Islam’s Position Vis-à-vis Defamation of Character.
By : Gofin Kosia (646 651 9476).
In the court of man-made-law, defamation of character is defined as any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person’s reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held by others; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person.
Defamation may be a criminal or civil charge depending on how the plaintiff/victim proves the damaged incurred in direct relation to the act of the defendant/aggressor. It encompasses both written statements (libel) and spoken statements (SLANDER).
With regards to Islam, Islam criminalizes beyond both Libel and Slander. Even though in most cases, Allah (SWT) does not hold one accountable for evil intents, except if one puts it into action. In Islam, Allah (SWT) rewards you with a single reward by just intending good/positive deed, but rewards you in ten (10) folds if you actualize that good deed. On the contrary, one is not charged with a sin by merely thinking evil but gets written up by actualizing that evil deed. Between these two (2) lines, Allah (SWT) actually rewards you by backing off from actualizing your evil intent only for the sake of Him (SWT). But unlike in the case of negative perception against your fellow human being (be it Muslim or not), it is a crime to think evil of others, even if you do not act upon it. Allah (SWT) warns: “O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin. And spy not on each other, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it… But fear God. For God is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful”. Qur’an 49:12.
Imam MALIK Ibn ANAS (ra), one of the four major jurisprudence of Islam, at his earlier age was limitedly regarded by many in Medina, may be he had not yet made any major decision till the below mentioned incident occurred.
A pious, elegant and beautiful lady had died in Medina. As usual, her body was in the process of being washed to be prepared for burial. Looking at the beauty and elegance of the deceased, an older lady, who was washing the body made a slanderous remark when she had to wash the private part of the body; “how many times have you committed it with this?”, insinuating how many times this lady had committed illegal sex with her private part. Allah (SWT), whom neither slumber, nor sleep seizes immediately made the accuser’s hand stick right there. She wanted to keep it secret but to no avail. Every effort made both secretly and openly was fruitless till the entire community, including the scholars of Medina were aware of this unusual incident.
The community was divided by opinions; some proposed that the hand be cut off to preserve the dignity of the deceased. Others suggested that the private part be cut off to preserve the living one’s hand. The only common opinion was that the two persons needed to be separated but the know-how was lacking.
Upon receipt of the news, Imam Malik (ra) ordered that the slanderous old lady be struck with eighty (80) laches/stripes. By the time they reached eighty, Allah (The Just Judge) removed her hand off. The lady was asked thoroughly and she confessed to her false accusation. The community was finally relieved of their confusion. They inquired as to why and how the scholar arrived at that solution. He quoted the below verse from the holy Qur’an:” And those who launch a (slanderous) charge against chaste women and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations), flog them with eighty stripes…” Qur’an 24:4.
Conclusion: Don’t do onto others what you would not like to be done to you. We are all one way or the other, parts of this serious crime but we underestimate its severity because we don’t feel its direct impact on us. Ill intention, suspicion, assassination of character and all its related acts are very serious and have the propensity of ruining one’s good deeds, with a 360 degrees turn to admit one to hell. The best way forward is to repent, make more supplications (especially for the victim/s).
To Allah (SWT), belongs all perfection. May He guides us all, forgive our deceased, heal our sick and wounded ones, strengthen our union and protect mama Liberia.