Will you please give information about the incident of Ifk?

The Details of the Question
Will you please give information about the incident of Ifk?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,


Ifk means to tell lies, to slander, to cast aspersions on the honor of an honorable person.

The incident of Ifk is the name of the incident of slander made up by munafiqs about Hz. Aisha, the wife of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and the mother of believers (al-Ahzab, 33/6) in the history of Islam. The incident is narrated with its details in main resources like Bukhari and Muslim. Hz. Aisha herself narrates the incident in detail with its occurrence and causes.

The real lowdown of the incident is the movement of adverse propaganda and defamation by the munafiqs in order to break down the Islamic community that attained a safe land in Madinah and that developed day by day by targeting the privacy of the Prophet of Islam. They thought they could attain their desire to eliminate Islam very quickly if they could drive a wedge between the Messenger of Allah and his close friends. In the expedition of jihad against Sons of Mustaliq, the munafiqs tried to set Hz. Abu Bakr against the Messenger of Allah and to defame the Messenger of Allah by making use of a normal incident that happened to Hz. Aisha.

The munafiqs took part with a lot of people in the expedition of jihad against Sons of Mustaliq, who had stopped near Muraysi Well in Najd, in the fifth year of the Migration in the month of Shaban because they knew that it would not be a severe one.   

Before starting the expedition, the Messenger of Allah drew lots among his wives as he always did before starting an expedition and Hz. Aisha's name was drawn; thus, Hz. Aisha joined the expedition. (Bukhari, Shahadah, 15)

During this expedition, the munafiqs tried to set Makkan Muhajirs against Ansar of Madinah. Therefore, they used the bigotry of region and tribe. Once, they brought the two groups to the verge of drawing their swords but the Messenger of Allah prevented them easily. Meanwhile, Abdullah b. Ubayy said:

"If we return to Madinah, surely the more honorable (element) will expel there from the meaner." (al-Munafiqun, 63/8) Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) summoned Ansar and told them about it. Ansar became very sorry. Thus, Abdullah b. b. Ubayy gained the hatred of everybody. Besides, his son held the stirrup of his father's animal and said,

"I will not release you until you confess that you are mean and the Messenger of Allah is honorable." Thus, he made his father confess it. (Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqatul-Kubra, II, 65).

While returning from the expedition, the army stopped to spend the night somewhere. Hz. Aisha went away to answer the call of nature. When she returned, she noticed that her necklace made of Yemen beads had broken off and fallen. This necklace had been given to Hz. Aisha by Umm Ruman, her mother, as a wedding present. (Waqidi, Maghazi, II, 428). The other resources write that she borrowed the necklace from her sister, Asma.

Hz. Aisha went away in order to look for her necklace in the place where the army used in order to answer the call of nature. When she returned, she saw that the army including her guards who thought she was on chair on the camel had left. She waited there thinking that they would return and look for her.  Meanwhile she fell asleep there. 

Safwan b. Muattal, who always stayed behind the army to check if there was anything left behind, saw her and made her get on his camel without speaking. Then, he caught up with the army by leading his camel fast. (Ibn Hisham, as-Sirah, II, 298)

When the army stopped for the second time, it was understood that Hz. Aisha was not on her camel; when it was seen that she was coming on the camel of a young soldier, the munafiqs used it as an opportunity to start a rumor. Abdullah b. Ubayy supported this rumor secretly. The Muslims understood that it was a slander. For instance, Hz. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari said to his wife,

"O Umm Ayyub! Would you accept it if something like that is said about you?" She said,

"God forbid! A noble and honorable person will never do something like that." (Ibn Hisham, ibid, p. 302)

Unfortunately, along with munafiqs, three Muslims believed in this rumor. They were Hassan bin Thabit, who wanted to take revenge from Safwan, Hamna, the sister of Zaynab bint Jahsh, who was one of the wives of the Messenger of Allah and Mistah bin Uthatha, who was financially helped by Hz. Abu Bakr.  

Hz. Aisha fell ill when she returned from the expedition and went to her father's house so that her mother would take care of her. She was unaware of anything. Neither her parents nor the Messenger of Allah told her about the incident. She could not understand why the Messenger of Allah treated her coldly. Once, when Mistah's mother told her about the incident, she became very sad and wept for days. (Muslim, Tawba, 56) Meanwhile, the Messenger of Allah asked her some questions about the incident. Hz. Aisha said she referred her state to Allah.

