What is Backbiting? Is it allowable for some certain cases?
Submitted by on Sat, 05/12/2009 - 10:09
Dear Brother / Sister,
Unnecessary, empty talk, backbiting
It is the bad habit called (backbiting). It is criticizing some faults of a person when the person is absent. And that person will not be happy with what you say about him/her. It is considered to be both an unlawful and immoral behavior in Islam.
Backbiting results from the habit of seeking faults of others. Some people tend to seek and disclose the faults of other people, instead of correcting their own faults. When they are warned, they just insist on repeating the same mistake, together with claiming to tell the truth. In fact, the backbiter is not a liar. It would be a slander if he/she lied. (al-Munziri, at-Targhib wa't-Tarhib, Egypt 1962, V, 157).
Backbiting is strictly forbidden in the Quran. “Do not speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it?” (al-Hujurat 37/12).
In many hadiths narrated from the Prophet (PBUH), it is definitely described to be a disgusting behavior and strictly forbidden. “Backbiting is worse than adultery, because, an adulterer may repent and Allah may accept his/her repentance, but a backbiter can be pardoned, only, on condition that, the person that he/she backbit forgives him/her.”
Backbiting is of several types: 1- With the tongue: Uttering the faults of someone. For instance: Saying about someone “So-and-so man is the son of a garbage man, he is a skinny person, he is haughty, he is inept..” with the intention of speaking ill of somebody.
2- With the eyes, hands or gestures: Using these organs in order to defame someone. For example: Meaning that somebody is short by using the hands, walking lame or squinting the eyes. Or by counting his/her own faults in order to mention others’ faults.
3- With the heart: To think bad things about somebody whom you did not see, hear or know for sure.
Backbiting is considered to be allowable for some certain cases, although it is morally repugnant. Such as;
1- When someone is in the position of testifying about someone, it is permitted to backbite him/her. It means, it is lawful to say whatever he knows about that person. He cannot act differently.
2- If the man who is backbitten is of the kind that does not bother to hide his/her faults, then it is permitted to backbite him.
3- People who are in power and persecute the public, or try to invent immoral things, may be backbitten. Through this attitude, their vice is expected to be stopped.
Gossips other than these, are unlawful and forbidden because they demolish the dignity.
Such unlawful backbitings are a serious disease which should be removed once the remedy is known. Each backbiting erases the good deeds in the Book of Deeds. Furthermore, those erased good deeds are recorded in the backbitten man’s Book of Deeds.
The atonement for backbiting is seeking forgiveness from Allah, regretting and seeking forgiveness from the very person that was backbitten. Even if he does not forgive, the backbiter should praise him, beg him to forgive and try to please him.
The listener of a gossip, shares a part of this sin. Therefore, the backbiter must be silenced properly. The backbitten must be defended. (al-Munziri)
Hasan Fehmi KUMANLIOĞLU
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Questions on Islam
- Could you give information about backbiting?
- What are the types of backbiting? Why and to what extent is backbiting bad?
- What is Talebearing? What does Islam say about it? What is the difference between Backbiting and Talebearing?
- What is the penalty for oppressing with the tongue?
- Is it necessary to ask for forgiveness if the person we have backbitten has not heard of it?
- Is it permissible to talk behind an unbeliever’s back (to backbite him)?
- Is it a sin to have suspicions and negative thoughts about others? Is it still a sin if it remains only in the heart and if it is not uttered? Is having negative thoughts different from backbiting? What should we do to avoid having negative thoughts?
- Could you give information about hatred and resentment among Muslims?
- Is it permissible to wear contact lenses while fasting?
- Is it right for an engaged couple to talk (about physical relations) before getting married so that they may ease out difficulty?