Can you imagine eating dead flesh? Well that’s basically what we do when we backbite or gossip or slander someone.
O you who have believed, avoid much (negative) assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; Indeed Allah is accepting of repentance and merciful. Quran (49:12)
Backbiting, slander, gossipping, spreading rumours, are words that evoke such strong emotions in me, because I have been at the receiving end of this,especially for the last six months, and I have never experienced anything as awful as this. I don’t understand what people get out of gossipping or backbiting about someone. Do people think it’s actually acceptable and it won’t cause any issues? All this does is ruin relationships and tears families and friends apart. But most importantly it is a major sin in Islam and one of the diseases of the heart.
Prophet Muhammad said :”Do you know what backbiting is?” They said, “God and His Messenger know best.” He then said, “It is to say something about your brother that he would dislike.” Someone asked him, “But what if what I say is true?” The Messenger of God said, “If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him.”(Muslim)
So whether you think that it’s true or not doesn’t justify you saying something negative about a person. It is so important for us to ensure we don’t gossip or slander someone as it is a major sin and the punishment for this sin is severe subhanAllah.
The prophet (saw) said: “when I was taken up to heaven I passed by people who had nails of copper and were scratching their faces and their chests.” I said: “Who are these people, Jibreel?” He replied: “They are those who used to backbite and who violated people’s honour.” (Sunna Abu Dawud)
The Prophet (saw) asked one group of his companions, “Do you know who the bankrupt person is?” They said, “A bankrupt person amongst us is the one who has neither money nor property.” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The bankrupt person of my nation is he who would come on the Day of Resurrection with prayer and fast and giving great amounts in charity. And at the same time, he would come having abused this one, and slandered that one, and consumed the wealth of the other unlawfully, and shed the blood of yet others and having beaten others. Then any person whom he has wronged will be given from his good deeds on that Day. And if his good deeds are exhausted until he clears the account concerning all of the people he has oppressed, the sins of those people whom he has wronged will be thrown unto his account and after that, he will be thrown into the hellfire.” (Muslim)
So not only will we be punished like this for slandering someone but we will come on the day of judgement thinking we have many good deeds like fasting, praying, giving sadaqah etc. but it will be taken from us and given to those whom we slandered and gossiped about. Then if we run out of good deeds to give we shall then have to take their sins to compensate for violating their rights. SubhanAllah! This alone should be enough for us to never backbite again. If it our friend why would we want to backbite about them? And if it is a foe then why would we want to give him our good deeds?
Even indirectly saying something is still backbiting, it does not matter whether you explicitly mention which person you are talking about. Even gestures are unacceptable. This is evident In the story of when Aisha (ra) motioned with her hand that a woman was short. The prophet (saw) immediately chastised her saying, you have backbitten!
We are always encouraged in Islam to have the highest of moral character and we are taught how we can achieve complete faith. One of the things that prevents us from truly having emaan in our hearts is if we backbite.
The prophet (saw) said: “A Muslim is one who avoids harming another Muslim with his tongue or hands.” (Bukhari)
The prophet (saw) said: “O my people, who believe with their tongue, but belief has not entered their hearts, do not backbite another Muslim, and do not search for their faults, for if anyone searches for their faults, Allah will search for his fault, and if Allah searches for the fault of anyone, he disgraces them in his house.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)
These show that slander, backbite, gossip can decrease your emaan. Instead of doing things that decrease your emaan, we should focus on increasing in doing what increases our emaan. Focus on having beneficial conversations and always keep in mind that just like you would not like it if someone spoke badly of you, neither would the person you are speaking badly of. If we would not like it for ourselves then why do it to someone else? And also keep in mind that if you hear someone gossiping or slandering someone you should defend the person that is being slandered and make excuses for them. It is your job as a Muslim to defend another Muslims honour.
Anyone who believes in Allah and the last day, should speak good words or remain silent. (an-Nawawi)