To Kill a Mocking Tongue
by Muhammad Alshareef
Al-Ma'roor ibn Suwayd narrates that he once saw Abu Dharr radi Allahu anhu wearing a beautiful shawl. His slave standing next to him was wearing a shawl exactly like it, warm and beautiful. Ma'roor said to Abu Dharr, “Perhaps you could take the shawl of your servant and give him another (less expensive) one.”
“Never,” said Abu Dharr, “for I once had a servant whose mother was not Arab and I cussed him and his mother. That servant went to the Messenger of Allah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam complaining of the words I had said. When RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam saw me he commented, ‘O Abu Dharr, you are a man who still has jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance) in him.’”
Because of these painful words, Abu Dharr radi Allahu anhu would always dress his servants in the exact same garments that he would wear.
Dear brothers and sisters, Allah is disobeyed the most with our tongues. There is a sin that sweeps amongst us; a sin that many take lightly; a sin that is laughed at; a sin that could very well pull someone to Hellfire – it is the sin of insulting others.
Read carefully this following verse. It is a commandment of Allah that begins with a call to those who claim to have eman. Allah ta'ala says:
O you who believe, let not one group of people make fun of another, who (the one's being made fun of) are perhaps better then them. And let no woman make fun of another woman who (the woman being made fun of) is perhaps better than herself. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by (offensive) nicknames. Wretched is the name (i.e. mention) of disobedience after (one's) faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the dhaalimoon (the wrongdoers) (Al-Hujurat 49/11).
Perhaps the one that is being made fun of is more beloved to Allah. Subhan Allah! Let us remember this if we ever try to make fun of someone, perhaps Allah loves them and does not love us. Didn't the mushrikeen make fun of RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, and we know Allah loved him and not them. Didn't the munaafiqeen make fun of the Sahaabaa, and we know Allah loved the Sahaabaa and not them.
RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
“Verily, a person will speak words from those that Allah hates, paying no heed to what he is saying, and with those words he will plummet in to Hellfire” (Bukhari).
There are different reasons why a person would want to insult, make fun of and ridicule other community members:
Firstly, they have weak eman and their fear of Allah is poor. This is one of the major reasons.
Secondly, they spend a lot of their time in gatherings that bring no benefit.
Thirdly, they themselves may want others to praise them. Sadly, when there is a student or a community member that insults others, often it is they that want to be the ‘cool' one. How can they be ‘cool' if they are doing something that Allah and His Messenger hate?
Fourthly, they forget the punishment for those that make fun of others. Imam Al-Bayhaqi narrates in Shu'ab al-Eman, that RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
“Verily, those people that make fun of people – for them a gate of Jannah will be opened. It will be said to them, ‘Come (and enter).’ That person will come with all their anguish and depression, but when he gets close, the gate will be closed in his face. Then another gate (to Jannah) will be opened and it will be said, ‘Come (and enter).’ So that person will come with all his anguish and depression. But when he gets close, the gate will be closed in his face. This will keep happening to him until it will get to the point where it will be said, ‘Come (and enter),’ and he will not come from the despair of ever entering paradise.”
Fifthly, those that make fun of others may do so out of love for the kuffar and a love to imitate them. How many times do we see the comedians mocking people and everyone laughing? Indeed, mocking others and insulting them is a characteristic of jaahiliyyah and kufr, and it is never a characteristic of a believer.
Allah ta'ala shows us in Surah Al-Mutaffifeen how this characteristic of laughing at others is a characteristic of the kuffar:
Indeed, those who committed crimes used to laugh at those who believed (Al-Mutaffifin 83/29).
The seriousness of this sin varies in accordance to the subject being insulted. On the highest level of seriousness is to make fun of Allah, His aayaat, or His Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam.
A group of munafiqeen started joking one day about their Qur'raa ( i.e. the Companions of Allah's Messenger). They described, in ridiculing terms, that they were large in stomachs, having lying tongues and being cowardly. Allah ta'ala tells us in the Qur'an:
And if you ask them, they will surely say, “We were only conversing and playing.” Say, “Is it Allah and His verses and His Messenger that you were mocking?” / Make no excuse; you have disbelieved (i.e. rejected faith) after your belief. If We pardon one faction of you – We will punish another faction because they were criminals (At-Tauba 9/65-66).
After Allah, His aayaat, or His Messenger sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, it is most serious to ridicule and make fun of the Sahaabaa. In the incident just mentioned, the comment of the munaafiqeen was actually directed at the Sahaabaa and the Qur'an shows us that this was a direct ridicule of Allah, His verses, and His Messenger.
