Riba (Usury) of The Tongue

In The Name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

Allah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “Verily, the worst act of usury is to attack the honour of a Muslim without a just cause”. (1) Meaning: The greater in evil and the more strictly prohibited is to unleash your tongue against the honour of a Muslim by insulting him, acting haughtily towards him, and speaking ill of him through abusive language or slander. This becomes a stricter prohibition because honour is more valuable than wealth. “Without a just cause”. This shows there are instances in which it is allowed to refer to someone negatively by using language like “such and such is an oppressor or transgressor” or “such and such is an innovator (in religious affairs) and an open sinner” in order to warn others is allowed. (2)

This has been referred to as usury because the transgressor receives his honour and then goes above and beyond it as if he has added an increase that encroaches on the boundaries in regard to the honour of a Muslim, which is more valuable than his wealth. According to At-Teebee [may Allah have mercy upon him], “From the standpoint of emphasis, honour is included in the categories of wealth. Usury is classified into two types: that which is conventional and is described as what is added to debts, and that which is not unconventional, such as verbally disparaging someone’s honour.” Al-Qaadhee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, ”Violating a Muslim’s honour means dealing with him more than he deserves of what is to be said about him, or more than is permitted to be said about him, which is why it is compared to usury and regarded as one of its types. Then it is considered to be worse because it contains more harm and is more serious in corruption”. (3)

Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud [may Allah be pleased with him] said, “If there’s evil in anything, it is between the two Jaws, meaning the tongue. There is nothing more in need of prolonged imprisonment than the tongue”. (4)

Ibnul Akwaa came to Rabee Bin Khuthaym and said: “Refer me to one who is better than you; he (Rabee) said: The one whose speech is a reminder for himself; his silence is (so that he can) think and his destination (in the Afterlife is a reason) for reflection.  He (i.e. this type of person) is better than me. (5)

Ref 1: Abu Daawud 4876

Ref 2: An Excerpt from ‘Awnul Mabood Sharh Sunan Abee Daawud’ 13/152

Ref 3: An Excerpt from ‘Mirqaatul Mafaateeh Sharh Mishkaat Al-Masaabeeh’ 8/3157

Ref 4: Musannaf Abdur Razzaaq 19528

Ref 5: Siyah A’laam An-Nubulaa: 4/261

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