Home / Islam / Inspiration and Spirituality / Backbiting Daw’ah Organizations: 3 Steps to Fighting Zombies

When an organization chooses a business model and others disagree with it to the point of backbiting the individuals behind the organization, questioning their intentions, and mocking them explicitly or implicitly on a regular basis, I have a problem with them. Whenever I encounter these types of individuals, I consider them to be plague-carrying zombies, out to eat the flesh of others, as well as spread their disease to them. Give them a chance, and they'll probably eat your flesh as well when you turn your back on them (pun intended). I have three ways of dealing with these iman-draining freak shows...

Backbiting Daw’ah Organizations: 3 Steps to Fighting Zombies

Disagreement among daw'ah workers about the direction an organization should take is natural, as is disagreement on procedural matters, as well as disagreement due to plain old personality conflict.  That's a reality that has to be accepted and dealt with.  If the Companions had disagreement on varying levels among themselves, and they're the best generation, I don't see how our leaders and workers can totally sidestep these natural human tendencies.

However, disagreement and conflict should never lead to backbiting.  I'm not talking about the type that happens when students from one organization attack another because of differences in aqeedah orientation or fiqh perspective – those, alḥamdulillāh, seem to be getting better (or maybe I'm avoiding more of those discussions, so it's at least getting better for me =) )

The disagreement I have in mind is when an organization chooses a business model and others disagree with it to the point of backbiting the individuals behind the organization, questioning their intentions, and mocking them explicitly or implicitly on a regular basis. Whenever I encounter these types of individuals, I consider them to be plague-carrying zombies out to eat the flesh of others as well as spread their disease to them.  Give them a chance, and they'll probably eat your flesh as well when you turn your back on them (pun intended).  I have three ways of dealing with these īmān-draining freak shows:

1.  Limit Your Interaction with Zombies

The best company to keep is those who speak well or keep silent.  If you can find those individuals, alḥamdulillāh.  But anyway, we're speaking about the polar opposite.  The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith – the perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.

Keep away from regularly socializing with zombies to the degree that is possible for you (in some cases, it's just not possible).  When someone is in the habit of flesh eating, it tends not to just be organizational leaders, but it also goes to regular, everyday individuals as well.   Oh sure, they'll share their meat with you – they want for their brother what they want for themselves, after all, and it is sunnah to share from the same plate.

The danger in their company goes beyond eating non-zabiha meat (no matter how many times you say bismillah over it) – the more you expose yourself to them, the more likely they will find a way to rip chunks out of you when you're not looking.  See, when people show themselves to be untrustworthy to others, then you can never be sure of when they'll come after you next, if they haven't already.

I repeat, avoid the company of zombies.

2.  Advise Them (If You Can)

Offering advice on backbiting is an interesting problem.  You already feel awkward advising someone about backbiting because you're essentially tasked with calling out that person, often in a public setting with multiple individuals present.  And when that happens, the backbiter naturally defends himself or herself, and most of us would just as soon avoid conflict.

With the best of manners, try to first hint that the discussion is moving in a problematic direction.  Make an excuse for the person being attacked.  Say a quick “May Allāh guide / help / give them some khayr,” and let the tone of your voice and non-verbal cues from your face and body language let the person know it's time to move on.  If that doesn't work, try telling them nicely, yet directly, to move on.

3.  Fight or Flight

If they don't want to listen to reason, then you have one of two options – get up and leave or kick some zombie a**, Resident Evil style.  That's right brother Chris Redfield and sister Jill Valentine, it's time to pull out your shotgun and blow their brains off.  Seriously.  Argue with them, call them into question, debase them, yell at them, and make their life such a living hell during the discussion that they either never return to it, or at least they never think of drinking someone's blood in front of you ever again.  You should be like 'Umar to them; when they see you, they should moan and mindlessly hobble off in the opposite direction.

