In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Backbiting

 The article was collected by Ummu Mariam.

 

 

 

Verily, all praises and thanks are due to Allah, we praise Him, seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evils of our souls and evils of our deeds. One whom Allah guides none can lead him astray, and one whom He misguides, none can guide him. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAAS) is His servant and His messenger.

"O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. (Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always), and die not except in a state of Islam [as Muslims (with complete submission to Allah)]." (Al-Qur‘aan 3:102 - interpretation of the meaning)

"O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you." (Al-Qur‘aan 4:1 - interpretation of the meaning)

"O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (SAAS) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter Paradise)." (Al-Qur‘aan 33:70-71 - interpretation of the meaning)

Ammaa ba'd (as for what follows), the best of speech is the speech of Allah that is the Book of Allah. The best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAAS). Of all matters, the worst are innovations; and everything new is an innovation, and every innovation is a deviation, and every deviation leads to Hell-fire.

 

 

As Muslims, we are obliged to keep our tongues from every kind of speech except that of apparent benefit. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And indeed We have created man, and We know what his ownself whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein (by Our Knowledge). (Remember) that the two receivers (recording angels) receive (doings of 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)." (Al-Qur‘aan 50:16-18)

Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And follow not (O man, i.e., say not or do not or witness not) that of which you have no knowledge (e.g. one's saying: "I have seen," while in fact he has not seen, or "I have heard," while he has not heard). Verily, the hearing, and the sight, and the heart of each of those ones will be questioned (by Allah)." (Al-Qur‘aan 17:36)

Abu Huraira (RAA) narrated that the Prophet (SAAS) said: "A servant (of Allah) may utter a word which pleases Allah without giving it much importance, and because of that Allah will raise him to degrees (of reward): a servant (of Allah) may utter a word (carelessly) which displeases Allah without thinking of its gravity and because of that he will be thrown into the Hell-Fire." (Al-Bukhari)

On the authority of Abu Huraira (RAA) who reported that the Prophet (SAAS) had said: "That who believes in Allah and the Last Day should say what is good or keep silent." [Agreed upon (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)]

The above proofs make it clear that one should not speak except when the speech is good and contains apparent benefit, and whenever one doubts the advantage of his speech, he should keep silent.

The command of keeping one's tongue and the prohibition of backbiting are among the important issues in Islam. The fact that backbiting is prohibited in Islam is a point of consensus among all Muslims, as mentioned by an-Nawawi rahimahullaah. Al-Qurtobi rahimahullaah said that it is agreed upon that backbiting is a major sin, because of the severe threats of punishment levied by the Koran and Sunnah against the one who perpetrates this sin.

Backbiting and slandering are sins that are greatest in harm and danger to humanity. They are indeed the cause for all misery, evil and torment in this world and the Hereafter. These sins are forbidden by Allah because they sow enmity, evils and discord among people and lead to destruction.

Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed 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 forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful." (Al-Qur‘aan 49:12)

On the authority of Abu Huraira (RAA) who reported that Allah's Messenger (SAAS) said: "Do you know what is backbiting?" They [the companions (RAA)] said: "Allah and His Messenger (SAAS) know best." Thereupon he [the Prophet (SAAS)] said: "Backbiting implies your talking about your brother in a manner which he does not like." It was said to him: "What is your opinion about this that if I actually find (that failing) in my brother which I made a mention of?" He (SAAS) said: "If (that failing) is actually found (in him) what you assert, you in fact backbited him, and if that is not in him it is a slander." (Muslim)

According to Islamic teachings it is also forbidden to listen to calumny and it is recommended for the one who hears an unlawful calumny to return it back and to disapprove the one, who says it. But if one is unable to do that or that was not accepted of him, he should leave that assembly if he is able. Allah, the Exalted, has mentioned about His believing servants (interpretation of the meaning): "And when they hear al-laghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk), they withdraw from it and say: 'To us our deeds, and to you your deeds. Peace be to you. We seek not (the way of) the ignorant.'" (Al-Qur‘aan 28:55)

Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their prayers with all solemnity and full submissiveness. And those who turn away from al-laghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk, falsehood, and all that Allah has forbidden)." (Al-Qur‘aan 23:1-3)

In this connection it has to be mentioned that backbiting or speaking about a person in his absence is permissible only for valid objective, which cannot be reached to except by backbiting, and there are six cases which fulfil that objective:

  1. Grievance, an oppressed person is allowed to complain to the Sultan, judge and others who have authority, or power to establish his right. He would say: "So and so has wronged me in such and such."

  2. It is permissible to seek somebody's assistance in forbidding evil and helping someone change his immoral conduct. One can say to the person who can offer such assistance: "So and so does such and such evil deeds. Can you prevent him from doing that?" etc. This is permissible as long as one intends to forbid evil. If, however, one intends something else apart from this, then this act becomes unlawful.

  3. The consultation: One would say to the expounder of law: "My father, brother, husband or so and so has wronged me in such and such, has he a right to do that? How may I get rid of that, retain my right, and defend oppression?" or the like.

