The Sin of Spreading Rumours Or False Gossip In Islam, By Murtadha Gusau
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Verily, all praise is for Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own souls [and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, [alone and without any partner] and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” [Ali Imran 3:102]
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his wife, and from them both He created many men and women, and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you).” [al-Nisa’ 4:1]
“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth). He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (SAW) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hellfire and made to enter Paradise).” [al-Ahzaab 33:70-71]
As to what proceeds: Verily the best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAW). The worst of affairs are the newly-invented affairs in the religion and every newly invented affair in the religion is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the hellfire. As to what proceeds:
Servants of Allah! Islam encourages healthy discussion among its followers. It encourages an environment where the individuals in a group or in the society sit together and share their intellect, as well as thoughts regarding the matters that concern the collective well being. However, Islam discourages any other undertaking that are not directed towards making the life of other people better. One of such acts of conversation condemned by Islam is rumour.
Brothers and Sisters! There is no harm in having gossip that is based on sharing experiences and feelings that are authentic, however, Islam condemns any gossiping that is undertaken with the objective of spreading rumours.
Muslims who learn the Quran can easily understand the forbiddance of spreading a rumour in Quran and the hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also speak against this act.
The lines below discuss the way in which Islam discourages spreading of rumour and the mitigating measures that a Muslim is to adopt against it.
Allah Almighty says in Quran:
“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)
In this ayah (Quranic Verse) Allah Almighty explains the problem, as well as the solution to it. With one or two encounters or interactions with a person, one is able to judge whether the next person is a liar or not, therefore, once that is identified then a Muslim should always verify and weigh the news brought by such a person. Lying is the root cause behind the existence of rumour, therefore, those who know that the news come from a lying person, should stop and verify it before spreading it to others. Any action undertaken on the news of a liar without any verification is definitely to cause an action that a Muslim would regret in future.
People might argue that the rumour is just for the sake of gossip and it has nothing to do with lying. As it has nothing to do with lying therefore for them it is permissible to gossip and spread the rumour. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) regarded the spreading of a rumour as a form of lying in the following hadith:
“Should I tell you what is a blatant lie? It is a rumour circulating among people.” (Muslim)
Thus rumour is not some kind of gossip which one might undertake in leisure, rather rumour spreading is a form of lying and the way it is spoken or spread makes it blatant or obvious. Therefore, those who spread gossip and rumour are actually speaking lie with boldness and without any fear. Ergo, a Muslim ought to differentiate healthy gossip from the one that turns into a rumour which in return is a form of lying spoken at a massive scale.
Pertaining to the condemnation of spreading a rumour and false gossip that does not have any authenticity associated with it, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in a hadith:
“Allah has forbidden you to disobey your mothers, to bury your daughters alive, to not pay the rights of others and to beg from others. And He dislikes gossip for you, asking too many questions and wasting money”. (Bukhari)
In this hadith, the message is as obvious as it gets. Gossiping and spreading a gossip is not one of the acts that is adored by Allah Almighty. Therefore, as imperative it is for a Muslim to obey his or her mother, it is equally imperative for a Muslim to stay away from gossip. The act of gossiping might seem trivial at first, however, if its implications are analysed, one gets to know that they are far grave than what one associates with rumour or casual gossiping. The seriousness of gossiping and spreading a false rumour is addressed by Allah Almighty in Quran in the following way:
“When you received it with your tongues and said with your mouths that of which you had no knowledge and thought it was insignificant while it was, in the sign of Allah, tremendous.” (24:15)
My respected people! Being humans we are shortsighted and see things only in the perspective or in the vision which is under our control or power. We might spread a rumour thinking it to be casual and not having any graveness associated with it, however, it is not that the rumour is trivial, rather it is our comprehension of things that is trivial and immature. It is only Allah Almighty who has a greater view of things and who knows that what damage a seemingly casual or trivial gossip could cause, therefore, it needs to be avoided in any case and under any circumstance.
The question then to ask is that how should a Muslim deal with gossiping or how can he or she keep it away and resist its evil implications. The answer can be easily inferred from the following hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in which He said:
“When man wakes up in the morning each day, all his body parts warn his tongue saying: ‘Fear Allah with regards to us, for we are under your mercy; if you are upright, we will be upright and if you are crooked, we will be crooked.” (Tirmidhi)
The tongue of a person is in the centre of it all. It is with this tongue that a person spreads rumours and if this tongue is under the control then the ultimate result would be a person refraining from spreading of rumours. Moreover, one also needs to avoid sitting in the company of liars from whom one hears only false rumours which are then spread by the tongue. Therefore, in addition to controlling one’s own tongue, one should also avoid spreading of rumour by verifying its source first and then telling it to others.
In a nutshell, the spreading of rumour is never trivial or casual that could be done for fun, rather it is always grave and has far reaching implications. Islam detests it, therefore, a Muslim must refrain from the spreading of rumour, which can only be done if a Muslim when hearing a news verifies it first and then makes sensible use of his or her tongue.
My people! Wallahi, making up rumours and lying about others is one of the greatest sins that can occur within a society and sometimes can even place the lives of others in danger. This act can also result in one’s honour and dignity being stripped from one – thus paralysing one’s life within a society.
How many times has information that has absolutely no foundation, ignited the flames of war between two people resulting in a great loss and injury to both sides?
In order to prevent such a great injustice from occurring, Islam has commanded the Muslims not to pay attention to just any piece of news or information that comes to them and not to accept just anything that anyone says to them.
Rather, Muslims are only supposed to accept the reports from those people who possess some inner feelings and the fear of Allah. It is the reports from those people who possess the ethical traits of justice, confidence (of their speech) and reliance (in what the person says) which would prevent a person from making up false reports and lying and relating bits of news and information that are unfounded and fabricated.
I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah. I pray that He lets us recognise the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.
O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us, ameen.
My respected people! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Al-Mighty, and any mistakes are my own and we seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.
May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad and upon his family and Companions.
With this I conclude my Khutbah (Sermon) and ask Allah, the Almighty and the sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving Most Merciful.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Rabi’ul Akhir 28, 1438 A.H. (January 27, 2017), By Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached through: +2348038289761.