Chapter 85: Secrecy of Private Matters (Guarding Secrets)
allah, the exalted, says:
"and fulfill (every) covenant. verily! the covenant, will be questioned about.'' (17:34)
685. abu sa`id al-khudri (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "the most evil of the people to allah on the day of resurrection will be the man who consorts with his wife and then publicizes her secret.''
commentary: islam treats conjugal union as a sacred and secret act, both in social and moral terms. indeed, the sanctity of conjugal rights contributes to the consolidation of moral norms and social cohesion. yet, what passes between wife and husband on the consummation night is usually taken in a light vein in our societies. in the morning, both of them relate their sexual experience to their friends respectively. this is moral indecency which is incompatible with human dignity and civilized behaviour. this hadith reckons it as a grave sin which must be eschewed. the bed-experience must be kept private by the married couple to the exclusion of a third person.
686. `abdullah bin `umar (may allah be pleased with them) reported: my father `umar (may allah be pleased with him) said: when (his daughter) hafsah (may allah be pleased with her) became a widow, i met `uthman bin `affan (may allah be pleased with him) and offered hafsah for marriage to him. `uthman said: "i shall think over the matter.'' i waited for a few days and then `uthman met me and said: "it occurred to me that i should not marry at present.'' then i met abu bakr (may allah be pleased with him) and said to him: "if you are willing, i shall marry my daughter hafsah to you.'' abu bakr (may allah be pleased with him) remained silent and did not utter any word to me in reply. i grew more angry with him than with `uthman. i had waited for only a few days when messenger of allah (pbuh) asked for her hand in marriage and i married her to him. thereafter, i met abu bakr (may allah be pleased with him) who said, "perhaps you were angry with me when you offered hafsah to me and i said nothing in reply.'' i said, "yes, that is so.'' he said, "nothing stopped me to respond to your offer except that i knew that messenger of allah (pbuh) had mentioned her and i could not disclose the secret of messenger of allah (pbuh). had messenger of allah (pbuh) left her, i would have accepted her.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: to keep a secret and not to disclose it to people is the theme of this chapter as reflected in this hadith. the hadith has also other points which invite our attention. firstly, a man can offer his daughter's hand to a righteous person. secondly, it is undesirable for parents to send a message to another party for the wedlock of their daughter when talks with someone else are already continuing in this regard. thirdly, if messenger of allah (pbuh) wanted to marry a woman but could not realize his intention for a reason or another, it was permissible for a muslim to marry her because, juristically speaking, such a woman could not be counted as the prophet's wife.
687. `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) reported: on one occasion all the wives of the prophet (pbuh) were with him when his daughter, fatimah (may allah be pleased with her) who walked after the style of his father, came there. he (pbuh) welcomed her saying, "welcome, o my daughter'', and made her sit on his right side, or on his left side and then whispered something to her at which she wept bitterly. when he perceived her grief, he talked secretly to her again and she smiled (with happiness). i said to her: "messenger of allah (pbuh chose you from amongst all his wives to speak secretly to you and yet you cried.'' when he left, i asked her, "what did messenger of allah (pbuh) say to you?'' she said, "i will not divulge the secret of messenger of allah (pbuh).'' when messenger of allah (pbuh) passed away, i said to her: "i adjure you by the right i have in respect of you to tell me what messenger of allah (pbuh) had told you.'' she said: "now (when messenger of allah (pbuh) has died), i will tell you. when he whispered to me the first time, he told me, `jibril (gabriel) used to listen to my recitation of the qur'an and then recite it back to me once or twice a year, and this time he has done it twice; and so i perceive that my death is approaching. then be mindful of your duty to allah and be patient and steadfast, for i shall be an excellent predecessor for you.' on this i wept as you saw. when he perceived my distress he talked to me secretly the second time and said, `o fatimah, are you not pleased that you will be the chief among the believing women or of this ummah?' this made me smile as you saw.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: this hadith, too, has an implication for keeping a secret and concealing it from people. moreover, we learn that one can spontaneously weep over hearing a sorrowful occurrence and also that we should be patient in distress. the hadith also teaches us not to feel proud upon receiving a blessing. above all, the excellence of fatimah (may allah be pleased with her) and the advisability of reading the qur'an are brought into our focus.
688. thabit (may allah be pleased with him) reported: anas (may allah be pleased with him) said: messenger of allah (pbuh) came to me while i was playing with the boys. he greeted us and sent me on an errand. this delayed my return to my mother. when i came to her, she asked, "what detained you?'' i said; "messenger of allah (pbuh) sent me on an errand.'' she asked, "what was it?'' i said, "it is a secret.'' my mother said; "do not disclose to anyone the secret of messenger of allah (pbuh).'' anas (may allah be pleased with him) said to thabit (may allah be pleased with him): by allah, were i to tell it to anyone i would have told you.
commentary: here, too, an emphasis has been laid on keeping a secret. when anas (may allah be pleased with him) told his mother about the cause of secrecy, she refrained from insisting that the secret should be disclosed to her. rather, she lent support to her son's standpoint and advised him to conceal the secret. to be sure, it is part of moral teaching that we should keep the secrets of friends in our hearts. unless we receive a go-ahead from a friend, we must not make his secret public.