Is it permissible to talk behind an unbeliever’s back (to backbite him)?

Details of the Question

Is it permissible to talk behind an unbeliever’s back (to backbite him)?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is definitely haram to talk behind a Muslim’s back. However, as for a non-Muslim, it is divided into two:

1. A non-Muslim who is in a state of war with Muslims.

2. A non-Muslim who is in a state of peace with Muslims. (Like the Christians and Jews of today.)

It is not haram to backbite non-Muslims who are in a state of war with Muslims. It is necessary to speak ill of them so that the state of the war will be favorable for us. There is no sin in doing it.

However, the state of the non-Muslims who are in a state of peace with Muslims is not the same. It can be permissible to backbite them (only by separating a person and his attributes). It is permissible to backbite such a person not as a perfect being that Allah created but the unbelief added to that perfect being by that person in a sense that will alienate people from unbelief.  

It means it is permissible to backbite the attributes of a person, not the person himself.

We learn from the fatwas of Ghazali that the aim is not to backbite people but to state the evil of the wrong things in their faith and life, and hence it is permissible.

As for the minorities living among Muslims, they are under the guarantee of Islam like Muslims in all aspects. Islam does not regard it permissible to backbite these people, whom it has taken under its protection; Islam does not allow its guarantee to be violated. If they are backbitten, it is necessery to ask forgiveness from them.

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