The Top 5 Misconceptions of Backbiting and How To Respond To Them

cannibal_meat_market_footBackbiting is one of those Islamic topics that often gets sidelined. Appearing as one of the frequent tarbīyyah topics in common circles and gatherings, the issue may be forgotten or ignored. This is severely problematic, as backbiting is one of the most devastating sins a person can ever commit, and not keeping ourselves reminded about it can lead to grave consequences.

To make it fresh in our minds again, let’s tackle the issue in a practical way. Here are 5 common misconceptions that we ourselves or others you encounter may have about backbiting, what is misunderstood, and how to respond to them.More...

Misconception #5: I’m not backbiting, I’m just saying.

When people respond with, “I’m just saying,” they’re telling themselves that what they’re mentioning is not something so bad as backbiting, it’s just “saying” things as they are. In other words, they’re trivializing the act, and telling themselves that backbiting isn’t really all that bad.

But backbiting is no walk in the park. It’s one of the most disgusting acts one could ever commit. That’s why Allah subḥāna wa ta’āla asks those who backbite, “Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother (or sister)?”1 God Himself is comparing backbiting to something vilely rancid, so no one is fooled to think it’s not an inhuman act like that of murder or rape. The imagery of you eating the dead carcass of the person you’re talking about really paints a clear picture.

Not only that, Allah is asking us if we would love eating that flesh. It’s as if He is saying not only is backbiting as disgusting as eating that person’s dead flesh, when we backbite, it’s as if we enjoy eating it, too.

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Response: Describe to them how disgusting an act backbiting really is.

“You’re not, just saying. You’re going to that person’s body after their janāzah, ripping off their thigh, chewing it up, and enjoying it, too.”

Misconception #4: I’m not backbiting, everyone already knows about this person, anyway.

If a person is mentioning things about someone already known, not only are they still backbiting, they’re following the footsteps of hypocrites. The hypocrites of Medinah spread rumors about ‘Ā’isha, may Allah be pleased with her, and as a result were cursed by Allah to the depths of Hellfire.2

Hellfire, which was intensified by Allah for thousands of years, turning its flame from orange to red to yellow to black3, and burns 70 times worse than Earth’s fire (minimum 210th degree burns?)4. The same Hellfire where those who spread lies about others get hooks pierced into their cheeks and slammed back to rip off their faces, and are given scalding hot puss to drink as relief.

If everyone already knows about it, why spread it and potentially go to the horror that is Hell? And if not the Hellfire, then being punished in the grave with copper nails repeatedly scratching your face and chest off?5 The risk simply isn’t worth it.

Response: Remind them about the punishment of backbiting and how it makes spreading rumors not worth the risk.

“Mentioning what everyone already knows about somebody is a dangerous path to Hellfire. Is spreading the news so important that it’s worth living with black fire that’s 70 times hotter, boiling puss drinks and having your cheeks ripped off your face?”

Misconception #3: I’m not backbiting, I’m warning others about a person’s mistakes.

Human beings have a natural desire to warn others about harm. That’s why when they see something wrong with someone else, they’ll personally identify those characteristics as a problem, make a decision to be careful about it for themselves, and naturally want to notify others about it as well.

But that’s where the problem comes in. We want to naturally talk about someone else’s faults, but if we do, it’s backbiting. How can we get past this natural desire that’s so troublesome?

Simple. First we need to realize which of these natural tendencies is okay and which isn’t. It’s completely okay to be adverse to the faults of others. However, telling others about those mistakes, while naturally easy, is the major sin of the two.

The Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said backbiting is “talking about your brother in a manner which he does not like.”6 That means saying anything about the person that they wouldn’t want you to counts as backbiting. If you know the person you’re talking about wouldn’t like what you’re saying about them, don’t say it.

If we feel the desire to go out and warn someone about it, do so on the person with the faults in the first place in a kind and sincere manner. Our problem as Muslims is that we talk a lot about people behind their backs but never confront them in person.

