Nabeela Vadi – Cii Radio | 16 Jumadal Ula 1437/24 February 2016

The role of the media is to bring to its people; honest and accurate knowledge of any happenings that will have an impact on the people.

Unbeknownst to us, the role of the media can be seen to draw back even to the era of the Sahaabah (RA). The Sahaabah (RA) would report accurate and truthful information to the Prophet Muhammed SAW and after his (SAW) demise, the Sahaabah (RA) would document true and accurate information about the Prophet SAW, his (SAW); life and encounters.

We can say that the Sahaabah (RA), who quoted the Beloved Rasool (SAW) were in fact the highest calibre of reporters. Now I am not glorifying the media, or journalists for that matter, but I would like to stress the importance of relaying accurate and honest information or encounters. (I am in no way implying that all media houses and journalists abide by this, however, I am implying that this should be the necessary element of reporting.)

Allaah says in the Quraan,“O you who believe! Be afraid of Allaah, and be with those who are true (in word and deeds).” [al-Tawbah 9:119]

This brings me to the point whereby the information you are relaying has no basis to it, or is found to have multiple errors. This is also known as gossiping. Gossiping is when information spread about an encounter or exchange, has not been verified and is aimed in the negative i.e to destroy someone’s dignity, or to bring shame to another person. This is also referred to as backbiting.

Slandering is when information relayed about someone is completely dishonest and has no truth to it whatsoever. This falls under the same roof as ‘spreading rumours’.

Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (RA) said, “The Messenger of Allaah (SAW) said, ‘You must be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man will keep speaking the truth and striving to speak the truth until he will be recorded with Allaah as a siddeeq (speaker of the truth). Beware of telling lies, for lying leads to immorality and immorality leads to Hellfire. A man will keep telling lies and striving to tell lies until he is recorded with Allaah as a liar.” (Reported by Muslim, 4721)

Islam thus strictly warns its believers against this, and the punishment for gossiping, backbiting and slandering is great.

Allah says in the Quraan, “neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful” [49:12] 

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (RA) that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Do you know what gheebah (backbiting) is?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “Saying something about your brother that he dislikes.” It was said, “What if what I say about my brother is true?” He said, “If what you say is true then you have backbitten about him, and if it is not true, then you have slandered him.” 

If information has no relevance to you or the next person, what is the need to exchange this information? For entertainment? To laugh at the mishaps of others? Is another person’s misfortune your happiness?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you have largely defined your own character. A character of someone who is envious and jealous of others, a person who gains comfort in knowing that someone else is worse off and draws enjoyment from knowing another is under scrutiny. In actuality, this character-type falls in the same prototype of an ‘evil’ person. Some introspection, should put into perspective of what person you would really like to be. And our ways should be mended so that we can tailor ourselves to be better human-beings.

If any knowledge has no benefit to you, that information is unnecessary. You should not further inquest into that ‘gossip’ neither, should you relay that information to anyone else, whether the information is true or not.

You should often put yourself in that person’s shoes; if roles were reversed, would you take comfort in knowing that others are spreading details about your life?’ No you would not enjoy that. No one person enjoys humiliation. And if you do not like a certain thing, you should not impose it on your neighbor.

Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) once asked, “Who will take from me these words, follow them through or teach them to someone who will?” Abu Hurairah said, “I said, ‘I will, O Messenger of Allah’!” So the Prophet (SAW) counted five on his hand and said, “Avoid committing proscribed deeds, you become the most pious; be content with what Allah has sent you, you become the richest person; be good to your neighbour, you become faithful; wish for the others what you wish for yourself, you become a Muslim and do not laugh too often because laughter kills the heart.”(Narrated by Al-Termidhi)

The evils of backbiting and slander, are not limited to women, men are often heard spreading information which is of no relevance to them or the next person.

The doors of the masjid, often hear the filth of the community, and these same doors will bear witness to your sins on the day of Judgement.

Your telephones with which you disgustingly spread these rumours, will too bear witness, in the court of Allah.

The Prophet (SAW) said, “…Whoever conceals (a fault) of a Muslim, Allah will conceal him on the Day of Judgement…(Muslim)

If Allah, Most Merciful, can hide our sins, why can’t we hide the sins of our fellow man?