Character assassination: Social evil | By Mufti G Yasin Nizami

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Character assassination: Social evil

CHARACTER assassination is a deliberate attempt to destroy someone’s reputation, especially by criticizing him in an unfair and dishonest way when he is not present and slandering of a person usually with the intention of destroying public confidence.

According to Islamic teachings, character assassination is a heinous crime. An act of this kind is against humanity, against ethical values and against Islam.

Those guilty of any ethical crime of this nature will be severely punished by the Allah Almighty.

The use of abusive language against anyone, which has no factual base, is an act of character assassination.

No one has the right to use such language. Criticism based on facts is constructive, but making allegations without any basis in fact is the worst kind of crime

Character assassination is a deliberate effort to damage the reputation, credibility or good standing of a person, group or organization.

It typically takes place when a rival, whether in business, society or even within a family, decides they wish to take the other person down.

Examples of character assassination have taken place throughout history. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) suffered character assassination when the unbelievers spread the rumours that the Last Prophet (PBUH) is a magician.

They could not stop his message spreading so they decided is to tarnish the Last Prophet (PBUH) reputation by spreading rumours regarding his character.

The Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) said that the blood, wealth and honour of one Muslim are forbidden to another Muslim.

In another place, it is mentioned in the Hadith that the honour and sanctity of a believer is greater than the honour and sanctity of the Kaaba Sharif.

During the Holy Prophet’s time, there were certain people in Medina who wanted to defame a member of the Holy Prophet’s family.

It was a case of character assassination. At that juncture some verses were revealed in the Holy Qur’an: Those who desire that indecency should spread among the believers will have a painful chastisement in this world and the Hereafter. The Allah Almighty knows, and you do not know.

(Qur’an24:19)

So if you criticize someone on the basis of undeniable facts which stand up to objective scrutiny, you are acting lawfully and are exercising your moral rights as set forth in the divine book.

If your intention is good, your action will be treated as promoting reform. Moreover, you will receive reward from the Allah Almighty.

But if you are abusing someone, or using unethical or immoral language without any evidence to support what you say, then you are committing a crime.

The use of abusive language against anyone, which has no factual base, is an act of character assassination.

No one has the right to use such language. Criticism based on facts is constructive, but making allegations without any basis in fact is the worst kind of crime.

In this regard, two courses are open to all: if an individual has an accusation to make against anyone and he has undeniable proof in support of what he has to say, then he is allowed to express his views.

If, on the other hand, he has an adverse opinion about anyone, but has no evidence to support his negative remarks, then he has to remain silent.

No one is allowed to make damaging remarks against anyone if he cannot produce irrefutable proofs of the truth of his statement.

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) once said: If you make a negative remark against someone while that person is innocent, then it will have a boomerang effect.

Your negative remark will turn back upon you and you will find that remark being applied to you.

The practice of character assassination is injurious to the whole of society; it spreads the feeling of mistrust.

It causes misunderstanding and the result is very dangerous, for everyone becomes suspicious of the other members of society.

In such a society, no healthy activity is possible and no positive planning can be done. The habit of character assassination is bad for all and good for none.

The whole of society must be alert to anyone indulging in this kind of activity and the wrongdoer must be openly condemned.

Indeed, social ostracism is the only check by which this kind of baneful habit can be eliminated from society.

Character assassination is more dangerous than physical assassination. Any society that ignores this heinous practice is callous and inhuman. It could be a very destructive phenomenon wherever it is found.

The deliberate, malicious, unjustified and sustained effort to damage the reputation and credibility of an individual or a group of persons is the wickedness of the highest order.

It could be the slandering of a person, destroying his/her public confidence which often leads to the act of lowering one’s character in a bid to ruin the character of others.

These acts are found in families, political arena, places of worship, organizations, workplaces, etc.

Interestingly, false allegations are the most chronic form of mental abuse you can ever think of.

When people can’t kill your dreams and purpose, they will try to assassinate your personality, your character and your integrity.

In some cases, your spirit will hurt the demons of others. Hence, when those that are hurt because of your spirit realize hating isn’t enough, they start propagating false accusations about you thereby killing your character. Sometimes, it is regarded as emotional violence against the other.

— The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.