The story of the ifk is one that absolutely touches my heart every time I read it. My heart goes out to the mother of believer – Ayesha (RA), for the pain and hurt that she would have had to bear during it. It’s filled with lessons for all of us. Lessons which, especially today, everyone needs to be reminded of, because of the slander and backbiting that is taken so lightly in the present times, Astaghfirullah.
Khair, Inshaallah (Eternal Lessons from the incident of ifk)
The scene: a woman searching for her broken necklace…
Aisha narrates, “When Allah’s Apostle had finished his Ghazwa (battle) and returned and we approached Madinah, Allah’s Messenger ordered to proceed at night. When the army was ordered to resume the homeward journey, I got up and walked on till I left the army (camp) behind. When I had answered the call of nature, I went towards my howdah [the carriage like thing that women would ride on the camel], but behold! A necklace of mine made of Jaz Azfar (a kind of bead) was broken and I looked for it and my search for it detained me…”
Times passes the woman by as she continues searching, and her group, not realizing that she is not with them, set back on their journey. The woman is left all alone in the middle of the vast desert…
“The group of people who used to carry me, came and carried my howdah on to the back of my camel on which I was riding, considering that I was therein. At that time women were light in weight and were not fleshy for they used to eat little (food), so those people did not feel the lightness of the howdah while raising it up, and I was still a young lady. They drove away the camel and proceeded. Then I found my necklace after the army had gone. I came to their camp but found nobody therein so I went to the place where I used to stay, thinking that they would miss me and come back in my search…
To Him Do We Belong and to Him We Will Return- the only words the lone woman heard from the man whose job was to make sure that no one was left behind…
While I was sitting at my place, I felt sleepy and slept … Safwan had started in the last part of the night and reached my stationing place in the morning and saw the figure of a sleeping person. He came to me and recognized me, as he used to see me before veiling. I got up because of his saying: “Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun” . I covered my face, and by Allah, he did not say to me a single word except, “Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun”. He made his she-camel kneel down, whereupon he trod on its forelegs and I mounted it. Then Safwan set out, leading the she-camel that was carrying me, till we met the army while they were resting during the hot midday. After this we arrived at Madinah …”[Aisha, Radiya Allah Anha]
That’s how the IFK (slander) incident occurred, the incident in which the hypocrite, Abdullah Ibn-Ubai Ibn-Salul, decided to accuse the Wife of the Prophet, one of the Mothers of the Believers, of an unspeakable act. And that’s when all of Madinah was put to a test- a test, which on the outside seemed very bad, but as Allah told us, actually had khair for us.
“Indeed, those who came with falsehood are a group among you. Do not think it bad for you; rather it is good for you. For every person among them is what [punishment] he has earned from the sin, and he who took upon himself the greater portion thereof – for him is a great punishment… (surat Nur: ayah 11)”
Khair? (Good?) Even, though our beautiful Lady Aisha (Radiya Allah Anha/May Allah be pleased with her) was slandered and the Prophet, Sallah Allahoo alyhaee wa salam, had to endure a month of grief, waiting for the innocence of his beloved wife to be declared? Yes, wallahi (by Allah), it was truly khair! The Ifk event taught us so many things which if we applied today would completely erase many of the problems in our communities! It taught us valuable lessons… lessons of how to earn jannatul firdaus!
Eternal Lesson #1: Always assume the best in others.
After mentioning the Ifk incident, the very first question Allah Subhanoo Wa’ Tala asks the believers, is this:
“Why, when you heard it, did not the believing men and believing women think good of one another and say, “This is an obvious falsehood”? (Surat Nur: ayah 12”)
How many times do we hear scandalous news? “Did you hear that Salwa snuck out her house and …” “OMG, she did?” we sometimes ask back. “Oh yeah, I heard from X who heard from Y who was told by N that…”
Why? Why do we assume that what we hear is true? Why don’t we think good of others? Why don’t we say “No, I’m sorry, I don’t think that’s possible. I refuse to accept that!”
