فَتَبَيَّنُوٓاْأَن تُصِيبُواْ قَوۡمَۢا بِجَهَـٰلَةٍ۬ فَتُصۡبِحُواْ
عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلۡتُمۡ نَـٰدِمِينَ وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ فِيكُمۡ
رَسُولَ ٱللَّهِۚ لَوۡ يُطِيعُكُمۡ فِى كَثِيرٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡأَمۡرِ
لَعَنِتُّمۡ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱللَّهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيۡكُمُ ٱلۡإِيمَـٰنَ وَزَيَّنَهُ ۥ
فِى قُلُوبِكُمۡ وَكَرَّهَ إِلَيۡكُمُ ٱلۡكُفۡرَ وَٱلۡفُسُوقَ
وَٱلۡعِصۡيَانَۚ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلرَّٲشِدُونَ
فَضۡلاً۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَنِعۡمَةً۬ۚ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ۬
"O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done. And know that among you is Allah's Messenger: were he, in many matters, to follow your (wishes), ye would certainly suffer: but Allah has endeared the Faith to you, and has made it beautiful in your hearts and He has made hateful to you unbelief, wickedness and rebellion: such indeed are those who walk in righteousness― A grace and favour from Allah; and Allah is full of Knowledge, and Wisdom."
(Qur'an: Hujurat: 49: 5-7)
As Muslims, we are to hold all our brothers and sisters with equal respect, without harbouring any ill-thoughts concerning them. Their honour and dignity has to be safeguarded, as Islam guarantees it. But how often, our attitude towards our brother or sister would easily be affected because of news that is maliciously disseminated to disparage him/her. Whether in the first place, is it right or wrong to spread such news, or whether story is true or lies, seemed unimportant - because we would have allowed the poison to affect our opinion of the person concerned. How easily we give credence to it. We are quick to accuse, even though we may not be uttering it? The honour we held for our brother/sister quickly dissipate, and every actions done by him/her is scrutinised as though to implicate or rather with a view to confirm what we had already 'concluded' (pre-judged) in our minds. In fact we have already oppressed him/her with our prejudice. Such is the effect of the ‘poison’ of malicious tales.
Seldom, if ever, do we seek to verify from the person concerned, but we feel satisfied just with this news, although one-sided, obviously unverified, and we shameless feel no qualms about acting prejudicially. Sometimes, we began to behave pretentiously in front of the poor brother/sister as though we are not aware of the news. Why pretend? Actually, it is because we (subconciously) felt ashamed for ourselves for not defending his/her honour.
Spreading news negatively about somebody to others is a cowardly act! Any one to then condone it, would be to implicate oneself with this same guilt as the one who started it. Rumour-mongering (spreading untruth about others) is indeed, not only a very dangerous and despicable social ill, it is amongst the list of forbidden acts called "kaba-ir" (major sins). Alas for us who may inadvertently been exposed to these, we must guard ourselves from believing in it, nay we must detest it, and we must not allow such unverified assertion to draw us into sinning against our brother/sister concerned.
Yet why do our nafs (desire or self) likes or is inclined to listen to such news concerning others? News of scandals and 'juicy' gossips of an acquaintance is welcomed or even sought. Perhaps we are merely pampering to our self-conceit which wants assurance of its own superiority' over others; that feeling of "holier than thou!" attitude which gives us 'satisfaction'. Thus our pre-occupation with the alleged "faults" of others, is precisely to make us forget that we are the ones that are at fault, nay, clearly the ones who are guilty of sin.
In this day and age, with information technology advancing tremendously, and dissemination of news becoming easy, the moral question of - "is spreading negativity (even, if it is true) of a person to the general public, a sin or not?" is never asked by Muslims! Those who are without religion may use press-freedom or 'public interest', as justification - but can a Muslim use this excuse? What does Islam has to say regarding this? And those Muslims who are in journalism or imitatinng the journalistic culture with websites and blogs, should ask: "Are all the codes of modern journalism compatible with Islamic ethics?" What kind of news about people can be disseminated, and how should it be presented as public knowledge, as education, without us falling foul to the strict Islamic rule for safeguarding personal honour & dignity of individuals?
Sinning against a person is indeed serious and may not be easily forgiven by Allah, unless the person concerned (who is being wronged) is willing to forgive. For Allah s.w.t. justice accords that the rights of those who are wronged to be upheld, before He forgives.