Leaving is also an option, and there's nothing dishonorable about it, after having advised the person gently.  From personal experience, I know leaving isn't always practical, and often it's more practical to talk (or even fight).  If you can leave, props to you.

Advice to Zombies

Many of us have zombie moments, and others eat flesh like they breathe air.  Just remember this – when you go into zombie mode, the only people who like being around zombies are other zombies – everyone else hates being around you and wishes you would shut up.  Seriously.  You make the rest of the people around you fear for their relationship with Allāh because you insist on going 4/3rds full on the blood and guts of others.

My advice to you is to stop talking about people.  As the saying goes, low-minded people talk about people.  Focus yourself on having inner dialogues about your own personal failings, and focus your outer dialogues on benefiting others with good words and beneficial information.

If you have to talk about individuals and their business model, then speak of their good, or just keep silent.  If you have a beef with them, contact them directly, get your thoughts off your chest, and please, for the sake of Allāh, leave the rest of us out of the discussion.

alhamdulillah allah iman

About Siraaj

Siraaj is a software engineer whose interests lay in the intersection of personal development and practical Islamic living, particularly with respect to time management and physical fitness. He remains an incorrigible news junkie and lives in the bay area with his family

52 comments

  1. salamu ‘alaikum,

    and if you are backbiting an organization, (usually it means you don’t like them), so just stop and think: the organization you don’t like is getting a sweet transfer of all your good deeds to their account, and YOU are getting their bad deeds. How ironic…you’re doing them a favor by backbiting them by making their scales better for the DOJ and you are in a losing position for the Day of Judgment. So, just stop it. You’re losing on all counts. And if you are the one ppl are talking about, be patient and console yourself that Allah is giving you a chance to lose your bad deeds to these backbiters :)

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. I don’t like the pictures at all..but then, backbiting is as ugly as that…

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Hmm this is very interesting..

    People or Zombies could take it this way too, discuss the business model and NOT the person who came up with that idea.. Focusing on models rather than people will help keeping it rational and intelligent rather than loaded and charged with emotions..

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. I find this article extremely offensive to Zombies

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. That’s right brother Chris Redfield and sister Jill Valentine, it’s time to pull out your shotgun and blow their brains off.

    Hehe. JazakAllah khair for the post, Siraaj.

    A lot of us need to ask ourselves :

    1. What is the intention, reason, and benefit to speaking about the da‘wah project or organization? If it’s to rant, then stop and grow up. You’re doing no one any benefit, and actually hurting yourself . If it’s to genuinely try to advise, suggest, and try to improve the organization then move onto question #2.

    2. Do you have the intention to advise the organization? Are you actually planning to reach out to them, shoot them an Email, offer them your help, do something beneficial? Then do it. If not, just shut up.

    Sorry, had to say it.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. “The danger in their company goes beyond eating non-zabiha meat (no matter how many times you say bismillah over it)”

    wow what a rude snarky comment!!

    I can’t say I’m surprised by that comment . Your so-called salafi leanings are well known Siraj.However writing an article meant to help others and including a comment that implicitly attacks the majority of brothers and sisters in Islam is totally uncalled for. You attempt at humor at the expense of others was rude and arrogant.

    Saying bismillah over non-zabiha meat is a well established practice going back to Sahaba themselves. If you in your so-called salafi knowledge disagree, so be it. However, placing a snarky comment promoting your view has no place within this article.

    I suggest in future you accept your own advice.

    “Focus yourself on having inner dialogues about your own personal failings, and focus your outer dialogues on benefiting others with good words and beneficial information.”

    Your comment was neither “good” nor “beneficial“.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Saying bismillah over non-zabiha meat is a well established practice going back to Sahaba themselves

      Where did you read that?

      Good article Siraaj.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • I still remember in the time right before I married Siraaj, we met at a McDonald’s during the ISNA convention to discuss our developing wedding plans. I had no mahram, so I a cluster of my well-meaning college girlfriends sat a table near by, concealing their giggles and sidelong looks. Little did they know that this was a pivotal moment in my life, but not because I was meeting with the man I would be marrying, but because I would be taking a bite of a McDonald’s chicken sandwich, something I hadn’t done in a number of years.

