Conclusion: It is about backbiting. It explains the six words of the following verse one by one: “Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?” (al-Hujurat, 12).
In his Name, be He glorified!
And there is nothing but it glorifies Him with praise.
In the Fifth Point of the First Ray of the First Light of the Twenty-Fifth Word, a single Qur’anic verse having the effect of discouraging and restraining was shown to induce repugnance at backbiting in six miraculous ways. It was shown too how abominable a thing is backbiting in the view of the Qur’an, and that there is therefore no need for any further explanation of the subject. Indeed, after the Qur’an has made its declaration, there is neither the possibility nor the need for anything further.
The Qur’an reproaches the backbiter with six reproaches in the verse:
Would any among you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?1
and forbids him to commit this sin with six degrees of severity. When the verse is directed to those persons actually engaged in backbiting, its meaning is the following.
As is well-known, the hamza at the beginning of the verse has an interrogative sense. This interrogative sense penetrates all the words of the verse like water, so that each word acquires an additional meaning. Thus the first word asks, with its hamza: “Is it that you have no intelligence capable of discrimination, so that you fail to perceive the ugliness of this thing?”
The second word like asks: “Is your heart, the seat of love and hatred, so corrupted that it loves the most repugnant of things?”
The third word any among you asks: “What befell your sense of social and civilized responsibility that you are able to accept something poisonous to social life?”
The fourth word to eat the flesh asks: “What has befallen your sense of humanity that you are tearing your friend apart with your fangs like a wild animal?”
The fifth word of his brother asks: “Do you have no fellow-feeling, no sense of kinship, that you are able to sink your teeth into some wretch who is tied to you by numerous links of brotherhood? Do you have no intelligence that you are able to bite into your own limbs with your own teeth, in such lunatic fashion?”
The sixth word dead asks: “Where is your conscience? Is your nature so corrupt that you abandon all respect and act so repugnantly as to consume your brother’s flesh?”
According then to the total sense of the verse, as well as the indications of each of its words, slander and backbiting are repugnant to the intelligence and the heart, to humanity and conscience, to nature and social consciousness.
You see then that the verse condemns backbiting in six miraculous degrees and restrains men from it in six miraculous ways. Backbiting is the vile weapon most commonly used by the people of enmity, envy, and obstinacy, and the self-respecting will never stoop to employing so unclean a weapon. Some celebrated person once said: “I never stoop to vexing my enemy with backbiting, for backbiting is the weapon of the weak, the low, and the vile.”
Backbiting consists of saying that which would be a cause of dislike and vexation to the person in question if he were to be present and hear it. Even if what is said is true, it is still backbiting. If it is a lie, then it is both backbiting and slander and a doubly loathsome sin.
Backbiting can be permissible in a few special instances:
First: If a complaint be presented to some official, so that with his help evil be removed and justice restored.
Second: If a person contemplating co-operation with another comes to seek your advice, and you say to him, purely for the sake of his benefit and to advise him correctly, without any self-interest: “Do not co-operate with him; it will be to your disadvantage.”
Third: If the purpose is not to expose someone to disgrace and notoriety, but simply to make people aware, and one says: “That foolish, confused man went to such-and-such a place.”
Fourth: If the subject of backbiting is an open and unashamed sinner; is not troubled by evil, but on the contrary takes pride in the sins he commits; finds pleasure in his wrongdoing; and unhesitatingly sins in the most evident fashion.
In these particular cases, backbiting may be permissible, if it be done without self-interest and purely for the sake of truth and communal welfare. But apart from them, it is like a fire that consumes good deeds like a flame eating up wood.
If one has engaged in backbiting, or willingly listened to it, one should say: “O Allah, forgive me and him concerning whom I spoke ill,” and say to the subject of backbiting, whenever one meets him: “Forgive me.”
The Enduring One, He is the Enduring One!
S a i d N u r s i
1. Qur’an, 49:12.