Is it permissible to swear / curse?

The Details of the Question

Is it permissible to swear / curse? When is it permissible? What is the decree about cursing during a fight? What is the decree about cursing America, Trump, a person whom we think is an unbeliever, an oppressor, a person that harms others?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The religion of Islam is against all kinds of bad deeds and harming others. For, Islam tries to make man real man. It makes man attain the level of true humanity. Therefore, along with giving orders to lead man to all kinds of perfection and beauty, Islam forbids all forms of disgrace and deeds that lead to ugliness.  

Acting upon those general rules, we can say that all kinds of deeds including swearing and cursing that offend and disturb our addressees are sins and haram. For, it is forbidden to offend Muslims and it makes us sinners. In Islam, it is forbidden to disturb an unbeliever who is innocent. For, the Prophet (pbuh) stated the following:

"If a person harasses a dhimmi, I am his enemy." (al-Hindi, Kanzul-Ummal, IV / 618; al-Jamius-Saghir, I / 1210)

It is not permissible to curse on any occasion. It does not fit a Muslim to curse / swear at an unbeliever or an oppressor; it is a bad deed.

It is not appropriate to address a blind person as ‘Hey! Blind man!’ Similarly, it is not appropriate to address an unbeliever as ‘Hey! Unbeliever!’ Yes, there are some oppressors and people who commit major sins. Islam aims to save people from aberration.

Our Prophet (pbuh) is the prophet of mercy. Among Makkan polytheists, there were people who went beyond limits in unbelief. However, the Prophet (pbuh) used a sweet tongue when he called them to Islam. He did not accuse them of their sins by cursing them.

What matters here is this: Those people deserve everything but cursing does not fit a Muslim. The mission of a Muslim is to convey people the message of Islam and to call people to the right path.

Suppose that you are one of those oppressors; in that case, how would you expect to be treated? Would you expect to be improved and to attain guidance through a sweet tongue or to be driven away from Islam by being cursed?

There are a lot of people who were in aberration, who committed a lot of sins but who found the right path later in our society. These people did not attain guidance by being cursed and abused. They were guided as a result of being advised by a soft tongue.  

For example, think of a doctor. If a seriously ill person were brought to that doctor and if he shouted at the patient saying what a bad patient he was, would it be appropriate? Definitely not. The duty of the doctor is not fighting the patient, but the disease. The doctor must be hostile to the disease, not to the patient.

Similarly, people also have spiritual diseases. Instead of becoming hostile to the people who go beyond limits because of these diseases, we should be hostile to those attributes in them. We should try to purify those sick people from microbes like unbelief and oppression. The duty of the Muslim is to struggle against diseases of the people who are spiritually ill.

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What was the method of the Prophet’s conveying the message and giving advice like?

"Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance." (an-Nahl, 16/125)

Acting upon the verse above and similar ones, the Prophet (pbuh) guided people with knowledge and wisdom; he based his advice on those evidences.

- He did not act furiously and violently in his guidance and warning.

- He welcomed his addressees in a sincere manner and advised them with compassion and mercy.

- He always preferred sweet language and nice words to tell them about the truth and realities.

- He eliminated with great patience and understanding the doubts and hesitations that occurred in the minds of the people.

- He honored his addressees and spoke with them eloquently and clearly in order to persuade them.

- Even if the questions were groundless, he would smile and answer them seriously.

- One of the greatest reasons why his preaching and advice were effective was that he would forgive people for their faults and pardon them. He forgave even those who killed his most beloved uncle, so many relatives and Companions of him during the Conquest of Makkah though all power and strength were in his hand on that day. He could have punished them as he wished.

He had such a great influence on the spirits of the people around with his high ethics that he aroused and developed their potential abilities and talents. He made them stars in the sky of humanity. He eliminated the fog of ignorance that covered that age. He changed the shape of the realm. He put high virtues like justice, love, and solidarity into practice among people. He introduced curative drugs against all diseases that threatened personal and social life; and he cured humanity with Allah's permission.

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