  4. This is allowed for necessity, but it is safer and better to say: "What is your opinion in a man, person, or a husband who did so and so?" In this way one may achieve his aim without naming a person, and however, naming the persons is allowed as is mentioned in Hind's hadiith.

    On the authority of 'Aisha (RAA) who reported: Hind bint 'Utba (RAA), Abu Sufyan's wife, said to the Prophet (SAAS): "Abu Sufyan is a miser and he does not give me what is sufficient for me and my children except what I take of his property without his knowledge." He (SAAS) said: "Take what is sufficient for you and your children, and the amount should be just and reasonable." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

  5. Warning the Muslims of the evil and advising them, that will be in many ways:

    • Declaring about the case of untruthful narrators and witnesses: This is permitted according to the consensus of Muslims, but it is obligatory for need.

      Consulting in cases of making relationship with a man by marriage, sharing him in a work, trusting him, dealing with him, or for living near him. The person who is giving advice should not hide his condition, but he should mention his faults aiming at advice.

      When one sees a seeker of knowledge going repeatedly to an innovator in religion or an evil person to attain knowledge, and is afraid that the seeker of knowledge may be harmed by that, he should advise him by clarifying the case of that innovator, on condition that his aim is only advice.

    Some mistakes are committed in this case for sake of envy which may lead the speaker to do that. Satan may make him unable to decide well and to make him imagine that he is advising, so he should pay attention to that.

      When a person has a responsibility but does not perform it well because he is not fitted for it, is a profligate person, or idiot. One should mention this to those who have authority over this person to change him, and to assign a suitable person, or to deal with him according to his condition, and not be deceived with him; to urge him to be righteous or to change him.

  6. When one does dissipation or heresy openly, such as that who drinks wine openly, arrests people, takes taxes and collects money from people by oppression, supports evil matters. It is permitted to mention what he is doing openly but it is not lawful to mention other faults unless that is lawful according to one of the mentioned reasons.

  7. Defining: When a man is known with a nickname such as: al-A'mash (blear-eyed), al-A'raj (lame), al-Assam (deaf), al-A'maa (blind), al-Ahwal (cross-eyed), and others, it is permitted to mention them with these nicknames, but they are not allowed to be uttered for degrading. If a person may be defined with other than these, it would be better.

These are the six reasons which Muslim scholars mentioned concerning the permissibility of backbiting against people of corruption and distrust so that the common folk will not be deceived or harmed by them. Most of the scholars are agreed unanimously about these six reasons and they have proofs for them from the correct and well-known ahaadiith (narrations).

[An edited summary of the chapter concerning "Forbidding of backbiting" from the book "Gardens of the Righteous (Riyaad-os-Saalihiin)".]

Sheikh ibn Baaz rahimahullaah was asked if it is permissible to mention peoples' names and characters when one wants to criticise them and their thinking. He rahimahullaah answered: "If someone writes something that contradicts the pure sharee'ah, and distributes that material, or if he propagates that view in the media, it becomes compulsory to refute him and expose the falsehood of what he says. There is nothing wrong in mentioning that person's name or in warning people about him if he calls to innovation, shirk, or if he calls people to what Allah has prohibited or to disobedience. Until this day, there are knowledgeable and believing people from the callers to the truth and bearers of the sharee'ah fulfilling this obligation, sincerely for Allah (SWT) and for the benefit of His servants, rebuking the wrong, inviting to the truth, warning others against those who propagate falsehood and destructive rhetoric.

And Allah is the Expounder of (all) success." (Fataawa Islaamiyyah - Volume 4, Page 279)

Finally, we will end this article with a reminder to distance ourselves from emotional outbursts, and to hold fast to Allah's Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger Muhammad (SAAS) in our creed, our worship, and the current affairs of our lives.

Moreover, we have to keep good opinions of the scholars of the Sunnah, to respect them and to rely upon them, and we have to beware of people of innovation and misguidance; people of ignorance, disaster and destruction. It should also be noted that seeking Islamic knowledge from innovators or relying upon their works is not permitted by an-naql (by al-Qur‘aan was-Sunnah) nor by al-'aql (by logic and reason). Instead, one must carefully select the person he is going to acquire knowledge from. He should not take knowledge, except from one whose qualifications are legitimately established, whose good religious qualities are evident, whose reputation is reliable and whose respectability is well known. Muhammad ibn Sirin, Malik ibn Anas and many more of the Salaf, may Allah (SWT) be pleased with them all, have said: "Indeed, this knowledge is the Religion! So be careful as to whom you take your religion."

Fudayl ibn 'Iyaad rahimahullaah said: "If a man comes to a person to consult him and he directs him to an innovator, then he has made a deception of Islam. Beware of going to a person of innovation for they divert (people) from the truth." (Sharh Usool al-I'tiqaad of al-Laalikaa‘ee)

We ask Allah's help to fill us with the right knowledge and Guide us and Grant the ummah to loving the truth and its people.


Published on Sunday the 13th of Jumaadaa al-Aakhirah, 1427/the 9th of July, 2006



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