By Sheikh Saud Al-Shuraim - 07 Rabiul Thaani 1435
His Eminence Sheikh Saud Al-Shuraim - May Allah protect him- delivered this Friday’s Khutbah titled The Detrimental Effects of Rumours on the Individual and Society. In his Khutbah, Sheikh Al- Shuraim addressed the adverse effects of rumours on the individual and society, warned against relaying unverified news, and explained that the onus is on the Muslims in general and on journalists and media corps in particular who have to corroborate the news before broadcasting them.
Praise is due to Allah. We thank Him, seek His help and forgiveness, and to Him we return in repentance. We seek refuge in Almighty Allah from the evils of our souls and from our sinful deeds. He whom Allah guides is the rightly guided; he whom He leaves astray will find none to guide him. I bear witness that there is no deity worth worshipping except Almighty Allah with no associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.
"O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. [Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always], and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.." [al-Imran: 102]
"O Mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over" [Al-Nisa: 1]
"O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter Paradise)" [Al-Aḥzab: 70-71]
Now then, O people!
Man is naturally predisposed to follow up news and to believe rumours and fish for them before they actually happen. At the same time, people are normally too impatient to verify these rumours meticulously, prudently and discerningly. This is the nature of the majority, except those very few whom Allah has blessed with His Mercy.
"Man is created of haste ..." [Al-Anbiya’: 37]
"And man invokes (Allah) for evil as he invokes (Allah) for good and man is ever hasty [i.e., if he is angry with somebody, he invokes (saying): "O Allah! Curse him, etc." and that one should not do, but one should be patient]" [Al-Iṣra’: 11]
It is stipulated rationally and in accordance with sharia that impending events and public news relative to the fundamentals of the Ummah must be carefully and prudently scrutinised. One must not hasten to believe any piece of news until proven true, and until its stipulations met and impediments dissipated, through a cautious and noble soul that is well-behaved when it comes to managing crises, clear from any ridicule or contempt with respect to the personal rights, reputation and honour of others.
Some take haste and impatience to grab and act upon rumours as a screen to conceal their ignominious failure and narrow-mindedness. This is nothing but an aberration that ties the heart to suspicion, and induces irrational judgment in times of crises. This kind of behaviour will bring nothing but shame and pain in lieu of safety and security.
Man’s mind and discretion are couched in the prudence and authenticity inspired by his mind and intellect vis-à-vis the rights, honour, property and religion of others. Suffice it to remember that Allah has set remorse and regret as a consequence of succumbing to rumours, but alas! It would only be too late to roll back those hasty actions! "O you who believe! If a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what you have done." [Al-Ḥujurat: 6]
Most rumours and news are motivated by curiosity. People are inquisitive by nature; for no apparent reason they are eager to know any piece of news and its implications. Some would even pay money to get that piece of news although they might get it gratis if only they waited for a few moments. This prudent wait might make a difference that only Allah knows. It is said, (Here, the Sheikh recites two lines of poetry from Tarafa’s Poem):
The days will reveal to you the things that you knew not
And the news will be brought to you effortlessly
The news will be conveyed to you by someone to whom you sold nothing
And to whom you have never given appointment willingly.
However, not all random rumour reception and haphazard news circulation are motivated by curiosity. They might be geared up to create unrest and instability in order to realize dubious religious, economic, social, political, or intellectual purposes. They might seek to destabilize what is so firmly established and to scatter what is coherent. Such a subversive action may lead to disunity and lack of trust. People might even interject, “How can this be? It has been said …”
A serious society would not tolerate such media whose curiosity breeds discord rather than concord; one that is harmful rather than useful and that is a wasteful of energy and efforts that may otherwise be exploited in construction and development. A society with such features is a lethargic society spending its leisure in fruitless inaction that breeds nothing but further vacuum. A society that preoccupies itself with gossip is incapable of building knowledge or sailing through tumultuous misfortunes.
