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In this globalized era of advanced technology, it is now extremely easy for someone to spread information to people around the globe. People now spend most of their time interacting through the internet in the virtual world where there are archives of information and an overflow of news communicated and shared through various channels, such as newspaper, magazines, social media (Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube) and others. Simply type a keyword in the search engine and every detail of the information searched will be displayed. The issue is, are all this information valid, verified or even filtered? If the news happens to be true, then it is fine to accept it. However, if it was not so, then surely, it will lead to dispute and animosity.

In our community today, it is common to discuss current issues as gossip materials and arguments in false allegations and accusations among people. This situation has become worse since the emergence of a group of people who uses gossip and matters that disgrace and humiliate others as an opportunity to profit and gain popularity from it. This will ultimately lead to animosity and chaos in society.

This happens because we often forget that Allah SWT has advised all Muslims to be mindful and careful in receiving any news and to first verify and validate the news referring to reliable sources and evidences especially in regards to issues or accusations attacking the character of a person. The pertinent mannerisms or attitude in regard to “tabayyun” is important in order to avoid getting involved with fitnah at the same time avoiding hearing or reading news discussing the wrongdoings of others that could change and harm our way of thinking (avoid having a bad perception of someone due to baseless accusations). Such is the good character and conduct as stated in the Quran and the principles that every Muslim should adhere to; which is to always think good of others and do not make hasty assumptions when receiving news.

Hence, in this series of Bayan Linnas, we would like to explain the concept of tabayyun to give a better understanding for us all. This series of Bayan Linnas is titled The Concept of Tabayyun in Receiving and Conveying News. Hopefully, this could benefit us all in order for us to live a peaceful life. Amin.

Definition of Tabayyun

Tabayyun is an Arabic word which means verification or validation of the truthfulness of something. Any news or information received should first be analyzed and verified in regard to the truthfulness and accuracy of the information to prevent getting involved in any agendas or bad things, such as fitnah, deception and degradation of others due to jealousy and hatred. The commandment for tabayyun is crucial for us to avoid preconception and prejudice.

Imam al-Syaukani said, “What is meant by tabyyun is verifying and carefully analyzing while the meaning of tatsabbut is careful and mindfulness without rushing, with deep understanding and knowledge of certain incident or news received, so that it is clear and apparent to him.” (See Fath al-Qadir, 5/65)

The Sanctioning of Tabayyun

Allah SWT commanded us to analyze and verify the truthfulness of any news that we received from anyone. The reason is, it is to avoid unwanted things from happening. Allah SWT explains this in the Quran, stating:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ

“O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.”

Surah al-Hujurat (6)

Ibn Jarir said: “You should practise tabayyun, which means delaying to convey news that you received until you have verified it and you are certain of its truthfulness. Never accept anything hastily.” (See Jami' al-Bayan fi Ta'wil al-Quran, 22/286)

Ibn Kathir said: Allah SWT commanded us to first verify news from the fasiq as precaution. This is to ensure that others would not make a ruling based on his speech which could lead to deception or mistake. (See Tafsir al-Quran al-'Azim, 7/370)

Syeikh al-Maraghi commented on the above verse stating that Allah SWT is teaching His slaves to have manners and act with good conduct and character in religious and worldly affairs. And in regard to this, when a fasiq comes with news which contradicts the religion, then do not believe him unless you have verified the news first. (See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 26/126)

Syeikh Ali al-Sobuni in his commentaries said that if a fasiq comes to you bearing news, then you should first analyse and verify the truthfulness of the news first. This is to prevent you from making ill-informed allegations or accusations towards certain people. At the time, the only thing you have left is endless regret. (See Sofwah al-Tafasir, 3/216)

Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili commented on the above verse stating: Allah SWT commanded His believers stating: When a fasiq comes to you bearing news, the best course of action for you to take is verify its truthfulness, don’t rush to accept and spread it. This is to prevent unwanted things from happening due to an incorrect judgement made which could harm others. (See al-Tafsir al-Munir, 26/227)

The Consequences of Not Practising Tabayyun

Not practising tabayyun in receiving news will lead to preconception and prejudice in society which will turn lead to disharmony. Allah SWT prohibited this in His statement:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ ۖ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.”

