What is the truth of the news brought by the evil ones?
Walid ibn Uqbah, sent by the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- to Banu Mustaliq to collect their alms, turned away upon seeing a crowd of their tribesmen coming towards him to welcome him, assuming instead they were out to kill him, owing to a quarrel between them dating back to the days of Ignorance. Returning to Medina, he gave a false account to the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- of what had happened, going to the extent of even slandering Banu Mustaliq to absolve himself.
“They have turned away from Islam, Messenger of Allah!” he said. “Not only did they refuse to pay their alms, their nearly killed me!”
The Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- immediately prepared a military unit to send to what seemed to be a rebellious tribe. Becoming aware of the situation before that however, Banu Mustaliq urgently sent the envoy that had gone out to welcome Walid, to Medina. There, they were met with the Muslim cavalry unit assigned to them. The truth behind the confusion was soon exposed. Allah, glory unto Him, thereupon sent a Revelation warning Believers not to pass judgment until getting to the bottom of a given matter:
“O you who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly and afterwards become full of repentance for what you have done. And know that among you is Allah’s Messenger; should he obey you in many a matter, you would surely fall into distress, but Allah has endeared the faith to you and has made it seemly in your hearts, and He has made hateful to you unbelief and transgression and disobedience; these it is that are the followers of a right way.” (al-Hujurat, 6-7)
The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- then ordered Abbad ibn Bishr -Allah be well-pleased with him- to “…return with them and collect their alms; but avoid choosing the best of their goods!” Abbad -Allah be well-pleased with him- stayed with Banu Mustaliq for ten days, during which he taught them what he could of the Quran and Islam. (Ahmad, IV, 279; Ibn Hisham, III, 340-341; Ibn Saad , II, 161)
Many a news coming from an evil-doer travels from mouth to mouth and ultimately reaches an upright yet naive person, who although has no business with evil deeds, then proceeds, with good intention, to spread the rumor to others. It must be made loud and clear that taking unverified news for truth and spreading them incurs liability, regardless of whether the one spreading it is an evil-doer or not. Perhaps there might not be any harm if it turns out there is truth behind the news but on the other hand, if it turns out that the news is fabricated after all, then spreading it would directly smear one with great sins like slander and backbiting. Therefore, one always ought to be wary of news, especially those of unpleasant import that come from dubious sources.