Could you give information about backbiting?

Details of the Question

- What is the decree on the sin of backbiting?
- My spiritual problem is backbiting... I don't want to talk to anyone, because we always criticize maliciously,
backbite others. As a result, we all become restless and unhappy ...

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Our religion has prohibited backbiting. If backbiting is committed somewhere around us, it is necessary for us to leave there. If we do cannot leave, we must engage in other things and try not to listen. If the person who backbites will not be offended, it will be useful to warn him/her using suitable words.

Backbiting means talking maliciously about someone who is not present. In other words, it means that talking about our brother/sister in religion behind his back, something we would not like when we are told about it.

Backbiting is about a person or some things about a person. One's body, lineage, ethics, job, religion, world, clothes, house, vehicle... can be the subject of backbiting. Strabismus of the eyes, hair loss, tall or short stature, having black or yellow skin... Mentioning them in a sarcastic manner breaks the hearts of people.

The Quran and Sunnah prohibited backbiting:

" ... Nor backbite one another; would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would abhor it.” (Surah al-Hujurat, 49/12);

"Backbiting is to mention your brother in a way that he would not like.” (Tirmidhi, Birr, 23; Darimi, Riqaq, 6; Malik, Muwatta, Kalam,10; Ahmad b. Hanbal, II/384, 386).

Since telling others about faults of your brother in religion means saying things that will not please him, it is haram to say it only when it is put into words. Every act that is done to despise such as making gestures, implications or writing is regarded backbiting. For example, it is regarded backbiting to make a gesture about someone's tall or short stature and to write about the faults of a person.

Confirming backbiting is also backbiting. A person who keeps silent in a place where backbiting takes place becomes shares the sin of backbiting. A person who cannot prevent backbiting with his words must deny it with his heart. (Imam Ghazzali, Zubdatul-Ihya).

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

"If a person does not help a believer who is insulted near him although he can, Allah will disgrace him in front of people on the Day of Judgment." (abarani).

"If a person prevents his religious sister/brother's faults from being mentioned in her/his absence, Allah guarantees to cover his faults on the Day of Judgment." (Ibn Abi ad-Dunya).

"O those who believe not with their hearts but only with their tongues! Do not backbite Muslims; do not seek for their faults. For, if a person seeks the faults of his religious brother, Allah will also seek the faults of the seeker, too. Moreover, Allah will disgrace the person who seeks for fault even if the seeker is in his house." (Abu Dawud, Adab, 40; see also, Tirmidhi, Birr, 84).

The fact that the phenomenon of brotherhood in the religion of Islam is organized by the divine order

"The believers are but one brotherhood, so make peace between your brothers. And be mindful of Allah so you may be shown mercy" (Surah al-Hujurat, 49/10)

makes the Islamic community a strong society rising on this brotherhood of belief. There will be no backbiting in such a society. For, as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said,

“The believer is the mirror of the believer; the believer is the brother of another believer; he provides his livelihood (when he/she needs it) / protects him from harm and loss, and defends him as much as he can in his absence." (Abu Dawud, Adab, 49)

Those principles keep society away from fitnah and sedition.

Reasons for Backbiting:

1. Satisfying the feeling of vengeance,
2. Acting in accordance with friends,
3. Show-off and vanity; disdaining others, praising himself,
4. Jealousy,
5. Revealing the faults of others in order to have a good time and make others laugh,
6. Mocking to humiliate others. (Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum ad-Din).

In order to avoid backbiting, one must first deal with his own faults.

Backbiting is permissible in these situations:

1) In case of injustice: "The right holder has the right to speak." (Bukhari, Muslim).

2) While requesting for fatwa:  Hind bint Utba came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and gossiped about her husband Abu Sufyan due to his stinginess, giving her very little money for livelihood, and asked if she could take from her husband's property without his knowledge. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "Take that will be enough for you and your child with goodness."

3) When preventing someone from evil deeds.

4) When mentioning a person with his famous nickname.

5) If a person commits sins publicly, feels proud of his sins and does not feel sorry when his sins are mentioned, it is not regarded as backbiting to mention him with those sins since he is proud of what he does.

If a backbiter wants to be saved from his sin, he must regret, repent, and ask for forgiveness from the person he backbit. The person who was backbitten may act compassionately and forgive his brother. The principle is as follows: "Showing forgiveness, commanding what is good, and turning away from the ignorant. (Surah al-A'raf, 7/199).

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