Surah al-Hujurat (12)

Syeikh Abdul Rahman al-Sa’di commented on the above verse stating Allah SWT prohibit negative assumptions towards other Muslims. The reason is prejudice will result in backbiting and insults. Continuing to commit prohibited deeds will bring about the feeling of prejudice and animosity among Muslims. (See Taisir al-Karim al-Rahman fi Tafsir Kalam al-Mannan, 1/801)

This shows how important it is to verify any news received before conveying it to others. This is important to maintain the brotherhood bonds among Muslims. Allah SWT states:

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّـهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّـهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُون

“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you - when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus, does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.”

Surah Ali-Imran (103)

Thus, verification upon receiving news is important. This is to prevent the spread of fake news for it will lead to Allah SWT’s wrath and being from among the liars. This is stated in a hadith narrated by Hafs bin Asim RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:

كَفَى بِالْمَرْءِ كَذِبًا أَنْ يُحَدِّثَ بِكُلِّ مَا سَمِعَ

“It is enough of a lie for a man that he narrates everything that he hears.”

Sahih Muslim (5)

The above hadith is placed specifically by Imam Nawawi under the heading: “Prohibition in Narrating Everything That One Hears”. Imam Nawawi explains the meaning of the hadith: Someone is considered a liar due to additions that may be made to the news he receives. As for the wisdom from the hadith, it is a warning against conveying everything that is heard. The reason is, the news can be either true or a lie. (See Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 1/75)

While Ibn Hibban said: In this hadith, there is a prohibition on conveying news that one hears until he has verified its truthfulness. (See Kitab al-Majruhin, 1/25)

Manners of Conveying News

In regard to conveying news, a person is held accountable for his every word and speech. Thus, one should be careful whenever he is conveying news. The reason is, Allah SWT emphasize on the manners of conveying news and the Prophet PBUH reminds his ummah to be careful in conveying news, as stated in a hadith from Abu Hurairah RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:

إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَتَكَلَّمُ بِالْكَلِمَةِ لَا يَرَى بِهَا بَأْسًا، يَهْوِي بِهَا سَبْعِينَ خَرِيفًا فِي النَّارِ

“Indeed, a man may utter a statement that he does not see any harm in, but for which he will fall seventy autumns in the Fire.”

Sunan al-Tirmizi (2314)

According to the above hadith, al-Imam al-Mubarakfuri explains that some people may consider it trivial to say something without realizing their words could be a reason for them to be thrown in hellfire. (See Tuhfah al-Ahwazi, 12/79)

Furthermore, when one decides to convey a certain news, it must be true and will not harm or degrade others or a form of deception. This is to prevent the wrath of Allah SWT and chaos in society. Allah SWT states:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ جَاءُوا بِالْإِفْكِ عُصْبَةٌ مِّنكُمْ ۚ لَا تَحْسَبُوهُ شَرًّا لَّكُم ۖ بَلْ هُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۚ لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُم مَّا اكْتَسَبَ مِنَ الْإِثْمِ ۚ وَالَّذِي تَوَلَّىٰ كِبْرَهُ مِنْهُمْ لَهُ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ

“Indeed, those who came with falsehood are a group among you. Do not think it bad for you; rather it is good for you. For every person among them is what [punishment] he has earned from the sin, and he who took upon himself the greater portion thereof - for him is a great punishment.”

Surah al-Nur (11)

Syeikh al-Maraghi said: Allah SWT also explains the punishments of those who are involved in the spread of fake news; they are all going to receive the punishment that they deserved according to the role they played. (See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 9/4730)

The Principles of Receiving News

The manner and principles stated in the Quran teaches us to always have positive and favourable views and not rush in our judgement in conveying news. This is emphasized by the Prophet PBUH in a hadith from Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

إِيَّاكُمْ وَالظَّنَّ فَإِنَّ الظَّنَّ أَكْذَبُ الْحَدِيثِ، وَلاَ تَحَسَّسُوا، وَلاَ تَجَسَّسُوا، وَلاَ تَبَاغَضُوا، وَلاَ تَدَابَرُوا، وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ إِخْوَانًا ‏

“Beware of suspicion, for it is the worst of false tales and don't look for the other's faults and don't spy and don't hate each other, and don't desert (cut your relations with) one another O Allah's slaves, be brothers!”

