Belief & Worship Hot Topics Islamic Character

A Victim of Speech

Part I | Part II

In the last article, we explored how Allah (swt) exonerated Aisha radi allahu `anha (may God be please with her) and Prophet Joseph `alayhi as-salaaam (peace be upon him) from unsubstantiated and untrue gossip, and we talked about the victims of slander. Today, it’s about the perpetrators of slander. It is about, quite possibly, you and me.

Sometimes in the name of “enjoining good and forbidding evil” we forget the sanctity of our fellow human beings and especially fellow believers. We spread things that are unsubstantiated in a bid to ‘warn others’ about possible deviancy. We are harsh in our words. We assume the worst. We forget that one of the best traits a Muslim can have is “thinking well of the servant of Allah” and for other Muslims to be “safe from his hands and tongue.”

We forget that the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) passed by a grave and he warned that the person was suffering in his grave because he would spread gossip. We forget that that person we are talking about may have our good deeds transferred to him simply because he is a victim of our speech.

Scary stuff? It is. The Prophet ﷺ said: “The majority of man’s sins emanate from his tongue.” (Tabarani)

To go back to the examples in our previous article, it was clear that those with power—the minister and the minister’s wife—knew the truth with regards to what was said about the Prophet Joseph (as). But they allowed the rumor to persist and put Prophet Joseph in prison. With Aisha (ra), we have even more details. The people who discussed the rumor were good Muslims. They discussed the scandalous nature of what was said, and in doing so, spread it far and wide. Shaytan created doubt: “Could it actually be true?” Allah admonished the Muslims when He informs us in the Qur’an about what happened:

“Why, when you heard it, did not the believing men and believing women think good of one another and say, ‘This is an obvious falsehood?’” (Qur’an, 24:12)

Now some people might think this example is extreme. We would never spread such a rumor. But rumors and slander and gossip come in all shapes and forms. So if you hear something about someone that is unsubstantiated, do not fuel the fire. We are just as bad as those news networks we criticize, who pick up a story, and whether true or not, run with it.

This is not intended to shut down constructive criticism of public figures. There are ways of bringing people to account. There are ways of disagreeing and critiquing ideas and views, which are beyond the scope of this article. But in the age of the internet, anyone can write a piece and within an hour it is shared and read by many. And it would do us good to reflect on what our role is in this. We must remember that we will be held to account. So let us not put ourselves in a position to be asked about why we were careless in our research, harsh in words, and negative in our basic assumptions about others.

And remember that the Prophet ﷺ taught:

“A person’s eman (faith) is not upright until his heart is upright, and his heart is not upright until his tongue is upright.” (Ahmad)

About the author

Jinan Yousef

Jinan's main interests within the field of Islamic Studies are the Names of Allah, the life and character of the Prophet ﷺ, tazkiya and Muslim personalities.


  • I understand that the intention of this article is not to silence muslism opinion. However, where should we stand when some muslim organisations take the lead, stand up against for terrorist acts like ISIS, condemns the event in Peshawar in which it causes 100 children’s death and the event in Sydney’s cafe causes 2 innocent people’s death? Should we remain silence because we don’t know why people do that?

    Majority of muslim choose to be silent and said Allah knows best. Then our voice is mute and our stand point is unclear. Sure, Allah knows best and we pray and may Allah give peace and patience to those who lost their loved ones. Is that enough?

    I understand there is a final justice in Allah’s hand. When you witness oppression happens which is caused by muslim / Islamic organization, should we choose not to speak up because we are afraid that we may be wrong?

    As you said there are ways to bring people in account, at least, we should appreciate and ask if we/anyone have/has the pure intention when you make criticism, right?

    • Salaam

      Thank you for the comment. The article is directed at gossip and hearsay, not when a clear injustice has taken place. As Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Now we judge you by the deeds you practice publicly, so we will trust and favor the one who does good deeds in front of us, and we will not call him to account about what he is really doing in secret, for Allah will judge him for that; but we will not trust or believe the one who presents to us with an evil deed even if he claims that his intentions were good.”

      So as Muslims, the deplorable actions of ISIS as well as the Peshawar massacre are both things that we are obligated to speak out against. These are injustices, and we are commanded to speak for justice.

      The examples alluded to in the article pertain to not being 100% sure based on the outer actions. In the example of Aisha (ra), a hypocrite had seen her walking with another companion as they caught up with the rest of the expedition (she had falled asleep and was left behind). He spread rumors that they were doing haraam. The rest of the Muslims sat discussing it, based on what they heard. This kind of situation cannot be compared to the violations of human life that we see today.

      I hope this makes sense.


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