Divulging Secrets

Overall Meaning: Meaning of divulging secrets:
Ifsha’ linguistically: It is announcement and spread. Tafashsha al-shay’ means a thing has expanded and become apparent. [737] al-Sihah, al-Jawhari (6/2455); Maqayis al-Lughah, Ibn Faris (3/69).
Ifsha’ technically: It is deliberately divulging another’s secret when entrusted with it in other than the legally valid occasion of its lawful Islamic disclosure. [738] Kitman al-Sirr wa Ifsha’uh fi al-Fiqh al-Islami, Sharif ibn Adwal (p. 20).
Sirr linguistically: It is what is hidden, the opposite of announcement. It is said: Asrartu al-shay’a israran (I made a thing secret) as an opposing statement to a`lantuh (I announced it). Marital relations have been figuratively referred to as sirr since it is hidden. [739] Maqayis al-Lughah, Ibn Faris (4/504); Mufradat al-Qur’an al-Karim, al-Raghib (1/404); al-Kulliyyat, al-Kafawi (p. 315).
Sirr technically: It is what one conceals in himself of what he has intended to undertake. [740] al-Kulliyyat, al-Kafawi (p. 315).

Dispraise of endearment and its prohibition in the Qur’an and Sunnah:
❖ Allah, exalted, says, “Whenever news of any matter comes to them, whether concerning peace or war, they spread it about; if they referred it to the Messenger and those in authority among them, those seeking its meaning would have found it out from them. If it were not for Allah’s bounty and mercy towards you, you would almost all have followed Satan.” (al-Nisa’: 83) ‘Spread it out’ means that they announced it among the people. [741] Tafsir al-Tabari (7/252).
❖ Allah, sanctified, said, “The Prophet told something in confidence to one of his wives. When she disclosed it to another wife and Allah made this known to him, he confirmed part of it, keeping the rest to himself. When he confronted her with what she had done, she asked, ‘Who told you about this?’ and he replied, ‘The All Knowing, the All Aware told me.’” (al-Tahrim: 3)
❖ Al-Qasimi said, “Allah hinted to His anger for His Prophet ﷺ due to what his wife disclosed to her companion, and due to them uniting upon what upsets his rest, and that this is a sin which necessitates penance.” [742] Mahasin al-Ta’wil, al-Qasimi (9/274).
❖ Abu Sa`id al-Khudri, Allah be pleased with him, said, “Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, ‘Among those with the most evil stations in front of Allah on the Day of Resurrection are the man and his wife who confide secrets to one another then he discloses them.’” [743] Reported by Muslim (1437).
❖ Jabir ibn `Abdillah, Allah be pleased with him said, “Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, ‘If one says something then looks around, then it is a trust.’” [744] Reported by Abu Dawud (4868), al-Tirmidhi (1959), and Ahmad (14514). Al-Tirmidhi graded it as sound, and so did al-Albani in Sahih Sunan al-Tirmidhi (1959).

Quotes of the Predecessors and scholars on dispraising divulging secrets:
❖ Mu`awiyah, Allah be pleased with him, said, “I never divulged my secret to anyone but that regret and intense sorrow prolonged in its following me. I never withheld it within me and concealed it between my ribs but I gained due to that glory, good mention, elevation, and eminence.” [745] al-Mahasin wa al-Addad, al-Jahiz (p. 46).
❖ `Amr ibn al-`As, Allah be pleased with him, said, “I never placed my secret with anyone who disclosed it and I blamed him for that - it was I who constricted him when I confided in him with it.” [746] `Uyun al-Akhbar, Ibn Qutaybah (1/98); al-`Iqd al-Farid, Ibn `Abd Rabbih (1/62).
❖ Aktham ibn Sayfi said, “Your secret is of your blood, so look at where you spill it.” [747] al-Adab al-Shar`iyyah, Ibn Muflih (2/174-275).

Types of divulging secrets:
Divulging secrets is categorised into two: (1) Praiseworthy Disclosure: Like disclosing secrets that lead for individual and societal benefit, or disclosing that secret which changes some wrongdoing. This, as well as other forms of disclosure, the benefit of which comes back to the individual and the community and (2) Blameworthy Divulgence: This type further subcategorises into two: (A) A person divulging his own secret. This implies his failure and lack of patience and (B) A person divulging others’ secrets. This is considered betrayal, and this is more dangerous than one divulging his own secret.

