Allah will go after his mistakes and expose him, even if that mistake was committed (secretly) in the privacy of his house.” [Ibn Abi Duniya- Kitaab Al-Ghiba wan Nameemah]

Giving False Testimonies or Bearing False Witness

Among the other blatant misuse of the tongue is witnessing to falsehood or bearing false witness. Allah, the Glorious said:

“...And shun lying speech (false statement)” [Hajj:30]

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Shall I not inform you about the greatest of sins.” We said: “Most assuredly” He (peace be upon him) said: “Shirk! (associating partners) with Allah, ungratefulness to parents’, he was reclining but now sat up and said: ‘and bearing false witness’, he continued to repeat it so much that we said: We wish that he would stop speaking.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

Imaam Adh-Dhahabee in his work Al-Kabaair (The Major Sins) said:

“The bearer of false witness commits several major sins. These are as follow:

(a) He is spreading lies and falsehood. And Allah, the Most High said:

“... Truly, Allah does not guide anyone who is a Musrif (one who commit great sins, oppressor, transgressor), a liar...” [Ghaafir 40: 28]

(b) He was unjust to the person against whom he testified, because it is from his witness, that the person was either deprived of his property, or his honor, or his life.

(c) He was unjust to the person in whose favor he testified, because he made it possible for him to acquire property that does not belong to him, thereby rendering him a sinner.

(d) He is unjust to himself, by being the one who bore false witness.”


Accusing/Slandering Pious Women (of adultery)

Allah, the Sublime said:

“Verily, those who accuse chaste women who never ever think of anything touching their chastity, and (who) are good believers, (their accusers) are cursed in this Life and in the Hereafter, and for them will be a great torment “ [An-Noor 24:23]

Allah, the Most High, is making it clear in this aayah that anyone who slanders pious women are cursed in this world, and in the Hereafter, they will have a severe torment.

The Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

“Keep away from seven dangerous and destructive sins (and from them is) ... slandering pious women (by accusing them of adultery)...” [Bukhari & Muslim]

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Whoever accuses what his right hand possesses of adultery will have the judgment established (against him for it) on the Day of Judgment, unless it is as he claimed.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

Note: The Sharee‘ah stipulates that, for the accusation of Zinaa (adultery or fornication), that four mature, male witnesses must testify that they all (together) saw the accused in the actual act itself (i.e. “as a bucket enters into a well” according to the Prophet (peace be upon him). If the testimony is not as stipulated above (i.e. they have not seen the actual act in itself), but have only seen convincing evidences, or there is three or less witnesses, then their testimonies are rejected. And Allah, the Most High stipulates:

“And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, hog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever...” [An-Noor 24: 4]


[1] At the same time, we must affirm that Allah and His Names and Attributes are nothing like His creation.

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