Bismillah Hir Rahman Ir Raheem
Peace and blessings be upon you all
Do not worry! I’m not sharing any graphic images of the heading, although I believe if there was one I perhaps should’ve added it so that people understand what a terrible sin backbiting is; a sin that has invaded and conquered majority of casual conversations all over the world.
Dictionary states that backbiting means malicious talk about someone who is not present. The synonyms of backbiting include slander, libel, defamation, slurs, etc. Backbiting is something that happens in one’s everyday gossips. In order to determine whether you are backbiting or not is to see if you’re comfortable telling the person on his face what you said about him in secret. If you’re uncomfortable, that means you’re backbiting so you need to take this matter seriously.
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.“Surah Al-Hujurat (49:12)
It’s strange how with time, ideas and concepts that were considered unacceptable years ago become a norm with time as society and culture evolve. I remember when I was about 8 years old and I came across the term ‘backbiting’ I was actually frightened of it, although in its literal meaning but nevertheless it had an impact on me that I tried to avoid it. Literal definitions are as important as interpreted definitions as they explain the gravity of the situation. However, as time passed, it became an integral part of each conversation. As I’m reading the Quran and contemplating about myself during Ramadan, I noticed that like everyone else, I’m not free of this atrocious sin.
As far as I know, I don’t initiate backbiting but I’m often in a crowd of people, a family gathering or a group of friends where someone is always backbiting about someone;
“Did you see what she was wearing? Oh my God, what terrible taste in fashion…..”
“She’s always out when her husband’s at work, I bet she’s up to no good….”
“Look at the way he talks and the way he looks. He’s gay 100%….”
“Do you what those two did yesterday? Yep, they did, behind a car….”
These baseless arguments and allegations instead of being refuted or verified, are met with interest and curiosity; a dangerous kind of curiosity:
“Oh really? I didn’t know that! Tell me more!”
“Oh my God, I’d never expect him to do something like that. Why should his parents be proud of him after that?!”
Through this, your perception of that certain person changes into a false, negative one. Whether you believe the allegation or not, whenever you see or talk to that person, you remember the exact statement that that person was backbitten by and that floats around your head when you talk to him. I know because I’ve experienced it myself. However, you need to understand that when you listen to such filthy statements, you become a culprit of that statement:
The Prophet (s) said: “The listener is one of the two backbiters.”[Al-Fayd al-Kashani, Al-Mahajjat al-Bayda’, vol. 5, p. 260]
Furthermore, when you listen to such slanders and believe them to be true, you’ll have the urge to share it with everyone and such is the means of how a rumour spreads; from one toxic mouth to the next till it lays eggs in people’s minds. Before you engage in this, imagine what Hazrat Aisha (R.A) went through when a hypocrite spread a rumour about her engaging in Zina and no one dared to reprimand, question or demand evidence from him. The people wholeheartedly believed someone as innocent and pious as her committed a crime as easily as those shameful words had been spoken, and that is how power is given to falsehood. Remember how Allah expressed their anger at this incident:
Why did they [who slandered] not produce for it four witnesses? And when they do not produce the witnesses, then it is they, in the sight of Allah, who are the liars.Surah An-Nur (24:13)
Backbiting is a huge sin because of its links with other sins. Why do we curse other? Perhaps this is because:
- They’re better than us so jealousy can take over, or one’s hopelessness cries out.
- They’re inferior to us so arrogance dominates.
- Backbiting allows rumours to spread free so falsehood takes over the truth.
- Harboring ill feelings of others increases resentment towards them and can lead to one engaging in bullying or crimes to satisfy their feelings.
Allah knows how much of a culprit I’ve been, how much I’ve listened to such talks and replied with interest or silence. Allah knows how many people’s tender backs I’ve allowed to be bitten. Since I’ve realized how much filth I’ve carried in me, I’m trying to make amends and repent. Before the Lockdown, I’ve tried to avoid every gossip by simply walking away and not thinking about what was said, but it’s often very hard especially when it’s your friends in your group talking harshly about your friends in another group, or it’s a group of close family members backbiting another. How many conversations would I have to leave in the middle of? There are so many!
Now that I’m stuck at home, I’m relatively safer from this crime (Hence, I often enjoy solitude) and can try working on eradicating this sin from my life at my home and then strive hard on it from there, so that I’m a slave only to Allah, not people’s tongues. Furthermore, because committing or allowing this sin to take place will cause one’s good deeds to go to the victim and their bad deeds to be removed and given to the person. What position would that person be in the eyes of Allah when he will stand before Him, all his hard work having gone to waste?
The Noble Messenger (s) said: “Whoever backbites a Muslim spoils his fasts and breaks his wudu’, and shall come on the Day of Resurrection with his mouth’s stench more putrid than a carcass’, and it shall irk those who are with him in his station (mawqif). If he dies before repenting, his death is like that of one who dies while considering permissible that which is prohibited by God, the Exalted and the Glorious.”[Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah, vol. 8, hadith no. 16316]
This Ramadan, I vow to try my best to remove this crime from myself, from my family and my friends. It will be tough. There will be a lot of fear and hesitation but I hope Allah gives me the strength to overcome the obstacles laid by myself and Shaitan. Let us all vow, whether we are Muslims or not, to restore purity to our conversations once again, to think thoroughly before uttering a single word, to put other people’s respect and honour at a high place and to always be a source of comfort, light and hope to others. May Allah forgive us of our sins and make us better people.
What is your view on backbiting? Are you struggling with it as well? Let me know in the comments.
For further learning about this crucial sin, click here.