Forms of divulging secrets:
● Forms of Blameworthy Divulgence:
1- Divulging the marital secrets. 
2- State secrets. 
3- One’s sins which one commits. 
4- The Muslims’ secrets.
● Forms of Praiseworthy Disclosure:
1- Testifying in front of a judge. 
2- What is apparent to the patient of wrongdoing without spying. He cannot be quiet about it or overlook it, but must change it or remove it. 
3- Disclosing secrets to brothers that will have large overarching benefit.

Harms of divulging secrets:
1- A sign of heedlessness from the wit of the wise, and unwariness from the wakefulness of the clever. 
2- A betrayal of trust, and a breach of oath. 
3- It is committing a perilous, dangerous thing. 
4- A sign of lowliness and a lack of decency. 
5- A sign of a lack of patience and intolerance. 
6- It is followed by regret and lamentation, especially if committed at a moment of anger. 
7- It compromises decency, corrupts truthfulness, and is a call for repulsion.

Scenarios where it is permissible to divulge secrets:
It is impermissible to divulge secrets that one must necessarily keep, except in specific scenarios. Among those are:
1- The state of withholding the secret passing.
2- The death of the secret's owner.
3- That it does not come back to him with harm.
4- That withholding the secret leads to more harm than disclosing it.
5- Repelling danger. [748] al-Ru’yat al-Islamiyyah li-Ba`d al-Mumarasat al-Tibbiyyah, a group of researchers (p. 99-101), with adaptation.

Means to desisting from divulging secrets
1- Appreciating the tongue’s dangers. 
2- Recalling the consequences of divulging a secret. 
3- Practicing patience. 
4- Bearing no more than can be borne of secrets’ burdens.
5- Do not Forget the Following Valuable Advice: Do not speak of everything you hear. He ﷺ said, “It is sufficient lying for a person that they repeat everything that they hear.” [749] Reported by Muslim in the introduction to the chapter The Chapter of Prohibitting from Mentioning Everything That is Heard.
6- Do not search for others’ secrets. He ﷺ said, “It is a sign of a person’s sound Islam that he leaves off that which does not concern him.” [750] Reported by al-Tirmidhi (2317) and Ibn Majah (3976) from the narration of Abu Hurayrah, Allah be pleased with him. Al-Tirmidhi said, “It is strange. We are not aware of it from the narrations of Umm Salamah, from Abu Hurayrah, from the Prophet ﷺ except from this way.” Al-Nawawi graded it as sound in al-Adhkar (502), and al-Albani authenticated it in Sahih Sunan al-Tirmidhi (2317).
7- Concealing the Muslim is obligatory. He ﷺ said, “A slave does not conceal another in the worldly life except that Allah conceals him in the next.” [751] Reported by Muslim (2590) from the narration of Abu Hurayrah, Allah be pleased with him.
8- Secrets are trusts, so do not betray your trust. He ﷺ said, “If one says something then looks around, then it is a trust.” [752] Reported by Abu Dawud (4868), al-Tirmidhi (1959), and Ahmad (14514) from the narration of Jabir ibn `Abdillah, Allah be pleased with them both. Al-Tirmidhi graded it as sound, and so did al-Albani in Sahih Sunan al-Tirmidhi (1959).
9- Do not be your secret’s prisoner. `Ali, Allah be pleased with him, said, “Your secret is your prisoner, though as soon as you disclose it, you become its prisoner.” [753] Adab al-Dunya wa al-Din, al-Mawardi (p. 306).
10- Beware the abundance of those to whom you disclose your secrets, for it is a means to it being divulged and spread.

Divulging secrets in adages, proverbs, and poetry:
❖ “Your chest is more expansive to hold your secret.”
❖ “Your secret is of your blood; it is said, ‘You may disclose it and it becomes a reason for your destruction.’” [754] al-Amthal, Ibn Salam (p. 58).
❖ Some literary writers said, “Whoever conceals his secret, the choice is his. Whoever discloses it, the choice is upon him.”
❖ Some of the eloquent said, “How happy you will be (asarrak) as long as you withhold your secret (sirrak)!”
❖ Some of the well-spoken said, “What the ribs (adali`u) did not hide, it is exposed and lost (da’i`u).” [755] Adab al-Dunya wa al-Din, al-Mawardi (p. 306-307).
❖ “Hearts are the vessels of secrets, lips are their locks, tongues their keys, so let each of you control the keys to their secrets.” [756] Ghidha’ al-Albab fi Sharh Manzumat al-Aab, al-Safarini (1/117).
❖ Anas ibn Asyad said,
“Divulge not your secret but to yourself,
For there is for every advisor an advisor.
I have seen that those loose-lipped men
Have not left a single back unscathed.” [757] al-Hayawan, al-Jahiz (5/101); Adab al-Din wa al-Dunya, al-Mawardi (p. 307).