The Meaning of Maleficence
Isa’ah linguistically: is the antonym of beneficence. Asa’ al-shay’ is said to mean that one corrupted a thing and did not do it well.  al-Mufradat, al-Raghib (p. 441).
Isa’ah technically: is the doing of ugly deeds that begets evil, leading to misery of man in his worldly and after-worldly affairs. This may be in one’s body or soul, or whatever surrounds one of wealth, progeny, or property. Maleficence is also expanding one’s life in falsehood.  Tafsir al-Mawardi (4/301). The Difference between Maleficence and Harm (Madarrah)  al-Furuq al-Lughawiyyah, al-`Askari (p. 43); Tafsir al-Mawardi (4/301).
Maleficence is ugly, whereas harm may be beautiful if it is done with some intent of goodness, like disciplining by striking, or exhausting oneself in learning and teaching.Dispraise of Maleficence and Warning against it in the Qur’an and Sunnah
❖ Allah, exalted, says: “Repel evil with that which is best. We are well aware of what they describe.” al-Mu’minun: 96. Meaning if one’s enemy wrongs you in deed or word, then do not respond with wrongdoing yourself.  Tafsir al-Sa`di (p. 558).
❖ Allah, exalted, says: “If you do good, you do good for your own souls, and if you do evil, it is also for them.” al-Isra’: 7. Meaning, wrongdoing comes back to harm the soul due to what it brings about of punishment; so Allah enticed towards beneficence and warned against maleficence.  Tafsir al-Mawardi (3/230).
❖ Mu`adh ibn Jabal, Allah be pleased with him, said that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said to him upon sending him to a people: “Spread greetings of peace, give food to the people… if you do bad, replace it with good, and maintain good morals as much as you can.”  Reported by al-Bazzar in al-Musnad (2642). al-Albani authenticated it in Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (3559).
❖ Ibn Mas`ud, Allah be pleased with him, said: “A man said: ‘Allah’s Messenger, are we accountable for what we did in pre-Islamic ignorance?’ He ﷺ said: ‘Whoever is beneficent in Islam, he is not accountable for what he did in pre-Islamic ignorance. Whoever is maleficent therein, he is accountable for the former and the latter.’”  Reported by al-Bukhari (6921) and Muslim (120). What is meant by maleficence here is disbelief, the pinnacle of wrongdoing.  al-Taysir bi-Sharh al-Jami` al-Saghir, al-Manawi (2/754). Quotes of the Predecessors and Scholars on Maleficence
❖ al-Awza`i said: “The people went out praying for rain. Bilal ibn Sa`d stood among them, praised Allah and exalted Him, then said: ‘Assembly of those present, are you not admitting your wrongdoing?’ They said: ‘By Allah, yes.’ He said: ‘Allah, we hear you say: “There is no reason to reproach those who do good.” al-Tawbah: 91, and we are admitting of our wrongdoing, so forgive and have mercy upon us. Give us rain.’ He raised his hands and so did the people, and rain was brought down.”  Reported by Ibn Abi Hatim in al-Tafsir (6/1862).
❖ It is narrated from al-Hasan al-Basri that he used to say: “The believer is beneficent but pities himself, while the hypocrite is maleficent yet feels secure.”  Reported by al-Tabari in al-Tafsir (17/68).
❖ Some of the Predecessors said: “I was never good nor bad to anyone, rather I was good or bad to myself.”  Majmu` Fatawa Ibn Taymiyyah (30/364-365).
❖ Musa ibn Ja`far said: “Whoever is not anguished by maleficence shall find no means towards beneficence.”  al-Tadhkirah al-Hamduniyyah, Ibn Hamdun (1/275). Forms of Maleficence and its Categories
The First Category: maleficence of incompetence. It is of many types, some of which are:
❖ Trying to harm Allah, exalted, having a lack of care, imitating the ignorant, sitting with evil people, sculpting living things, travelling with dogs and bells, playing with dice, wearing gold rings, and eating out of golden or silver containers.
