Allah (swt) says:
وَ اِذَا الۡمَوۡءٗدَۃُ سُئِلَتۡ ۪ۙ بِاَیِّ ذَنۡۢبٍ قُتِلَتۡ ۚ
Wa ‘izal - maw - ‘uudatu su’ilat; Bi - ‘ayyi zambin - qutilat?
“Indeed, those who like that immorality should be spread [or publicized] among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you do not know.” (An-Noor, 24: 20)
In a Hadith Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) has said:
“He who sees something which should be kept hidden and conceals it will be like one who has brought to life a girl buried alive.” (Abu Dawud, Kanz al-’Ummal, Tabarani)
This Sahih Hadith teaches us that he who finds a defect/ weakness, whether physical or moral in a Muslim and who conceals it, that is to say, he does not spread it among the people, but rather keeps the matter a secret, then he shall have a reward comparable to the one who saves a girl buried alive from her grave, for this practice was widespread among the Arabs at the time of the Jahiliyya (ignorance, before the advent of Islam), as well as among the pagans and the ignorant ones before the advent of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). We need to advise people to improve their conduct (to atone for their wrongdoings) but it is illegal for us to reveal their flaws to those who are not concerned (with that matter).
THE ONE WHO REPENTS FROM SIN IS LIKE ONE WHO DID NOT SIN
“The one who repents from sin is like one who did not sin.” (Saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) - Ibn Majah)
Before the advent of Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) as Messenger of Allah, the burial of girls alive was commonly practiced by the Arabs. Even some of the companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), before they accepted Islam (when they lived in the pre-Islamic ignorant period), had committed this crime, and among them there was a man who prior to committing this crime was known for his generosity and indulgence. The latter underwent such a trial which led him to engage in this abhorrent practice.
His story is that one of the Arab tribes had attacked his tribe and captured his daughter and made her a prisoner but then later on there was reconciliation between the two tribes but by then the girl was sentimentally attached to a member of the other tribe who had imprisoned her. The latter was also liked her.
The girl was faced with a decision imposed upon her to either choose between returning to her father or stay with the man she fell in love with. She preferred the man to her father, while the latter was an important personality in his own tribe. He was welcoming, generous, indulgent and was known to be a good person among his people. Upon hearing the decision of his daughter he became very angry and swore that if he had other girls he would surely bury them alive. So when Allah tried him by giving him daughters, thus, whenever he had a daughter, he buried her alive and this practice continued till the number reached eight (he buried eight daughters).
After converting to Islam, he deeply and sincerely regretted what he had done. He asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) what he had to do to be totally cleansed of what he had done, namely the live burial of his eight daughters. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) told, “Free slaves!” But the man said he was rather an owner of camels, and therefore he offered a hundred camels!
Allah (swt) has mentioned in the Quran the condemnation of this practice, that is to say, the burying alive of girls:
“And when the infant girl buried alive is asked, ‘for what crime she was killed?’” (At-Takwir, 81: 9-10).
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) compared the reward of one who saw in his Muslim brother a fault and does not disclose it to that of a person who saves a girl buried before she could die and suffocate underground; such a defect which, if revealed to people, would substantially shame that person (who previously sinned or committed a wrong etc.) without it being beneficial for him. This shows how the practice of protecting the privacy and dignity of others is important. Especially since it brings together believers and strengthens their bonds of affection.
A man came to our master Hazrat Umar (ra) the Commander of the Faithful and said: “At the time of Jahiliyya (Ignorance) I once buried alive my daughter, but before she died (suffocated), I retrieve her from there! Later, we converted to Islam. When she grew up, and while being Muslim, she committed a prohibited immoral deserving punishment; it was during her youth. So she grabbed a knife to commit suicide but we managed to save her after cutting off part of her carotid artery (one of her arteries). She then carefully and sincerely repented. And people have proposed her marriage. Therefore, should I inform them about this?”
The father supposedly thought that he was doing a good deed by telling it to the Caliph of the Muslims, because according to him, he thought that even for this kind of incident, he had to be honest and not to cheat people. But the Caliph got very angry, and replied him according to Islamic precepts: “You revealed a defect that Allah the Almighty has hidden? If you warn anyone about that, then I’ll make sure to make you become an example of punishment about which towns of people shall talk!”
