(Types, Causes and Cures)
The term “backbiting” refers to a malicious talk about someone behind their back or finding flaws in their absence.
Morally speaking backbiting means talking evil about one’s religious brother in their absence whether it is about their attributes like physical appearance, character, actions, speech or anything related to them for example, their house or their dressing.
Types of Backbiting
It is to mention someone hatefully whether through writings, words, or pointing out by gesturing with hands or feet. It also means to despise someone or looking down upon someone because of their physical appearance using indications.
Uttering a false meaning to someone’s statement in their absence is also a form of backbiting and it is called slandering.
Talking evil truth is backbiting and accusing falsely is slandering:
Mentioning goods virtues and marvels of a person is not backbiting. However, saying hateful things about an absent person and claiming to utter them in front of him does not change the meaning of backbiting. Spiteful talk about someone in their absence is an enormous sin and according to Quran, is equivalent to an abhorrent act of eating the flesh of one’s dead brother. In the traditions of Prophet Mohammad called it a sin greater than that of adultery.
Prophet Mohammad sall’ Allahu alayhi wa’alihi wasallam said:
الغیبۃ اشد من الزنآء ۔
Meaning: Backbiting is worse than committing adultery.
To listen and to indulge in backstabbing is unlawful:
Allah says in the Quran:
وَلَا یَغْتَبْ بَّعْضُکُمْ بَعْضًاط اَیُحِبُّ اَحَدُکُمْ اَنْ یَّاْکُلَ لَحْمَ اَخِیْہِ مَیْتًا فَکَرِھْتُمُوْہُ ط وَاتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ ط اِنَّ اللّٰہَ تَوَّابُ الرَّحِیْم ۔ (سورۃ الحجرات۔ 12 )
Meaning: And do not backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it. And fear Allah (in all such matters). Indeed, Allah is Ever-Returning, Ever-Merciful. (Al-Hujrat:12)
Hadiths regarding the harms of backbiting:
Once Prophet Mohammad was asked to define backbiting. He said: “it is to mention your brother in a manner which he does not like.” It was then asked: What if that which is mentioned about him is actually in him? Prophet Mohammad replied: “When you mention that which is in him, you committed backbiting, and if it is a lie, then you slandered him.” (al Muslim: 6593)
Thus, backbiting is an act of indulging in an unkind talk or hateful gestures about a certain person, a sect, a religion, a group of people or a society in a way that is heart afflicting.
Abu Huraira narrated another instant where Prophet Mohammad sall’ Allahu alayhi wa’alihi wasallam said:
“Refrain from evil presumption, as it is a worst lie. Do not find faults in others, and do not keep envy and do not backbite. Become obedient slave of Allah and live among each other like brothers.” (Al-Bukhari)
Warnings against backbiting in Hadiths:
Prophet Mohammad sall’ Allahu alayhi wa’alihi wasallam said:
“People embraced Islam through their tongues, but their inwards are still tyrants. Do not backbite about your brothers and do not search their faults. Remember, if you search their flaws, Allah will expose your hidden evils and flaws and you will be disgraced among your own people.”
Al-Mustawrid ibn Shaddad reports that Prophet Mohammad said:
“Whoever eats a meal at the expense of a Muslim’s honour, Allah will feed him a like amount of hellfire.”
Islam protects the self-esteem of others
The modes of training in Islam are eminent and unique. Just as Islam forbids and it is a punishable offence to harm one’s life and money, likewise inflicting harm to one’s dignity and repute is prohibited. Islam ensures the protection of one dignity, whether rich or poor, male or a child, a woman or any living soul. It prohibits to inflict any kind of harm to anyone by any means. Islam also forbids to harm one’s dignity and repute on the name of freedom of writing, freedom of journalism or freedom of opinion.
Backbiting is an attack to one’s dignity behind his back. Its purpose is to harm one’s repute and humiliate them. Therefore, Islam forbids it and considers it an enormous sin.
The following Hadith presents a horrendous picture of punishment that fault finders will receive:
Anas states that Prophet Mohammad said:
When I went to heavens on the night of ascension, I passed by some people whose nails were made of copper with which they were scratching their faces. On seeing their predicament, I inquired angel Gabriel who they were. Gabriel replied: O Prophet of Allah, they are the people who used to eat the flesh of their brothers, that is they used to backbite their brothers and defamed them. (Abu Daud)
Quran forbids the act of backbiting and considers it a vile act. Since backbiters humiliate and defame others, strict warnings are given to them. As the following Hadith indicates:
Ali ibn Abi Talib narrates that Prophet Mohammad said:
“Whoever ruins the reputation of their Muslim brother, Allah and his angels curse him, and Allah does not accept his mandatory and supererogatory worships.” (Al-Bukhari)
Categories of backbiting:
There are numerous ways of indulging in backbiting. For example:
- Saying hateful thing about one’s physical appearance like about their skin color, height, plain-looks, baldness, shape of nose or any other physical disability.
- Spiteful talk about one’s gestures and postures, like their manner of walking, sitting or standing or pointing out their way of conversation maliciously.
- Talking malicious about one’s living style, their house, dressing style or making fun of their belongings, or children, wife or husband.
