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Sunday, 23 February 2014

In the Grapevine

Remember that game we used to play when we were young? The little game where we will sit in a circle, spaced about arm’s length apart, the game begin as soon as a message whispered once from the originator to the person sitting next to him or her until it reaches the last person in the circle (who would sit next to the originator). Finally, he or she will then say the message outloud. Seldom does the message arrive in its original form. Messages often altered by someone in the circle, or out of anxiety (one of the possible causes). The game is often known as the Telephone game, the Secret Message game, Gossip or the Grapevine game. 

We have this little experiment on this game with the International School's kids during a break from our drama practice. The students were told to keep in mind on these three things; Who's fault was it that the message came out wrong? Was the message too long or too short? What is the problem in this method of communication (whispering, that is), and can we trust the messenger?. [3] 


Nobody knows. How do we know if one of the players alters the message? Can we really point a finger to a specific individual just to close the case? Even after listening to the messenger and the originator, we can’t really decide as whatever that had happened, it happen in the grapevine. Similarly when we watch that gossip show on television on the local scene; Melodi, Galaksi, HipTV, just to name a few, that often begin their interview with,”You know, we heard from someone,..not sure if its true, can you please verify?…” or in Malay language, “Ada orang kata.. adalah orang yang katakan,..kita tak tau la betul ke tidak, bole jelaskan?..”  
It was narrated that Abu Qalaabah radi’Allahu anhu said: Abu Mas’ood said to Abu ‘Abd-Allaah, or Abu ‘Abd-Allaah said to Abu Mas’ood: What did you hear the Messenger of Allaah sallallahu alaihi wasallam say about saying “they say…”? He said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah sallallahu alaihi wasallam say: “How bad it is for a man to keep saying, ‘They say…’. ” al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 866.

Hence our righteous forebears were keen to establish proof and were wary of rumours.

And the students had answered after looking at each other, “We don’t know”. 


It was narrated that al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah has forbidden you to disobey your mothers, to bury your daughters alive, to not pay the rights of others and to beg from others. And He dislikes gossip for you, asking too many questions, and wasting money.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2231.

There are three points of view as to the meaning of this hadeeth [1]:

1 – That it indicates that it is makrooh (disliked) to speak too much, because it leads to mistakes.

2 – That it refers to wanting to pass on what people say and looking for that in order to tell others of it, so that one can say, “So and so said such and such, and Such and such was said…” The prohibition on this is either a rebuke for doing too much of it or it refers to a particular type of talk, which the person spoken of dislikes to have mentioned.

3 – That it refers to narrating differences of opinion concerning religious matters, such as saying, “This one said such and such and that one said such and such.” The reason why this is disliked is that speaking of such matters may lead to mistakes. This applies especially to those who transmit such views without verifying them, merely imitating those whom they hear without exercising any caution. I say: this is supported by the saheeh hadeeth, “It is enough sin for a man to speak of everything that he hears.” (narrated by Muslim).


Whispering is the devil’s weapon. Let’s not blame on the game entirely. Whispering often can cause sadness or hurt the person who are not in the ‘game’.

It is improper for two people to talk secretively in the presence of a third person. This behavior might cause the third person to feel bad or excluded. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, “If you were three, then do not whisper between the two of you ignoring the third till the number increases. This is because whispering will sadden him.” [5]

The kids’ responses were, “They shouldn’t be whispering”, “Some can’t even pronounce the word right, not fair”, “The person sitting next to me have a bad breath”, “I can’t hear her voice, its too soft”, “His saliva is all over my ear”


Zaid b. Khalid al-Juhani reported Allah's Apostle () as saying: “Should I not tell you of the best witnesses? He is the one who produces his evidence before he is asked for it.” Sahih Muslim, 1719, Book 30, Hadith 25/ Book 18, Hadith 4268. [4]

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah , ” .. that is to carry out justice for the sake of Allah’s pleasure alone, only then it will be true and just in the real sense, free from diversion,  changes, and lies. “even if it be against yourselves”..become a just witness even though it will harm yourself. If we are being asked for something, answer with the truth even if we know it will give us the bad outcome, because Allah Ta’ala will provide ways for things to be solved for those who obeys Him. “or parents and relatives. ”.. And even when we have to become a witness against our own blood, do not protect them, but be a witness for what is true, even when it will cause them harm, for the truth will be the ending for every soul. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. “ not protect them due to their wealth, and do not pity them just because they are poor, for Allah will take care of them. He’s More Paramount for either both of you and He Knows better what’s good for both of them. ”- Surah An-Nisa (4:135). [4]

So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. ”.. do not follow our nafs, fanatic feeling,  or hatred in giving fair judgement as a witness in every matters. Keep a strong will on being just  in any situation.” And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.”.. So, be fair and just, for it is near to Taqwa (righteousness) -Surah Al-Ma’idah(5:8). [4]

From “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah , witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.”- Surah Al-Ma’idah(5:8)[4] 

Unanimously,  the final response from the kids was, “We shouldn’t trust anyone, especially strangers!” RIGHT!

Allah knows best and I know nothing, Alhamdulillah!  

  1. Beware of Rumours at times of Crisis, , Accessed on 28th Feb 2014.
  2. Commentaries (italicize) – Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsirul Quranil ‘Azimi Jilid 4, 1421 H/ 2000 M:309-310. 
  3. R.E.A.L International School, Class 5 and 6, Bukit Jelutong, Cahaya SPK, Selangor.
  4. Tafseer and Terjemah Al-Haramain,pp 100. 
  5. The Islamic Manners of Gatherings,, Accessed on 28th February 2014.

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