The truth is, if you think badly of others, then it is your heart that is not entirely pure. To demonstrate this idea, a lecturer once gave this example: A man crept up back home, a little after dawn, after hanging out in a disco. On his way back home, he bumped into another man, who actually had just been heading back home after praying fajr. Each man saw each other and each thought that the other man was doing what he, himself, had been doing…
When we think badly of others, especially when there is no evidence, it is we who are at fault. We should learn from Abu-Ayyub Al-Ansari (Radiya Allah Anhoo) and his wife who behaved quite wonderfully during the Ifk incident. Abu Ayyub simply asked his wife if she would ever have done what people were accusing Aisha of doing. She swore that she would never have done it. Confidently, he responded then, that Aisha would never have done it, either, since she was of course better than his wife (Aisha was the Prophet’s wife and one of the Mothers of the Believers). Abu Ayyub’s wife then asked Abu Ayyub if he would have done what Safwan was accused of doing. Abu Ayyub replied that he would never betrayed Rasool Allah; his wife, then also told him that Sawfan too is better than him and that he would never have done that, either! By looking into themselves and assuming better of other people, the couple established that there was no truth at all to what was being said.
Eternal Lesson #2: Don’t talk about such things in the first place!
And why, when you heard it, did you not say, “It is not for us to speak of this. Exalted are You, [O Allah]; this is a great slander”? (16) Allah warns you against returning to the likes of this [conduct], ever, if you should be believers. (17)
If you didn’t see the matter, just don’t talk about it. That is, if somebody comes up to you, looking over their shoulder and with their eyes practically twinkling with the news of some juicy story, even if it’s somebody you would trust your life with, simply tell them that Allah and His Prophet have asked the believers not to talk about such things…
Abû Hurayrah relates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent….[ Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim ]
Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, also narrated
The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, said, , ‘A sign of one’s excellence in his Islam, is ignoring what does not concern him.’ [Related by Ahmad, Malik & At-Tirmithi]
Now! Let’s say you saw the matter and you were the only witness. Don’t tell others about it! How many nights and days has Allah seen you committing a sin? How many times has He concealed your sin for you? Show Allah’s servants this same mercy and conceal their sins so that Allah may conceal yours for you on the Day of Judgment.
“If a person conceals the weakness of another in this world, Allah will conceal their weakness in the hereafter” [Al Nawawi, Riyad al Salihin p 135, Hadith no 245; al Ghazali, Kitab Adab p 344]
It’s not just so that Allah will conceal your sin, though. It’s so that you don’t fall into sin. Remember, Allah has decreed that no one is to accuse another of fornication without producing 4 reliable witnesses! FOUR! Do you know what the punishment is if one accuses a person and they have brought not 4, but 3 witnesses? 80 lashes! Now, tell me what scandal is worth that?
One other important thing to mention is that it’s not just about not spreading rumors around. The Ifk incident taught is that it’s even more than that. It’s about not liking for such news to be spread around!
Indeed, those who like that immorality should be spread [or publicized] among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you do not know. (surat Al Nur: aya 19)
Eternal Lesson #3: Never belittle a sin. Remember who you are sinning against and that His judgment may be different from yours!
When you received it with your tongues and said with your mouths that of which you had no knowledge and thought it was insignificant while it was, in the sight of Allah, tremendous. (surat Al Nur: 15)
When the Ifk incident happened, some people started talking about it, thinking it was something small. Look what Allah told them! The truth is, many times, we fall into the trap of believing that we are doing is not really a big deal. Do we really know what Allah thinks of it as? Do we really want to risk being wrong?
Eternal Lesson #4: Forgive, even if someone has wronged you
During the Ifk incident, one of the persons who spread the awful rumors was none other than one of Abu Bakr’s relatives, Mistah Ibn-Uthatha (Radiya Allah Anhuma), whom Abu Bakr in fact, used to give charity to. After the incident occurred and Mistah accused Abu Bakr’s daughter, Abu Bakr took the decision to no longer give Mistah money- a decision any one of us might have taken. Yet, Allah Subhanoo Wa’ Tala, after declaring Aisha’s innocence also said what He thought of Abu Bakr’s decision:
“And let not the ones endowed with the Grace (of Allah) and affluence swear off bringing (charity) to near of kin (Literally: endowed with kinship) and the indigent and to the ones emigrating in the way of Allah; and let them be clement and let them pardon. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Merciful” (22)
Can you imagine? Allah Subhanoo Wa’ Tala told Abu Bakr to forgive Mistah and to continue to pay him money. What about us? Are any of at Abu Bakr’s level? Did anyone of us risk our lives for the Prophet Sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam? Even though Abu Bakr had done that and had been the Prophet’s greatest companion, Allah still told him to forgive Mistah so that Allah would forgive Abu Bakr! SubhanAllah! How important then is it for us to forgive others?
