What is meant by slander with regard to the hadd punishment is an accusation of zina (adultery or fornication) or homosexuality. The one who accuses a person of zina or vilifies him in such terms has slandered him and accused him of something abhorrent.
Slander is haraam, and is indeed a major sin, if the person slandered is chaste and innocent of zina.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, those who accuse chaste women, who never even think of anything touching their chastity and are good believers — are cursed in this life and in the Hereafter, and for them will be a great torment”
Al-Sa’di (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
Allaah has issued a stern warning against making accusations against chaste women, as He says: “Verily, those who accuse chaste women”, i.e., those who refrain from immoral actions, “who never even think of anything touching their chastity”, and such things would never cross their minds, “and are good believers — are cursed in this life and in the Hereafter”, and a curse applies only in the case of major sins.
The curse is confirmed because it is ongoing in this world and in the Hereafter. “and for them will be a great torment”. This is in addition to the curse, and shows that they are even further removed from divine mercy, and that His severe punishment will be upon them. End quote.
And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Avoid the seven sins that doom a person to Hell.” It was said: What are they, O Messenger of Allaah? He said: “Associating others with Allaah (shirk); witchcraft; killing a soul whom Allaah has forbidden us to kill, except in cases dictated by Islamic law; consuming orphans’ wealth; consuming riba; fleeing from the battlefield; and slandering chaste, innocent women.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (2767) and Muslim (89).
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar said: What is meant by the sins that doom a person to Hell are major sins. End quote.
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (22/76): It is not permissible for a Muslim to slander his brother, and it is a major sin; he must repent from that and seek forgiveness from the one whom he slandered; if the latter does not pardon him, he has the right to demand his rights according to sharee’ah.
And Allaah is the Source of strength. May Allaah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End quote.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Razzaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ghadyaan
The scholars are unanimously agreed that it is obligatory to carry out the hadd punishment on one who slanders a chaste person, and the punishment is eighty lashes, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever. They indeed are the Faasiqoon (liars, rebellious, disobedient to Allaah)”
The wisdom behind the hadd punishment for slander
1- It prevents accusations of immorality.
2- It protects people’s honour from being transgressed and protects their reputations from being tarnished.
3- It prevents enmity and grudges; wars may break out because of slurs against people’s honour.
4- It prevents such things becoming part of public opinion and protects people from having to hear them
5- It prevents the spread of rumours among the believers, because when there are a lot of accusations and such talk becomes common and is easily spoken of, the foolish become bold enough to commit such actions.
So it is wise to prescribe the hadd punishment for slander so that people will refrain from accusing one another of immoral actions.
See: al-Mughni (12/383); al-Muhalla (11/268, 269); al-Majmoo’ (22/94, 98); Haashiyat Ibn Qaasim (7/330); al-Sharh al-Mumti’ (14/278).