Sahih al-Bukhari (6724)

Allah SWT warns against accepting anything without first verifying its truthfulness. Avoid prejudice and spreading disgracing or vicious news about someone, for every sensory organ and heart of a human is accountable in Judgement day. Allah SWT states:

وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۚ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَـٰئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا

“And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart - about all those [one] will be questioned.”

Surah al-Isra’ (36)

Syeikh Abdul Rahman al-Sa’di said, “Don’t follow or believe something that you do not know. This includes what is said or done. The reason is, every part of the body is accountable whether it is in term of speech or actions. Furthermore, the purpose of its creation is to worship Allah SWT and work for His religion.” (See Taisir al-Karim al-Rahman fi Tafsir Kalam al-Mannan, 1/457)

Hence, verifying any news received is a commandment in order to prevent fitnah and animosity among humans. A renown methodology of receiving news states:

إِنْ كُنْتَ نَاقِلًا فَعَلَيْكَ بِالتَّصْحِيحِ    وَإِنْ كُنْتَ مُدَّعِيًا فَعَلَيْكَ باِلدَّلِيلِ

If you are conveying any news, you must first verify it, and if you are claiming something, you must present the evidences and arguments supporting your claim.” [1]

Whereas, a famous saying of scholars’ states:

وَاتْرُكِ القَالَ وَ القِيلَ

“Leave the rumours said by people and what is being said.” [2]

Thus, baseless news and speech without evidences or reliable sources should be avoided and neglected, and not believed and accepted or even used as evidence or support in other statements.

Advice from Dr Yusuf al-Qaradhawi

Syeikh Dr Yusuf al-Qaradhawi states in his book Al-Halal Wa Al-Haram, where the Prophet PBUH said:

شِرَارُ عِبَادَ اللهِ المَشَّاؤُونَ بِالنَمِيمَةِ، المُفَرِّقُونَ بَيْنَ الأَحِبَّةِ، البَاغُونَ لِلبُرَءاءِ العَيْبَ

The evillest among the slaves of Allah SWT are those who walks with their mouths, slandering others and likes to create divide among loving people, committing transgressions, and degrading good people with malicious words.

Musnad Ahmad

In reality, Islam plays an important role to eradicate animosity and conciliate two people who are in disagreement, permitting the mediator to withhold spiteful words he heard and adding pleasing words from himself, although he does not hear anything of such from the two parties arguing. This is stated in a hadith of the Prophet PBUH:

لَيْسَ الْكَذَّابُ الَّذِي يُصْلِحُ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فَيَنْمِي خَيْرًا أَوْ يَقُولُ خَيْرًا

“He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (2692) and Sahih Muslim (4724)

Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar said: Someone who does good in reconciling others is not considered as a liar. Then he further said, making up pleasant speech is what is meant in the hadith. Consequently, anything that will lead to harm and backbiting is prohibited. (See Fath al-Bari, 5/299)

Islam opposes whoever likes to hear spiteful words and immediately spread such words to create animosity or fitnah, or with the intention to destroy the relationship of others.

These types of people are unsatisfied with just spreading what they heard, but they love creating chaos and conflict which will lead to them making up stories, adding to the things that they heard.

إِنْ يَسْمَعُوا الخَيْرَ أَخْفَوْهُ, وَإِنْ سَمِعُوا شَرّاً أَذَاعُوا وَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْمَعُوا كَذِبُوا

If they hear good news, they will hide it, consequently if they hear bad news, they will spread it, and if they did not hear anything, then they will resort to lying.” (See al-Halal wa al-Haram fi al-Islam, pg. 606)

There was an incident where a man came to meet Umar bin Abdul Aziz RA and told Umar bin Abdul Aziz RA bad things about his friend. Umar bin Abdul Aziz RA responded: Now we have to investigate this matter! If you are lying, then you are among the people stated by Allah SWT:

إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا

“O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate,”

Surah al-Hujurat (6)

And even if you are speaking the truth, you are included as the people stated by Allah SWT:

هَمَّازٍ مَّشَّاءٍ بِنَمِيمٍ

“[And] scorner, going about with malicious gossip,”

Surah al-Qalam (11)

But we will forgive you if you promise to never repeat this again? The man answered: Forgive me O Amirul Mukminin, I promise to not repeat this again. (See al-Halal wa al-Haram fi al-Islam, 604-606)

The Manners of Writing and Receiving News

In today’s crisis, we see fitnah and news are being spread at a staggering speed through social media which enables anyone to surf the internet and receive news from around the world all the time.