Seconldy, on an encouraging note, remember that by not backbiting, we get closer to guaranteed Paradise. The Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said whoever guarantees control over what is in between their thighs and their jaws, he will guarantee them Paradise.7

This guarantee is awesome in two ways. Not only makes not backbiting easier because of the amazing goal attached to it, it comforts us in the fact that our religion understands. Notice how the Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked for whoever guarantees control, showing that he knows it’s natural to lose control. But at the same time, he’s encouraging us to take that control and work towards Paradise.

Response: Explain to them what backbiting is and the reward of abstaining from it.

“Talking about others negative traits in anyway shape or form is backbiting and none of your business, and if you stay away from it you’re working towards guaranteed admission to Paradise.”

Misconception #2: I’m not backbiting, I’ll tell them later or I don’t care, I can say it to their face.

Some people justify backbiting by thinking if they inform the person later they were talking about them behind their back, it makes the act okay. But telling someone you backbit about them after the fact is a part of the process of repenting and making up for the sin. It has to be done sincerely, with regret and shame for the act, driven by a balanced fear of Allah’s punishment and a hope in His Mercy.

Trying to justify backbiting by telling someone you backbit about them is like trying to justify believing Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, as the son of Allah by saying you will just repent later. Not only is it an imbalance between fearing Allah and having hope He will forgive you, it doesn’t make the act okay to commit in the first place.

What’s worse is when some people claim they, “don’t care” about backbiting and they supposedly can or will say what they backbit about someone to their. Not only is that even more of a misunderstanding than planning to tell them later, it just shows two things. One, they’re just a jerk. It isn’t bad enough that they’re backbiting, but they have to go and act “brave” by claiming they can tell the person the insult to their face.

In addition to being a jerk, they also need to be careful when they say, “I don’t care.” Do they really not care? And what do they not care about? They don’t care about incinerating in that 70 times hotter black fire we mentioned before? And having their cheeks ripped off your face and having to drink searing hot puss afterward? Are they really sure they don’t care? Chances are no.

Response: Backbiting about someone with the intention to tell them later doesn’t make it okay. It’s still backbiting. And claiming you, “don’t care” and can say it to their face shows that you’re a jerk and don’t care about the Hellfire.

Misconception #1: I’m not backbiting, it’s true.

This, by far, is the most common misconception and response we find Muslims making when we warn them about backbiting. They think that backbiting is only when you mention bad things about people that aren’t true. Is that really the case?

Going back to the definition of backbiting, the Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said backbiting is to mention things about your brother (or sister) which they don’t like. After the Companions heard this definition, one of them asked, “what do you think about if what I say about that person is true?”

“If (that) is actually found (in that person) what you claimed, you, in fact, backbit him. And if that’s not in that person, it’s slander,” the Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam answered.

This shows that we’ve got it all wrong. Just because what we’re saying is true, doesn’t mean it’s not backbiting. In fact, it proves that we are indeed backbiting, because backbiting is true information. If it wasn’t true, we’d be doing something worse than backbiting, slander.

That makes a whole lot of things count as backbiting. That’s why when ‘Ā’isha said about Ṣafīyya, the wife of the Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who was the daughter of a Jewish leader, that, “she’s short,” he got upset and said, “you have said a word that if were to be dropped into the sea it would contaminate it.”8

‘Ā’isha and the Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam knew about Ṣafīyya’s height. So did everyone else who saw her in Medinah, and all the people from her tribe before she married the Prophet. In other words, what ‘Ā’isha said was as true as it gets. But the fact that it was true made it backbiting. And if something as small as what she said was poison to the entire sea, what about when we talk about how people may be gaining weight, undergoing a divorce, losing their hair, struggling to control their anger, failing to give up a public sin, or anything else they wouldn’t like said about them?

Response: Inform them about truth being backbiting and falsehood being slander.

“Yeah, you’re backbiting, because the Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam if it’s true, which you’re saying it is, then it’s backbiting.”

Conclusion

Backbiting is no misdemeanor. It’s a federal offense. In fact, it’s more than that. It’s a universal act of ethical treason, the likes of which transcend this world and has severe consequences in the next.

We need to remember that when we signed up to become Muslim, we agreed to follow all of the rules, and one of the rules is that for anyone else who signed up for the contract of Lā ilāh ha illa Allāh, Muḥammmad al-rasūlullāh you can’t ever talk behind their back. Doing so is not only a horrible sin and a disgusting act, it’s one of the worst things you could ever do to your Muslim brother or sister.

