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Article appeared Friday, March 15th, 2019 in The News Today, Bangladesh

The Revelation (562) yousuf mahbubul Islam, PhD


How does the Almighty look upon rumors and those who spread rumors, i.e.,
rumormongers? In offices between colleagues, or among friends or relatives, we often
talk negatively about others, or even report on others. So, is it okay to talk about others
in this manner? As an answer, let us study the following Verse from the Holy Scripture,
the Al-Qur’an.
“O you who have believed, avoid suspicion as much (as possible). For suspicion
in some cases is a sin: and spy not on each other nor speak ill(or backbite) each
other. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when he is dead? Nay,
you would abhor it. But fear God:for God is Accepting of repentance and Most
Merciful.” [49.12]

What is the Verse saying? First of all, it is a directive to those who believe that Almighty
God has created them. For such people, following the commandment is compulsory.
This essentially means if you do not, disobedience would be proof of disbelief! It talks
about three activities, i.e., thinking ill of others or suspecting, spying on each other or
looking for ill and speaking ill of others. Why? Almighty God, who has created us, to help
us understand, puts forth an analogy. When we suspect, spy and speak ill of another
person, it is like eating or taking a bite out of your own dead brother! This is also how the
victim feels when he/she hears of the rumor about himself/herself. So, God is asking us
to question ourselves – whether we would like to do such a thing? As human beings, we
should detest such an activity. What is the solution? When we think of doing such things,
we should bring our Almighty Creator to our minds, think of how He would react and
avoid such actions, i.e., we should fear Him and His wrath. In the past, if we have done
such things, and realize the wrong we have done, we should seek forgiveness from Him,
as He forgives as a part of His mercy. In a previous Verse, God explains,
“The believers are but brothers, so make peace and reconciliation between your
brothers. And fearGod that you may receive Mercy.” [49.10]

As we are all created by Almighty God, we are all in the same boat, i.e., God has equally
put all of us here on earth to develop and learn. A major part of this learning should
involve our realization of who God is and His Power, His Wisdom and Authority over our
life. Some may ask, what if the rumor is true? Can the answer be derived from the
following Verse?
“And those who launch a charge against chaste women and produce not four
witnesses (to support their allegation) flog them with eightystripes: and reject
their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors.” [24.4]

What special conditions are being set and for whom? Is emphasis being placed on the
crime or the person who brings in the charge? In reality, can four eyewitnesses be found
to any crime? If the person does not bring in four witnesses, he/she himself/herself is to
be not only punished, but their testimony is forever to be rejected – they would
forevermore be classified as “unreliable” witness. In addition to the production of four
witnesses which itself is next to impossible, double punishment of eighty stripes and total
future rejection of testimony is the commandment! It is clear that the Almighty dislikes
rumors and specially charges being brought against women! Further, He made a
particular rumor incident the subject of revelation as discussed in Chapter 24, Sura Al-
Nur. The following verses were revealed immediately after rumors were spread by a
group of people against the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) wife Aishah.
24.11 “Indeed, those who came with falsehood are a group from among
yourselves. Do not think it bad; on the contrary, it is good for you. For
every personamong them (will come the punishment) of the sin that he
earned and to him who took on himself the lead among them will be a
Penalty grievous.”
The Verse is talking about a group of people who claimed to be believers yet participated
in rumormongering against the Prophet’s wife. God confirms that He will not let the
rumor harm the Prophet and his wife. Rather, the one who launched the rumor stands to
be punished with the highest punishment. To show God’s annoyance, He questions the
thought processes of the believers as the rumor was being spread.

24.12 “Why did not Believers, men and women when they heard of the
affair, put the best construction on it in their own minds and say, "This
(charge) is an obvious lie"?”
The duty of a true believer is to question and analyze rumors in order to stop further
spread by countering them to be false. Relaying a rumor is spreading of evil and a sin.

24.13 “Why did they not bring four witnesses to prove it? When they have
not brought the witnesses such men in the sight of God (stand forth)
themselves as liars!”
Without four eyewitnesses, the punishment outlined in Verse 24.4 above applies to
them. In God’s eyes all those who participate in the activity are liars – as they did not
use their brains to question and counter the logic and truth of the rumor.

24.14 “Were it not for the grace and mercy of God on you in this world and
the Hereafter a grievous penalty would have seized you in that you rushed
glibly into this affair.”
Rather than analyzing the rumor, the Prophet’s attitude towards his wife had also
changed. And she left for her parents place. Afterwards, after a special revelation and
mercy from God the matter was resolved.

24.15 “Behold you received it on your tongues and said out of your mouths
things of which you had no knowledge; and you thought it to be a light
matterwhile it was most serious in the sight of God.”
God takes serious exception relaying of rumors. Relaying mouth to mouth with or without
personal analysis amounts to the bearing of false witness. God takes serious exception
to such activities.

24.16 “And why did you not when you heard it say, "It is not right of us to
speak of this: Glory to God! This is a most serious slander!"”

24.17 “God warns you that you never repeat such (conduct) if you are (true)
Believers.”
If in the habit of speaking ill about others, this should immediately stop.

24.18 “And God makes the Signs plain to you: for He is full of knowledge
and wisdom.”

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