The advancement in communication technology, aided with social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog and others, further increases the speed of which information and news are conveyed as a means of facilitating communication between people. The original ruling of utilizing communication technology is PERMISSIBLE if the purpose does not contradict the syarak. This is in accordance with Islamic legal maxim:

الأَصْلُ فِي الأَشْيَاءِ الإِبَاحَة

“The original ruling of something is permissible.” (Refer Al-Asybaah wal-Nazhair, Al-Suyuthi (1/133)

However, there are some who use social media receiving and sharing news without first verifying the truthfulness of the source or the information regarding the news they come across. Information and news received, sometimes could lead to disagreements and there are some which are true.

Undoubtedly today, there is an overflow of unfiltered and unverified information. All baseless and uncertain news received will bring about animosity and disagreements between us all.

Hence, with true knowledge about current news and accurate information, these will mould us into someone who could assess, think and most importantly act in accordance with the truth. Disagreements only arise as a result of unclear information or news where people live in suspicion and prejudice, especially if it involves close family members. This is a form of calamity and to prevent it from happening we should adopt firm and strict manners in receiving and conveying information and news, verifying and validating it first.

According to 4th edition of Kamus Dewan, news means reported message regarding an incident or situation.

Manners in Writing and Conveying News

Some of them are:

First: Do not rush or readily accepts news and sharing it with others before first verifying the truthfulness of the news. This is stated in a hadith from Abu Hurairah RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:

كَفَى بِالْمَرْءِ كَذِبًا أَنْ يُحَدِّثَ بِكُلِّ مَا سَمِعَ

It is enough of a lie for a man to narrate everything he hears.

Sahih Muslim (4)

The same is stated in regard to hastily conveying news, for hastiness comes from shaytan, as mentioned in a hadith narrated by Anas bin Malik RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:

التَّأَنِّي مِنَ اللهِ، وَالْعَجَلَةُ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ

“Contentment comes from Allah SWT, while hastiness comes from shaytan”

Sunan al-Baihaqi (20270)

Second: Do not convey news with the intention of al-Namimah (fomentation). Indeed, the act of al-Namimah is detestable in Islam for it could create dissension in society and it is prohibited by the Prophet PBUH in a hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Mas’ud, the Prophet PBUH said:

أَلَا أُنَبِّئُكُمْ مَا الْعَضْهُ؟ هِيَ النَّمِيمَةُ الْقَالَةُ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ

“Should I inform you that slandering, that is in fact a tale-carrying which creates dissension amongst people.”

Sahih Muslim (2606)

Imam al-Nawawi in his book cited the words of scholars in defining the meaning of al-Namimah:

النَّمِيمَةُ نَقْلُ كَلَامِ النَّاسِ بَعْضِهِمْ إِلَى بَعْضٍ عَلَى جِهَةِ الْإِفْسَادِ بَيْنَهُمْ

al-Namimah is conveying the words of someone to another person with the intention of wrecking their relationship.” (See Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 2/112)

Third: The conveyance of the news will not degrade or humiliate anyone. In a hadith from Ibn Umar R.Anhuma, he heard the Prophet PBUH said:

مَنْ تَتَبَّعَ عَوْرَةَ أَخِيهِ المُسْلِمِ تَتَبَّعَ اللَّهُ عَوْرَتَهُ، وَمَنْ تَتَبَّعَ اللَّهُ عَوْرَتَهُ يَفْضَحْهُ وَلَوْ فِي جَوْفِ رَحْلِهِ

“Whoever spies (searching for weaknesses) on his Muslim brother, surely Allah will expose his weakness even if he is inside his house.”

