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Backbiting and Slander

Often we receive letters that are incomprehensible, deal with issues that are beyond our scope, or sometimes, sadly, are written against a person or a group of Muslims. Such letters are anonymous. It is unfair to expect us to write about or take any other actions, considering that the person involved is not even willing to let us know their own identity. Obviously such a person is reluctant or unwilling to present any proof of the complaint. It is unfair to the person or group being complained about. It is not good for the person complaining.

Allh orders us to be very particular about producing evidence when the honor or chastity of a Muslim is involved. He orders us:

"And those who accuse honorable women and produce not four witnesses, (to support their allegation) flog them with eighty stripes: and never (afterward) accept their testimony. They indeed are evildoers." (24:4)

It may be backbiting or even slander. About backbiting, Allh and His messenger ( - peace be upon him) warn us such:

1. O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: and spy not on each other nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay ye would abhor it. But fear Allh, for Allh is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. (49:12)

2. Allh s Apostle ( - peace be upon him) said: "Do you know what is backbiting?" They (the Companions) said: "Allh and His Apostle (peace be upon him) know best." Thereupon he (the Prophet ) said: "Backbiting implies your talking about your brother in a manner which he does not like." It was said to him: "What is your opinion about this that if I actually find (that failing) in my brother which I made a mention of?" He said: "If (that failing) is actually found (in him) what you assert, you have in fact backbitten him, and if that is not in him it is a slander." (Sahih Muslim, hadith 6265, narrated by Abu Hurayrah)

3. Malik related to me from al-Walid ibn Abdullah ibn Sayyad that al-Muttalib ibn Abdullah ibn Hantab al-Makhzumi informed him that a man asked the Messenger of Allh, may Allh bless him and grant him peace, "What is backbiting?" The Messenger of Allh, may Allh bless him and grant him peace, said, "It is to mention about a man what he does not want to hear." He said, "Messenger of Allh! Even if it is true?" The Messenger of Allh, may Allh bless him and grant him peace, said, "If you utter something false, then it is slander." (Al-Muwatta, hadith 56.10)

Atonement for Backbiting

It is related that the Prophet, - peace be upon him, said, "The atonement for backbiting [and slander] is to pray for forgiveness of the person who was slandered and to say, O Allh, forgive us and him." The preferable course in this regard is to pray for forgiveness of the person who was the target of the slander and to mention his good qualities. This will wipe off the effects of such backbiting, and it is not necessary to announce such a thing. (Fiqh-us-Sunnah 4.107b)


Published: August 2005


Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756