      But after discussing the varying points of fiqh on the issue prior to this luncheon, Siraaj truly did convince me that eating non-zabiha meat is acceptable (although there is indeed more blessing in eating zabiha meat).

      “Go ahead,” he said, gesturing to the yellow-paper-wrapped sandwich. And so I inclined, and even after years of study, still do incline, although I now gravitate toward Panera chicken salads.

      it is difficult to discern if your post was an attempt at sarcasm or if you are merely confused, as the majority of “salafis” eat non-zabiha meat. Perhaps you are just extremely unfamiliar with the people you feel so eager to condemn, and I would suggest you remedy that for your own sake before drawing attention to yourself in public. And if it was, in fact, some sort of back-handed sarcasm, I’d recommend you don’t attempt it again, because frankly, you don’t seem to have a very good handle on it. It is “neither “good” nor “beneficial“.

      Apparently, you don’t know people as well as you think you do, although I am flattered on Siraaj’s behalf that his leanings have received so much attention, even from his critics. I can’t begin to recount to you the number of positive comments I have received about his writings. Everyone makes mistakes, of course, but still the one who attempts at creating benefit is better than the one who sits and points out other people’s shortcomings in a a rude and presumptuous manner.

      I suggest in future you accept your own advice.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Aslamu-alaikum:
        OH, there is nothing more annoying than a wife coming to the defense of her husband in petty arguments like this, its like let the man fend for himself, he is a grown man you know.
        i know this comment is not going on the blog but i just had to comment on this because it is a pet peeve of mine and is such an annoying habit by some wives. Men are going to have many critics let them deal with themselves they are not babies…… uhhhhh!!!!!!!!
        salam

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • Dr. Haleh said in another article that most women are extremely dissatisfied in their marriages. I like to think that, alhamdulillaah, I’m one of the rare guys not in this boat, and my wife’s defense is simply a manifestation of that :)

          In any case, I appreciated it =)

          Siraaj

          Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • Aslamu-alaikum:
            Siraaj:
            InshAllah this will be my last comment towards you since i know from previous experience, we always, well 95% of the time end up arguing and being mean to each other, so I would rather have it be my last comment to you inshAllah.

            Just because other wives don’t come to the defense of their husbands on this forum DOES NOT in any way mean they are not happy in their marraiges. Maybe they have just allowed their husbands to take care of it themselves or any other reason for that matter. From conversing with you before about polygamy and other topics i have learnt that we inherently don’t AGREE with many topics GENDER RELATED, so this is nothing new.

            salam

            Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • No disagreement there on that math.

            Siraaj

            Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • Salamalaikum…

          TabarakAllah, mashAllah…nice article… may AllahSWT keep brother siraaj and sister olivia happy in this world and akhira and bless their children!

          @ Algebra:
          defending a human being is not something to be looked down upon…whoever they are… unless and until the he or she tells the other person not to do so, there’s nothing wrong doing so…

          so if you personally dont like people coming for your defense…dont try to force it on others..

          salam.

          Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • Aslamu-alaikum:
            Amatullah:

            Its different when a wife keeps defending her husband in a public forum…… wife to the rescue please. Its just annoying when its done in a public forum. To the contrary, i don’t mind a man defending me. SOMETIMES, i see it done in Communities and men are having a discussion with other men and SOME wives come up and start arguing in defense of her husband with other men. Its just doesn’t feel right. I feel, and the key word is I FEEL its disempowering to the man. Let him resolve his own battles. Now I don’t mean that in the house. In the home she can be the most supportive wife there should be. Just like mothers will do the same for their sons as well, but sooner or later he is grown up and let him deal with his battles and discoveries. Now if it is the other way around, where a man will come to defend his wife, that is an entirely different issue. He is suppose to do that out of his nature. There will always be arguments and critics men will have, especially if it is having to do with what is right according to Islam, or anything right, ONE WILL have obstacles and critics, like mother says, the minute we start to do something right ALLAH will tests us with critics and obstacles but we keep going on and facing them with fortitude. Criticism, is inevitable.
            Next, I presume you are a woman, this comment is expected from “dont try to force it on others..” nobody is TRYING to force anything. No one can force anyone into doing anything unless they don’t until they FEEL not in control themselves. I gave an opinion, and advice and that was just that, and no one was trying to cause friction in their marraige as well. It was a comment and annoying thing that i observed, and my assessment of it.
            salam

            Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • I don’t know if you’re married or not, Algebera, but from what I’ve seen, it’s actually quite flattering for a wife to stand up for her husband, because it means that *shock horror* he’s right about something for once!!

          Jokes aside though, it’s really annoying that YOU find it annoying that a sister wishes to support her husband and that it’s some form of weakness on the part of the husband if his wife backs him up. Rather, it is quite the opposite. It is a form of weakness in imaan and the sin of pride and arrogance if a husband believes that he doesn’t need his wife’s support in matters, because it’s as if her opinions are inferior to his.

          Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • the majority of “salafis” eat non-zabiha meat.

        I’m not sure how true that statement is. Maybe it’s true in the US, but all the salafis that I have come across believe very strongly about eating zabiha meat and would be astounded at a Salafi Muslim eating a Maccy D’s or KFC.

        I personally think that there is a bit of a division over these things, and due to this being a not well-publicised opinion, many Muslims follow the opinion that meat must be zabiha or go veggie.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • Forget Non-Zabiha or Zabiha! I am from Australia and I have never heard of this word in my life before. LoL! The only thing we know is “Is it HALAL or Not?” =)

          So anyone care to explain these new terminologies to this poor Aussie?

          Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Yeah Siraaj, you Salafi! (now that you trimmed your bread, what does that make you now)

      Great article. It seems people may view it to be ok to disorganizations, even if they start getting personal.

      What really gets me are those do nothings who just bash others and cant do anything themselves.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • I think the issue is that what was said was misread, the comment about “no matter how many times you say bismillah” was in regards to the back of the person/organization you bit, not actual fiqhi opinions of eating McDonalds or not.

      Please correct me if I’m wrong Siraaj.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Am I free to use this article as an example of Muslim teachings?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Jazak Allahu Khayran .. Kind of a harsh reality that we have to accept that happens in some of our Dawah Organizations .. This is sad .. but a reality .. good to address this from within and thanks for this reminder.. May Allah(swt) protect us all from this grave sin and help us practice the Sunnah of remaining silent when talking can lead to Back biting ..

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. “Seriously. Argue with them, call them into question, debase them, yell at them, and make their life such a living hell during the discussion that they either never return to it, or at least they never think of drinking someone’s blood in front of you ever again. You should be like ‘Umar to them; “

    That is absolutely ridiculous. I love how you imply that we should instill a Muslim characteristic by implementing jaahil methodology.

    Next time you do something dumb, we should all yell at you, and make your life a living hell during that discussion.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Aslamu-alaikum:
    It sounds like you have a lot of “beef” with a lot people. You sound down, resentful, and angry in this article.
    salam

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Sounds like the author had a recent encounter with a zombie. I have had the same problem,its funny because I noticed that I somehow attract the kind of people that enjoy this quality(habit) to a high degree.At first they’re cool, next, they hate everything.
    Thankfully though,I’ve distanced myself from them as it can really have this nasty effect and drain you mentally and spiritually. Plus,they tend to be negative about most things which can in turn make you so.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Salaam alaykum all,

    Jzk for stopping by and commenting :) A few thoughts:

    @ummMaryam: Ironic, and even beneficial, but still, you’d rather your brothers and sisters in faith wouldn’t shove a knife in your back.