Also, do remember that Allah's forgiveness depends upon our repentance (taubah)- And it does not constitute (taubah) repentance, unless there is the feeling of remorse (nadaam) in those who have committed the sin. And, the more difficult is the condition mentioned previously that, it (our 'tawbah' ) must be accompanied with the earnest efforts towards seeking forgiveness and making correction or adequate reparation (kifaarat) towards those whom we have wronged.
Iniquity (sin) and tale bearing
Tale-bearing is often a characteristic of those inclined to iniquity (faasiq) precisely because the very act of spreading unsubstantiated rumours affecting the reputations of other persons itself, is a spiritual offence - albeit a grave & serious one. Such person spreading malicious tales does not have any qualms to harm others, yet they do not dare to confront directly those whom they harbour ill-will. Indeed, their interest is actually not to seek any clarification, but to condemn base on their malice towards the other. They cowardly 'oppresses' using this diabolical 'tale-bearing' that can 'whisper into the hearts' of other people, as described by Allah:
مِن شَرِّ ٱلۡوَسۡوَاسِ ٱلۡخَنَّاسِ ٱلَّذِى يُوَسۡوِسُ
فِى صُدُورِ ٱلنَّاسِ مِنَ ٱلۡجِنَّةِ وَٱلنَّاسِ
"From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper)― (The same) who whispers into the hearts of
Mankind― Among Jinns and among Men."
(Qur'an: An-Nas: 114: 3-6)
Those guilty of such despicable act should stop and seek reparation, if not they are actually indulging, constantly and repeatedly in this sin of 'defamation' (a calumny and oppression) from the time they put it up for others to access. They are in fact slandering continuously without having to even speak. They are in fact chalking up sins, at a tremendous pace daily - nay, each time whenever there are people reading their postings, irrespective of whether the people reading it harbour negative thoughts on the person being maligned or not. Merely conveying them already is sinning, irrespective of whether people listen to it or not. And they think Allah s.w.t. will not judge them!? Don't they realise that their book of record is actually being constantly kept updated. Ever wonder how would such wrong done, could ever be undone?! Yet, they persist in such despicable deeds! It becomes worst when they even regard this action as justified or even as righteous.
LAA-HAW-LA WALAA QUW-WATA IL-LA BIL-LAAH!
There are some who uses absurd qualifying phrase to somewhat justify their behaviour, like "I know this is not confirm, but do you know that so-and-so....” or "actually I am not suppose to tell anyone but,...." or "actually I do not want to embarrass him/her, but this is what happened (as though there isn't any malice in stating this publicly)" ...or "it may be that this is true (without giving any irrefutable evidence)...."etc.
If others were to do the same to us, cast a slur upon our reputations, we would not have liked it, yet, why aren't we careful when our own indulgence affects the reputations of our other brothers/sisters? Remember the ruling (hukm) against those who slander against the honour of another brother/sister is indeed considered a grave oppression - a "defamation" - against them. And they would have a strong claim against those who wronged them by turning to Allah.
وَلَوۡلَآ إِذۡ سَمِعۡتُمُوهُ قُلۡتُم مَّا يَكُونُ لَنَآ أَن نَّتَڪَلَّمَ
بِہَـٰذَا سُبۡحَـٰنَكَ هَـٰذَا بُہۡتَـٰنٌ عَظِيمٌ۬ يَعِظُكُمُ ٱللَّهُ أَن
تَعُودُواْ لِمِثۡلِهِۦۤ أَبَدًا إِن كُنتُم مُّؤۡمِنِينَ وَيُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ
لَكُمُ ٱلۡأَيَـٰتِۚ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يُحِبُّونَ
أَن تَشِيعَ ٱلۡفَـٰحِشَةُ فِى ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ
أَلِيمٌ۬ فِى ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَٱلۡأَخِرَةِۚ وَٱللَّهُ يَعۡلَمُ وَأَنتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ
"And why did ye not when ye heard it say?”It is not right of us to speak of this: Glory to Thee (our Lord)! This is a most serious slander!" Allah doth admonish you, that ye may never repeat such (conduct) if ye are (true) Believers. And Allah makes the Signs plain to you: for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. Those who love (to see) scandal published broadcast among the Believers, will have a grievous Penalty in this life and in the Hereafter: Allah knows and ye know not."
(Qur'an: An-Nur: 24: 16-19)
فقال حذيفة سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول لا يدخل الجنة نمام
Hudhaifah r.a., said: I heard Allah's Messenger s.a.w. (may peace be upon him) say: "The tale-bearer will not enter Paradise."
(REPORTED BY MUSLIM)
(Note: Please also learn the danger of “backbiting” – ‘Ghibbah’: another grave sin. What is Ghibbah? Explanation of this will follow - InshaAllah!)
