[FRIDAY SERMON] Tolerating Verbal Abuse In Islam, By Murtada Gusau

Imam Murtada Gusau

By Murtada Gusau,

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Alhamdulillah. Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil within ourselves and from our wrongdoings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide; and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.

I bear witness that there is no (true) god except Allah – alone without a partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad (PBUH) is His abd (servant) and Messenger.

“O you who have believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do not die except as Muslims.”(3:102)

“O people! Revere your Lord who has created you from a single soul, created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them many men and women. Revere Allah through whom you demand things from one another and (Cherish the ties of) the wombs, Indeed, Allah is ever-Watchful over you.” (4:1)

“O you who have believe! Revere Allah and say fair words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger have certainly achieved a great victory.”(33:70-71)

Indeed, the best speech is Allah’s (SWT) Book and the best guidance is Muhammad’s (SAW) guidance. The worst affairs (of religion) are those innovated (by people), for every such innovation is an act of misguidance leading to the Fire.

Servants of Allah!
Know that it is entirely false and totally unfounded to allege that Islam teaches Muslims to murder anyone who verbally abuses them, abuses their religion, mocks it, or offends their feelings towards their faith, as some people are claiming.

On the contrary, Islam requires its followers to show patience under provocation, and to disregard and ignore the abuse. (Of course, if the abuse contains any allegations against Islam or the Noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which require to be refuted, then these should be answered, but by verbal means only in order to set the record right).

Brothers and Sisters!
Below I give arguments from the Noble Qur’an and the life of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to prove the above points. And I am confident that no one can cite any verse of the Noble Qur’an which contradicts the position set out below.

I may preface my discussion with the following saying of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as he said:

“The Muslim, who mixes with the people and bears patiently their hurtful words, is better than one who does not mix with people and does not show patience under their abuse.” (Mishkat Al-Masaabih)

What a Noble and wonderful piece of guidance, which is so applicable to the modern world in which people of differing faiths have to mix and come into contact so closely!

Teachings of the Noble Qur’an
As a general point, it may first be noted that the Noble Qur’an itself records the accusations made against, and the insults heaped upon, the Prophet Muhammad by his opponents (e.g. that he was insane, or that he fabricated his revelation, he was a magician, he was a liar, he was a musician, etc.), and it answers these charges, but nowhere does it require Muslims to inflict any kind of punishment on the accusers. The Qur’an has itself, therefore, given permanence to these allegations and the replies thereto, obviously anticipating that similar charges would be made by critics in later times. If such abuse or criticism could damage a Muslim’s faith, and requires to be silenced by force, why should the Qur’an itself have quoted so much of it from its opponents’ mouths?

The Noble Quran tells Muslims:
1. “You will certainly hear much abuse from the followers of previous books and from the idol-worshipers. And if you are patient and keep your duty – this is surely a matter of great resolution.”(3:185)

2. “Many of the followers of previous books wish that they could turn you back into disbelievers after you have believed, but you should pardon and forgive.” (2:109)

3. “And be patient (O Muhammad PBUH) with what they say, and keep away from them in a good way.” (73:10)

In connection with these verses, it is recorded in the Hadith collection of Sahih Bukhari that:

“The Messenger of Allah and his Companions used to forgive the idolaters and the followers of previous books, as Allah had commanded them, and they used to show patience on hearing hurtful words.” (Bukhari)

Addressing our beloved Prophet, Allah says in the Qur’an:

1. “Bear patiently what they say.” (20:130 and 50:39)

2. “Obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and disregard their hurtful talk.” (33:48)

In all the verses quoted above, Muslims are taught to bear their feelings of hurt and anger with patience, and to ignore the abuse.

Another verse having some bearing on this subject is as follows:

“And if you invite them to guidance, they hear not; and you see them looking towards you, yet they see not. Hold fast to forgiveness and enjoins goodness and turn away from the ignorant.” (7:198-199)

This directs us that when we have to deal with people who are blindly prejudiced and ignorant, and therefore fail to understand the guidance, we must not give vent to anger, fury and violence against them. We should treat them with forgiveness, do our duty of enjoining simple goodness, and then turn away from them, leaving the matter in the hands of Allah.

Withdrawing from company

Muslims are told:

“When you hear Allah’s messages disbelieved in and mocked at, sit not with them until they enter into some other discourse.” (4:140; see also 6:68)

These verses deal with the case when the religion is being mocked and derided (as distinct from being criticized). A Muslim is required to do no more than to withdraw from such a company, and even that only while the mocking continues, and to actually rejoin the same company when they have changed the subject! How far from ordering Muslims to kill such people!

Any criticism underlying the abuse must, of course, be answered. But the response to any sheer abuse, ridicule or mockery is withdrawal of oneself from the company.

Some incidents from the Prophet’s life

1. A man called Suhail ibn Amr had a voice suited to oratory, and used to employ this talent in making speeches against the Prophet. He was captured by the Muslims at the battle of Badr and brought before the Prophet. A Muslim suggested that some of Suhail’s teeth should be knocked out to disable him from speaking well. The Prophet replied:

“If I disfigure any of his limbs, Allah will disfigure mine in retribution.”

2. Once when the Prophet (PBUH) divided some wealth among his followers, one man accused him to his face of being unfair and told him: “Fear Allah, O Muhammad.” After the man had left, the following conversation took place between Khalid ibn Walid and the Prophet, as recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari:

• “Khalid: “Shall I strike off his neck?”

• Prophet (PBUH): “No, perhaps he is a man who says prayers.”

• Khalid: “There are many people who pray, but what they say is not what is in their hearts.”

• Prophet (PBUH): “I have not been commanded by Allah to cut open people’s chests to see what is inside their hearts.” (Bukhari)

Here a man insults the Noble Prophet to his face, and a Muslim asks permission to kill the man. The Prophet advances the possibility of there being some good in the culprit, but Khalid argues that the man’s prayers are only for show. The Prophet then makes it clear that we cannot know about people’s motives or sincerity, but have to accept that what they are doing is in good faith.

3. Some Jews, when addressing Muslims, would distort the greeting as-salamu alaikum and say it as as-samu alaikum, which means “death be upon you.” When they once addressed the Prophet in this manner, his beloved wife Aisha retorted back in the same words. The Noble Prophet disapproved of this reply and said that Allah did not like harsh words.

4. Once there were four men who spread an accusation of immorality against the Prophet’s wife Aisha. Their allegation was ultimately proved to be false because they failed to back it up with any witnesses. One of the four men, called Mistah, used to receive financial assistance from Abu Bakr, Aisha’s father. After this incident, Abu Bakr swore never again to help Mistah. The following verse was revealed to the Prophet on this occasion:

“Let not the possessors of grace and means among you swear against giving to the near relatives and the poor and those who had to flee in Allah’s way. Pardon and overlook. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you?” (24:22)

Hearing this, Abu Bakr exclaimed:

“Indeed, I certainly love that Allah should forgive me.” (Bukhari, Book of Testimony chapter 15)

He then resumed providing assistance to Mistah, as before.

My Respected people!
Note that this allegation was not made against just an ordinary Muslim woman, but the wife of the Prophet, and therefore it struck at the Holy household at the centre of the religion of Islam, which was required to be a model of purity for all Muslims. In view of this, the forgiveness taught in the above verse becomes all the more generous and magnanimous.

Servants of Allah!
Let us pray to Allah the Almighty, to guide and protect us, and may He the Most High grant us strength and the tenacity to strive toward a comprehensive and holistic concept of peace unity and progress.

This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Sha’aban 6, 1437 AH (May 13, 2016), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’at Mosque and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosque, Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: +234 80 382 897 61.