Speaking ill of the dead

The below is taken from Abdul Wahab’s Saleem face book page:

A common misconception that was referred to in the comments of my previous post by well-wishing Muslims is that since he has died there is no point in discussing his life. The reference made was to a tradition in which the Prophet -SAWS- said, “Do not vilify/abuse the dead lest you hurt the living.”

This tradition contradicts the actions of the companions before our beloved Messenger -SAWS- as found in Bukhari, Muslim, An-Nasai, Ibn Majah and others: “A funeral passed by the Prophet (ﷺ) and they praised him for his noble characteristics. He said: ‘(Paradise is) guaranteed for him.’ Then another funeral passed by and they spoke badly of him by mentioning his bad characteristics, and he (the Prophet (ﷺ)) said: ‘(Hell is) guaranteed for him. You are the witnesses of Allah on earth.’” [Ibn Majah]

In this scenario the Prophet -SAWS- didn’t stop the companions from discussing the evils of the second funeral despite the fact that he forbade them from speaking ill of the deceased in the first tradition. The scholars reconciled between the two traditions by saying that it is generally forbidden, yet this rule may be over-ruled in certain circumstances.

Ibn Battal says in his explanation of Bukhari, “…such is the case with the deceased… If most of his life was filled with evil then one is permitted to mention him with evil…”

Ibn Hazm says, “It is not permissible to curse the deceased however to warn of [their] disbelief or corrupt actions is permissible.”

Al-Mubarakfuri says in his explanation of al-Mishkah commenting on the tradition forbidding the vilification of the dead, “This tradition seems to be general apparently, however, the generality has been qualified by the tradition of Anas [RA] in which people mentioned the deceased with both good and evil, in response to which the Prophet -SAWS- said: “It has been granted and you are the witnesses of Allah on the land.” He -SAWS- didn’t forbid them from speaking ill of the deceased, rather he affirmed and accepted their witness.”

In conclusion, cursing and abusing the deceased is strictly prohibited. But mentioning the fog around them, especially in the scenario where one fears for such actions to be confused with true Islam, is considered acceptable and may be deemed an obligation. Put emotions aside and be objective. We are talking about a man who told the people that your wives don’t have to pray Salah, the second pillar of Islam! A man who said that the will of a Qutb (supreme Wali) is equivalent to the will of Allah.

I am certain that the issues the companions were discussing about the two deceased were much less than these. Claims of such nature were never found among the companions and the scholars assert that both funerals were Muslim funerals (i.e. they may have been companions). [al-San`ani/Subul al-Salam]

Lastly, I tried my best to use the politest language so I don’t hurt the feelings of the well-wishing Muslims who maybe confused by his teachings.

And Allah knows best.

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