While you may be fired up to use the responses to these misconceptions and are trying to think of people you could use them on, ask yourself if the person to respond to is none other than you. Do you have these misconceptions about backbiting? Have you ever made any of these five justifications or something similar to them? If so, give yourself the responses and work on yourself first, and eventually, you can work on correcting others, as well.

1. Qur’ān: Surah Ḥujurāt, chapter 49, verse 12, Sahih International translation
2. Qur’ān: Surah Nūr, chapter 24, verse 11
3. Ḥadīth: Sunan al-Tirmidhī
4. Ḥadīth: Bukharī 3265; Muslim, 2843
5. Ḥadīth: Sunan Abī Dāwūd 4875, Book 41, Number 4860
6. Ḥadīth: Muslim, Book 032, Chapter 18, Number 6265, narrated Abū Hurairah
7. Ḥadīth: Bukharī, Volume 8, Book 82, Number 799, narrated Sahl bin Sā‘d
8. Ḥadīth: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2502, Sunan Abī Dāwūd 4875

54 / View Comments

54 responses to “The Top 5 Misconceptions of Backbiting and How To Respond To Them”

  1. AsimG says:

    Hmm…I coiuld have sworn I’ve heard this before :)

    Alhamadillah nice to see it in written form.

  2. J says:

    This is a great article, Al-hamdu lillah.

  3. UmmiFawaz says:

    http://idealmuslimah.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=582&Itemid=188

    1 – It is reported from al-Hasan al-Basri (may Allah have mercy on him) that a man said to him: “You have gossiped about me. He (al-Hasan) said: “You have not reached such a position that you can control my Hasanat!” [Translator’s Note: The Islamic teaching is that the Hasanat (rewards) of the one who gossips will be awarded to the victim.]

    2 – Someone was told: “So-and-so has gossiped about you” – so he sent him a dish of dates, with the message: “I heard that you had given me your Hasanat as a gift, and I want to return the favor; please excuse me for not being able to pay back in full.”

    3 – It was reported from Ibn Mubarak (may Allah have mercy on him) that he said: “If I were to gossip about anyone, I would gossip about my parents, for they have more right to my Hasanat.”

  4. UmmiMaryam says:

    Assalamualykum warahemutullah,

    Sometimes in Tafsir classes the teacher gives us examples of some muslims doing haraam things .For example how we should focus on deen and try to hold on to rope of Allah swt.If we fail to raise children according to sunnah then tomorrow you have to suffer the consequences. Here comes the example so and so girl had married a non muslim or so and so boy is dating etcetc. I come home and try to share everything I learned to my friends.Am I doing Gheebah? Am I indulging in a haraam activity?

    Jazakumallahu Khairaa for an excellent post.

  5. Imtiaz says:

    First article worth reading on MM for a long time.

    • Amad says:

      First article worth reading on MM for a long time.

      Mashallah, so gracious of you Imtiaz. :)

      MR, that’s frontbiting for you ;)

  6. MR says:

    What about frontbiting?

  7. Iman says:

    @ UmmiMaryam

    I think the way to get the lessons across without backbiting would be to describe the situation without taking names and specifics so that the person in the story can not be identified. e.g. ” We see xyz happening in our community”, “we have seen clear examples of abc leading to xyz” is vague enough but can get the point across. Allahulam

    barak allahu feek for the much needed reminder

  8. Iman says:

    more on ^ from Islam q and a


    If I tell the story of something that happened without mentioning any names, is that regarded as backbiting?.

    Praise be to Allaah.

    If it is an unpleasant story and there information that could identify the people involved, then it is not backbiting; but if it will provoke trouble or lead to bad consequences, then mentioning it is haraam for that reason, even if it is not backbiting.

    And Allaah is the Source of strength. May Allaah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End quote.

    Standing Committee for Academic Research and Issuing Fatwas

    Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Razaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ghadyaan.

    • N says:

      I found that “there is no information” was missing from your original post so I just wanted to repost.

      If I tell the story of something that happened without mentioning any names, is that regarded as backbiting?