- Criticizing one’s habits and ways just for the sake of criticism like calling them extravagant, arrogant, impudent etc.
Causes of Backbiting
There are many reasons why backstabbing is so common and why one involves in it. Firstly, when one is unable to talk evil about someone in person, they find an opportunity to defame them in their absence. And secondly, to satisfy the emotions of jealousy by despising them in front of other people in their absence. Or it could also be fueled for the sake of pleasure in which we make our brother an aim of joke. Following are some of the causes of backbiting:
- Jealousy: Reviling someone because of their money, promotion or status out of jealousy.
- Malice or hate: Trying to gain revenge due to malice or hate by destroying one’s repute in front of others.
- Anger: Backbiting could also occur as a result of uncontrollable anger where the person diminishes others by speaking unfavorably.
- Pessimistic way of thinking: Backbiting could also occur as a result of one’s negative way of thinking where one winds up spreading negativity about others. A pessimistic person not only outlooks and spreads negativity but he also interprets negativity even out of positive aspects.
- To intend to humiliate others: Often times one tends to backstab others with an intention to humiliate them, considering them as lowly and defaming their reputation.
- Loquacious talk: An excessive talk and gossiping habit also leads to backbiting.
- As a result of inferiority complex: One could indulge in slandering others and humiliating a group of people or religious scholars trying to hide their own inferiority complex.
Here one defames a person, a sect or a religion without thinking based on one’s own evil presumption. It could also occur because of the lack of knowledge.
- For gaining the consolation of inner self: To hold a grudge and talk malice to comfort one’s own emotions of jealousy or due their ignorance.
- To impress the listener: To gain closeness of an authoritative person or a famous personality or to amaze a listener, one intends to talk evil about others.
- Sinning in ignorance: Indulging in backbiting by any means, like talking malicious, slandering, or picking out faults in others while being ignorant of it being a sin.
- While being ignorant of the means of backbiting: One indulges in different means of backbiting by staying ignorant of its kinds. It occurs when one does not pay heed to the teachings of sharia or moral values and does not consider it a sin or by ignoring the severity of this evil act.
Mentioned above are the reasons one indulges in backstabbing and they are all evil. To indulge in these evil acts by ignoring the consequence is a major sin. It is also vile to not consider a sinful act as a sin. One should avoid engaging in such mortal sin to the best of their ability.
How to avoid the mortal sin of Backbiting
Given below are some tips to help one eliminate the immortal habit of backbiting:
- Before involving in this evil act, one should ensure to justify it from sharia point of view. Always think before speaking.
- Be cautious when talking about others and keep their secrets. Adopt positive thinking about others. Besides that, develop the habit of positive attitude and good communication.
- Do not let immoral behavior like hate, malice, anger, grudge become part of your personality.
- If you perpetrate the wicked act of backstabbing, try to fix it immediately. Repent sincerely and seek forgiveness from whom you wronged and adopt kindness with him.
- Enforce the habit of self-accountability upon yourself and act upon it. Arrange the supererogatory prayers, ask for forgiveness from Allah, invoke Ism-e-Allah and inscribe Allah’s name on the body (a method of inscribing the name of Allah in Sarwari Qadri order in a particular manner) which are granted by a perfect spiritual guide.
- Acquire the company of Fakirs and serve them devotedly so you could gain their beneficence.
- Before attacking on the repute of others, put yourself at their position and think how you would feel if someone does the same about you.
- Invoke Ism-e-Allah Zaat and be mindful that backbiting doesn’t harm them rather affect you by transferring your rewards to the account of their good deeds.
- Before involving in this evil act, one should think if it is necessary to say unpleasant things about others, or if it is permissible in sharia. If sharia forbids it or if one is uncertain then it should be avoided.
It is clear from the verses of Quran and Hadiths that backstabbing is a greater sin and Islam condemns it strongly. A seeker of Allah who is travelling on the path of Faqr avoids backstabbing to the best of his ability because after gaining Divine recognition a seeker starts to believe with the truth of certainty that nothing in this universe is possible without the will of Allah. And that He is the Commander of everything. Thus, to backstab others means to backstab Allah. God forbids!
Allah runs the system of entire universe. Considering the fact, one should strive to look for good in everything. This is not possible until the inciting inner self purifies. The purification of inner self is possible only through the invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat granted by the perfect and accomplished spiritual guide. In the present era, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen is spreading the beneficence of Ism-e-Allah Zaat through the plate form of Tehreek Dawat-e-Faqr. He is the life and soul of Faqr and the knower of secret of Faqr. Therefore, Tehreek Dawat-e-Faqr invites the seekers to gain the beneficence from his teachings and training.
May Allah bless us with the beneficence of Faqr and protect us from the evil act of backbiting.
“Gheebat” is an Urdu article of the magazine “Mahnama Sultan-ul-Faqr Lahore” for the month of February, 2019. Originally penned by Mohammad Yousuf Akbar Sarwari Qadri is presently in English by Sofia Sultan Sarwari Qadri exclusively for the website. Do not forget to visit the original article to which you only have to click the link:
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