Saturday, February 16, 2008

Backbiting

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Baba Ali is back at Ummah films with his timely Islamic reminders for us all. The latest episode from him addresses the problem of backbiting.

The Arabic word for backbiting is gheebah and the definition of it follows:

Malik related to me from al-Walid ibn Abdullah ibn Sayyad that al-Muttalib ibn Abdullah ibn Hantab al-Makhzumi informed him that a man asked the Messenger of Allah, صلى الله عليه و سلم , "What is backbiting?" The Messenger of Allah, صلى الله عليه و سلم, said, "It is to mention about a man what he does not want to hear." He said, "Messenger of Allah! Even if it is true?" The Messenger of Allah, صلى الله عليه و سلم , said, "If you utter something false, then it is slander." [Muwatta]

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger, صلى الله عليه و سلم ,as saying: Do you know what is backbiting? They (the Companions) said: Allah and His Messenger know best. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Backbiting implies your talking about your brother in a manner which he does not like. It was said to him: What is your opinion about this that if I actually find (that failing) in my brother which I made a mention of? He said: If (that failing) is actually found (in him) what you assert, you in fact backbited him, and if that is not in him it is a slander. [Muslim]

It is important to understand the difference between backbiting, slander and tale-telling:

Al-Hasan al-Basrî said: “Backbiting has three manifestations, all of which are discussed in Allah’s Book. They are: backbiting, tale-telling, and slander. As for backbiting, it is to say about your brother something that is true about him. Tale-telling is to say something that you have heard about him. Slander is to say about him what is not true.” 1

There are times when we may feel justified talking about others in which case it is also worthwhile remembering the following:

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Apostle, صلى الله عليه و سلم , as saying: The servant (who conceals) the faults of others in this world, Allah would conceal his faults on the Day of Resurrection. [Muslim]

Backbiting is looked upon with severity in Islam and we are warned against it by Allah, عز و جل , in the Qur'an and this is further explained by the Prophet, صلى الله عليه و سلم :

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 dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allâh. Verily, Allâh is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful. [Qur'an 49:12]

`A’ishah relates that she said to the Prophet, صلى الله عليه و سلم , : “It should tell you enough about Safiyyah that she is short.”To this he replied: “You have said a word that if it was to be mixed with the water of the sea, it would contaminate it.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (2502) and Sunan Abî Dâwûd (4875)]

In order to prevent ourselves from falling into the trap of backbiting and gossip several measures can be taken:

~ Have greater awareness of the all-encompassing nature of Allah, عز و جل , and know that our each and every action is recorded by the angels
~ Remember that we ourselves are far from perfect so who are we to criticise others or pick faults behind their backs
~ Remember that those who are happy to sit with us and discuss other people will be more than likely happy to sit and discuss us at a later date.
~ Keep good company. Keep company with those Muslims who bring out the good in us and not the bad.
~ Attend halaqas and use time in a beneficial manner

More can be read on the Islamtoday website in this excellent and thorough article.

3 comments:

Umm Yusuf said...

Assalaamu Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu,

Great reminder! It's so easy to fall into this sin! Subhan'Allah!

Sketched Soul said...

As-salaamu'alaykum wa Rahmatu Llahi wa Barakatuhu my dearest sister,

I totally agree with all that Umm Yusuf said. Jazaki Allahu khair for sharing this wonderful reminder with us. I watched the Baba Ali clip too, but haven't read the article on Islamtoday YET.

I would love to know what to do when you have to be around people who are backbiting..but really don't want to be there! And what if they are older? Trust me..it's really hard to change topics, or even say "okay.. lets not talk about that person". urgh :(

Wa'alaykum as-salaam
Love Farhana

American Muslima Writer said...

Ohhhhh maaaaaannnn what a hard sin not to commit~!!!

I remeber in my classes the teachers warning constantly about this and I was much better then and without classes now I'm not doing so great. The only good part about not knowing too many people in a new country is you can't backbite them.

ONe trick that I learned about in my classes is to go to the bathroom when they start talking like that and you don't want to and they don't listen to what you're saying. Best topic changers though are asking about conroversial topics so they will be inspired to drop the previous subject like elections, anything to do with Palestine, cooking methods, child care ideas, etc.. anything people have strong oinions about that will make them change their minds. Or look out a window and be like LOUDLY Oh my, did you just see that!!!!!!!! Everyone will be like what? and then you jsut go oh never mind it was nothing after all so... how about that US election etc... (don't lie and make up something outside heh the point is not to sin)

But all in all if you don't like it you CAn leave the room and soon poeple will get the idea that you don't stick around durring gossips. They like you ususlly more than they liek gossip.