Backbiting

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Backbiting

 

Backbiting is an evil of many ill dimensions and adverse consequences. Sadly, it has become embedded in our character and we often fail to recognise it as a sin. We try to explain it away and justify it as being ‘truth that has to be revealed’ or ‘an earnest discussion of the facts’, or even ‘I have the courage to say it to the person directly so there is nothing wrong with saying it now’.

Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him) asked (the companions (may Allah be pleased with them)),
‘Do you know what is backbiting?” They replied, “Allah and his Prophet know best.” He said, ‘You saying something about your brother that he dislikes.’ Someone asked, “How about if what I say is the truth about my brother?” The Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him)replied, ‘If what you say is the truth about him then you have backbited him. If it is not the truth about him then you have slandered him.’ (Muslim)

We have become so accustomed to backbiting that without it our conversations and meetings feel void and incomplete. It has become the nourishment and fruit of our gatherings. We satisfy our mental and emotional hunger and quench our thirst for gossip, rumour, and meaningless prattle with the flesh and blood of our fellow Muslims. How can we abstain from the consumption of pork and alcohol, but have no hesitation in devouring the flesh of our Muslim brothers? Allah says,
‘And do not backbite one another. Would any of you love to eat the flesh of your dead brother? You would abhor it! Therefore fear Allah. Indeed Allah is Oft returning, Merciful.’ (49:12)

The gravity of this sin is highlighted in a great number of ahadeeth. It is related that once a person came to the Prophet of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him)to confess his sin of adultery. The Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him) turned away from him a number of times but he insisted on confessing. Finally the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him)asked him, ‘What do you seek through this confession?’ He replied, ‘I would like you to purify me.’ After asking him a number of further questions to confirm his confession the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him)ordered him to be stoned to death. The Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him)then heard a person say to another, ‘Do you not see this individual whose sin was concealed by Allah but his soul did not leave him be (i.e., he revealed his sin himself) until he was stoned like the stoning of a dog.’ The Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him)then travelled onwards until he came across the carcass of a donkey. He enquired about the two people who had conversed earlier and said to them, ‘Dismount and eat of the carcass of this donkey.’ They replied, ‘May Allah forgive you, Oh Messenger of Allah. Can this be eaten?’ The Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him)said, ‘What you consumed of your brother a short while ago was a worse devouring than this. I swear by Him in whose hands rests my soul, he is now diving into the streams of paradise.’ (Narrated by Abu Ya’laa al Mawsili in his Musnad)

Sayyiduna Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him)narrates that the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him)said,
‘When I was taken up (in mi’raj) I passed by a group of people who had nails of copper and who were clawing at their faces and bosoms. I asked, “Oh Jibraeel! Who are these people?” He replied, “These are the people who would consume people’s flesh and attack their honour.” (Abu Dawood)

Muhammad bin al Munkadir (A famous tabiee who narrated many ahadeeth and who died in 130 A.H.) says, ‘I saw the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him)in a dream. He came out of this house and passed by two men whom I know and whose family lineage I know. He said to them, “May the curse of Allah, his angels and all of mankind fall on you, for you do not believe in Allah and the final day.” I said, “Yes Oh Prophet of Allah! May the curse of Allah, his angels and all of mankind fall on them. But what is their sin?” The Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him)replied, “Their sin is that they consume people’s flesh.” (Narrated by Ibn Abdul Barr in his al Tamheed.)

 

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