Shaykh Al-Uthaymeen rahimahullah said, “Thus it is understood that someone who curses and ridicules the Companions is a kafir. This is because cutting at the honor of the Sahaabee is in reality an attempt at ridiculing Allah and His Messenger and His Shari'ah.
Next it is most serious to ridicule the pious believers. For example, if someone were to ridicule a pious believer because of his practice of the deen, such as ridiculing a brother's beard or to mock a sister’s hijab, doing this – mocking a Muslim because of his Islam – may very well expel someone from the fold of Islam. Allah ta'ala says in Surah Al-Mutaffifeen:
Indeed, those that committed crimes used to laugh at those who believed (Al-Mutaffifin 83/29-30).
As reported in Tafseer At-Tabaree, the munaafiqeen were once sitting back watching the charity that the believers were giving. To those that gave much, like AbdurRahmaan ibn ‘Awf, they said, “He only gave it to show off.” For those that gave little, they said, “Verily, Allah has no need for his petty offering.” And so Allah ta'ala revealed in Surah At-Tauba:
Those who criticize the contributors among the believers concerning their charities and (criticize) the ones who find nothing (to spend) except their effort, Allah will ridicule them and they will have a painful punishment (At-Tauba 9/79).
In addition to all the specific people mentioned, it is also most serious to ridicule humans in general. This applies to the God-fearing and the fusaaq. A believer should not humiliate people and/or use derogatory nicknames for them, nor should they ridicule their creation. Allah ta'aala says:
O you who believe, let not one group of people make fun of another (Al-Hujurat 49/11).
And RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said, “It is enough sin for a person that they would ridicule their Muslim brother”
Abdullaah ibn Mas'ood radi Allahu anhu used to say, as narrated by Ibn Abee ‘Aasim, “By Allah whom there is no God but He, there is nothing more worthy of a prolonged incarceration than one's tongue.”
Abu Musa radi Allahu anhu said, “I asked Allah's Messenger, ‘Who out of the Muslims is the best?' He replied, ‘Those whom the other Muslims are safe from his tongue and hands’” (Agreed upon).
The mockingbird, native to the western hemisphere, has a very interesting name. The mockingbird gets its name from its ability to mimic the sounds of other animals. It combines song notes of it's own with sounds from other birds, doing so in almost a mocking way. It is an endangered species, and we hope in sha Allah that the mocking it got its name after will become endangered in our communities too.
Al-Hasan Al-Basree rahimahu Allah said, “Whoever does not guard the slips of their tongue has not understood their Deen.”
Dear brothers and sisters, one of the saddest things is to see the regulars of the masjid, or the leaders of the Muslim youth, being the ones who mock others. So many youth groups and halaqas around North America are built on this notion that in order to be cool you must ridicule and mock others.
In other places, I personally know people who abandoned the local masjid because they did not want to be ridiculed by the Muslims. They felt more comfort and compassion in the character of the disbelievers. What will Allah ta'aala think of someone who does this to the Muslims, someone who is an obstacle for others to come closer to Allah? If we find a gathering of Muslims to be like this, it is our duty to command the good and forbid the evil and demand that this ridiculing stop once and for all.
In conclusion, the question that begs to be asked is: What is the cure for this disease of the tongue?
One: We should know that it is a major sin. In fact, a person may make a single statement – not paying any heed to it – by which he may slip into Hellfire.
Two: We should follow what our tongues are saying and not allow ourselves to stoop to vain talk.
Three: We should distance ourselves from those long useless gatherings where nothing is done for hours except laughing and chatting. Instead, we should replace our gatherings with the remembrance of Allah and good speech.
Four: We must glorify this deen and make enormous in our hearts the commandments of Allah ta'aala. If Allah says do not make fun of one another, our reply should be nothing more than, “We hear and we obey.”
Five: We should warn others of the sin of insulting other people and making fun of them. Let us not allow ourselves to be as a silent Shaytaan listening to others being insulted. Let us speak up and say it clearly that this is not something loved by Allah and His Messenger. Proclaim that if Allah and His Messenger hate it, then so do you.
Six: If you feel that you just have to insult someone, ask Allah to protect you from the Shaytaan and this satanic act. As Allah ta'sala says:
And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is Hearing and Knowing (Al-A’raf 7/200).
Seven: And of course, if anyone of us should fall into this sin, we should be swift in turning back to Allah in tauba. Say astaghfir Allah wa ‘atoobo ilayh, O Allah, I ask You to forgive me and I return to You. Allah ta'ala says in the Qur'an:
And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the dhaalimoon (the wrongdoers) (Al-Hujurat 49/11).
Finally, if there is one thing that you remember from this khutbah let it be this following commandment of Allah ta'aala; memorize it and teach it to at least one other person:
O you who believe, let not one group of people make fun of another...(Al-Hujurat 49/11)