Backbiting (Gheebat)

9th December 2008

Allah (swt) says: ‘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 brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah, Verily Allah is the One who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful’ (Surah 49,v12)

The above Quran aayat has stated that the despicable act of backbiting fellow Muslims is similar to eating their dead flesh. Would any human being find this act pleasing? Remember that the act of backbiting is even worse than doing this!

In accordance with the Shari’ah, backbiting is to speak of an another individual’s bad points (if they are true) when they are not present, be it by speech, pen or any other means, and, if he was to hear this he would dislike it. However, if such a vice is mentioned which is not present in a particular individual, then this will be a false accusation but is still a form of backbiting.

Our Nabi (sallallahu’alaihi wassalaam) mentioned once, ‘Backbiting is that one mentions the vices of another brother which are present in him
(a reality)…the Sahaba mentioned: ‘Ya Rasulullah (saw) we thought that backbiting was mentioning something which is not present in another brother..’ Nabi (saw) mentioned: You thought wrong, that is falsely accusing a brother.’ (Duri Manthoor)

The Messenger of Allah (saw) stated, ‘The person who controls his tongue as much as possible, he has attained salvation.’ (Darmi)

Ibn Abbas (radiallahu‘anhu) relates, ‘In the same way that Allah (swt) has made the flesh of carrion (dead animals) haraam, the same way He (swt) has prohibited the act of backbiting.’ (Ibn Jarri, Duri Manthoor)

In the same way that backbiting of a living individual is haraam, the same is applicable to the dead also.

Rasulullah (saw) mentioned, ‘When anyone of you dies, then let him be… and do not backbite about him.’ (Abu Daawood)

Abu Darda (ra) was asked by Sayyidina Ali (ra): ‘Why do you frequently visit the graves? He answered, ‘The dwellers of the graves remind one of death, this is how we benefit from this, they don’t complain about us and if we get up and leave them, they don’t backbite about us…This is why I spend more time in their company (meaning in the graveyard).’ (Ahyal Uloom)

Rasulullah (saw) stated: ‘Backbiting as a sin is greater than the act of fornication (zina).’ (Ibn Abi Dunya)

Just as fornication is considered as a great sin, backbiting should be considered in the same manner, or an even greater sin as proven by this Hadith).

The Reason Backbiting is a GREATER Sin than Fornication (Zina)
• In the act of fornication, the sinner (zani) committing the act of fornication is only punishable for the reason that he/she has disobeyed Allah’s (swt) order and instead chosen the path of Shaytaan.
• The act of Backbiting involves two sins, (1) The disobedience to the law of Allah (swt), and (2) To disrespect the honour of a fellow Muslim. The disobedience of Allah (swt) can be forgiven by the act of repentance (Tawbah). The condition for the second condition will be that they will have to seek forgiveness from the individual they talked about also. With this, it is hoped Insha-Allah, that Allah (swt) too will forgive him/her.

Narration of Abdullah bin Mubarak (rahmatullahi’alaih), ‘A young person came to Abdullah bin Mubarak (ra) and said: ‘Sir, I have done a very great sin, that I cannot even relate it to you.’ Abdullah bin Mubarak (ra) said, ‘At least tell me what it is.’ The young man replied, ‘I have fornicated.’ Abdullah bin Mubarak (ra) replied,’O young man, the sin of fornication is indeed very great. Alhumdulillah, at least you did not backbite somebody, for that is an even greater sin.’ (Tazkirat ul Awliya)

What will be done with the Backbiter in the Hereafter?
Hazrat Abu Hurairah (ra) relates, ‘That person who backbites another in this world…in the Hereafter, that person will be offered the flesh of his brother and will be told, ‘The same way in which you ate the flesh of your brother in the Dunya, eat now also.’ When that person will put that flesh in his mouth, he will find it very unpleasant and be disgraced due to this.’ (Targhib)

The Advice of Ibn Abbas (radiallaahu’anhu), ‘When you have decided to backbite someone and narrate their faults and bad points, at that time, remember your own faults, contemplate over your sins so that you may be saved from backbiting and attain Jannah. If you will not realise your own faults and continue to expose the faults of others, then on the Day of Qiyamah, Allah (swt) too will expose your faults.’ (Ahyal Uloom)

For this very reason, there is a saying of some Tabi’een (rahimahumullah): ‘We have seen this condition in the Sahaba (ra)…they did not consider only Salaah and Fasting as a form of worship. However, they considered the abstaining from backbiting as a great form of worship also.’

After reading these points, we should reflect and judge ourselves in this respect and have concern for the Hereafter.

May Allah (swt) enable us all to use our tongues and do actions in accordance with His will and pleasure. Aameen.

Mufti Yusuf