Is it permissible to insult a public sinner?

Jun 4, 2022 | Miscellaneous


A Muslim was supporting sin openly. Over this, my friend used derogatory words insulting that Muslim. He used strong vulgar swear words. Others defended my friend saying it was permissible to insult open sinners like this. Are they correct?


The Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) said, “A Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands Muslims are safe” (Bukhari and Muslim). In another hadith he mentioned, “The believer does not insult the honour of others, nor curse, nor act immorally, nor speak foul language.” (Tirmidhi)

The default is to “speak kindly to people” (Qur’an 2:83). Sometimes we may find ourselves in need to rebuke and reprimand others, but never should it lead us to act immorally and use foul language. Our moral compass is the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him). Even after undergoing such torment and torture never did he use foul language.

On an occasion, the Jews were cursing the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him). In order to defend the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) ʿA’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) cursed them back in retaliation. Even upon this the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) advised, “Oh ʿA’ishah, be gentle and beware of being harsh and saying evil things” (Bukhari). “Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example.” (Qur’an 33:21)

Furthermore, it is our duty to help one another and correct each other’s mistakes. However, if it is done in a harsh manner, it will push the individual away from Islam rather than bringing them closer. It would be better to treat them nicely and advise them gently, just like Allah commanded Musa and Harun (may peace be upon them) when facing one of the biggest tyrants to have ever walked the earth, “Speak to him gently, so perhaps he may be mindful” (Qur’an 20:44). We must also remember that guidance is in the hands of Allah. We should sincerely pray that Allah gives this person the ability to leave the sin and that He guides them towards the path of the righteous.

Also, one may warn others of a person’s particular sin if they believe that others may be harmed by the individual’s actions. This must not be done with the intention to harm or to insult the individual. If it can be done without going into detail, then one should suffice with that unless there is a need.

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو نُعَيْمٍ، حَدَّثَنَا زَكَرِيَّاءُ، عَنْ عَامِرٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عَمْرٍو، يَقُولُ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏الْمُسْلِمُ مَنْ سَلِمَ (Bukhari 6484) الْمُسْلِمُونَ مِنْ لِسَانِهِ وَيَدِهِ، وَالْمُهَاجِرُ مَنْ هَجَرَ مَا نَهَى اللَّهُ عَنْهُ “‏‏.‏

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَحْيَى الأَزْدِيُّ الْبَصْرِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ سَابِقٍ، عَنْ إِسْرَائِيلَ، عَنِ الأَعْمَشِ، عَنْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، عَنْ عَلْقَمَةَ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ لَيْسَ الْمُؤْمِنُ بِالطَّعَّانِ وَلاَ اللَّعَّانِ وَلاَ الْفَاحِشِ وَلاَ الْبَذِيءِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا (Tirmidhi 1977) حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ وَقَدْ رُوِيَ عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ مِنْ غَيْرِ هَذَا الْوَجْهِ ‏.

وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَـٰقَ بَنِىٓ إِسْرَٰٓءِيلَ لَا تَعْبُدُونَ إِلَّا ٱللَّهَ وَبِٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًۭا وَذِى ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ وَٱلْيَتَـٰمَىٰ وَٱلْمَسَـٰكِينِ وَقُولُوا۟ لِلنَّاسِ حُسْنًۭا وَأَقِيمُوا۟ (Qur’an 2:83) ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتُوا۟ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ ثُمَّ تَوَلَّيْتُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلًۭا مِّنكُمْ وَأَنتُم مُّعْرِضُونَ

(Qur’an 33:21) لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِى رَسُولِ ٱللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌۭ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلْيَوْمَ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَ وَذَكَرَ ٱللَّهَ كَثِيرًۭا

حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الْوَهَّابِ، حَدَّثَنَا أَيُّوبُ، عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِي مُلَيْكَةَ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها أَنَّ الْيَهُودَ، أَتَوُا النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالُوا السَّامُ عَلَيْكَ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ وَعَلَيْكُمْ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَقَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ السَّامُ عَلَيْكُمْ، وَلَعَنَكُمُ اللَّهُ وَغَضِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ‏.‏ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ مَهْلاً يَا عَائِشَةُ، عَلَيْكِ بِالرِّفْقِ، وَإِيَّاكِ وَالْعُنْفَ أَوِ الْفُحْشَ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَتْ أَوَلَمْ تَسْمَعْ مَا قَالُوا قَالَ ‏”‏ أَوَلَمْ (Bukhari 6401) تَسْمَعِي مَا قُلْتُ رَدَدْتُ عَلَيْهِمْ، فَيُسْتَجَابُ لِي فِيهِمْ، وَلاَ يُسْتَجَابُ لَهُمْ فِيَّ ‏”‏‏.

 (Qur’an 20:44) فَقُولَا لَهُۥ قَوْلًۭا لَّيِّنًۭا لَّعَلَّهُۥ يَتَذَكَّرُ أَوْ يَخْشَىٰ

الدر المختار شرح تنوير الأبصار وجامع البحار (ص: 665) لا إثم عليه (لو ذكر مساوئ أخيه على وجه الاهتمام لا يكون غيبة، إنما الغيبة أن يذكر على وجه الغضب يريد السب)

Answered by:
Ifta Research Fellow

Checked & Approved by:
Mufti Abdul Rahman Mangera
Mufti Zubair Patel