The Prophet (SAW) said, “Allah has disliked three things for you: chatter and prattle, wasting money and inquisitiveness.” [Narrated by Bukhari]
Behold - May Allah protect you- how the hadith has aligned gossip, chatter and prattle, with inquisitiveness and squandering one’s money. This seems to imply that money squandering leads to bankruptcy; similarly inquisitiveness may lead to adversity and calamity; gossip leads to wasting time. This only creates an atmosphere of uneasiness and anxiety. May Allah bless Ibn Al-Jawzi’s soul who said, “I have seen many people who do not know the meaning of life. Some kill their time speaking about Sultans and prices going up or down, and the like. I knew then that Allah (May He be extolled) has not disclosed the honour of life and the value of vital times except to those whom He has guided to exploit them.”
"But none is granted it (the above quality) except those who are patient, and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion (of the happiness in the Hereafter i.e. Paradise and in this world of a high moral character)" [Fuṣṣilat: 35]
Servants of Allah!
Allah (Sublime be He) has taught us prudence and patience and not to take whatever we hear for granted without verification. If we do, calamitous outcomes may ensue that we might later regret such as confusion, groundless accusation, reversal of truth, incriminating the innocent, attributing false statements to people or misinterpreting their statements.
Having heard that the Prophet (SAW) had divorced his wives, Al-Farūq (Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, May Allah be pleased with him) went to the mosque and found that people were discussing the story. He could not wait to ask the Prophet (SAW) about what happened. “Did you divorce your wives?” Omar enquired of the Prophet. “No! I did not” the Prophet (SAW) answered. Omar then stood at the door of the mosque and announced, “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) did not divorce his wives!” The following verse from of the Qur’an was revealed on that occasion, "When there comes to them some matter touching (public) safety or fear, they make it known (among the people), if only they had referred it to the Messenger or to those charged with authority among them, the proper investigators would have understood it from them (directly). Had it not been for the Grace and Mercy of Allah upon you, you would have followed Shaitân (Satan), save a few of you." [Al-Nisa’: 83]
Our Lord (Sublime be He) and our Prophet (SAW) have taught us not to funnel what we hear into our ears without corroborating it first, and not to relay it randomly and freely. The first thing we need to do when we hear a piece of news is to verify it and to know if it is true or false.
We need to look into the meaning of the news so that we do not take it out of context or assign to it additional value; needless to say that receiving unconfirmed news without proper evidence stigmatizes one with falsehood which may, in turn, lead to depravation. The Prophet (SAW) said, “Suffice it for a person to report all he hears to be counted as a liar!”
It is all the more crucial and serious when the news concerns matters related to religion such as reporting what the Chosen One (SAW) has said or done; an example of this is sending news about the best deeds through communication sites and groups without confirming the authenticity of the news. The Prophet (SAW) has said: "Whoever tells lies about me intentionally, then (surely) let him take his seat in the Hell-fire.”
That is what our religion ‒O servants of Allah‒ has taught us in this regard. So do rational people realize this, especially those who work in the media? This concerns media people in the first place since the media is a source of news, incidents, and rumours through which rational men judge the truthfulness and falseness (honesty and dishonesty) of these media sources. Also, on the individual level, man will be held accountable for whatever he says or writes; his straightforward utterances that may not otherwise be interpreted; he should not accuse anybody until enough evidence is presented. Allah (May He be extolled) said: [Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it). [Qaf: 18]. He also said: But verily, over you (are appointed angels in charge of mankind) to watch you (10) Kirâman (honourable) Kâtibîn writing down (your deeds) (11) They know all that you do]. [Al-Infiṭar: 10-12]
May Allah bless you and me by the Glorious Qur'an and make its verses and wise sayings beneficial to you and me! This is what I have said. If it is correct, it is so thanks to Allah, but if it is wrong, it is my own fault and Satan’s. I ask Allah to forgive my sins, yours, and those of all Muslims, so ask Him for forgiveness, for He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful!
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