Is it a sin to damn and curse sinful believers?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Islam prohibits Muslims from damning/cursing themselves and other Muslims. The Prophet (pbuh) stated the following:

“Do not damn yourselves, your children and your wealth; your damning will be accepted if you say it at a time when prayers are accepted.” (Muslim, Zuhd 74; Abu Dawud, Witr 27)

The Prophet (pbuh) avoided damning. He said he was not a prophet that damned but that showed mercy. (Muslim, Birr 87)

When he went to Taif from Makkah in order to convey the message of Islam, he was treated very badly; he was stoned while he was returning and his blessed feet were in blood. Meanwhile, he was informed by Allah that "his damning them would be accepted and He would destroy them if he wished." However, the Prophet (pbuh) said, "O Lord! No! Maybe children that will worship You will be born from them." The Prophet (pbuh) prayed as follows for his enemies who broke his tooth and wounded his face at Uhud:

"O Allah! Guide my nation because they do not know what they are doing." (Tajrid Sarih Translation IV/314)

When he was asked to damn against the tribe of Daws, who did not accept Islam despite all efforts, prayed as follows:  

"O Lord! Guide the tribe of Daws; make them join us." (Tajrid Sarih Translation VIII, 344)

However, the Prophet (pbuh) sometimes damned the enemies of Allah. He damned the tribe of Kilab, who martyred seventy Muslims who went to them to call them to Islam, in Bi’r Mauna. He also damned the polytheists who made fun of him in the Kaaba while he was performing prayers. He saw that they were killed during the Battle of Badr. (Tajrid Sarih Translation, X; 43-45) During the Battle of Khandaq, he prayed Allah so that the enemy who gathered around Madinah would be scattered; thereupon, a storm that broke out suddenly at night turned the enemy upside down. (Tajridi Sarih Translation, VIII, 342-343)

We can say that Muslims should avoid damning other Muslims even if they are sinners.

A person who oppresses others in this world will not get away with his oppression. He will be punished for his oppression in this world; he will also be punished severely in the hereafter. What the oppressed person needs to do is to show patience.  

Some hadiths regarding the issue and their short explanations:

“…Damning a believer is like killing him." (Bukhari, Janaiz 84, Muslim, Iman 176, 177)

Damning means wishing a person to be kept away from Allah’s mercy both in the world and the hereafter. To say “Damn you”, “God damn” “damned”, “damned man”, etc. means to want that person to be deprived of and be kept away from mercy whether one is aware of what he says or not. The first being that was damned is Satan. Shaytan alayhil-la'na is an expression that is used frequently, meaning "Satan, who was driven away from Allah's mercy".

To damn a believer means to wish that he will be deprived of divine mercy eternally like Satan. That is a very big crime like violating the right to live of a Muslim, that is, killing him. It even means to want a Muslim to die. A person who kills deprives the Muslim he kills of worldly rights and interests only. A person who damns tries to prevent a Muslim’s happiness both in the world and the hereafter whether what he wishes comes true or not.   

The decree that a person who damns needs to be killed like a murderer cannot be deduced from the determination "Damning a believer is like killing him." However, it shows the bigness of the crime he commits. Not the penalty in the world but the spiritual responsibility of a person who damns is equal to that of a murderer.

It is not easy to kill a believer because it is a deed. However, it is easy to damn a believer because it is a word. When this difference is considered, it is understood that the threat expressed by the hadith aims to prevent a person from damning by thinking that "it is easy."

"It does not fit a siddiq to damn." (Muslim, Birr 84; Tirmidhi, Birr 72)

Siddiq means an honest and veracious person. The hadith states that it does not fit such a person to damn. If a person damns others due to unnecessary reasons, it means there is a flaw in the quality of belief and Islam of that person. It means he has not reached the level of being honest and veracious.

"Those who damn will be neither intercessors nor witnesses on the Day of Judgment." (Muslim, Birr 85, 86; Abu Dawud, Adab 45)

The hadith shows the deprivation of those who habitually damn others on the Day of Judgment. Such people will not be able to intercede for anybody and witness on the Day of Judgment; they cannot experience such happiness. This is both an indicator and penalty of being away from nice feelings and relationships like pity and mercy that need to exist among believers. It means, the intercession and witnessing of those who damn will not be accepted on the Day of Judgment.

"Do not damn one another with Allah's curse, wrath or Hell" (Abu Dawud, Adab 45; Tirmidhi, Birr 48)

Muslims are warned not to damn and curse one another with statements like "Allah damn you", "May Allah's wrath hit you" and "Burn in Hell". Wishing damnation, wrath and penalty are statements that believers should not utter even in order to soothe their fury.  

"A dignified believer cannot have the habit of criticizing, damning, doing bad deeds and uttering bad words." (Tirmidhi, Birr 48)

Dignified believers do not defame and damn others; they do not overstep the limits related to deeds and words; they do not act immorally. The biggest danger of those deeds, which indicate lack of dignity, especially the deed of damning habitually, is the return of the damnation to the person who damns:

"When a man curses anything, the curse goes up to heaven and the gates of heaven are locked against it. Then it comes down to the earth and its gates are locked against it. Then it goes right and left, and if it finds no place of entrance it returns to the thing which was cursed, and if it finds no place of entrance it returns to the thing which was cursed, and if it deserves what was said (it enters it), otherwise it returns to the one who uttered it." (Abu Dawud, Adab 45; Tirmidhi, Birr 48)

If a curse/damn cannot find a place in heaven and on earth, it returns to the person who is cursed/damned; if he is a person that deserves damnation, it remains with him; otherwise, it returns to the person who curses/damns. The curse of the person who curses becomes valid for himself. It means a person’s preparing his own damnation with his own mouth. Doubtlessly, a sane and dignified believer does not want to fall into such a ridiculous and painful state. The way to avoid such a situation is not to curse/damn others.    

Conclusion:

- Man should not damn himself, his relatives, others, animals and even other beings.

- Such meaningless wishes might be realized if they are uttered at a time when prayers are accepted.

- Muslims should always utter nice words and good prayers; they must never utter bad words.

- It is a big sin to damn a Muslim.

- It fits Muslims to wish mercy for one another, not damnation.

- It does not fit an honest and veracious person to damn..

- Those who damn will be deprived of the right to intercede and witness in the hereafter.

- Dignified believers do not wish damnation, wrath and penalty for others; they do not utter bad words; they do not overstep the limits and they do not act immorally.

- A curse will not remain suspended. If the person who is cursed does not deserve it, the curse will return to the person who curses.

- Wishing mercy and goodness fits a Muslim. For, those who wish goodness for others actually wish goodness for themselves.

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