Salam Dear Sister,
Thank you for contacting Ask About Islam and for your question.
It is commendable that you are concerned for your Akhirah and for the correctness of your deeds by contacting us to check whether you are engaging in the destructive sin of backbiting with your mother, telling her about your friends/classmates at school.
You have defined backbiting (gheebah in Arabic) correctly, viz. “I know that talking behind someone’s back in a manner they do not like is backbiting”.
Whenever you say, hint at, or mention something related to a person behind their back when you are expressing your thoughts or relating your day’s events to your mother, just imagine that if they were sitting there and heard it or saw it (i.e. the words, gestures, or other forms of mention that you are making), and disliked it, then that mention is regarded as gheebah and it is impermissible in Islam, unless it is done for valid reasons.
Sister, you have done well to remain close to your mother and to share details of your life with her. Nothing pleases a mother more than to know that she is trusted and needed by her offspring.
However, I would like to warn you about falling into the habit of committing gheebah of your friends or schoolmates with your mother. Shaitan will come to you in the guise of being close to your mother, or pleasing her by sharing your log of daily events with her, until you both become habitual in committing gheebah of your friends and classmates.
Be very wary of falling into this one of Shaitan’s traps. Speaking both as a daughter and a mother, I know only too well how quickly mother-daughter duos can fall into this trap.
Secondly, just because you have mentioned someone’s bad habits or traits to them directly on their face, doesn’t make it permissible for you to mention those traits of theirs to others behind their back. This will still be considered gheebah, because that person will surely dislike being mentioned in that way behind their back, even if they know that you think they have those negative traits because you have told them so on their face already.
Lastly, I’d like to urge you to change the way you talk about your day’s events at school with your mother. You can mention vices and evils that you have seen in people at school indirectly, without taking names of specific people in front of your mother, in order to condemn those vices or to seek solutions to problems related to them, on the condition that she is not able to figure out who it is that you are talking about. E.g. you can say, “Some girls at school act very arrogantly, and sometimes they say or do such-and-such, which is wrong. How should I deal with their behavior?”
However, if indirect mention of vices in this manner results in your mother figuring out who it is that you are talking about negatively, it will again be classified as gheebah. So be very careful about how you indirectly mention the vices of people, because a believer concerns and busies himself or herself with their own personal shortcomings and mistakes, instead of focusing on criticizing and/or laughing at others.
In the end, I’d like to remind you that you go to school to seek knowledge, and your observations and accounts of the people you meet and interact with at school should be limited to a minimum, based only on necessity.
You should keep yourself busy in your studies and avoid talking about people with your mother or with anyone else for that matter, because — and etch this advice from me in stone — talking about people always, always opens the door to gheebah, until it becomes a habit.
May Allah guide you to give up discussing people with your mother, and to replace your discussions with her to topics that are of benefit and value both in this world and the next. Ameen.
Allah knows best.
I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.