      Praise be to Allah.
      If it is an unpleasant story and there is no information that could identify the people involved, then it is not backbiting; but if it will provoke trouble or lead to bad consequences, then mentioning it is haram for that reason, even if it is not backbiting.

      And Allah is the Source of strength. May Allah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End quote.

      Standing Committee for Academic Research and Issuing Fatwas

      Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Razaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ghadyaan.

  9. UmmiMaryam says:

    Jazkumallahu khairaa br.Iman.

  10. Khalid Abu Walid says:

    I think that we need to clarify that it is permissible to warn against people that have been extremely DAMAGING to our community. (Some of these people have been mentioned on the blogosphere of late) Should we allow them to continue to take advantage of innocent people year after year as they have done while they hide behind these edits. Yes, backbiting of course is valid, but should a known thief or fornicator be allowed to continue to make fitnah in the community? Wallahi some of these people are extremely dangerous

  11. FearAllah says:

    Good reminder, jazakumAllahu khairun

    Another way people tend to justify backbiting is when they are bashing political leaders… I mean its quite evident through their actions what kind of people they are. No need to get angry by venting, and then in fact help them by giving up your own hasanaat, as UmmiFawaz has graciously reminded us.

  12. Susan says:

    Khalid Abu Walid wrote that it is permissable to “warn against people who have been extremely damaging to the community.”

    Often much backbiting has already occured with respect to such people. How do we harness such destructive forces and redirect them in a good way, particularly when the impact of both the sinner and the backbiters is pervasive and detrimental?

  13. Sss says:

    Good Article mashallah!

    Q. how can we repent if we have done backbiting? while knowing it was wrong but just in the heat of the moment were unable to control our tongues…and now feeling really guilty for what we said.

  14. Siraaj says:

    Awesome post!

    Last weekend in Arees, while discussing the validation of hadeeth (speaking about narrators of hadeeth and their strength or weakness, and why), we reviewed the etiquettes of speaking negatively about someone behind their back, meaning, the exceptions in which backbiting as defined is not backbiting. Here are the six situations we discussed, just to add to the discussion::

    Scholars said there are six exceptions for backbiting:

    1. Oppression: someone does injustice to you, so when you go to court, you have to take your right back.
    2. Identification of someone, not to put him down, but something you wouldn’t normally call someone (eg, not the tall brother, the short one)
    3. The one who commits sins openly (the faasiq)
    4. Asking for fatwa: wife has question about husband, asks imam for fatwa.
    5. Warning the Muslims about a person who can cause them harm (eg marriage purposes, business transactions).
    6. Asking help to forbid evil – to get some brothers to help out with enjoining good and forbidding evil towards some individual.

    Siraaj

    • Amin! People often forget that there do exist individuals who are extremely dangerous to themselves and the people around them. Two percent of the population–one in fifty–is a sociopath. Literally. And sociopaths lie and destroy for they have no conscience. Warning about such people–especially when their evil is temporarily hidden by the web of lies they have spun–does not constitute backbiting; it’s warning before the damage is done and it’s too late. Creatures like these move from social group to social group leaving a path of destruction in their blighted wake.
      Political leaders? No.
      There is a clear difference between disagreeing with what a leader is doing and backbiting. The very nature of a leader’s position means that he is subject to criticism. It comes with the territory. Moreover, in places like my homeland where democracy is the rule, to remain silent about the misdeeds of those in power is in fact a moral capitulation due to cowardice, not a virtuous avoidance of “backbiting.” And people most emphatically do not already know what kind of leaders they have. No-one is able to know all the news about everyone; and the things we would want to know before electing someone again–like whether he puts on a Nazi uniform and sings the Horst Wessel Lied every day when he gets home from work–are most likely the things which are not common knowledge.
      Jazakullah khair for the article. Backbiting should most assiduously be avoided; but the writer seems to have gone too far in the other direction. When writers oversimplify a concept before trotting it out and foisting it on the public, it ceases to be information and is instead the opposite.

  15. Amatullah says:

    JazakAllahu Khair Br. Siraaj that clarifies…

  16. Amatullah says:

    …the picture makes me want to vomit though

  17. Amad says:

    Misconception #3: I’m not backbiting, I’m warning others about a person’s mistakes.

