The Seventy Second Call: The Prohibition of Ridiculing People

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The Seventy Second Call: The Prohibition of Ridiculing People



"O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one's] faith. And whoever does not repent - then it is those who are the wrongdoers. " (Al-Hujurat: 11)



Almighty Allah forbids believers from ridiculing their brothers or insulting them because the ridiculed person might be in higher status for Allah than the one ridiculing and disrespecting him, this way he would do himself an injustice by disdaining the one whom Allah values.



Almighty Allah also forbids the believing women from ridiculing their sisters in faith because the one ridiculed could be loftier for Allah than the one ridiculing her. Almighty Allah also commands the believers not to backbite, insult or slander each other. They should not ridicule or disrespect one another. Almighty Allah considers slandering other believers as slandering themselves, if a Muslim backbites his brother in Islam, it is like backbiting himself because the Muslims are one body if one part of it aches the rest of the body aches because of sleeplessness and fever according to the saying by Allah’s Messenger, Peace Be upon Him.


Almighty Allah commands the believers not to call each other with offending names such as when a Muslim calls his Muslim brother: you libertine, traitor, enemy of Allah or hypocrite.



Ibn Abbas said: "Calling each other with offensive names means when someone committed a sin earlier then he repented and became obedient, Almighty Allah forbids people from degrading him for his former acts."


Indeed, how bad it is to describe a believer with disobedience and faithfulness after he embraced Islam! Whoever does not repent from calling his brother with an offensive nickname he hates, backbiting or ridiculing him, then indeed they are the oppressors and wrongdoers who committed injustice towards themselves and hence they deserve the punishment from Allah for their disobedience and slander of their brothers and sisters in Islam.


The human society Islam establishes in the light of Qur'anic guidance operates a high standard of manners. Every individual in this society has his or her integrity, which may not be compromised. Indeed, it is part of the integrity of the whole community. To slander anyone is to slander oneself, because the whole community is a single entity and its integrity is one.


In this verse, the Qur’an again addresses the believers by their most beloved description, Believers. It forbids that one group should deride another, be they men deriding other men, or women deriding other women. For how can they know whether or not the ones they deride enjoy a better status with Allah?


The way this order is expressed suggests that the apparent values that men or women may consider important may not be those that give people their real status. There are other values, which people may not know about. These are known to Allah who operates them in fairness, a rich man may deride a poor one. Similarly, those who are strong, enjoying good health, intelligence, children and support, may deride those who are less fortunate than themselves, such as those who are weak, handicapped, simple-minded, childless or orphans without support. A woman who sees herself as pretty, young, perfectly shaped, or rich may deride another for being ugly, old, misshaped, or poor. But none of these earthly values is of any importance as a criterion of high status. In Allah’s sight, people are raised in rank on the basis of totally different values.


The Qur’an, however, does not stop at implying this. It works on the sentiment of brotherhood in faith, reminding the believers that they descend from a single soul Whoever defames anyone actually defames all. Hence, the Qur’an says: "And do not insult one another." (Verse11 ) It should be mentioned that the word the Qur’an uses for insulting, talmizu, has a particular resonance that imparts a feeling that also has a physical effect.


Part of derision and defamation is to call others names that they dislike, or feel to be meant as ridicule. It is the right of a believer not to be called by a name that he or she dislikes, or feels to suggest disrespect. Moreover, Islamic standards require a believer not to call a brother or a sister by such a name that gives them pain. The Prophet changed the names or nicknames of some of his Companions because he felt, with his refined sense and compassionate heart, that they could bring ridicule or pain to the people concerned,


Having outlined the true values in Allah’s measure, and appealed to feelings of brotherhood and of belonging to one soul, the surah now reaches out to the believers' sense of faith, warning them that they will lose this noble quality if they indulge in derision and ridicule: "Do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one's] faith." (Verse 11) To indulge in this is akin to renouncing faith after one has believed. The surah goes even further than this by threatening to consider this an act of wrongdoing, something that is often expressed in the Qur'an as being synonymous with associating partners with Allah. "And whoever does not repent - then it is those who are the wrongdoers." (Verse 11) Thus, the surah establishes the rules for refined manners in a noble community.

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