The Dangers and Evil Consequences of Rumour Mongering, By Murtadha Gusau
In The Name Of Allah, The Most Merciful And The Bestower Of Mercy
All praise belongs to Allah the Lord of the worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, and upon his family members and Companions.
Respected Brothers and Sisters! Indeed, it is incumbent that a Muslim preserves his tongue from speech that has no benefit within it, and likewise speech that is harmful for the individual or others. From this type of speech is an evil rumour; whether these rumours are related to individuals, or the Muslim ummah or society. It is indeed upon the Muslim to seek clarification and to only speak if it is necessary. Allah the Sublime and High stated:
“Oh you who believe! If a fasiq (sinner) comes to you with information, then verify it, lest you harm others out of ignorance and as a result of what you have done, you will regret.” [Surah al-Hujurat: 6]
Thus, it is upon a Muslim who hears something sinful about his brother to conceal it and not reveal it, even if it were true. If what has reached the individual (about his brother) is true, and it contains harm upon his brother, it is upon him to conceal his faults and advise him in private. The person should not spread evil about his brother even if he actually performed what was mentioned. This is because doing so is classified as a form of backbiting. Allah the Most High mentioned:
“Do not backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when he is dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah, indeed Allah is accepting the repentance and merciful.” [Surah al-Hujurat: 12]
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) explained the meaning of backbiting as:
“A person speaking about his brother with that which he dislikes.”
Upon hearing this, the Companions (Sahabah) asked:
“What if what we are saying is true?”
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) replied:
“If what you are saying is true, then you have backbite him, and if it is not, you have slandered him.”
Meaning: you have lied upon him.
Hence, the person as (actually) sinned in every instance. Whether the information is true, or it is a lie, the action is either considered backbiting or lying, and both actions are major crimes in Islam.
That which has proceeded is related to the rights of and individual. It is also mandatory to observe the same as it relates to the society and its safety. That which harms the society should also be avoided. It is upon a Muslim to avoid spreading calamities and rumours and he should not create fear amongst the people by spreading this amongst the people. This action is the way of the Munafikun (hypocrites). They are the ones who pursue rumours and spread them in order to bring about fear amongst the people and make them weak. Allah the Most High mentioned (concerning them):
“Had they gone forth with you, they would not have increased you except in confusion, and they would have been diligent among you seeking to cause you fitnah (chaos and dissention). And among you are avid listeners to them. Indeed Allah is All Knowing of the wrongdoers.” [Surah at-Tawbah: 49]
Allah The Most High also said:
“Indeed those who like that immorality is spread about the believers, they will have a painful punishment in this life and the hereafter.” [Surah al-Nur: 19]
This is a tremendous warning, and thus, the good Muslim should not be an individual who spread rumours and indecent news that bring about fear to the people. If this information and occurrence is something that poses a danger upon the people, and it needs to be rectified, this will not take place by spreading it amongst the people who do not possess the ability to rectify the matter. These types of matters should be referred back to the leaders and those in authority. They are those who rectify the matters and prevent its harm. Allah the Most High stated:
“And when it comes to them an affair of (public) security or fear, they spread it. But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, and then the ones who draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it. And if it were not for the favour of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would have followed the Shaitan, except for a few.” [Surah al-Nisa: 83]
Thus, it is mandatory upon a Muslim to protect his tongue and not to speak about and spread rumours and private or secret matters. Instead, one should observe silence and conceal the faults of others. One should also supplicate for the rectification of Islam and the Muslims. This is that which is befitting for the Muslim.
Dear Servants of Allah! Know that 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, as mentioned earlier.
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 rumour.
Muslims who learn the Qur’an can easily understand the forbiddance of spreading a rumour in the Qur’an, and the Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) also speak against this evil 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 Qur’an:
“O you who believe! If a Fasiq (sinner, 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.” [Surah al-Hujurat: 6]
In this Qur’anic 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 the 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 (Peace be upon him) 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. 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 (Peace be upon him) 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 Qur’an 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.” [Surah an-Nur: 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 (Peace be upon him) 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.” [at-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.
Dear Brothers and Sisters! 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, as we are witnessing the dangers and evil consequences of spreading the rumour in our societies today. 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 or two groups, 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.
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
Written by your brother, Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, from Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached through: email@example.com or +2348038289761.