Sunan al-Tirmizi (2032)

The act of spreading someone’s weakness to humiliate the person is included as sunnah sayyi’ah (a detestable or dreadful act) of which the sin will continues if it is continuously spread by others. From Jarir bin Abdullah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

مَنْ سَنَّ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ سُنَّةً حَسَنَةً، فَعُمِلَ بِهَا بَعْدَهُ، كُتِبَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أَجْرِ مَنْ عَمِلَ بِهَا، وَلَا يَنْقُصُ مِنْ أُجُورِهِمْ شَيْءٌ، وَمَنْ سَنَّ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ سُنَّةً سَيِّئَةً، فَعُمِلَ بِهَا بَعْدَهُ، كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِ مِثْلُ وِزْرِ مَنْ عَمِلَ بِهَا، وَلَا يَنْقُصُ مِنْ أَوْزَارِهِمْ شَيْء

“He who introduced some good practice in Islam which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who introduced some evil practice in Islam which had been followed subsequently (by others), he would be required to bear the burden like that of one who followed this (evil practice) without their's being diminished in any respect.”

Sahih Muslim (1017)

According to the above hadith, if sunnah sayyiah or bad deed such as the act of spreading fake news continues, then the first person that started it all will receive multiplied sins from all those who share and spread the news. This is a result of his actions of degrading and humiliating someone by spreading dreadful fake news about the person.

Manners in Receiving News

Some of them are:

First: Recheck and verify the news (tabayyun) applying the concept of tabayyun as set in Islam. News or information received should be analysed and verify its truthfulness and accuracy first to avoid any agendas, or bad deeds such as fitnah, lie and degrading someone based on nafs and hatred. This is one of the agendas that is stated in the Quran that we should avoid. Allah SWT states:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ

“O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.”

Surah al-Hujurat (6)

Imam Ibn Kathir in his commentaries said: “Allah SWT commanded us to make sure we verify news from a fasiq (disobedient) and be cautious to avoid believing in deception or causing confusion. Most commentary scholars state that the above verse revealed describing al-Walid bin ‘Uqbah bin Abi Mu’ith who acts as a representative of the Prophet PBUH to collect zakat from Bani Mustaliq.” (See Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Azim, 7/476)

Imam al-Syaukani said: “What is meant by tabayyun is careful verification while tatsabbut means being careful and do not rush to conclusions, assessing the news with deep understanding regarding the incident and news received, until it becomes clear to him.” (See Fath al-Qadir, 5/65)

Second: Do not accept the news from a fasiq or unauthorized source readily. In receiving news, we should refer to who are in the position of authority to give correct and accurate information. This teaches the community to always refer and receive news only after verifying it first to the authorized sources.

Syeikh Ali al-Sobuni said: if an untrustworthy fasiq man come to you bearing news, then you should first analyse and verify the truthfulness of the news. This is to prevent you from making ill-informed allegations or accusations towards certain people. At the time, the only thing you have left is endless regret. (See Sofwah al-Tafasir, 3/216)

Third: Do not hastily spread news received especially if it involves the faults and dignity of someone. This is in line with a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:

لَا يَسْتُرُ عَبْدٌ عَبْدًا فِي الدُّنْيَا، إِلَّا سَتَرَهُ اللهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ

“The servant (who conceals) the faults of others in this world, Allah would conceal his faults on the Day of Resurrection.”

Sahih Muslim (2590)

These are the manners and principles mentioned in the Quran, which in short advises us to practise good conduct and not be hasty in drawing conclusions regarding certain news. Failure in receiving and conveying news accordingly, following the concept of tabayyun and syarak, will harm ourselves and the ummah which will lead to endless regret in this world and the hereafter. This is described by Allah SWT in surah al-Hujurat verse 6 as explained above.

Hence, in order for us to face the times where fitnah is prevalent with the aid from advanced technology, Muslims should be careful and practise the principles of tabayyun before spreading, receiving or sharing any news.

Besides, we should recognize that some news received through Facebook, email, Twitter, newspaper, magazine and others are not necessarily true or accurate.

Furthermore, these mediums are now even used as a place to slander or degrade and individual and spread fake news that lead to divisions in our society. Thus, there is a renown methodology we could employ in our lives:

إِنْ كُنْتَ نَاقِلًا فَعَلَيْكَ بِالتَّصْحِيحِ        وَإِنْ كُنْتَ مُدَّعِيًا فَعَلَيْكَ باِلدَّلِيلِ

If you are saying anything, you must first verify the news, and if you are claiming something, you must present the evidences and arguments supporting your claim.

