Backbiting: Causes and Remedy

Ghiebah, or backbiting, is forbidden in the Glorious Qur’an where a person who commits it is given the similitude of a person who eats the flesh of his dead brother.

It is also condemned in the Sunnah. We read in a Prophetic hadith, Verily, your blood (i.e., life), your property, and your honor are inviolable [and sacred] among you.” (Muslim)

On the authority of Abu Barzah Al-Aslami, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also said,

O you who have believed [only] with their tongues while [true] belief has not visited their hearts! Do not backbite Muslims nor pursue their defects [and faults], because whomever pursues his brother’s defects [and faults] Allah pursues his defects [and faults] and disgraces him even though inside his house.” (Abu Dawoud)

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Ghiebah is that a Muslim mentions his Muslim brother in a manner that the latter dislikes, whether by referring to a defect in his body, such as shortness or squint; or in his lineage, as to say, for example, that his father is immoral or indecent; or in his morality, as to say, for instance, that he is dirty.

This is found in a prophetic narration where the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked about ghiebah, and he answered, “[It is] to mention your brother in a manner which he dislikes.”

Then he was asked, “What if my brother actually has [this failing] that I made a mention of?”

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “If [that failing] is actually found in your brother, you in fact backbit him, and if that is not in him it is a slander.” (Muslim)

It is also worth mentioning that whatever involves the meaning of insulting is included in the concept of ghiebah, whether it is in the form of words, gestures, or writing.

Moreover, whoever listens to ghiebah is regarded as a participant therein unless he rejects it either with his tongue, or with his heart if he fears to do so in public.

One may also leave the place where it is being committed or turn the conversation into another subject. In all situations, he must reject backbiting. This is, of course, part of the Muslim’s duties towards his fellow Muslim brothers.

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