Among the Shia there is a seemingly unnecessary debate on whether we should (or can) curse. Of course, by curse, we mean La’nah (لعنة).
We will cover the following topics very briefly:
1. Is there a difference between La’nah with Sabb?
2. Is the translation of La’nah = Cursing?
3. Do we have a right to curse?
4. Did the Previous Prophets (as) curse?
5. Is it bad Akhlaq (Etiquette) to curse?
6. Did the Prophet (sawa) and Imams (as) curse?
7. Did the Imams (as) give us licence to curse others?
8. Is it okay to dislike cursing?
9. Who deserve the curses of Allah (swt)?
10. Do the Maraja’ allow cursing?
11. Is it Obligatory? Is it ever haram?
12. Should we do it openly?
First and foremost, many confuse La’nah with Sabb (سب). La’nah is to invoke Allah’s Mercy to be removed from someone and for Divine Punishment to befall them, while the word Sabb is to insult with words. Furthermore many contend that the English word “cursing” does not equate to La’nah. This unfortunately is out of ignorance.
Cursing, according to standard dictionaries, have two primary definitions. According to google, they are:
1. A solemn utterance intended to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on someone or something.
2. An offensive word or phrase used to express anger or annoyance.
“at every blow there was a curse”
Thus, the word curse encompasses both La’nah and Sabb. When we translate La’nah to Curse – we imply the first of the meanings, ie. A solemn utterance intended to invoke a supernatural power, i.e. removal of Divine Mercy.
The next discussion usually revolves around the argument if we have a right to do it, if judgement should be left to Allah (swt), and if there is any proof that the Prophets (as) did it.
We will first establish that it is a Sunnah of the previous Prophets (as) and was something verbally said and done. Allah (swt) says:
لُعِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ عَلَىٰ لِسَانِ دَاوُودَ وَعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِمَا عَصَوا وَّكَانُوا يَعْتَدُونَ
Those who disbelieved from among the Children of Israel were cursed by the tongue of Dawood and Isa, son of Marium; this was because they disobeyed and used to exceed the limit.(5:78)
It is important to note the following:
a) Two extremely important Prophets, nay Messengers – and in fact in the case of Nabi Isa (Jesus) one of the Ulil Azm Prophets – were of those who cursed
b) the ones they cursed were from among their own people (Children of Israel)
c) The reason they earned the cursing of the Prophets (as) was because of their transgression, and it is from the words of Allah (swt): “…this was because they disobeyed and used to exceed the limit.“
Allaamah Tabataba’i says in his Tafsir al-Mizan regarding this ayah: It reveals that their prophets cursed the disbelievers from among them. It adversely alludes to the Jews who were cursed by their own prophets, and it was because they exceeded the limit, and continued in this transgression generation after generation. The words: “They used not to forbid . . . evil was that which they did”, explain that transgression.
d) To say that it is wrong, immoral, or bad akhlaq to curse – you are doubting the infallibility and insulting the great Prophets of Islam (as).
Naturally, once this is established the next argument is: “But did OUR Prophet (sawa) and Imams (as) curse?”
Without doubt or suspicion, there is absolutely no doubt from our reliable books and authentic hadiths that the Prophet Muhammad (sawa) and Imams (as) cursed. Qur’anically, we may find that Allah (swt) encouraged the Ahlulbayt (as) to invoke the curse of Allah (swt) on certain individuals:
فَمَنْ حَاجَّكَ فِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْا نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءَنَا وَأَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَنِسَاءَنَا وَنِسَاءَكُمْ وَأَنفُسَنَا وَأَنفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِينَ
Then whoever argues with you about it after [this] knowledge has come to you – say, “Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then supplicate earnestly [together] and invoke the curse of Allah upon the liars [among us].”(3:61)
As we know from both reliable Shia and Sunni sources that this event (al-Mubahila) was where the Prophet (sawa) brought Imam Ali (as), Sayeda Fatima (as) and their two sons (as) – al-Hassan and al-Hussain – to invoke the curse upon the Christians of Najran. For more information please see this article.
Some may argue that the Ahlulbayt (as) never ended up invoking the curse due to the Christians backing down – however this takes nothing away from the principle. Furthermore, amongst the plethora of authentic hadiths where the Imams (as) did curse, the Imams (as) also encouraged their Shia to perform al-Mubahila in certain circumstances. For example, in al-Kafi we find the following:
Imam al-Sadiq (as) said the following about the method to do al-Mubahalah: “Crisscross the fingers of your hand with his fingers and say, ‘O Lord, if so and so has rejected a truth or has professed a falsehood, make him suffer a misfortune from the sky or a punishment from You’, and then curse each other (tula`inuhu) seventy times.’”
Sanad: Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Isa from ibn Mahbub from abu al-‘Abbas who narrated the above hadith
Source: al-Kafi, Volume 2, Chapter on al-Mubahila, Hadith #4
Grading: al-Majlisi said it was Sahih/Authentic (صحيح) [Mir’aat al-`Uqool, Volume 12, Page 188 (See Image below)]
Besides all this, we will share one authentic hadith that should end the debate and emphasise the importance of La’nah/Cursing:
قال رسول الله: من تأثم أن يلعن من لعنه الله فعليه لعنة الله
The Prophet (sawa) said: “Whoever considers it a sin (or dislikes) to send La’nah (curses) upon the one on whom is Allah’s La’nah is upon, then upon him himself is Allah’s La’nah.
