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Backbiting: Causes and Remedy

Causes Behind Ghiebah

There are many things that lead to ghiebah, including the following:

  • Alleviation of or response to one’s anger. A person may be led by his anger with another person to backbite him.
  • Compliance with one’s guests or fellows. By means of compliment, a person may share with his fellows or guests in backbiting others, thinking that this is a requisite of good social relations or that they may deny his act if he does not do so.
  • Upgrading one’s position by degrading that of another person. For example, a person may say that so-and-so is ignorant or narrow-minded, aiming to show that he himself is knowledgeable and broad-minded and, consequently, better than the other.
  • Joking and jesting. A person may backbite some people just for the sake of making some others laugh; this even represents a means of livelihood for some persons.

Remedy

The backbiter should know that, by backbiting people, he subjects himself to the wrath and punishment of Allah the Almighty and that his good deeds will be paid to those whom he backbites; and if he has no good deeds, their evil deeds will be loaded on him. It is a very effective remedy for any backbiter to remember and comprehend these facts.

Furthermore, whenever one is about to backbite someone, he may think about his own shortcomings and how to rectify himself. In this way, he may feel ashamed of himself when realizing that he himself has defects that others can see.

Even if a backbiter thinks that he has no defects, he may show gratitude to Allah for His uncountable favors and bounties by not defiling himself with one of the ugliest flaws; namely, ghiebah.

Moreover and more important still, he should remedy ghiebah by overpowering the cause or causes leading to it. So, if he knows that he backbites someone because he is, for example, angry with him, he should suppress his anger, and so on.

Before moving to another point, it is worth highlighting that ghiebah may be committed by the heart, and this is what may be called thinking ill of others. A Muslim should not think ill of another Muslim unless he explicitly knows about him some evil thing that cannot be interpreted as meaning otherwise, especially if he has come to know it through a trustful, faithful Muslim.

Nevertheless, a Muslim is generally recommended not to respond to ill thoughts as regards his Muslim brothers. He may instead invoke Allah on their behalf whenever Satan pushes him to think evil of them, for this enrages Satan and drives him away, fearing that he may get accustomed to invocation through such evil whispers.

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