Eternal Lesson #5 : Allah is Forgiving if you repent to Him
Related to the above lesson of forgiveness but still very different is that Allah is Forgiving, if you repent to Him. So many times you hear people saying “Man, God will never forgive what I’ve done. I’m doomed”… No, you are not! One, thing the Ifk incident tells us is that you are never doomed! Do you know what the Prophet Sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam told Aisha, Radiya Allah Anha?
“Thereafter, O ‘Aisha! I have been informed such and such a thing about you; and if you are innocent, Allah will reveal your innocence, and if you have committed a sin, then ask for Allah’s forgiveness and repent to Him, for when a worshiper of Allah confesses his sin and then repents to Allah, Allah accepts his repentance”.
Can you imagine? The Prophet Sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam told Aisha Radiya Allah Anha that even if she had betrayed him ( Sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam) and had done such an act, all she had to do was sincerely repent to Allah and ask for forgiveness. He, Sallahoo Alyhee wa salam, didn’t tell her, Audoo Billah, “Honey, you’re going to hell” but instead continued to tell her a way to paradise!
So let’s take this lesson from the Ifk for ourselves and realize the importance of repentance and let’s also spread this message of forgiveness around. Let’s stop giving people the impression that they’re doomed and going to hell and let’s start telling them about how Forgiving Allah is as long they truly feel the weight of their sin!
Eternal Lesson #6: Don’t take sides because someone is your relative, or from the same place as you, etc.
During the Ifk incident, the Prophet Sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam gathered the people and asked them who would help him against the man who had spread rumors about his family and the good pious man, Safwan. What he wanted was simply for the hypocrite, Ibn Salul, to end what he had started, but that didn’t happen. Instead a member of the Awas tribe promised the Prophet Sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam that he would relieve him of the man. Then, the chief of the Khazraj tribe basically suggested that that Companion had said a lie (that is, he denied that the member of the Awas would do anything), and suddenly chaos erupted, even though the Prophet Sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam was right there, with them! Why? Because instead of seeing things objectively, the sides began to see the matter from a matter of “Us/You” “Awas/Khazraj”. Nationalism colored their judgment and unfortunately their behavior only ended up grieving the Prophet Sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam.
Eternal Lesson #7: Have patience and know that Allah has not forgotten about you
What about if you have been back-bited or slandered against? What can you learn from the Ifk? Patience. Patience. Patience. Aisha, Radiya Allah Anha had to wait an entire month until the truth emerged. She had to endure the fact that many people in the community believed she had done it. She even felt that her parents had started to believe it:
She told them, “By Allah, I know that you heard this story (i.e. of Ifk) so much so that it has been planted in your minds and you have believed it. So now, if I tell you that I am innocent, and Allah knows that I am innocent, you will not believe me; and if I confess something, and Allah knows that I am innocent of it, you will believe me…”
Instead, Aisha, Radiya Allah Anha, chose patience:
“ By Allah, I cannot find of you an example except that of Yusuf’s father (Alyhee as aslam). “So (for me) patience is most fitting against that which you assert and it is Allah (Alone) Whose help can be sought”.
And her patience paid off! A month later, Allah Subhanoo Wa’ Tala declared her innocence in the Qur’an! He decreed that all of us Muslims would read this story and know her innocence! He put her story as a part of His Divine Message to all of mankind.
So dear sisters and brothers, if you have been slandered against, never think that Allah has forgotten you. It may take time, but eventually the truth will emerge and each person will get their due! Just trust in Allah and know that “Verily with hardship is ease”.
In conclusion, these are just some of the lessons I could find from that single one event. I’m sure there are many more lessons and that each person will take home their very own lesson. But truly with all the lessons we can learn, it becomes abundantly clear, that yes, indeed, “Do not think it bad for you; rather it is good for you.” Khair, inshaAllah, if we could only implement all that it teaches us…
Acknowledgment: All of the translations of Aisha (Radiya Allah Anha’s) narrations in this article have been taken from the English translation of Dr. Amr Khaled’s episode number 22 of his series “On the Path of the Beloved”, which can be found here: http://amrkhaled.net/articles/articles1143.html