Note: Some versions of this hadith say “sin” (تأثم) and some say “dislike” (يأجم)
Source: Rijaal al-Keshshi, Hadith #1012 (See First Image below); Bihaar al-Anwaar, Volume 25, Page 319 (Link)
Sanad: Muhammad b. Qulawey and al Hussain b. al Hasan b. Bandar al-Qummi, both from Sa’d b. Abdullah from Ibrahim b. Mahzyar and Muhamad b. ‘Isa, from Ali b. Mahzyar, from Imam al Jawad (as) who said the above hadith
Grading: Sheikh Aasif al-Mohsini (one of the most strictest Shia Maraja’ when it comes to authentication of hadiths) has graded this hadith reliable in two places [al-Mu’jim al-Ahadeeth al-Mu’tabarra, Volume 2, Page 102 (See Second Image below), and also in Mashra’at Bihaar al-Anwaar, Volume 1, Page 457]; and al-Hurr al-Amili, the author of Wasaa’il al-Shi’a has also graded the chain Sahih/Authentic [Fawaid al-Tusiya, Page 515];
Also, each narrator via the chain specified below is considered Reliable (Thiqa) according to Sayed al-Khoi (rh). Below is gradings for each according to him, via al-Mufeed al-Mu’jim Rijaal al-Hadith (numbers relate to al-Khois Mu’jim references):
– Muhammad b. Qulawey (Thiqa, 11648)
– Sa’d b. Abdullah (Thiqa, 5058)
– Ibrahim b. Mahzyar (Thiqa, 318)
– Muhamad b. ‘Isa (Thiqa, 11536)
– Ali b. Mahzyar (Thiqa, 8553)
– Imam al Jawad (as) (Infallible)
This incredible hadith points our the importance of La’nah and danger in considering it a sin or even disliking to curse the enemies of Allah (swt).
The question remains – who indeed is the enemies of Allah (swt)?
Without a doubt the likes of Shaytan, Fir’oun, the People of Lut, Samood, Aad, People of Saleh etc. are enemies of Allah (swt) – thus one should not be hesitant in cursing the likes.
However, via countless hadiths we find that the enemies of the Prophet (sawa) are the enemies of Allah (swt), and the enemies of the Ahlulbayt (as) are the enemies of the Prophet (sawa) and furthermore the enemies of the Ahlulbayt (as) are the enemies of Allah (swt). So people like Yazid (la) the killer of al-Hussain (as), or ibn Muljim (la) the killer of Imam Ali (as) are of those that should be cursed and we should not hesitate in doing so, lest the curse of Allah (swt) falls upon us.
Thus, if one concludes that an individual is an enemy of Imam Ali (as) or an enemy to Fatima (as) – which is tantamount to being an enemy of Allah (swt) – then one should not dislike cursing that person. If one concludes a person is an oppressor, and oppressed Ahlulbayt (as) and took their rights or even hurt them physically, then one should not dislike cursing them. In fact, ANY oppressor should be cursed as per the many Ayaat in the Qur’an, such as (أَلَا لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ عَلَى الظَّالِمِينَ) “Unquestionably, the curse of Allah is upon the oppressors.” (11:18). There are many types of people Allah (swt) has also cursed in the Qur’an. According to this powerful hadith, disliking cursing these types of people could lead to Allah (swt) cursing you!
Therefore, one must do their research and conclude as to who the enemies of Allah (swt) are, and once concluded not to hesitate in cursing them.
Furthermore, if it is established the Imams (as) have cursed certain individuals, thus established Allah’s curse is upon them – we should not, and cannot, hesitate in cursing them. An example of this would be the two idols of Quraysh. We have uncountable number of hadiths cursing them, including Reliable and Sahih hadiths. An example of this is here.
If one argues that our maraja` have condemned or not allowed Cursing/La’nah – then we turn towards one of the most popular of Maraja` – al-Sayed al-Sistani (hf):
السؤال: هل يجوز لعن شارب الخمر (المتجاهر ) بالفسق وهل صحيح ان لاغيبة علي الفاسقين؟
الجواب: يجوز لعن شارب الخمر لان النبي صلّي الله عليه واله لعنه مع عدة اخرين، ولا يجوز غيبة الفاسق في العيب المتستر به.
Question: Is it permissible to curse the one who drinks alcohol (openly) in disobedience, and is it correct that there is no (sin for) backbiting upon those who are open in disobedience/transgressions?
Answer: It is permissible to curse (La’an) the one who drinks alcohol because the Prophet (sawa) cursed them among many others. And it is not permissible to backbite the transgressor who does so in privacy (not openly).
Now to say it is obligatory, one must refer to their respected Marja’. However, this obviously would be dependent upon the circumstances. Sayed al-Rohani (hf) clears this up:
يختلف حكم اللعن باختلاف موضوعاته فقد يكون واجبا إذا كان مصداقا للبراءة من أعداء الله وقد يكون حراما وهكذا
The ruling on Cursing changes with circumstances. At times it would be Obligatory if disassociation of the enemies of Allah (swt) demands it, and likewise it can be haram.
Instances it may be haram may be openly cursing the idols of other sects and religions in which it would lead to them in turn cursing or insulting Allah (swt) or his Apostles (as). There are conditions for this and at times it would be allowed and at times it would be haram (forbidden). For more information, see here.
We end with a dua in Allah (swt) sending his infinite curses upon the Oppressive Family of Saud, who have recently killed the Martyr al-Shaheed Baqir al-Nimr (rh).