The Second Category: maleficence in word and deed. It is of many types, some of which are:
❖ The lies of kings, adultery of old men, arrogance of the poor, the arrogant needy and the old, adulterous man to whom Allah will not speak, look at, nor purify on the Day of Resurrection, and for them is a painful punishment. Their sins are so great due to a lack of justification for them. A king does not need to lie, an old man is not overcome by physical desires, and the poor, needy person does not have the causes of arrogance and transgression.
❖ Trying to harm the Messenger, Allah’s friends, parents, believers, orphans, and those to whom one gives charity.
❖ Trying to harm one’s neighbour, and harming one’s wives.
❖ The cheating of a guardian or ruler, shortcomings of guardians, corruption of guardians and severing ties of kin, rulers and their subjects hating one another.
❖ Vying in pomp and abundance, animosity and often disputing, disobeying just rulers, helping others to sin.
❖ Withholding testimony, withholding what Allah revealed, breaching oaths, flaunting beauty and bedizenment.
❖ Cutting off people’s rights, miserliness and stinginess, tyranny and following one’s whims in rulership, ingratitude to being shown goodness, cursing one another to the point of cursing one another’s parents.
The Third Category: maleficence in deed. It is of many types, some of which are:
❖ Neglecting Muslims, pointing at others with weapons, coercion and manipulation with one’s partners and neighbours, and not giving others their due right despite being fully able to do so.
❖ Changing the signage of a landscape (landmarks and signs for direction, etc), betrayal, giving charity with unlawful money.
❖ Placing harm in pathways, laughing at the believers, and showing arrogance.
❖ Having unlawful isolated privacy, looking at others’ privacies, having dogs, and harming animals.
The Fourth Category: maleficence in speech. It is of many types, some of which are:
❖ Cursing a Muslim, having hostility towards him, divulging secrets, and speaking ill of others’ lineage.
❖ Reminding others of one’s favours upon them, swearing often, and selling goods through false claims that are sworn upon to be true.
❖ Intercession when unlawful to do so, having harmful secretive dialogue, having secret dialogues about sin, commanding wrong and forbidding right, saying fabrications, arguing for one who betrayed, cursing often, mocking the adulterer, praising he whose harm is feared, haughtiness and pride, speaking in ways where it is not clearly good nor bad, profane speech, betraying others in menial matters, a woman asking for the divorce of her co-wife, and forbidding the plentifulness of water.
❖ Mockery, backbiting, gossiping and tale-bearing, envy, hatefulness, deceitful bargaining, selling to others after the item is orally or contractually agreed upon, likewise with marital agreements, severing familial ties, and distancing each other from one another.Impact of Maleficence and its Harms  Shajarat al-Ma`arif wa al-Ahwal, al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam (p. 223-252), with adaptation.
Maleficence is a characteristic of the hypocrites. Whoever is happy to do wrong has declared himself with lowliness. It is among the causes of a harsh heart. It prevents intercession. The more wrong a person does, the more alienated he becomes. The most scared of people are those who do the most evil. Wrongdoing to others is a reason for the spread of hate and animosity in society. Reasons for Falling into Maleficence with Others
Responding to wrong with wrong. Harshness of heart. Being immoral. Reasons for Falling into Maleficence with Oneself
Despair. Having bad expectations. Wishful thinking. Means to Desisting from Maleficence
Forbearance. Seeking forgiveness. Knowing that abandoning it grants good conscience. Having good expectations of Allah. Not being wishful. Not despairing. Maleficence in Proverbs and Poetry  Amthal al-`Arab, al-Mufdil al-Dabbi (119), Jamharat al-Amthal, al-`Askari (p. 112, 197, 230).
❖ “He took poor care of his flock, so stuffed it with water.” It is a parable struck for a man who did some wrong then, when he wished to correct it, worsened it.
❖ “The one who forced another to do something will have it not done well.” It is struck as a parable for one who is forced to do something so does it half-heartedly.
❖ “Whoever started it is worse.” It is what one says when returning some wrong to its doer with its like, meaning: whoever started this is in more wrong than the one who responds back.
❖ al-Hasan ibn `Ali said:
“Your yesterday has passed, a just witness;
You wake to a day that is a witness over you.
If you have yesterday done some wrong,
Follow it up with good, you will be praised.”  al-Kashf wa al-Bayan, al-Tha`labi (10/167).