    This reason is probably the most abused, at least on the net. Also, then when confronted to stop it, they say, its for “everyone to see”, i.e. we are refuting x, and that x is online, so we are allowed to backbite about the person. I am not sure how you can confirm that even if it is there for everyone to see, the person you are talking about will actually see it? Is

    The problem is that it is not refutation that is the issue. If indeed there was a scholarly refutation and discussion against the other’s positions or “heresies”, then that would be one thing. But isn’t it slander when people move beyond refutation to becoming intention-police, manhaj-police, and many times even Iman-police?

    I hope some of the people who are involved in this abuse of their brothers on the web, many of whom police MM as their favorite past-time, can come and repeat their justifications for their usage of not-so-beautiful language for their brothers and sisters in these comments. So, perhaps we can understand what gives them the right for the hate. On second thoughts, maybe not!

    Also, Sr. Susan brings up a great point. I look forward to seeing some discussion on that.

    P.S. Great post by the way. jazakallahkhair

  18. Siraaj says:

    Amad invites frontbiting to MM :D

  19. Allah's slave says:

    Bismillah

    Assalaamualekum wa rehmatullahi wabarkatuhu

    Masha’Allah a splendid article…justifying the sin is as bad as committing one….may Allah swt save us from the trapping of our own souls aameen

    Excellent reminder brother!Jazakh Allah Khair

  20. ASAWB says:

    is it true that there is a non-muslin cause for backbiting?

  21. Abu Nusaybah says:

    Jazakallah Khair for the beneficial post!

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t another significant point to backbiting that a person who willingly listens to someone else doing gheebah is also commiting a sin?

    wassalam

  22. bismillah, was salamu alaykum. i think the picture choice was perfect, and this picture does speak a 1,000 words. imagine the picture a bit larger. it would help, too, if you imagine that the image and your screen were in high enough resolution that you start to wonder if blood/water from the meat would drip onto your keyboard. if you can smell the freshness of the meat, too, so much the better.

    now add a caption to frame the picture: “were you about to say something halal, or take a bite from the back of your brother?”

    when they are about to speak, right then, people know what they are about to consume. but in the heat of anger (which consumes aql), or in the rush of thought (which consumes care), or simply from not caring (which may be consumed in fire, naudhobillah), people too often speak (or type) carelessly.

    it’s the same mentality that pays no attention to what goes into a super-sized meal.

    on that note, maybe a different caption: “would you like fries and a coke, too, or just that pound of your brother’s flesh?”

  23. SubhanAllah, I just skimmed http://muslimmatters.org/2009/04/05/veiled-muslim-women-rally-against-alleged-pakistan-taliban-flogging-of-women/

    … and i have an idea. Whenever a person wants to submit a comment, we flash the picture of the bloody meat. And we ask the person if they are about to take a bite of someone’s flesh or post something good for them. If they post something good, then the comment gets posted (or moderated, spammed, whatever). Otherwise, we e-mail them the pound of flesh and leave the comment in the trash.

    If there were ever a reason not to visit MM, it would be the bloodfest in too many of the threads. Comments so not worth repeating that they should never have been uttered. How do the mods stomach it? Astagfirullah, wa attooboo alayh.

    • Amad says:

      Tariq, moderation is a VERY hard and challenging act. We have tons of discussion sometimes on one or two comments. Do too much, and people scream censorship. Do too little, and people scream bloodfest :) We have tended to air on the milder moderation side recently, because sometimes when you let the “wild” commentators have some space, they will eventually undo their reputation and image, which will make other readers start ignoring them. Self-moderation of a sort actually.

      I will admit that we are still not quite there in getting it completely right.

  24. sincethestorm says:

    I’m just wondering what is that a picture of? ….. a cow’s tongue or a piece of meat shaped like a foot!

  25. Meeee says:

    the picture says – cannibal meat market foot – hmmmm

    saqib – what you been upto recently? during lunch breaks at almaghrb?

  26. Huddi says:

    SA,

    That Saqib is such a loser (lol jk). Love you man, nice post, I will have to read through it sometime. Keep up the good work.

