“And spy not,
neither backbite against one another. Would any of you like to eat the
flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And
fear Allah. Verily Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most
“And follow not that of which
you have no knowledge. Verily! The hearing, and the sight, and the heart
of each of those ones will be questioned.” (17:36)
“Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is watcher by him ready (to record it).” (50:18)
It was narrated by Abu Musa:
“Some people asked Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) whose Islam is the best?“ (i.e., who is a very good Muslim?)
The Prophet (SAS) replied, “One who avoids harming the Muslims with his tongues and hands.”
the person may utter a word which displeases Allah without thinking how
serious it is, as a result of which Allah will record His wrath for
him, because of His displeasure until the Day when he meets Him.” (Related by Mu’atta Imam Malik and Tirmidhi).
Uqbah Bin Aamer asked, “O Allahs Messenger (pbuh), what is salvation?”
He said: “Control your tongue, keep inside your house, and weep for your sins.” (Related by Tirmidhi)
In one Hadith, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) took hold of his tongue and then said,
“Keep this under
control.” When the Sahaba asked, “will we be called to account for what
He replied, “Wont the people be thrown face down into Hell on
account of the produce of their tongues.” (Related by Tirmidhi).
Now let us see the punishment of the person that backbites in this life and the Hereafter. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “O
you people who believe with their tongues (meaning those who pay
lip-service to faith), when faith has not entered their hearts, do not
backbite the Muslims and do not expose their faults. Whoever exposes the
faults of his Muslim brother, Allah will expose his faults. And if
Allah exposes his faults, his faults will be open for everyone even if
he would hide inside his house.” (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi).
Backbiting by writing
Gheebah can also be through writing,
for the pen is one of two tongues. This is the case when the person
tells the truth about others. It is Gheebah and he is Mughtaab, a
backbiter. By doing this he disobeys his Lord and he eats the flesh of
his brother. But if he is lying then he combines Gheebah and Kidhib
“When people mention others
they may commit one of these three: Gheebah, Buhtan and Ifk, and all
are in the Book of Allah. Gheebah is to say what is true about a person.
Buhtan is to say what is not true about a person. And Ifk is to say
what was conveyed to you.” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said: “All things belonging to a Muslim are unlawful for another Muslim: his blood, his property and his honor.” (Muslim, Ahmad and Bayhaqi) Gheebah deals with honor and Allah has combined honor with property and blood.
The Motives for Gheebah
There may be numerous reasons to motivate one to make Gheebah. The following examples are among these reasons:
1. Lack of fear of Allah.
Whoever feels the greatness of Allah and acknowledges that Allah is
watching all his deeds and utterances, he would avoid anything that may
2. Getting things off one’s chest.
A person may do something to upset another. Every time the aggrieved
person feels angry about it, he alleviates the anxiety by making Gheebah
about the other person.
3. Joining a group of friends.
When a group is engaged in a loose talk aimed at slandering others, a
person may think that if he speaks out and tries to stop them they may
dislike him and exclude him. So, he joins them in talking ill about
others, assuring that this is the only way to be acceptable to them.
4. Seeking to raise one’s own status by putting down others.
A person may say: “So-and-so person is ignorant, he is not smart.” The
intention is to praise oneself and show that he has more knowledge than
the other person.
5. Envy and jealousy.
Some person may be praised by people who like him. A jealous person may
hear them and make Gheebah of the other person, criticizing and
insulting him, so that the people may think differently about the person
they have just praised.
Types of Permissible Gheebah
Gheebah is permissible for a sound
religious purpose that cannot be achieved except by using it. These
permissible types of Gheebah are as follows:
1. Complaint because of an injustice,
such as complaining to a ruler, judge or others in authority. A person
may say in this case: “I was treated unjustly by so-and-so in such and
2. Seeking help to change a Munkar (wrong deed) and to correct the wrongdoers.
A person may say: “A person does such and such, so stop him.” His
intention should be to check the Munkar. If this is not the case, then
the statement is Haraam.
3. Seeking a Fatwa. A
person may state to the Imam, Mufti or Shaikh, “My father, brother or
so-and-so has treated me unfairly. Is that act permissible? And how do I
get out of this situation? How do I obtain my rights?” This way of
seeking a Fatwa is permissible. However, it is safer and more preferable
to say whatever would be said about a non-specific person as doing such
and such, as anonymously as possible.
4. Warning Muslims against evil and advising them.
This could include criticism of untrustworthy narrators or witnesses.
This is permissible by Ijmaa’, rather it is mandatory and the benefit is
very clear. Such as consulting in the matters of marriage or a business
partnership. In this case, the person consulted should not hide
anything about the concerned person. He should mention the faulty
qualities only with the intention of benefiting the consultant.
