Discussing a third, absent person negatively with others is a common habit among all and sundry, but more so among women. Women are emotional by nature, so when someone wrongs them or treats them unfairly, they easily become hurt and angry. Being naturally expressive and talkative, they can usually not restrain themselves from venting their frustrations to people close to them. This gives rise to the vicious and destructive habit of backbiting, one that ruins social relationships and makes a person more enemies than friends.
However, that is not to imply, in any way, that backbiting about others is exclusively a women’s domain! Also men as well. At offices in the corporate world, at coffee shops and restaurants, at malls and retail stores, it is not uncommon to behold groups of employees engaged in animated discussions or comical fun-making of others, discussing details about “juicy tidbits” of incidents in the latter’s lives. There are gossip-sessions after meetings and during Happy Hour. Conversations that may innocently start out as discussions of the “latest happenings” in other’s lives may become malicious exchanges of others’ hidden secrets and bouts of targeted slander. Loyalties are relinquished, promises of secrecy are broken, and people are maligned with enthusiastic ferocity.
“Did you know that she deliberately stole so-and-so’s idea for her latest presentation that everyone loved?”
“Did you see her shoes? You’d think she could force herself to have better taste, considering the amount of money she’s making by sucking up to the top management!”
“Yes, she was over yesterday. You can see why that should leave me in the bad mood that I’m in right now.”
“Wow, isn’t she pretty?” “Yeah sure. And she knows it.”
It’s not just these parties that thrive on news of marital conflicts, illicit liaisons, relationship break-ups and celebrity gossip. Even among the youth – the teenagers and twenty-something people – at high schools and colleges, where youngsters inevitably form groups of like-minded friends, and where being “cool” and popular rank highest on the list of requirements for social acceptance, targeting other “groups” – particularly those having nerds and ‘losers’ – with malicious jibes and false rumors is the norm.
How does one refrain from backbiting about others, especially in fasting, which this habits is major sin which cause our fasting left only hunger and thirsty. There are some effective steps that, when applied to one’s life over a long period of time, eventually ensure that one stops this habit of maligning others before people:
- If you are a Muslim, always remind yourself that backbiting is prohibited by Allah, and that it incurs His wrath
Muslims should always be on guard about this social evil, because it facilitates the destruction of amiable human relationships; it exposes people’s hidden faults, misdeeds and bad habits; it impedes the inclination to ‘forgive and forget’, by initiating reminders to decades-old hurtful incidents, enticing those who were wronged to perpetually harbor enmity and malice in their hearts, against those who wronged them. Islam has prohibited backbiting in its entirety: even a disdainful smile or facial expression, a scornful look or mocking gesture is disallowed.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
- Fear Allah and obey Him. Be afraid of the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah. Then every person shall be paid what he earned; and they shall not be dealt with unjustly” (Al-Baqarah 2: 281)
Major sins are indeed the cause for all misery, evil and torment in this world and the hereafter. And the worst of all sins are those that are greatest in harm and danger. Among the destructive major sins are backbiting and slandering. These two sins were forbidden by Allah through His Prophet because they sow enmity, evils and discord among people and lead to destruction. They make their perpetrator regret when regret will be of no avail. They cause hostilities between people of the same household and between neighbours and relatives. They can decrease in good deeds and increase in evil ones and lead to dishonour and ignominy.
Backbiting and slandering are shame and disgrace. Their perpetrator is detested and he shall not have a noble death. Allah forbids these acts in His Book when He says,
“O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, in deeds some suspicions are sins. And spy not neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah, verily, Allah is the one who accepts repentance, Most Merciful” (Al-Hujuraat 49: 12)
This verse strongly forbids backbiting for Allah likens the backbiter to one who eats the flesh of his dead brother. If he would hate eating the flesh of his brother, he should also hate to eat his flesh while he is alive by backbiting and slandering him.
When one reflects deeply over this assimilation it will be enough to keep one away from backbiting.
What is the meaning of “gheebah” (backbiting)? A narration of Prophet Muhammad [Allah’s peace and blessings upon him] gives a clear explanation:
It was reported from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] said:
“Do you know what gheebah is?”
They said: “Allah and His Messenger know best”.
He said, “(It is) when you mention something about your brother that he does not like.”
It was said, “What do you think if what I say about my brother is true?”
He said, “If it is true, then you are backbiting against him, and if it is not true, then you are slandering him.”
[Sahih Muslim, 4690; Al-Tirmidhi, 1857]
It was reported from Abu Hurairah [may Allah be pleased with him] that the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] said:
“The Muslim is the brother of another Muslim; he does not betray him, lie to him or forsake him. The whole of the Muslim is sacred to his fellow Muslim – his honour, his wealth and his blood. Taqwa (piety) is here (pointing to his chest). It is sufficient evil for a man to despise his brother.”
[Sahih Muslim, 4650; al-Tirmidhi, 1850]
It was reported that Anas [may Allah be pleased with him] said: the Messenger of Allah [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] said:
“When I was taken up into the heavens (the Mi’raaj), I passed by some people who had nails of copper with which they were scratching their faces and chests. I said, ‘Who are these people, O Jibreel?’ He said, ‘These are the ones who used to eat the flesh of the people and slander their honour.'”
