Is it permissible for a Muslim to curse people?


Are Muslims allowed to curse people?


In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

A “curse” in the Islamic context means to be deprived of the mercy of Allah.

According to Ibn Manzur:

وَاللَّعْنُ الْإِبْعَادُ وَالطَّرْدُ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ وَقِيلَ الطَّرْدُ وَالْإِبْعَادُ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَمِنَ الْخَلْقِ السَّبُّ وَالدُّعَاءُ

Cursing means to be expelled and removed from goodness. It is said it is a condemnation and supplication for expulsion and removal from Allah and from the creation.

Source: Lisan Al-Arab

It is not permissible for a Muslim to curse a specific person, animal, or object by name.

Abdullah ibn Umar reported: He heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, raising his head from the last bowing in dawn prayer and saying:

اللَّهُمَّ الْعَنْ فُلَانًا وَفُلَانًا وَفُلَانًا

O Allah, curse so-and-so and so-and-so.

Thereafter Allah revealed the verse:

لَيْسَ لَكَ مِنَ الْأَمْرِ شَيْءٌ أَوْ يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ أَوْ يُعَذِّبَهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ ظَالِمُونَ

You do not have any decision in the matter whether He will forgive them or punish them. Verily, they are oppressors. (3:128)

Source: Sahih Bukhari 4283, Grade: Sahih

After this incident, the Prophet would not curse people by name and he encouraged us not to indulge in curses.

Anas ibn Malik reported:

لَمْ يَكُنْ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ سَبَّابًا وَلَا فَحَّاشًا وَلَا لَعَّانًا كَانَ يَقُولُ لِأَحَدِنَا عِنْدَ الْمَعْتِبَةِ مَا لَهُ تَرِبَ جَبِينُهُ

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would not abuse others, he would not use obscene words, and he would not curse others. If he wanted to admonish anyone of us, he used to say: What is wrong with him? His forehead be dusted!

Source: Sahih Bukhari 5684, Grade: Sahih

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

 لَا يَنْبَغِي لِصِدِّيقٍ أَنْ يَكُونَ لَعَّانًا

It is not befitting the truthful that they curse others.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2597, Grade: Sahih

On one occasion, the Prophet refused to curse the idolaters who were persecuting the Muslims at the time.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, was told, “O Messenger of Allah, pray against the idolaters!” So the Prophet said:

إِنِّي لَمْ أُبْعَثْ لَعَّانًا وَإِنَّمَا بُعِثْتُ رَحْمَةً

Verily, I was not sent to invoke curses, but rather I was only sent as a mercy.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2599, Grade: Sahih

Likewise, it is not permissible to curse animals or objects.

Abu Barzah Al-Aslami reported: A young woman was riding a camel on which was the people’s luggage. When she saw the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and the pass of the mountain became narrow, the woman said to the camel, “Go ahead.” When it did not move, she said, “O Allah, curse it!” The Prophet said:

لَا تُصَاحِبْنَا نَاقَةٌ عَلَيْهَا لَعْنَةٌ

We will not be accompanied by a camel that has been cursed.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2596, Grade: Sahih

Those who indulged in curses will not be granted the honor of interceding or witnessing on the Day of Resurrection.

Abu Ad-Darda reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَا يَكُونُ اللَّعَّانُونَ شُفَعَاءَ وَلَا شُهَدَاءَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ

Those who indulge in curses will not be intercessors or witnesses on the Day of Resurrection.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2595, Grade: Sahih

If a Muslim curses another person who does not deserve it, then that curse will return against him.

Abu Ad-Darda reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِنَّ الْعَبْدَ إِذَا لَعَنَ شَيْئًا صَعِدَتْ اللَّعْنَةُ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ فَتُغْلَقُ أَبْوَابُ السَّمَاءِ دُونَهَا ثُمَّ تَهْبِطُ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ فَتُغْلَقُ أَبْوَابُهَا دُونَهَا ثُمَّ تَأْخُذُ يَمِينًا وَشِمَالًا فَإِذَا لَمْ تَجِدْ مَسَاغًا رَجَعَتْ إِلَى الَّذِي لُعِنَ فَإِنْ كَانَ لِذَلِكَ أَهْلًا وَإِلَّا رَجَعَتْ إِلَى قَائِلِهَا

Verily, when a servant curses something, the curse rises to the heaven and the gates of heaven close upon it. It turns right and left and if it does not find somewhere to go, it will return to that which was cursed only if it deserved to be curse, otherwise the curse will return to the one who made it.

Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 4905, Grade: Hasan

Only Allah knows if a person is truly deserving of His curse, so a Muslim who curses others is taking a serious risk. For this reason, the reality is that most people who curse others are actually cursing themselves.

Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

‏ لُعِنَ اللَّعَّانُونَ

Those who curse others are themselves cursed.

Source: Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 315, Grade: Hasan

It is permissible to curse wrong doers in general without specifying their names as is done in the Quran.

Allah said:

أَلَا لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ عَلَى الظَّالِمِينَ

Is not the curse of Allah upon the oppressors?

Surah Hud 11:18

This can be beneficial as a way to warn people indirectly. If we see someone committing a major sin, we can say, “Allah has cursed those who do this.” So we mention that Allah has cursed the deed, but we do not curse the individual directly.

The Messenger of Allah would mention that Allah has cursed certain deeds as a way of warning people.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported:

لَعَنَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ آكِلَ الرِّبَا وَمُوكِلَهُ وَشَاهِدَيْهِ وَكَاتِبَهُ

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said the one who consumes usury has been cursed, as well as the one who pays it, the one who witnesses it, and the one who records it.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 4175, Grade: Sahih

Sometimes we get angry and feel very strongly that we want to curse whoever has made us angry. Even the Messenger of Allah would get angry and sometimes curse people, but he would expiate this deed for himself by asking Allah to have mercy upon them.

Salman reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَيُّمَا رَجُلٍ مِنْ أُمَّتِي سَبَبْتُهُ سَبَّةً أَوْ لَعَنْتُهُ لَعْنَةً فِي غَضَبِي فَإِنَّمَا أَنَا مِنْ وَلَدِ آدَمَ أَغْضَبُ كَمَا يَغْضَبُونَ وَإِنَّمَا بَعَثَنِي رَحْمَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ فَاجْعَلْهَا عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَاةً يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ

If I abuse a man among my nation or I curse him in my anger, then know that indeed I am a son of Adam. I get angry as they get angry. Verily, I was only sent as a mercy to the worlds, so make my curses against them into blessings on the Day of Resurrection.

Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 4659, Grade: Sahih

In general, it should not be the habit of the believers supplicate for evil such as invoking the curse and punishment of Allah or the Hellfire.

Allah said:

وَيَدْعُ الْإِنسَانُ بِالشَّرِّ دُعَاءَهُ بِالْخَيْرِ ۖ وَكَانَ الْإِنسَانُ عَجُولًا

Man supplicates for evil as he supplicates for good, for man is ever hasty.

Surah Al-Isra 17:11

Samrah ibn Jundab reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَا تَلَاعَنُوا بِلَعْنَةِ اللَّهِ وَلَا بِغَضَبِهِ وَلَا بِالنَّارِ

Do not invoke the curse of Allah, or His wrath, or the Hellfire.

Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 1976, Grade: Sahih

In fact, those who invoke destruction upon people or who frequently condemn others are in reality more likely to be condemned themselves.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِذَا قَالَ الرَّجُلُ هَلَكَ النَّاسُ ‏ فَهُوَ أَهْلَكُهُمْ

If a man says the people are destroyed, then he is the most destroyed among them.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2623, Grade: Sahih

A Muslim should never desire for others to be destroyed. The Prophets of Allah were all sent to their people with sincere good will (naseehah) and a desire to save their people from the Hellfire. They taught us to love for our neighbors what we love for ourselves, so we should never love destruction upon others.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

لاَ يَكُنْ حُبُّكَ كَلَفًا وَلاَ بُغْضُكَ تَلَفًا

Let not your hatred be destruction.

It was asked, “How is that?” Umar said:

وَإِذَا أَبْغَضْتَ أَحْبَبْتَ لِصَاحِبِكَ التَّلَف‏

When you hate someone, you love to see your companion destroyed.

Source: Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 1322, Grade: Sahih

Therefore, Muslims must be very cautious about indulging in curses. It is not lawful to curse a specific person or animal, and whoever does so should expiate that deed by offering a positive supplication.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.