5. Mentioning the person who indulges in Haraam or Bidah openly.
This would include mentioning those who openly drink Khamr or those in
positions of authority doing wrong. It is permissible to mention the sin
of such a person. However, it is prohibited to mention the person with a
different sin unless there is a reason that makes it permissible to do
so for that sin.
6. Identifying a person.
If a person is known by a descriptive nickname, such as Al-Amash
(squint-eyed), Al-Araj (one who walks with a limp), or Al-Asamm (deaf),
then it is permissible to use these names for identification purposes.
But it is not permitted to use these names if the intention is to insult
the person. If it is possible to identify such person by using another
descriptive name, then it is better and preferable.
Kaffarah (Expiation) of Gheebah
Committing Gheebah is forbidden by the
Ijmaa of the scholars, and considered a major sin. Scholars differ in
the Kaffarah of the Mughtaab (backbiter), but they all agree that he/she
must make Tawbah as the first step. Repentance itself has three
conditions: refraining from the sin, regret for the commission of the
sin, and determination not to commit it ever again. Repentance from
Gheebah, however, has an additional condition, a fourth one because the
Mughtaab has actually committed two offenses:
1. One offense is towards Allah
(because he committed an act which Allah has prohibited). The expiation
is to turn to Allah in repentance and to regret what has been done.
2. The other one is against Allah’s creatures.
If the Gheebah has reached the person, then forgiveness must be sought
from him and regret must be expressed to him for what has been said. But
if the Gheebah didn’t reach the person, then he should pray for the
person’s forgiveness and not tell him something he didn’t know anyway,
fearing that some evil may result from telling him.
The Cure for Gheebah
The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: “Do you know who is bankrupt?” The Companions replied, “The bankrupt amongst us is the person who has no money or property.” The Prophet (pbuh) said,
“The bankrupt from
amongst my Ummah is the one who will come on the Day of Resurrection
with a good record of Salah, Sawm and Zakah. But he also had cursed
someone, slandered against someone, unlawfully took the property of
another, killed someone or beat someone. Then all of these abused
persons will receive parts of his (abuser’s) Hasanaat. When all of his
(abuser’s) Hasanaat have been removed from his record after he (abuser)
pays back for what he owes, then the aggrieved persons’ sins will be
transferred to and thrown on him (abuser) and he (abuser) will be thrown
into the Fire.” (Related by Muslim and Tirmidhi)
The Virtue of Opposing Gheebah
It is the right of a Muslim to speak up
and oppose Gheebah made against his brother Muslim. He should protect
his brothers honor and defend his reputation in his absence. Should a
person fall short in fulfilling this right, he will be punished sooner
or later. To defend your brother against Gheebah is not something minor.
There are clear and sound Daleels (evidence) that tell us of the virtue
of one who fulfills this obligation. Asmaa’ Bint Yazeed said that
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said:
“Whoever defends the honor of his brother in his absence, will be entitled to Allah’s protection from the Fire.” (Related by Ahmad) The Prophet (pbuh) is also reported to have said: “Whoever defends the honor of his brother, Allah will protect his face from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection.” (Related by Ahmad and Tirmidhi)
The person who listens to Gheebah is
also a sinner unless he opposes with his tongue or with his heart if he
fears harm. If he can leave the gathering or interrupt and change the
subject, then he should do so. If he says to the Mughtaab, ‘be quiet’
but he relishes the gossip in his heart, then such is hypocrisy. He will
not be excused unless he rejects the gossip with his heart. One should
take it seriously and defend his brethren quite explicitly. The Prophet
(pbuh) is reported to have said:
the humiliation of a believer and doesn’t support him while being
capable of supporting him, Allah will humiliate him before all the
creatures (on the Day of Judgment).” (Related by Ahmad).
Let not the Mughtaab pollute your
gatherings and dishonor the Muslims. You should defend the honor of the
Muslims. If you do not do so, you may be absent one day and this
Mughtaab will be eating of your flesh and you may not find anyone
protecting your honor.
“I was only joking”.
We treat lies as being trivial. However we are told, “Allah’s messenger
did not hate anything more than lying”(Ahmed). The Prophet (SAS) was
once asked “Can a Muslim be a coward?“ He (SAS) replied “Yes.” and then was asked “Can a Muslim be a miser?“ and the reply was “Yes.” The Prophet (SAS) was then asked, “Can a Muslim be a liar?”
The Prophet (SAS) replied “NO! A Muslim can never be a liar”. Furthermore, he said,
“Truth leads to virtue and virtue leads to paradise…Lying leads to
wickedness and wickedness leads to the hellfire.” (Bukhari).
As we know that one lie leads to another
ten lies, which lead to bad actions. Remember you can lie and think
that you have got away with it but on the day of Judgement your hands,
tongue and feet will bear testimony against you and tell the truth.