Be concern of our own faults
Many of us shamelessly entertain the thought that we are perfect. Some even seek out Western motivational books & courses that promote enhancement of their 'super-ego'. Thus their attitude towards others will be affected by this delusion, accentuated by seeing the faults in others, not in themselves. Many of us may still be struggling with but still being controlled by our 'nafs al-amaarah' (our commanding self), which makes us become pre-occupied with others to distract us from looking at what is in ourselves. Our hands are quick to point at others, yet we forget that, fingers in that same hand is in fact pointing back at us. We should reflect and ask ourselves: "Is this the behaviour and attitude of a Muslim?" are we not ashamed! Remember what our Prophet s.a.w. said in one report:
"O You Muslim (who claim yourself as one) with your mouth! But Faith (iiman) has not entered your hearts; do not cause annoyance towards other Muslims by making fun of them and searching for their faults. This is because whosoever likes to search for the faults of his Muslim brother, Allah in turn will search out his faults. When Allah searches out someone's faults, He will expose whatever secrets that the person has, even if it were (hidden) in his baggage." (HADEETH)
Strive from being Muslim, to become a Mu'min
We ought to know better that as Muslims, we have the perfect example of our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. He would never act based on unverified assertions, nor would he be inclined to people's opinion but he would always seek the inspirations and guidance of Allah s.w.t. :
وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ فِيكُمۡ رَسُولَ ٱللَّهِۚ لَوۡ يُطِيعُكُمۡ فِى كَثِيرٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡأَمۡرِ لَعَنِتُّمۡ
"And know that among you is Allah's Messenger: were he, in many matters, to follow your (wishes), ye would certainly suffer"
Such was the nature of Muhammad s.a.w. and were the nature of his close companions r.a. whose life he moulded. These pure souls were instilled by the Grace of Allah with that characteristics mentioned here as:
وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱللَّهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيۡكُمُ ٱلۡإِيمَـٰنَ وَزَيَّنَهُ ۥ فِى قُلُوبِكُمۡ
"... but Allah has endeared the Faith to you, and has made it beautiful in your hearts and He has made hateful to you unbelief, wickedness and rebellion: such indeed are those who walk in righteousness―"
 They see Faith (iiman) as something most dear and valuable; a bestowal from Allah to them. They were very careful in striving to preserve this. They indulge constantly in seeking forgiveness of Allah s.w.t. seeking to remove any stain or blemishes upon their Faith (iiman).Thus, any act or deeds which compromise this would be rejected outright.
 Not only that, Faith (iiman) is adorned in their hearts. If the ''Qalb"(mind/heart) is the centre from which radiates all our actions, then from such people will manifest everything which such Faith (iiman) represents. They exude every goodness.
 When their hearts is filled with Faith (iiman), then it definitely will react against any other values contrary to Faith (iiman). It resent and is hateful towards "Kufr" (denial of Truth); "Fusuq" (iniquities or sinful things) and "Isw-yaan" (rebellion against goodness).
Such were the people whom Allah s.w.t, referred to as the Rightly Guided (RAA-SYIDUUN) - May Allah make us to be like them too - AAMIN
رَّبَّنَا عَلَيۡكَ تَوَكَّلۡنَا وَإِلَيۡكَ أَنَبۡنَا وَإِلَيۡكَ ٱلۡمَصِيرُ
رَبَّنَا لَا تَجۡعَلۡنَا فِتۡنَةً۬ لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ وَٱغۡفِرۡ لَنَا رَبَّنَآۖ إِنَّكَ
أَنتَ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ ٱلۡحَكِيمُ
رَبَّنَا ٱغۡفِرۡ لَنَا وَلِإِخۡوَٲنِنَا ٱلَّذِينَ سَبَقُونَا بِٱلۡإِيمَـٰنِ وَلَا تَجۡعَلۡ
فِى قُلُوبِنَا غِلاًّ۬ لِّلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ رَبَّنَآ إِنَّكَ رَءُوفٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ
"Our Lord! in Thee do we trust, and to Thee do we turn in repentance: to Thee is (our) final Goal.
"Our Lord! Make us not a (test and) trial for the Unbelievers, but forgive us, our Lord! For Thou art the Exalted in Might, the Wise.""Our Lord! Forgive us, and our brethren who came before us into the Faith and leave not in our hearts, rancour (or sense of injury) against those who have believed Our Lord! Thou art indeed Full of Kindness, Most Merciful."Aa-meen!------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Extracted from my other blog: "O You who believe!"- يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------