    @Fathimah: Agreed. I used it to bring life to the words.

    @Asmaa @Saqibsaab: Agreed. Channeling the discussion to positive contribution and enhancement, and particularly with the involved parties, is where it should go.

    @Yasser: Ameen to your du’aas.

    @AMS @Nida @fester225: I agree with you that kindness and good manners not only has its place, but takes priority in these situations. What I’m suggesting is that it has a limit, and when that limit is reached, here are your options: Fight or Flight. I think I make that qualification clear in that section.

    @Algebra @ahlam: You’re right, I do have a beef with this topic because I’ve dealt with it more times than I care to count, and it was a recent “encounter” online that sparked the article. Two things about the admittedly harder tone:

    1. As I mentioned, I had seen some of the online dissing of one org, and wrote a piece for my personal blog muslimbestlife and published it immediately. The audience for my personal blog is a smaller and more targeted niche, so I tend to be more free with my thoughts and opinions there. I had no intention of publishing this for MM because, as you mentioned, it was written in anger (although I will admit I’ve used the “fight” tactic a few times, and thus far, success rate 100%). Another point about niche – only a small group of people really understand this issue and deal with it, and those folks tend to be a part of my audience. MM’s audience cuts a wider swath in the Muslim community, and nonMuslim as well.

    2. Another of our authors, sister Amatullah, read the article, liked it, and suggested it go up because she had seen a similar issue online where people were piling on an org and its leaders.

    So yeah, it is harder in tone :)

    @Hamza21: I have no idea what you just said, or what opinion you think I was attacking. I follow Shaykh Waleed’s opinion, that I can eat meat, chicken, and so on from nonMuslim vendors in the US. I don’t have any prejudices towards those who follow that opinion (I follow it), and my point in that statement was simply that we shouldn’t eat our brothers backs. I have no prejudices, btw, towards those who choose the other two opinions, and this will be the last on the discussion of z / non-z eating habits and fatwas. Any other comments related to this will be moderated.

    @Olivia: McChicken sandwiches?! Hun, I think it was another sandwich you ate, but I won’t mention which one here ;)

    Siraaj

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • I was a little perplexed by the whole eating meat from non-Muslim vendors, mainly because I would never eat a McChicken here in the UK or a KFC Zinger, even if it is a halal KFC franchise.

      But perhaps, the situation in the US is different in that maybe the zabiha-ers (the butchers) may well be of the Ahl-ul-Kitaab themselves and it is more than likely that Shaykh Waleed has looked into this extensively. I find the US is more religiously inclined than Europe…it’s pretty evident from some of the crazy Bible-bashers and preachers produced over there :D

      Anyhow…it is a valid opinion, which I THINK may well have also been held by Shaykh bin Baaz, too (will have to look into it more thoroughly), but I’m personally not comfortable with eating Maccy D’s, because I’m not used to it.

      Back-chops of a fellow Muslim? May taste nice now, but not when we’re dead.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • And i still agree with it going up! Jazaak Allahu khayran. Sometimes you have to the blunt in your tone to get an important point across. (this is evident from the sunnah and salaf)

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. I love this post! Masha’Allah, not only is the advice excellent, it’s very well-written. In fact, I would never have guessed that it was written in ‘anger’.

    This whole organisational backbiting is quite common at all levels of the organisations…yes, sometimes even at the higher levels, and it’s incredibly important to maintain the main goal of the organisation – pleasing Allah.

    Therefore, if we see our fellow ‘competition’ Muslim orgs doing well, we shouldn’t be, for want of a better word, sectarian about it, but supportive and make du’a for them. This is the essence of brotherhood – love for your brother that you love for yourself.

