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 rumor.
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 rumors. Muslims who learn Quran can easily understand the forbiddance of spreading a rumor in Quran and the hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) also speak against this act.
The lines below discuss the way in which Islam discourages spreading of rumor and the mitigating measures that a Muslim is to adopt against it.
Allah Almighty says in Quran:
Verdict of Islam
“O you who believe! If a Faasiq (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 Allah Almighty explains the problem as well as the solution to it. With one or two encounter 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 weight the news brought by such a person. Lying is the root cause behind the existence of rumor, 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 rumor 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 rumor. Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) regarded spreading of a rumor as a form of lying in the following hadith:
“Should I tell you what is a blatant lie? It is a rumor circulating among people.”[Muslim]
Thus rumor is not some kind of gossip which one might undertake in leisure, rather rumor 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 rumor 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 rumor which in return is a form of lying spoken at a massive scale.
Pertaining to the condemnation of spreading a rumor and false gossip that does not have any authenticity associated with it, Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) 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”.
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 analyzed one gets to know that they are far grave than what one associates with rumor or casual gossiping.
The seriousness of gossiping and spreading a false rumor is addressed by Allah Almighty in Quran in the following way:
False gossip on spreading rumors
“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)
Being humans we are short sighted and see things only in the perspective or in the vision which is under our control or power. We might spread a rumor thinking it to be casual and not having any graveness associated with it, however, it is not that the rumor 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 could a seemingly casual or trivial gossip could cause, therefore, it needs to be avoided in any cases and under any circumstances.
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 (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) 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 center of it all. It is with this tongue that a person spreads rumors and if this tongue is under the control then the ultimate result would be a person refraining from spreading of rumors. Moreover, one also needs to avoid sitting in the company of liars from whom one hears only false rumors which are then spread by the tongue. Therefore, in addition to controlling one’s own tongue, one should also avoid spreading of rumor by verifying its source first and then telling it to others.
In a nutshell, the spreading of rumor 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 spreading of rumor, which can only be done if a Muslim when hearing a news verifies it firsts and then makes sensible use of his or her tongue.