Among characteristics of the Muslim is that he is modest and discreet, and he does not like to be broadcast scandal in the Muslim community.

This is in accordance with the guidance of the Qur’an and Sunnah which warn those wrongdoers who enjoy slandering people’s honour and taking about their hidden faults of the most severe punishment in this world and next. Allah (swt) said:” Those who love (to see) scandal published and broadcast among the believers, will have a grievous penalty in this life and in the Hereafter.” (Qur’an 24: 19)


The one who gives his tongue free rein in spreading scandal in the community is as great a sinner as the one who commits a scandalous deed. Ali bin Abi Talin (ra) said:” The one who says something scandalous and the one who passes it on are equally sinful.” (Bukhari)


The individual in an Islamic society is discreet and modest. He rises above all these insignificant matters, and has the strength of character, thanks to the teaching of Islam, to resit slandering people and to refrain from announcing sin, whether it be his own sin or something he has heard or seen on the part of others. He heeds the words of the Prophet (saw):” Every member of my ummah is fine, except for those who broadcast sins. An example of this is a man who does something at night, and then in the morning, when Allah has concealed his sin, he tells someone, ‘O’ so-and-so, I did such-and such last night.’ His sin has been concealed all night by his Lord, but in the morning he exposes that which Allah had concealed.” (Bukhari and Muslim). The Prophet (saw) said further:” No man conceals the sin of another in this world, but Allah will cover him on the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim)


Some people came to Uqbah ibn Amir and said:” We have neighbours who drink and do such-and-such. Should we tell the ruler about them?” He said,” No, for I heard the Prophet saying:’ Whoever sees a Muslim’s fault and covers it up, it will be as if he brought back to life a baby girl who had been buried alive.”’ (Bukhari)

Human weakness will not be successfully dealt with by seeking out and broadcasting people’s faults, but by explaining things to them properly, encouraging obedience and discouraging wrongdoing, without being harsh or confrontational. A gentle approach softens hearts and opens minds. Therefore, Islam forbade people to spy on one another or to look for Muslims’ faults. Allah (swt) said:” And spy not on one another.” (Qur’an 49: 12)


Ibn Mas’ud (ra) reported that a man was brought to him and he was told:” This man’s beard is dripping with wine.” He said,” We have been forbidden to spy on one another, but if something becomes apparent, we will take it as evidence.” (Abu Dawud)


Seeking out the faults of Muslims, spying on them, and exposing and broadcasting their weakness and shortcomings, hurt the person to whom these things are done, and consequently harm the larger community in which he lives. For slander and accusations do not spread in a community, but it leads to disintegration and immorality: sin is taken slightly, malice is rife, conspiracies abound, hatred prevails, and corruption is widespread. The Prophet (saw) referred to this:” If you seek out the faults of the Muslims, you will corrupt them.” (Ahmad)


So the Prophet (saw) issued a stern warning to the Muslims against the danger of slandering people’s honour and exposing their faults. He threatened that the one who takes such matters lightly would himself be exposed, even if he were hiding in the innermost part of his home:” Do not hurt the feelings of the servants of Allah; do not embarrass them; do not seek to expose their faults. Whoever seeks to expose the faults of his Muslim brother, Allah will seek to expose his faults and expose him, even if he hides in the innermost part of his home.” (Ahmad)


A report from Ibn Abbas shows the anger of the Prophet (saw) and his harshness towards those who slandered the honour of others:” The Prophet (saw) gave a speech that even reached the ears of virgins in their private room. He said, ‘O’ you who have spoken the words of faith, but faith has not penetrated your hearts! Do not hurt the feelings of the believers and do not seek out the faults. Whoever seeks out the faults of his Muslim brother, Allah will seek out his faults, and whoever’s faults are sought out by Allah will be exposed, even if he is in the innermost part of his house.”’ (Tabrani)


How great is the sin of those who are included among those whose hearts are deprived of the blessing of faith. It is a great sin, but they take it lightly, whilst in the sight of Allah it is a most serious matter.


(Prepared by Ustad Abdul Muhaemin Karim)