    As for backbiting itself, it is a filthy disease that afflicts all of mankind and disintegrates families, relationships, friendships and society as a whole. It is very easy for a husband and wife, the cornerstone of the Islamic society and Muslim community, to divorce as a result of backbiting, instigation and tale-telling. We just have to look at the first few verses of Surah an-Nur to see that this nearly happened with the Prophet (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) himself. Unfortunately, no-one can escape something as disgusting as this, whether they do it themselves or it is done to them, because Shaytaan is closer to us than the blood running in our veins.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. nice article

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. johnsmithaustralia

    Are you guys serious?

    Zombies????

    Siraj: Don’t you feel shy calling a girl hun?

    I was writing posts thinking I was talking to serious people.

    I feel belittled.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Well, it is Hallowe’en in America :) The one I called hun was my wife – if it’s incorrect to address one’s spouse with a term of endearment, please let me know, and I will be happy to edit my comment :)

      Siraaj

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Great post Bro.!

    I also didn’t see an anger issue at all (at least not a personal level) but perhaps a strong distaste for something our deen clearly warns us against… I benefited a lot from this post as it is always a good reminder for activists to check yourself.

    BTW – I have often found myself debating with brother Siraaj on small things and I can assure those that would seek to cast doubt on his character that he is insightful, honest, well reasoned and follows his convictions. I wish, I interacted with more people that you when you finish you actually leave better off than before, even in disagreement.

    Now the pictures… well it is a ugly subject that does plague us…

    Iesa

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Siraaj doesn’t eat zabiha and he trimmed his beard.

    Talk about the tablighi nightmare.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. I find it quite interesting that some people find baseless and so-called “subtle clues” in an article to bash the author. The sad part is they steer away people’s attention from a major issue to some personal or minor issue.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. These pictures make me feel faint. I want to learn something and I cannot do that if I am terrified by the sight of blood, making me scroll down to avoid the pic, keeping me from reading the text beside it.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Honestly, the way in which this article was written was (partly) repulsive. Enough to drive someone away from finishing reading it. Harshness is distancing; gentleness is embracing and enlightening.

    It’s about time someone writes an article directed at the leadership of Dawah organizations about being open to honest critique and criticism. The ‘backbiting’ (single quotations b/c I’m not sure if it’s exactly that) that is being criticized may have been at a lesser level if the leaders of such organizations were open to feedback, even of the critical kind. But no, they are mostly interested in praise…Praise….and more PRAISE! People who criticize them are ignored or worse yet, muzzled! Ha! It’s “amazing”!

    Where are such people supposed to go when they see something unIslamic? One could assume that they would gravitate toward others who think like them or atleast listen to them. It’s easy to brand a group of people as bad. But difficult and more productive to show them some respect, acknowledge their viewpoint and tell the Dawah organizations to PAY ATTENTION and DO SOMETHING about it.

    If we truly want to learn from the example of Umar (ra), let’s not forget that during his caliphate he encouraged PUBLIC criticism of the leadership. Unlike, many of the leadership of dawah organizations there was no self-righteousness on his (ra) part. Subhanallah.

    For the record, I’m not denying the category of people who aimlessly sit around and truly bash indviduals as a way to socialize. I agree that they exist. I don’t think that kind of bashing can ever be eliminated.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • @Person of Faith: You could write an article. Or you could just write directly to them. I’ve done the latter. Not sure what you saw that was unIslamic, or with which org, but I would say the thing to do is tell them about it, offer them a solution to their problem, or help them solve it.

      If they don’t care to hear your constructive criticism, who cares? Your job was to provide them naseeha, after that, it’s on them. I’ve been in that situation myself, once I’ve given my advice, I move on and life moves on. If they are in the wrong, may Allah guide them, and if not, may Allah guide me, right?

      But this article is directed at those who waste their time bashing others, as in, that’s how they socialize.

      Siraaj

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • But it sounded that you were attacking everyone who raised any kind of objection against ‘Islamic’ organizations whose approach they didn’t find commendable. Such a criticism is Islamically objectionable.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • No, it wasn’t about the objection to their methodology, but calling into question their intent, and then spreading it about with friends or online.

          Siraaj

          Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Leave a Reply

Scroll To Top