And why did you not, when you heard it, say? “It is not right of us to speak of this: Glory to God, this is a most serious slander” [Quran, Surah Noor : 16]
Islam teaches us brotherhood. It teaches us equality. It teaches us love and compassion only fee sabilillah (for Allah’s Sake).
Gheebah (backbiting) is one of the major sins in Islam. There are many reasons behind this and behind every ruling of Islam where so much of emphasis is laid on brotherhood and unity, the thing that causes its destruction is, without doubt, a major sin. This leads to rifts among Muslims. Hatred comes into being which eventually is upgraded to envy and all kinds of ill-feelings for each other. The loving and caring Muslims brother becomes a sworn enemy. Anger and hatred make people forget the basic manners and thus the Islamic principles.
A Muslim is “strong against unbelievers but compassionate amongst each other” [Qur’an Al Fath : 29] and “when any part of the body suffers, the whole body feels the pain”.[Sahih Muslim]
Backbiting causes a discord among the Muslims and might lead to their destruction (May Allah forbid this).
Backbiting and gossiping are such common practices among the masses that it is not even considered as a wrong and shameful act. They are just narrating a slanderous story. Just spreading the news around. Right! Instead, why not indulge in worship. Why not do adhkaar instead of talking behind someone’s back?
People indulge in this shameful act due to many reasons. Those first and foremost is the weakness of faith. If one feared Allah SWT, they wouldn’t participate in backbiting. At other times, just to please their companions one gives way to it. The chief reason is pure envy towards others. This is also a factor when one wants to be more successful than another so he resorts to such contemptible devices.
It has explicitly been said in the Qur’an:
O you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other neither backbite. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, you would abhor it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah, verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful. [Qur’an, al Hujarat : 12]
Eating the flesh of one’s dead brother. The very thought gives a person goosebumps. This is not just an indication of animalistic behaviour but the verse also tells us that it is a grave insult of a brother.
Allah says: “O you who believe! Let not some men among you deride others who may be better than they (are), nor let women (deride) women who may be better than they are; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. Evil is a bad name after faith.” [Qur’an, Surah al-Hujurat: 11]
“Woe to every sneering defamer.” [Qur’an, Surah Humazah: 1]
Any physical act of contempt is sneering be it by rolling one’s eyes or twitching the nose and so on. When we include words in this already gross act that consummates the art of backbiting.
Even if the piece of news that one is conveying about an absent brother is true that is still backbiting. This is clear from this hadith:
Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said :”Do you know what backbiting is?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) 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]
The problem is that human beings tend to be very short-sighted. We will not forever be living in this world. On the Day of Judgment, Allah SWT will call to account each and every one of us. Both the wrong-doer and the wronged one will be brought in front of the Almighty. Just imagine the torment of that alone. These proceedings will not happen behind closed doors. everyone will witness it happening. The embarrassment and humiliation of such a situation for the wrong-doer cannot be explained in words nor can the mind stretch to such an extent to picturise it.
Furthermore, the good deeds of the wrong-doer will be given to the wronged one according to the sin. It is already a struggle to earn plus points and be prepared for the Hereafter. Any deduction in the good deeds would lead to our doom (May Allah forbid this). Moreover, we should reflect over our shortcomings and remove it.
The best thing to do is to get a grip on our tongues and remember the Most Exalted.
The Prophet (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “One of the greatest of the major sins is to stretch out one’s tongue without right against the honor of a Muslim.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd]
The Prophet (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) also said that if a word of backbiting was to be mixed with the water of the sea, it would contaminate it.
This is not the end of it. Can a Muslim witness the honour of his brother being attacked? What should one do when a brother is being dishonored in our presence?
Abu Ad-Darda narrated that Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The one who rebuts another from backbiting has protected himself from the fire.”
A Muslim cannot tolerate such low acts in his presence. It is one of the signs of the believer.
And when they hear Al-Laghw (dirty, false, evil, vain talk), they withdraw from it and say: “To us our deeds, and to you your deeds. Peace be to you. We seek not the ignorant.”[Qur’an, Al Qasas : 55]
If one cannot stop such idle talks then the Muslim should consider it wrong in his heart and withdraw from that gathering. Being a part of such gathering is also a sin.
Islam teaches us that if a brother is being dishonored in our presence, we should defend his honor. Would we like to be in his place?
If a man’s Muslim brother is slandered in his presence, and he is capable of defending him and does so, God will defend him in this world and in the next. But if he fails to defend him, God will destroy him in this world and the next. [Baghawi]
The key to hell is easily distributed. A Muslim should strive for the key to heaven. It is difficult to reach it but once it is in our hand then there is eternal bliss (Amen!).
Satan will make all evil appear heavenly to us but Allah SWT has forewarned us about this enemy of human beings.