  27. Amad — it was a rhetorical question, akhee. :)

  28. Amreen says:

    I like the self betterment articles. Inshallah, hope we have more of them!

    Jazakallah khair! :)

  29. Sadaf says:

    Excellent post. Jazak Allahu Khairan.

    Although, listening to gheebah is an equally grave sin, which is something I personally find very hard to avoid with close kin. Getting up to go out of the room or changing the subject when someone starts backbiting is a great way to end it. And when you have little kids, there are many reasons you can just get up and leave…..to tend to the child. :)

    Our problem as Muslims is that we talk a lot about people behind their backs but never confront them in person.

    I totally agree that this is a very common problem with majority of the people. We are cowards and liars. May Allah guide us all.
    I think the picture choice is great! It really helps us think about the gravity of this sin.

  30. AbdelRahman says:

    3. The one who commits sins openly (the faasiq)

    Can we get some clarification on this? I find it contradictory to what Saqib wrote in his post – does this mean that someone who puts pics of themselves on facebook drinking and clubbing with people of the opposite gender can be talked about?

  31. Siraaj says:

    http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/105391

    this was one explanation I found, expounds on it.

    Siraaj

  32. Roshan says:

    What an awesome post! Insha’allah, it’ll help our fellow brothers/sisters. I’ve been going on and on to my fiance about how he talks about people WAY too much and how its mean. I showed him this video I had seen about backbiting and it helped, but this… this is even better. Thanks! May Allah be pleased with your efforts to help our community. :D

  33. Tanveer says:

    Great Post. Good read, I pray that I remember all the points you made, will help in Hujurath exam at RSI :-)

    How wonderful if these points were discussed in a chewable dose (to our mind and heart) in jummah khutbah at local masjid’s?

    Saqib Saab..start with our masjid when you come next time, when?

    Now can you write about online copyright issue :-) still waiting….

    Side Note: I wonder what would happen to the jay leno’s, CNN’s, FoxLies and others

  34. Atif says:

    Is it called backbiting if ill is spoken about non-muslims too?

  35. muslim says:

    good article!

  36. tahir says:

    a insightful piece that is so relevant in todays world.

    esp in pakistan where the political and religious scene has become so tense everyone is calling everyone names on national tv..

    one of the best ways of avoiding back biting is to stay away from discussions which have no agenda.. u know like freinds just sitting until late hours of the night or women just hanging out. all our majlis should have a reason and we should greatly observe the dua’s in the beggining and at the end… there are some very short ones.. bismillah and audhubillah will also be good.

    a wise men once said that three things are essential for gaining knowledge and attaining taqwa.

    1. moderate eating
    2. moderate sleeping
    3. avoiding too many meetings with ppl

    ws

  37. al-iraaqi says:

    – Ditto, first article on MM that has been worth reading in a LONG time!
    – Excellent job. Such a simple, accurate and focused piece of writing.

    mabrook ‘alykum :)

  38. […] The Top 5 Misconceptions of Backbiting and How To Respond To Them 1 05 2009 Posted by SaqibSaab on April 7th, 2009 40 Comments Printer-Friendly […]

  39. amazed says:

    Ok question…. please some one answer:

    If a girl is getting married in an arranged set up and I for example know that the guy/groom is not a good person and will make her life miserable. Lets say I know this cuz the guy works in my company. Would warning the innocent victim about the groom be backbiting? Arent I saving a muslim from a miserable life?

    Also I think stating FACTS is ok but if you season them with ur OPINIONS then thats back biting. Stating facts is like reading news…….. like wht the news channels do. they r not backbiting… innit?

    • Amad says:

      “amazed”, one thing that I clearly remember from the countless lectures on marriage that I attended in my life, when it comes to marriage, and informing either of the 2 parties about the faults of the other, then that is not only allowed, but mandatory. This is because of the consequences of hiding information that may be directly pertinent to to the situation. I don’t recall the evidences, but I am positive about this.
      wallahualam.

    • SaqibSaab says:

      @amazed. Fatima bint Qays was proposed to by both Mu’awyiah and Abu Jahm, she asked the Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about them, to which he said “As for Mu’awiyah, then he is utterly poor. And as for Abu Jahm, then he does not cease to remove the stick from his shoulder.” This is reported in Sahih Muslim, Abu Dawud, and some others.

