This is a sin that people take so lightly and commit so easily, but it’s in fact one of the major sins that have grave consequences in this life, in the grave and in the hereafter!
So what is backbiting exactly?
Abu Hurairah (RAA) narrated, ‘The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) asked, “Do you know what backbiting is?” They replied, `Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ) know best.’ He said, “It is saying something about your brother which he dislikes.” Someone asked, ‘Supposing that what I said about my brother was true?’ and the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“If what you say about him is true you have backbitten him and if it is not true you have slandered him.” [Related by Muslims.]
But why do we need to get rid of this sin?
This sin is a reflection of having diseases in the heart. Allah Almighty wants to purify us from sins as sins are darkness and we cannot approach or see the Full Light of Allah when we are buried in darkness. We do not approach the Beauty of Allah with the ugliness of our hearts. Remember, a sound purified heart is our ultimate goal and salvation.
“The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children
But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” (Qur’an 26: 88-89)
So, we are now going to understand why backbiting (gheeba) specifically is a big sin, how we can stop it, and what to do when someone is backbiting in front of us.
Why Is Backbiting Such A Big Deal?
- Those little words we are uttering mindlessly thinking they are not a big deal are in fact considered by the scholars among the major sins and they could lead to punishment in the grave and punishment in the hereafter.
Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) said:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “During the Mi’raj (the Night of Ascension), I saw a group of people who were scratching their chests and faces with their copper nails. I asked, ‘Who are these people, O Jibril?’ Jibril replied: ‘These are the people who ate flesh of others (by backbiting) and trampled people’s honour.”‘ [Abu Dawud].
It was narrated that Ibn ‘ Abbas said:
“The Messenger of Allah passed by two graves and said: “They are being punished but they are not being punished for anything that was difficult to avoid. One of them used not to take care to avoid getting urine on his body or clothes, and the other used to walk about spreading gossip.’ Then he took a fresh palm stalk and broke it in half, and planted one half on each grave. They said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, why did not do that?’ He said: ‘May it be reduced for them so long as this does not dry out.”‘ [Sunan an-Nasa’i]
- Those little words we are uttering could easily transfer the reward of our good deeds we worked day and night to earn to the person we’ve spoken about, or give us his/her evil deeds on the Day of Judgment, and what a major loss that would be!!
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “He who has done a wrong affecting his brother’s honour or anything else, let him ask his forgiveness today before the time (i.e., the Day of Resurrection) when he will have neither a dinar nor a dirham. If he has done some good deeds, a portion equal to his wrong doings will be subtracted from them; but if he has no good deeds, he will be burdened with the evil deeds of the one he had wronged in the same proportion”. [Al-Bukhari].
- Remember that the Noble Prophet taught us:
Narrated `Abdullah bin `Amr:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A Muslim is the one who avoids harming Muslims with his tongue or his hands. And a Muhajir (an emigrant) is the one who gives up (abandons) all what Allah has forbidden.” [Sahih Al Bukhari]
And Allah clearly forbade us from this act. He Almighty says:
“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.” (Qur’an 49: 12)
- Remember that when Allah forbade us from this act, He said “and fear Allah” this means to be mindful and conscious of Allah with our hearts, minds tongues, eyes, ears… This means to fear Allah in what our tongues utter and what our ears hear and what our hearts contain. And if we accomplish this, we reach the love of Allah. “indeed, Allah loves those who fear Him (are conscious/mindful of Him)” (Qur’an 3: 76)
So be afraid of Allah, but also be thankful that He is leading you to earn His Love, and if you have the Love of Allah, you have indeed earned the ultimate goodness in this life and the next.
- Remember that what your tongue utters is a reflection of what your heart contains. And if our tongues are corrupt, it may be that our hearts are corrupt… and what a destruction it is for us to meet Allah with corrupt hearts when we were asked to purify them!
Basically allowing ourselves to fall into backbiting and slandering and gossip essentially means that our hearts may have jealousy, hate, heedlessness, resentment…. and all of this is among the diseases of the heart. And we were commanded to purify ourselves and engage in purification of the self.
“He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself” (Qur’an 87:14)
- Remember to never take a word lightly. We enter Islam with a word the the shahada and we have from Allah His Words and this is the everlasting miracle. Words are heavy in Islam, and they are heavy on the scale and they are heavy to Allah
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Prophet (ﷺ) 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.” [Al-Bukhari].
- Remember what the Messenger commanded:
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah(RA) that the Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) said:
“By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you of something which, if you do it, you will love one another? Spread (the greeting of) peace among yourselves.'” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
How can we spread peace, if our tongues are spreading hate and dispute and sarcasm and mocking of others, and injustice against others and we let our tongues loose with no monitoring or controlling? How can this lead to peace?
Bottom line, it’s not worth it. It isn’t!
Shaitan wants us to fall into this sin because it is so easy. Just Little words uttered in a matter of seconds but their outcome is destructive in this life and the next.
So, don’t give him that.
Just control your tongue!
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Whoever can guarantee (the chastity of) what is between his two jaw-bones and what is between his two legs (i.e. his tongue and his private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Now for the Action Plan…
Stay tuned for part 2 where we will mention what to do if you’re tempted to backbite, and what to do when others are backbiting in front of you.