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Slandering a Muslim Woman

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As-salamu `alaykum dear friend.

Thank you for your question.

The verses you are referring to from Surat An-Nur (24) mean:

*{And those who launch a charge against chaste [honorable] women, and produce not four witnesses [to support their allegations],- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors [evil-doers].}* (An-Nur 24:4)

These verses were revealed when some hypocrites accused the Mother of the Believers `A’ishah, the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him), of adultery.

`A’ishah was so hurt when she heard the accusation that she was crying day and night while praying to Allah Almighty to reveal her proof of innocence from heaven. Allah revealed her innocence in the same context of the above verse, by saying what means:

*{Lo! they who spread the slander are a gang among you. Deem it not a bad thing for you; nay, it is good for you. Unto every man of them (will be paid) that which he hath earned of the sin; and as for him among them who had the greater share therein, his will be an awful doom. Why did not the believers, men and women, when ye heard it, think good of their own folk, and say: It is a manifest untruth? Why did they not produce four witnesses? Since they produce not witnesses, they verily are liars in the sight of Allah. Had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy unto you in the world and the Hereafter an awful doom had overtaken you for that whereof ye murmured.}* (An-Nur 24:11-14)

Then, Allah Almighty blamed some of the believers for transferring the rumor around, without evidence. He asked them not to repeat this act ever, if they are true believers. The Qur’an says what means:

*{When ye welcomed it with your tongues, and uttered with your mouths that whereof ye had no knowledge, ye counted it a trifle. In the sight of Allah it is very great. Wherefor, when ye heard it, said ye not: It is not for us to speak of this. Glory be to Thee [O Allah]! This is awful calumny. Allah admonisheth you that ye repeat not the like thereof ever, if ye are [in truth] believers.}* (An-Nur 15-17)

Therefore, no woman (or man for that matter) should be accused of adultery or fornication unless there are four witnesses who have seen the act itself. In other words, for somebody to make this kind of accusation, the crime has to be done obviously in public. But even if one, two, or three people see such a thing, they have no right to accuse the person in public. Their duty, in this case, is to advise the persons involved in private and not to scandalize them.

The only exception from the above rule is a husband accusing his wife of adultery, while there are no other witnesses. In this case, Allah Almighty says what means:

*{As for those who accuse their wives but have no witnesses except themselves; let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies, [swearing] by Allah that he is of those who speak the truth; And yet a fifth, invoking the curse of Allah on him if he is of those who lie.}* (An-Nur 24:6-7)

But in this case, if the woman bears witness that he is lying, her testimony annuls (in the legal sense) his testimony. The Qur’anic verses continue saying what means:

*{And it shall avert the punishment from her if she bear witness before Allah four times that the thing he saith is indeed false, And a fifth [time] that the wrath of Allah be upon her if he speaketh truth.}* (An-Nur 24:8-9)

This, in fact, shows how Islam protects a woman’s honor, even if her husband is bad enough to try to accuse her falsely; Islam gives her the privilege of actually annulling his testimony.

Then, also according to the verses above, those who accuse chaste women of such acts and do not bring witnesses are supposed to be lashed and their testimony rejected ever after.

How to protect yourself from that? I pray that you are not tested with this kind of disaster, and if you are, I ask Allah to find you a way out that proves your innocence. As mentioned above, Lady `A’ishah herself could not protect herself from these accusations and they almost ruined her own marriage.

But if there is an authority (Islamic or otherwise), where you could accuse these people who accused you of defamation, then you could do that and you have all legal rights over them.

May Allah guide us all.

Thank you and please keep in touch.

Salam.

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