Subject : Hate Speech from the Islamic Perspective
Fatwa Number : 3743
Date : 05-02-2023
Classified : Call to Islam & Sincerity in Advice
Fatwa Type : Search Fatawaa

Question :

What is hate speech? What is the ruling of Sharia on it? What solutions does Sharia propose to counter it?

The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

The Islamic religion is in fact an inexhaustible source of tolerance, moderation and justice. It views non-Muslim from the perspective of mercy-away from intolerance and hatred-and recommends speaking fair to them. Allah The Almighty Says (What means): "…… speak fair to the people. " [Al-Baqarah/83].  In addition, Abdullah bin Masood (May Allah be Pleased with him) narrated: "As if I saw the Prophet (PBUH) talking about one of the prophets whose nation had beaten him and caused him to bleed, while he was cleaning the blood off his face and saying: "O Allah! Forgive my nation, for they have no knowledge." [Bukhari].

Islam has drawn up legislations that preserve human dignity, rights of the vulnerable, and fight looking at others from a racist angle. It has also provided practical solutions to eliminate all forms of discrimination that go against its teachings and systems. It made piety the only measuring stick for differentiating between people; consequently, there is no discrimination in Islam on the basis of sex, color or race. Allah The Almighty Says (What means): "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)." [Al-Hujurat/13]. 

In his interpretation of this universal speech to humankind, Ibn Katheer (May Allah have mercy on him) said: "Allah is telling the people that he created them from Adam and Eve and made them into nations. The word "nations" is more general than the word "tribes."  After that comes other levels in the hierarchy, such as communities, clans, sub clans, and so on. Thus, all the people have the same level of honor in the sense that they come from clay (Adam & Eve). However, they differ in religious matters. I.e. the degree of their piety and following the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). After forbidding backbiting and despising each other, Allah Says that people are equal in humanity, as He, The Almighty Says (What means): "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). "I.e. to get to know each other. His saying: "Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you" indicates that in the sight of Allah, you differ according to righteousness, not lineage." [Tafseer Ibn Katheer, vol.7/ pp.385-386].

Islam has also forbidden cursing, calling names, backbiting, slandering and indulging in falsehood. Allah Says (What means): "And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly, bear (on themselves) a calumny and a glaring sin." [Al-Ahzab/58]. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "A true believer is not involved in taunting, or frequently cursing (others) or in indecency or abusing." [At-Tirmidhi].

A Muslim should excuse others as much as possible especially in matters that don`t involve clear violation of the teachings of Islam, but even if that was the case then he/she should enjoin kindness and forbid iniquity with wisdom and fair preaching.

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) established the rules of justice when he emigrated to Medina and laid the foundations of the state through the Medina Document (Constitution of Medina), which made society one unit and its members equal. This document guaranteed for non-Muslims to live safely under the State of Islam. Ibn Isaac said: "The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, instituted brotherhood between the emigrants (Muhajirun) (The first inhabitants of Mecca to embrace Islam) and the natives of Medina, the Ansar (The first inhabitants of Medina to embrace Islam) promised the Jews to be safe and their wealth protected, allowed them to practice their religion, gave them rights but held them liable for duties." [Al-Sirah An-Nabaweiyah for An-Naddawi, pp.359].

This constitutional document contained about forty-seven items or articles that came to organize political, social and economic aspects of life between Muslims themselves and non-Muslims. It also organized the relationship between the people of Medina and those who fight or supported them. This reinforced the concept of the rule of law, citizenship rights, collective responsibility and the concept of social solidarity among members of the same society. In addition, it organized all modern terminologies people are calling for. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) managed to establish these things several centuries ago. 

Islam is a divine approach in which there is no room for intolerance and party spirit. Jubair Ibn Mut’im (May Allah be pleased with him) reported the Messenger of Allah (May peace be upon him) as saying: "He who summons others to party-spirit does not belong to us; and he who dies upholding party spirit does not belong to us." [Abu Dawoud]. These regulations and systems have preceded human rights organization in the establishment of human rights, which some of these organizations are claiming, under Islam. 

Intolerant and hate speech can be reduced by:

First: Using all types of means of communication as a platform for spreading the magnanimous message of Islam and introducing this great religion to the people. Islam is a divine approach in which there is no room for racism or discrimination based on color or sex.

Second: Respecting the right of others to freedom of expression as long as it isn`t related to a topic that clashes with the rules of Sharia .

Third: Resorting to calm dialogue in eliminating racist ideas through raising the level of awareness on the dangers of discrimination and intolerance. One method to do this is holding training and awareness-raising courses to reduce the gravity of the hate speech.

Fourth: Activating personal and social responsibility at the level of the individual, family and society by following up on children and protecting them from alien or extremist thought, as reflected in religious and moral care.

In conclusion, hate speech that calls for distinction and discrimination between people based on their color, sex or race is unacceptable and prohibited because it is contrary to the teachings of Islam, which gave everyone his/her right, and made the balance of differentiation the degree of piety and mindfulness of Allah. In addition, adherence to the teachings of Islam protects the individual and society from any devious thought. And Allah The Almighty Knows Best.




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