Namīmah –

The word namīmah is usually defined as malicious gossip, referring in particular to the spreading of rumours in order to ruin the relationship between two people. Al-Ghazali, may God be well-pleased with him, argues that this definition of namīmah is too narrow and that the term also includes the spreading of secrets and the disclosure of things that are disliked by anyone, regardless of whether it is the person being talked about, the listener, or any other person who is offended.

Those who spread namīmah are driven by various motives, one of which, according to al-Ghazali, is that they find enjoyment in empty and meaningless chatter. Some people have a tendency to spread everything they hear, although the Prophet – peace be upon him – has warned us against this: “It is enough falsehood for a man to relate everything he hears.”

The word namīmah is related to the word nammah, and this latter word is used, among other things, to refer to a waterskin that leaks water. One who goes around spreading rumours and revealing secrets is like a leaky waterskin, because he lacks the vital attribute of being able to contain the things he has heard within himself. On a symbolic level, this inability to “hold it in” can be likened to wetting one’s pants in public.

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3 Responses to Namīmah –

  1. Iqra says:

    As regards urine and namimah, we are honored to narrate that the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

    وَحَدَّثَنَا أَبُو سَعِيدٍ الأَشَجُّ، وَأَبُو كُرَيْبٍ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْعَلاَءِ وَإِسْحَاقُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ قَالَ إِسْحَاقُ أَخْبَرَنَا وَقَالَ الآخَرَانِ، حَدَّثَنَا وَكِيعٌ، حَدَّثَنَا الأَعْمَشُ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ مُجَاهِدًا، يُحَدِّثُ عَنْ طَاوُسٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ مَرَّ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَى قَبْرَيْنِ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ أَمَا إِنَّهُمَا لَيُعَذَّبَانِ وَمَا يُعَذَّبَانِ فِي كَبِيرٍ أَمَّا أَحَدُهُمَا فَكَانَ يَمْشِي بِالنَّمِيمَةِ وَأَمَّا الآخَرُ فَكَانَ لاَ يَسْتَتِرُ مِنْ بَوْلِهِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ فَدَعَا بِعَسِيبٍ رَطْبٍ فَشَقَّهُ بِاثْنَيْنِ ثُمَّ غَرَسَ عَلَى هَذَا وَاحِدًا وَعَلَى هَذَا وَاحِدًا ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏”‏ لَعَلَّهُ أَنْ يُخَفَّفَ عَنْهُمَا مَا لَمْ يَيْبَسَا ‏”‏ ‏.‏


  2. Jazakumu Allahu khayran!
    The English translation of the hadith:
    The Prophet once passed by two graves and those two persons (in the graves) were being tortured. He said, “They are being tortured not for a great thing (to avoid). One of them never saved himself from being soiled with his urine, while the other was going about with calumnies (to make enmity between friends). He then took a green leaf of a date-palm tree split it into two pieces and fixed one on each grave. The people said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Why have you done so?” He replied, “I hope that their punishment may be lessened till they (the leaf) become dry.”

  3. Iqra says:

    Calumny is akin to كلم i.e. a wound or slash, albeit antithetical to a كلماني !

    Shakespeare (see Hamlet) said ‘thou shall not keep us from calumny’

    How’s this for a late-night freestyle?

    منعنا المانع المنان من نميمة النمام
    mana’anal-maani’ul-mannan min-namimatin-nammam!
    May God* keep us from calumny!

    * (The Protector, The Benefactor)

    Amen. And then, again, amen!


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