Lastly, we pray to Allah SWT to give us the correct understanding in our religion. Ameen.

Legislation Issues Regarding Fitnah

We include legislation issues regarding to fitnah in Malaysia. Section 499 of the Penal Code (Act 574) defines "defamation" as:

“Whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read or by signs, or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person, intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm the reputation and shall also be liable to fine of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter excepted, to defame that person.”

In addition, dissemination of defamatory information or degrading others can be subject to the Penal Code. Section 499 which also states:

“No imputation is said to harm a person’s reputation, unless that imputation directly or indirectly, in the estimation of others, lowers the moral or intellectual character of that person, or lowers the character of that person in respect of his caste or of his calling, or lowers the credit of that person, or causes it to be believed that the body of that person is in a loathsome state, or in a state generally considered as disgraceful.”

While Section 500 provides penalties for defamation as: Whoever defames another shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both.”

In addition, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission established under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588) warned the public not to disseminate false information through social media as it was an offense under Section 211 of the Act. The section provides:

Prohibition against sharing and dissemination of offensive content:

  1. No content application service provider, or any other person who uses the content applications service, may contribute content that is inconsistent, obscene, false, threatening or ill-advised to intimidate, abet, threaten or harass any person.
  2. A person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offense and upon conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both and may also be liable to a further fine of one thousand ringgit for each day or part of the day if the offense is continued after conviction.


In the concept of receiving and conveying news, we must first verify and validate the news through several processes. Several matters that should be taken into consideration are:

  • Be careful in conveying any news
  • Make sure there is no misunderstandings and mistakes regarding the facts of the news that could lead to fitnah
  • Verify and validate the truthfulness upon receiving any news and before conveying it to others
  • Do not rush to conclusions when receiving any news
  • Form positive assumptions and avoid su’u zhan (suspicion and prejudice) among us
  • Maintain and protect the bonds (silaturrahim) among us in our society

Allah SWT prohibit harming or hurting other Muslims and promised a painful and heavy punishment for those who dishonour and degrade his brother. Allah SWT states:

وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ بِغَيْرِ مَا اكْتَسَبُوا فَقَدِ احْتَمَلُوا بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا

“And those who harm believing men and believing women for [something] other than what they have earned have certainly born upon themselves a slander and manifest sin.”

Surah al-Ahzab (58)

We end our discussion with a supplication to Allah SWT, asking for guidance and avoid the exposure of our faults.

اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّا نَسْأَلُكَ الْعَفْوَ وَالْعَافِيَةَ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّا نَسْأَلُكَ الْعَفْوَ وَالْعَافِيَةَ فِي دِينِنَا وَدُنْيَانَا وَأَهْلِنَا وَمَالِنَا اللَّهُمَّ اسْتُرْ عَوْرَاتِنَا وَآمِنْ رَوْعَاتِنَا وَاحْفَظْنَا مِنْ بَيْنِ أَيْدِيْنَا وَمِنْ خَلْفِنَا وَعَنْ يَمِينِنَا وَعَنْ شِمَالِنَا وَمِنْ فَوْقِنَا وَنَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ نُغْتَالَ مِنْ تَحْتِنَا

“O Allah! Indeed, we ask from You, forgiveness and wholeness in this world and the hereafter. O Allah! Indeed, we ask from You, forgiveness and wellness in our religious and worldly affairs. The same for our family and property. O Allah! Protect us from fear. O Allah! Protect us from our front, from our back, from our right, from our left and from on top of us and we seek refuge with you from the calamities underneath us.”

Akhukum fillah,

SS Dato’ Seri Dr. Zulkifli bin Mohamad al-Bakri
Mufti of Federal Territories
16th June 2019 or 12th Syawal 1440 Hijrah.

End Notes:

[1] This is the opinion of scholars from the field of adab al-bahth wa al-munazarah. This is stated by Fadilatu al-Syeikh al-Allamah Abd al-Rahman Habannakah in his book Dawabit al-Ma'rifah wa Usul al-Istidlal wa al-Munazarah (pg. 368 and 381).

[2] This statement is cited from a book written by Imam al-Zamakhsyari. (See Hada'iq al-Daqa'iq Syarh Risalah Alamah al-Haqaiq, pg. 70).