That is to say, that if you take the initiative to broadcast the sins formerly committed by your daughter, then I’ll make you suffer punishment and make you become a spectacular model and example for anyone attempting to act in the same way as you. This will be an example of correction which I shall inflict and people shall say: ‘So and so, the son of so and so did such a thing and Hazrat Umar (ra) (Amirul Mumineen) has inflicted sanctions on him.’
We must learn from this story that we are not authorized to discuss the sins of a Muslim who had once sinned especially after his repentance; we must not make him recall that disgraceful and shameful thing that he had previously committed. Whatever the dishonour and sin, it is not allowed for people to spread them after the repentance of the Muslim man/ boy or woman/ girl. Human beings change state during their lives. It could happen that after committing great sins, a Muslim turn over a new leaf, get rid of those sins through repentance and become a pure and pious person.
DO NOT SPREAD TURPITUDE
There is merit for the Muslim who does not reveal the fault or sin of his brother, there is an encouragement for him not to disclose it and not to make a scandal out of it. So beware of being part of those who are relentless in breaking the reputation of the Muslim, that is to say, those who constantly speak of him and offend him wherever they go and make it a habit to do such backbiting (such bad activities). Their sin is like the sin of the one who commits the worst type of usury, as stated by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh):
“Verily, the worst type of usury (Riba) is attacking a Muslim’s honour without right.” (Abu Dawud).
That is to say, one who spends time in revealing the shortcomings of a Muslim, gossips about him and smearing his honour. Such a person is counted among the sinners in the sight of Allah the Almighty. The offense in question is to discuss the faults of a Muslim and make a scandal out of it and spread that among the people. This behaviour often leads to a rupture and a distance between the brothers in religion.
He who has suffered injustice, must speak only the part which he has the right to speak and should not be carried away by anger to such an extent as to commit such wrongdoings as to deserve the punishment of his Lord! He has to limit himself to the rights given by the Book of Allah, exercising justice only to the extent of the offense of which he was a victim. That is to say, without engaging, in a spirit of revenge to reveal the faults of his opponent himself despite the fact that the latter was unfair to him is so obvious! He must hide the flaws of the Muslim and does not have the right to disclose through his tongue (or any means) at any time. And if in addition the victim takes the initiative to act in goodness towards the one who harmed him, this shall indeed be the good behaviour which the Holy Quran and the example of our Prophet (pbuh) taught us.
DO NOT CHEAT
As for the person who cheats in a commercial activity, or in the field of education in the name of religion, or in the course of a science (knowledge) in this temporal life, or in the field of medicine, manufacturing, or any other kind of activity or transaction, then it is mandatory to warn against that kind of person and reveal his deceit to advise people.
Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) said: “Religion is to give advice (Naseehah).” (Muslim). Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged (his Ummah) to keep secret the defects/ weaknesses/ sins of others in several Hadiths among which are his words (pbuh): “There is not a person who hides in this earthly life, the faults of another without Allah veils (in return) his faults on the Day of Judgement.” (Muslim).
“If you want to live free of harm,
and have great luck, and a secured reputation;
then with your tongue, do not cite anyone’s fault,
because you are yourself full of flaws, and people also have tongues;
and your eye, even if it shows you the defects of some (people),
then restrain it and tell it: ‘Oh eye! People also have eyes.’
Then, have peaceful relations with people,
forgive the one who hurts you,
and if it happens that you need to separate yourself from someone,
do it then, but in the most pleasant way.”
So, I advise you, O my disciples and all Muslims to guard yourselves against indecency, turpitude and also you need to respect your Muslim brothers and sisters and humanity as a whole. Their lives, their dignity, their honour and their property must remain secure in your hands. You should always show yourselves deserving as per the Islamic precepts, as had practiced our beloved Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). Insha-Allah, Ameen.
---Friday Sermon of 15 July 2016 ~(10 Shawwal 1437 AH) delivered by Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.