When Safwan heard about the rumor, he got very angry, drew his sword and attacked Hassan in order to kill him. He wounded Hassan. When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was informed about it, he ordered Safwan to be arrested. In fact, Safwan was an impotent person who was not interested in women. He himself stated it clearly. (Ibn Hisham ibid, p. 306, Muslim, Tawba, 57)

The Messenger of Allah consulted some of the Companions about the issue. Hz. Uthman, Usama b. Zayd, Zaynab bint Jahsh and Umm Ayman witnessed that Hz. Aisha was chaste. Hz. Umar reminded him that Hz. Aisha's marriage was decreed by Allah and that Allah would marry an unchaste woman off to him. However, Hz. Ali spoke unfavorably and said there were a lot of women to marry the Messenger of Allah. He also offered that Hz. Aisha's maid be questioned. He even slapped her so that she would tell the truth. Barira, her maid, said she knew only good things about Hz. Aisha. Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah ascended the pulpit in the mosque and informed his Companions about the situation and asked their help. Sa'd b. Muaz from Ansar said,

"O Messenger of Allah! I will help you. If the slanderer is from the tribe of Aws, I will kill him. If he is from our Khazraj brothers, you will order us and we will do what is necessary."

However, Sa'd b. Ubada of Khazraj opposed it. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) settled the argument between them.  

When the Messenger of Allah left in a sorrowful manner and went to see Hz. Aisha, who was in her father Abu Bakr's house, Allah informed him about her chastity with the following verses:

"Those who brought forward the lie are a body among yourselves: think it not to be an evil to you: on the contrary it is good for you: to every man among them (will come the punishment) of the sin that he earned and to him who took on himself the lead among them will be a Penalty grievous. Why did not Believers, men and women when ye heard of the affair― put the best construction on it in their own minds and say "This (charge) is an obvious lie"?

Why did they not bring four witnesses, to prove it? When they have not brought the witnesses such men in the sight of Allah, (stand forth) themselves as liars!  Were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah on you, in this world and the Hereafter, a grievous penalty would have seized you in that ye rushed glibly into this affair. Behold ye received it on your tongues and said out of your mouths things of which ye had no knowledge; and ye thought it to be a light matter, while it was most serious in the sight of Allah.

And why did ye not when ye heard it say? "It is not right of us to speak of this: Glory to Thee (our Lord)! This is a most serious slander!" (an-Nur, 24/11-16)

When the verses above were sent down, all of the believers, primarily the Messenger of Allah became very happy. However, those who slandered had to be punished too. Thereupon, God Almighty sent down the following two verses:

"And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegation)― flog them with eighty stripes: and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors Unless they repent thereafter and mend (their conduct): for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (an-Nur, 24/4-5).

Three separate decrees were given for those who slandered that somebody committed fornication in the verses:

1. The slanderer will be flogged eighty stripes,
2. His witnessing will not be accepted forever,
3. He will be described as fasiq since he disobeyed Allah

If a person who slanders regrets and repents, the quality of fisq is removed. (M. Ali as-Sabuni, Kur'an-ı Kerîm'in Ahkâm Tefsîri, II, 107)

When these verses were sent down, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had Hassan, Hamna and Mistah flogged eighty stripes each as a penalty for slandering that she committed fornication. This penalty was not applied to Abdullah b. Ubayy. [Muhammad Rida, Muhammad (s.a.s), Egypt 1357/1938, p. 303].

Hz. Abu Bakr stopped helping Mistah because he slandered his daughter. After the penalty for slandering was applied, God Almighty sent down the following verse:

"Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah's cause: let them forgive and overlook: do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful." (an-Nur, 24/22)

Thereupon, Hz. Abu Bakr said,

"By Allah, I definitely want Allah to forgive me. By Allah, I will never cease to help Mistah."Then, he started to help Mistah financially again. (Bukhari, Maghazi, 34; Tafsirul-Qur'an, 6; Muslim, Tawba, 56)

Slander is the method of two-faced munafiqs who act differently than what they think. It is necessary to avoid slandering, to support those who are slandered and to refute the oppressors and slanderers.

İsmail KAYA

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