- If we have wronged other people, the general way to respond is to both seek repentance from the person as well as seeking repentance from the Almighty for what happened.
- According to the book, “Backbiting: An Islamic Perspective”, the author states that if the other person is not aware of the backbiting then it is better to privately seek pardoning from God himself and if this had occurred before a large group, then it is better to tell the same group of people that what was said was untrue (whether it was or not).
- Even assuming bad of others is not allowed, even if we really feel like we’re probably right.
Thank you for contacting AboutIslam in an inquiry of making amends after a person is emotionally harmed. This is honestly such a great topic to explore since almost everybody has said or done something that would hurt another person but not everybody knows how to make amends, especially according to Islamic teachings. In short, you’re not alone and I’m so glad you asked.
Wronging Other People
If we have wronged other people, the general way to respond is to both seek repentance from the person as well as seeking repentance from the Almighty for what happened, whereas if we wrong Allah (SWT) alone, then we would only seek repentance from Him.
It is narrated that Mu’adh ibn Jabal said, “Oh Messenger of God, render me some advice.” The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said,
“ Worship God as if you see Him and count yourself among the dead and, if you wish, I shall inform you of what secures all of that for you” and he pointed at his own tongue.”
The Evils of the Tongue
The most common way one wrongs another is by backbiting or slandering another person. In general, if one reveals a sin of a person that they would not want shared, it is considered backbiting, but if it is something not true, then it would be considered slander of that person.
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,
“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak good or remain silent.” [Bukhari]
(Important side note: The exception is if one is seeking counsel or if the sin is adversely harming people outside of the sinner, such as the case of abuse or harassment)
Other Forms of Wronging Others
Without knowing the exacts of the questioner’s situation, I wanted to lightly touch on the fact that there are many ways to wrong a person. A parent can wrong a child, a child can wrong a parent. Couples may wrong one another or friends may wrong one another.
No matter if we’ve done something that seems small, like accidentally disclosing information about another person that they might not want out there, or if we have done something far bigger, like if a parent kicked their child out from their home, the first step is always acknowledgement and the second is seeking forgiveness.
Even assuming bad of others is not allowed, even if we really feel like we’re probably right. Asllah says in The Quran:
“Oh believers! Avoid many suspicions, ˹for˺ indeed, some suspicions are sinful. And do not spy, nor backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of their dead brother? You would despise that!1 And fear Allah. Surely Allah is ˹the˺ Accepter of Repentance, Most Merciful.” (Quran 49: 12)
According to the tafseer “Maariful-Quran”, the explanation of this particular verse is that it is describing the prohibition of three things:
- ظن zann (suspicion without evidence),
- تَجَسُّس tajassus (spying on somebody or deliberately trying find details of the faults of others)
- غِیبَہ ghibah (backbiting or saying something behind the back of somebody about that person which would hurt their feelings)
According to the book, “Backbiting: An Islamic Perspective”, by Rasheed Tariq, the author states that if the other person is not aware of the backbiting then it is better to privately seek pardoning from God himself and if this had occurred before a large group, then it is better to tell the same group of people that what was said was untrue (whether it was or not).
The most powerful source we have on this matter, however, is a hadith from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who said,
“The atonement for backbiting is that one asks for forgiveness of the person against whom you backbite.”
It is the best path to follow if possible. It is important to know that even with all of this said, just because a person does something sinful, it never eliminates the chance for us to do good and embrace good character. That’s the beauty of repentance – it is a cleanser for the soul who seeks the pleasure of Allah (SWT).
‘And whoever repents and does good has truly turned to Allah properly.” (Quran 25:71)
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps. Please keep in touch.
Walaikum Assalam Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh.
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