Backbiting and slander in newspaper reporting

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  • Publish date:08/01/2015
  • Section:FATWA FOR ALL
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Question

Is newspaper reporting considered as backbiting, slander or spying? Hadith tells us that to say negatively on someone is backbiting, if it is true, and a slander if it is not true. What am I to do if I'm a newspaper reporter? At times the news I get may not be reliable?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The Prophetic narration is clear in defining backbiting and slander, and the news that is so, is considered backbiting and slandering. If this is in a newspaper, it may even increase the sin because the news spreads.

A Muslim should seek to be truthful wherever he is; therefore, it is not permissible for a journalist to spread the news which he is not sure is true. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “It is enough a lie for a person to convey everything that he hears.” [Muslim]

However, it should be noted that when a person spreads some news he is sure about, and this news is considered as backbiting but spreading it leads to a benefit, like showing the dissoluteness of a person who takes people’s money without right so that people will beware of him, then it appears that it is permissible to spread this news.

Spying is looking for people’s faults, and this is forbidden like backbiting or even graver than it, as stated by some scholars  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  them.

Allah Knows best.

Fatwa answered by: The Fatwa Center at Islamweb

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