      So from this we see that yes we can tell people who ask about someone in regards to marriage about their character. But look at how the Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam responded. He didn’t go on a long historical narrative of all the deficiencies of the person and exploit every detail. He simply said Mu’awiyah is poor (meaning he won’t be able to provide for you) and Abu Jaham doesn’t put down his stick (meaning he beats his wives). Even though this is an “exception”, look at how the Prophet still was careful about sticking to the general rule of backbiting, sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

      Similarly, if we find ourselves warning someone about a prospective in marriage, we just say what needs to be said and don’t get into the details. Like you said, just the facts, not opinions. And Allah knows best.

      • Farhan says:

        SaqibSaab,

        Are you sure the reference to Abu Jahm refers to beating his wives? I read another narrative which stated:

        ““As for Mu`awiyah, he is a poor person and has no wealth (to support you), and as for Abu Jahm, he is a perpetual traveler; so marry Usamah instead!”

        I can’t find the source and it wasn’t given where I read it but wanted to make sure this isn’t in fact the same narration and not putting down his stick may imply Abu Jahm travels non stop.

        Hopepfully someone more knowledgable can clarify.

        Another question I had was in terms of its permisablity, is a person obligated to or even allowed to voluntarily divulge details of a perspective spouses family members? Do we have any authentic narrations regarding this? i.e. don’t marry so and so, his father is a liar or don’t marry so and so, her father is a drunk.

        Any help here is appreciated.

  40. amazed says:

    SaqibSaab and Amad,

    Thanks for your replies. There is a narrow line between backbiting and stating somebody’s bad characteristics. But the like is not invisible :)
    I will definitely be more careful when speaking about others. The article has helped me strengthen my resolve.

    JazakAllah and keep up the good work!

  41. Juli says:

    jazakum allah khair for the article and comments.

  42. Mainoooo says:

    “5. Warning the Muslims about a person who can cause them harm (eg marriage purposes, business transactions).”

    I thank you for this clarification because I had so much trouble explaining to other Muslim sisters about avoiding others. I know another sister whom hangs out with a non-Muslim girl. The non-Muslim girl was very nice at first but she became obsessed and *stalkative* (not joking) Because this sister and this non-Muslim girl backbite each other and the sister backbites another sister to tell this non-Muslim girl, I was told many things about both sisters by the non-Muslim girl, that I did not want to know about.

    And being so, I find it difficult to tell this sister not to hang out with this very obsessed non-Muslim girl because she was a bad influence on her, and I fear this sister will tell the non-Muslim girl that I said bad things about her and tried to convince her that “she is a bad influence.”

    I also went to a sister’s house which felt welcoming until I found out how unsanitary her home was. She has very dirty carpets, and uses the same sponge for the dishes AND cleaning the bottom of the fridge. She also had bed bugs. But i did not know how to warn others not to visit this home because I feared I would backbite.

    But I will not lie, I feel that backbiting is the easiest thing to avoid. However, I get mad sometimes on how some sisters hurt other peoples’ feelings and argue but do not apologize when they are wrong, and let the other party bear the sorrow and anger. being so, it makes loving people for the sake of Allah very difficult sometimes.

    But because I rather not backbite, I rather be honest with most people and just tell them to their face if they hurt me. I do not go up to people and say “You’re ugly and I do not like you.” That is unreasonable. But I would approach them and tell them what they did to me that made me upset, and it is their choice whether they feel they are wrong or not.

    Instead of backbiting, I would just avoid most sisters that bother me. Give your salaams outside and be respectful, but if you do not like the person for a LEGITIMATE reason, then do not talk to them or stick too close. I have tried being nice to a sister numerous times, all she does is stare and do not give salaams back, and she tends to argue with me when we barely know each other.

  43. sumbal says:

    A great informative article!

  44. Lovely Aich says:

    This is a great topics.Although I am a Non Muslim. I like your article.Thanks.

  45. E says:

    Salaam Alaikum, jazakAllah khair for this.

    I have one question, is it still considered geebah if the person that one is talking to does not know the person that is the subject of the conversation? Thank you in advance.

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