In this post I will be discussing Ghibah (backbiting), it is especially important to discuss this as it is so prevalent in our society.
Someone people may think that backbiting is a sin of the tongue, not the heart but we need to understand that the tongue is a reflection of what is in the heart.
The tongue is a mirror for what is contained within the heart. – Arab saying
So from this we can see that there is a direct link between our tongues and our hearts. We cannot purify the heart until we purify the tongue.
The prophet (saw) said: “A persons imaan will not be upright until their heart is upright and strong. The heart will not be upright and strong until the tongue is upright and strong.” (Al-Bayhaqi)
Sins of the tongue have become widespread within our society. Foul language, backbiting, slander, lying etc are just some of the sins we have normalised within society and we so easily fall into those sins. These sins are not only harmful to ourselves but also have the power to ruin relationships.
The prophet (saw) said: “When the son of Adam gets up in the morning, all of the organs of his body submit Toni’s tongue and say, ‘Fear Allah with us for our condition is according to you. If you are good, we will be good; and if you are bad, we will become bad.'” (At-Tirmidhi)
We should remember that every single word we say is recorded and we will be held accountable for.
“Man does not utter a word except with him is an observer prepared (to record).” Quran (50:18)
The tongue has the ability to lead us to Jannah or the Hellfire
The prophet (saw) said: “A man utters a word pleasing to Allah without considering it of any significance for which Allah exalts his ranks (in Jannah); another one speaks a word displeasing to Allah without considering it of any importance, and for this reason he will sink down into Hell.” (Bukhari)
The prophet (saw) gave us a very important piece of advice regarding how we speak. He (saw) said: “He who believes in Allah and the last day should either speak good or remain silent.” (Bukhari)
So we need to remember this everytime we are about to say something. Is this a good thing to say? Will it be hurtful to someone? Is it my business to be speaking about this?
One of the great scholars, al-Fudayl ibn ‘Iyad said: There is no jihad which is more difficult that withholding the tongue.
The Quran also teaches us how vile backbiting is. In Surah Hujarat; ayah 12, Allah says: “…And do not backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would detest it…”
Allah mentions eating flesh because doing that will only hurt you not the dead person. Just like we incur sin by backbiting but nothing happens to the person we backbite about. We would never eat the flesh of a person so why do we backbite? Allah also specifies the flesh of a dead person because a dead person can’t defend themselves, just like if a person backbit someone they can’t defend themselves.
So I’ve spoken about how much Allah dislikes backbiting but what is backbiting?
The prophet (saw) asked his companions: “Do you know what is meant by backbiting?” They said, “Allah and His messenger know best.” He said, “To say something about your brother which he dislikes.” One asked, “Even if what I say is true about my brother?” He replied, “If such defects you say are true about him, then you have backbitten him, and if he doesn’t have what you say, then you have committed slander against him.” (Muslim)
So how do we fall into Backbiting?
It is so easy to fall into backbiting in your everyday life so we need to become aware of them so we can learn to avoid them.
1) Anger – if you feel wronged by someone you may start speaking bad about them out of anger.
2) Your peers are doing it – if people around you are backbiting it is so easy for you to join in. This is why it is so important to surround yourself with good company as the prophet (saw) told us that we are on the religion of our friends.
3) Envy – if you begin to envy someone who is getting attention, praise or love then you may start to say bad things about them to stop that praise and love.
4) To make yourself feel better about yourself – You may degrade someone by saying that they aren’t smart to show how smart you are.
These are only some of the ways in which we can fall into backbiting so we should be careful of what we say.
So how do we stop ourselves from backbiting?
1) Understand the severity of what backbiting is – we can’t resolve the issue until we acknowledge the issue. We should remember that we will be held accountable for all that we say.
2) Cure the cause of the backbiting – is the backbiting due to envy? Anger? Pride? Curing the root cause will help to cure the symptoms, in this caste the symptoms are backbiting.
3) Give yourself a punishment – Everytime you backbite you need to give yourself a punishment but it has to be something that works for you. So it could be that you fast for a day or you donate money. This was done by the salad to prevent themselves from committing these sins.
4) Change your company – It is so important to have good friends, people who will tell you if you are doing something wrong not encourage it. If people around you are backbiting then you will fall into it too.
There are however times when it is permissible to backbite.
1) If you are oppressed you are allowed to go to speak to a person in a position to help end it.
2) Seeking help to change what is wrong and saving a sinful person from committing a sin. So you can go to speak to someone to get help if someone has done something wrong.
3) Seeking advice or fatwa – So you can tell the scholar if someone has wronged you to seek advice.
4) Warning people of someone’s evil – you can highlight whether someone has bad qualities to someone who is looking into marrying that person for example.
5) If a person openly commits evil or bid’ah – if someone takes someone’s wealth unlawfully for example it is permissible to speak about what he has done openly but we cannot speak about him in any other way.
The prophet (saw) told us what happens on the day of judgement to the one who spends his life backbiting others so it is imperative that we do not backbite.
The prophet (saw) said to his companions, “Do you know who is bankrupt?” They said, “The one without money or goods is bankrupt.” The Prophet said, “Verily, the bankrupt of my nation are those who come on the Day of Resurrection with prayers, fasting, and charity, but also with insults, slander, consuming wealth, shedding blood, and beating others. The oppressed will each be given from his good deeds. If his good deeds run out before justice is fulfilled, then their sins will be cast upon him and he will be thrown into the Hellfire.” (Muslim)
So sorry for taking so long to post this! I’ve been crazy busy! I have a couple more posts on this series and I will get them out as soon as possible!