Our faith and nation both value something called due process. Meaning when seeking justice, the methodology as a rule is more important than any individual result. A flawed methodology to determine justice is never acceptable regardless of the result. An important example of this is illustrated when the Caliph Umar RA caught people drinking wine, but he did not apprehend nor punish them because his act of catching them used the wrong methodology – spying. The hadith is pasted below.
In our time we have so-called Muslim organizations that engage exclusively in spying and defaming Muslims, and publishing reports about them, but their methodology is flawed. They do not engage or communicate with the Muslims they target. They only listen to the accuser without offering a fair chance for the accused to present their defense. They come to their conclusions, humiliate those they target, cause irreparable harm both to the community and the individual and their family, and only then do they pretend to reach out so they can claim they did.
This flawed methodology even if it possibly may occasionally reach the right conclusion (even a broken clock is right twice a day) will have disastrous results and is frankly completely against the Quran and Sunnah.
I have personally reached out to such orgs and requested that they agree to submit to arbitration by a council of scholars to judge the validity of their methodology and they have ignored such requests.
But what if you believe someone has harmed you or you believe they pose a threat to society? Well that is what the judicial system and courts are for. To simply slander someone online, especially in the name of our faith, without even giving them a chance to produce their defense, while not utilizing the judicial system is unhelpful, problematic and raises red flags.
I have seen first hand actually how the courts and legal system, although it too can be flawed, had actually exonerated and found completely false allegations against those many falsely slander online.
Whenever you see someone’s personal life and honor attacked online, ask yourself did the person engage in criminal activity? If so we’re they prosecuted and convicted? If not then likely what they are being accused of either didn’t happen or even if it did happen falls into private personal life, and in that case to gossip and slander is the worst of sins.
Critics may claim that condemnation of slander and gossip is merely a tactic used to silence those who have been wronged. Not at all – those who have been wronged can make full use of the legal system to get justice. And those who haven’t have no right to speak about that which they have no knowledge of:
وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ لَمَسَّكُمْ فِي مَا أَفَضْتُمْ فِيهِ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ
And if it had not been for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy in this world and the Hereafter, you would have been touched for that [lie] in which you were involved by a great punishment
إِذْ تَلَقَّوْنَهُ بِأَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَتَقُولُونَ بِأَفْوَاهِكُم مَّا لَيْسَ لَكُم بِهِ عِلْمٌ وَتَحْسَبُونَهُ هَيِّنًا وَهُوَ عِندَ اللَّهِ عَظِيمٌ
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 sight of Allah, tremendous.
وَلَوْلَا إِذْ سَمِعْتُمُوهُ قُلْتُم مَّا يَكُونُ لَنَا أَن نَّتَكَلَّمَ بِهَٰذَا سُبْحَانَكَ هَٰذَا بُهْتَانٌ عَظِيمٌAnd why, when you heard it, did you not say, “It is not for us to speak of this. Exalted are You, [O Allah]; this is a great slander”?
يَعِظُكُمُ اللَّهُ أَن تَعُودُوا لِمِثْلِهِ أَبَدًا إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
Allah warns you against returning to the likes of this [conduct], ever, if you should be believers.
وَيُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ
And Allah makes clear to you the verses, and Allah is Knowing and Wise.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحِبُّونَ أَن تَشِيعَ الْفَاحِشَةُ فِي الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
Indeed, those who like that immorality should be spread [or publicized] among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you do not know.
وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
And if it had not been for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy… and because Allah is Kind and Merciful.
HOLY QURAN 24:14-19
Abdur Rahman ibn Awf reported: He would patrol the city at night with Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, and on one occasion they were walking when the lamp of a household caught their attention. They approached it until they heard loud voices inside the door. Umar grabbed the hand of Abdur Rahman and he said, “Do you know whose house this is?” He said no. Umar said, “This is the house of Rabi’ah ibn Umayyah ibn Khalaf, and they are inside drinking wine right now! What do you think?” Abdur Rahman said, “Indeed, I think we have done what Allah has prohibited for us. Allah Almighty said, ‘Do not spy,’ (49:12) and we have spied on them.” Umar turned away and he left them alone.
By Hassan Shibly
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and does not necessarily reflect Alfafaa’s editorial views