[Sahih Al-Bukhari, 6095; Abu Dawood, 4253]
Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said, “Do you know what backbiting is?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He then said, “It is to say something about your brother that he would dislike.” Someone asked him, “But what if what I say is true?” The Messenger of Allah said, “If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him.” (Muslim)
Abu Bakr narrated that the Prophet said in Mina on the day of slaughtering (10th day of Dhul-Hijjah), “Verily, your blood, property and honour have become sacred to one another as the sacredness of this day of yours in this month of yours and in this city of yours. Indeed, have I conveyed the Message?” (Al-Bukharee and Muslim)
Therefore, guard your tongue, fellow Muslims, from this debasing sin, for whoever guards his tongue from sins and uses his limbs in acts of obedience to Allah has prospered. Sahl ibn Sa’d narrated that the Messenger of Allah said
“Who protects his tongue from unlawful utterances and his private parts from illegal sexual intercourse, I shall guarantee him entrance into Paradise.” (Bukharee and Muslim)
Abu Moosa Al-Ash’aree said, “I asked the Messenger of Allah: Who is the best Muslim? The Messenger of Allah replied, “He is the one from whom Muslims are safe from the evil of his tongue and hands.” (Muslim)
Dear Muslims! Beware of slipping of your tongues and do not give it free hand to wreak havoc on you. For free tongue destroys its owner and causes him calamities and evils.
Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudree narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, “When man wakes up in the morning each day, all parts of the body warn the tongue saying, ‘Fear Allah as regards us for we are at your mercy; if you are upright, we will be upright and if you are crooked, we become crooked.’” (At-Tirmidhee)
Mu’aadh ibn Jabal said, “I said: O Messenger of Allah tell me of a deed that will make me enter Paradise and keep me away from the Fire. The Prophet said, ‘You have asked of a great matter but it is easy for whosoever Allah makes it easy. You should worship Allah without associating anything with Him, perform Salaah, pay Zakaah (charity), fast during the month of Ramadaan and perform pilgrimage if you are able to.’ He said further, ‘Should I show you the gateways to good? Fasting is a shield (from evils), charity extinguishes sins as water extinguishes fire and praying in the middle of the night.’ He then recited this verse, ‘Their sides forsake their beds to invoke their Lord in fear and hope and they spend (charity in Allah’s cause) out of what We have bestowed them. No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.’ (As-Sajdah 32: 16-17) The Messenger of Allah then said, ‘Should I tell you the head of the matter, its pillar and its peak?’ I said: Yes O Messenger of Allah. He then said, ‘The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is Salaah (prayer) and its peak is Jihaad in the way of Allah.’ He then asked, ‘Should I tell you of the foundation of all that?’ I said: Yes O Messenger of Allah. He then took hold of his tongue and said, ‘Hold back this.’ I said: O Messenger of Allah, are we going to be held responsible for what we utter? He said, ‘May your mother be bereaved of you does anything cast people into the Fire on their faces except what their tongues have uttered?’” (At-Tirmdhee)
Anas narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, “When I was ascended to heaven, I passed by a people who had copper nails with which they scratched their faces and chests, and I said, ‘O Jibreel, who are these?’ He said, ‘These are those who used to eat other people’s flesh and attack their honour.’” (Abu Dawood)
Therefore do not treat the issue of backbiting with indifference because it is a great sin. Allah says, “ You considered it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.” (An-Noor 24: 15)
Abu Bakr used to take hold of his tongue and say this is that which caused me destruction. He said this as a sign of humbleness.
Backbiting is so widespread that it has become the topic of people’s meetings and an avenue for expressing their anger, misgivings and jealousy with those who indulge in backbiting believing that they are hiding their own imperfections and harming others. They are oblivious of the fact that they are only harming themselves. This is because the backbiter if the wrongdoer and his victim is the wronged and on the Day of Resurrection both the wrongdoer and the wronged will stand before Allah Who is the Just Judge and the wronged will appeal to Allah to avenge the wrong done to him, Allah will then give this wronged person from the good deeds of the person who wronged him in accordance with his wrong by backbiting his brother on a Day that no father will give his son any of his good deeds nor a friend to his friend. All will be saying, ‘Myself, myself.’
The Messenger of Allah(SAW) said, “Usury has seventy something kinds, the smallest of which is for a man to have intercourse with his mother and the highest act of usury is for a Muslim to attack the honour of his Muslim brother.” He also said, “Whoever protects the honour of his brother, Allah will protect him from Hellfire on the Day of Resurrection.” (At-Tirmidhee)
So prevent the backbiter of affronting the honour of Muslims. Allah says, “O you who believe, keep your duty to Allah and fear Him and speak (always) the truth.” (Al-Ahzaab 33: 70)
Fellow Muslims! Fear Allah for whoever fears Allah, He protects him from torment and doubles reward for him. Allah says,
“And indeed We have created man and We know what his own self whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein (by Our knowledge). (Remember) that the two receivers (recording angels) receive (each human being after he or she has attained the age of puberty), one sitting on the right and one on the left (to note his or her actions). Not a word does he or she utter, but there is a watcher by him (ready to record it.” (Qaaf 50: 16-18)
Brothers in Islam, gossiping about others is also another vicious type of backbiting. It means carrying tales from one people to another with the intention of sowing dissention among them. Allah condemned this deed when He said,
“And obey not everyone who swears much, and is considered worthless. A slanderer going about with calumnies.” (Al-Qalam 68: 10-11)
The Prophet(SAW) said, “The gossiper will not enter Paradise.”
Fear Allah therefore, dear brothers, and call yourselves to account before you are called to account and weigh your own deeds before they are weighed for you.
Ulamaa have explained that it is allowed only in some cases :
1. It is allowed for the wronged to inform the authorities of the wrong done to him as it is allowed for the person who sees vice to inform those who are capable of removing it and prevent its perpetrator from committing further vice.
2. It is also allowed for the one seeking for religious decision to mention the wrong done to him to the knowledgeable man from whom he is seeking a decision in order to make things clear for him.
3. It is also permissible for you to tell whoever seeks your advice on a person of something about him. It is not allowed for you to hide what you know about him so that he will not be deceived.
All these types of speaking about others are lawful.