Allah says in the Qur’aan, “Do not backbite each other, would any of you wish to eat the flesh of your dead brother, no rather you hate it!!” [Soorah Hujarat :12]
The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, once asked his Companions, “Do you know what is backbiting?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.”. He – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – said, “To mention about your brother that which he hates.” They said, “If that we see about our brother is true?” He – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – said, “If there is in him what you say about him then that is backbiting, and if you say of him that which is not true then you have slandered him.” – [Saheeh al-Muslim (4/6265), Sunan Abu Dawood (3/4856) and al-Muwatta (56/10)]
The Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – vigorously opposed all aspects of backbiting, even when it appeared in his own family. For example, once a woman visited Aaisha – radiAllahu’ anha – and when the woman got up to leave, Aaisha made a sign with her hand indicating to the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – that the woman was short of stature. The Prophet immediately chastised her, saying “You have backbitten!” and in another narration, “You have said a saying that if mixed with the sea it would change its color.” – [Mentioned in Ibn Jareer in Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-Adheem, vol.4, p.328 (30) and Sunan Abu Dawood (3/4857)]
Abu Bakra – radiAllahu’ anhu – reports that the Messenger of Allah – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – said, in his khutbah on the day of Nahr, “Indeed the blood, property and honor are sacred to you, like the sacredness of this day (‘arafah), like the sacredness of this place, like the sacredness of this month; Have I conveyed the message?” – [Saheeh al-Bukhari (1/105) and Saheeh al-Muslim (2/2803) and part of a lengthy narration]
And by Allah he – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – has conveyed the message, so guard the right of the Believers!
Allah says in the Qur’aan, “Woe to every slanderer and backbiter.” [Soorah Humaza:1]
The Messenger of Allah – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – said, “The Gossip-monger will not enter paradise.” [Saheeh al-Bukhari (8/82), Saheeh al-Muslim (1/187) and Musnad Ahmed bin Hambal]
The Messenger – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – passed by two graves and said, “They are being punished. As regards one of them then he used to go around gossip-mongering and as regards the other then he was not careful while urinating.” – [Saheeh al-Bukhari (1/215) and Saheeh al-Muslim (1/575)]
On the authority of Saeed ibn Zayid that the Messenger of Allah – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – said, “Indeed the lowest form of usury is to prolong the speech about the honor of a Muslim without justice.” – [Sunan Abu Dawood (3/4858)]
OVERCOMING THE EVIL HABIT OF BACKBITING:
Firstly, as Imaam an-Nawawee – rahimahullaah – said that one should remember the punishment of Allah. And remember that Allah is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. He is the One, aware of ever saying, at every time. Then if one remembers this, then it is only natural that one will be modest and shy in this aspect. We need to realize that when one of us is hurt, when something wrong is said about the creation, then what about the Creator, who is the All-Seeing and All-Hearing.
Secondly, we should reflect on the Qur’aanic verse, “Do not backbite each other, would any of you wish to eat the flesh of your dead brother, no rather you hate it!!” [Soorah Hujarat :12]
And we surely hate even the thought of it.
Thirdly, fear that your own faults would be revealed, as the Messenger of Allah – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – said,
“O you who believe with your tongues, yet eeman has not entered your hearts. Do not backbite the Muslims, nor follow their faults. For he who follows others faults then Allah will declare (disclose) his faults and he whom Allah reveals his faults, then Allah disgraces him in his own house.” – [Sunan Abu Dawood (3/4862) and and authenticated by Sheikh al-Albani in Saheeh Jaami’ Sagheer]
Fourthly, take the advice of the pious scholars of Islaam, among them ….
Umer ibn Khattab – radiAllahu’ anhu – who said, “Be careful from remembering people for it is an illness and be in the remembrance of Allah for it is a medicine.”
A man came to al-Hasan al-Basri – rahimahullaah – and said that, he heard that al-Hassan al-Basri had backbitten him. Upon this he – rahimahullaah – said, “Who are you that I may give you my rewards?”
Fifth, and the most important thing to keep in mind is that there is a great reward to refrain from backbiting, as the Messenger of Allah – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – said, “Whoever protects the honor of his brother in his absence, Allah will protect his face from the Fire on the Day of Judgment.” – [Sunan at-Tirmidhi and and authenticated by Sheikh al-Albani in Saheeh Sunan at-Tirmidhi (2/1575)]
EXCEPTIONS TO BACKBITING:
There are few exceptions to backbiting, that the scholars have classified, among them …..
• Oppression: If one has been harmed or one’s property has been unlawfully taken away by another, and this person goes to the ruler or judge in order to seek justice, this is not backbiting.
• Changing the Munkar: If one finds a person involved in evil actions or innovations, and one is unable to correct his Munkar. It is allowed to seek the help of a more knowledgeable person, even if it mean defining the Munkar of the evil-doer or innovator.
• Seeking a Fatwa (religious verdict): For example, there is a dispute between a husband and his wife, and if either of them seek the advice of a religious scholar, then this situation is exempt from backbiting.
• Warning a Muslim from evil: For example, if a fellow Muslim is going to do a business with an dishonest person or if a Muslim is unaware that the person to whom he is marrying his daughter to, is an unreligious person; then to advice and guide him is exempt from backbiting.
• Advising against innovators and sinners: If a innovator is openly involved in spreading his innovative beliefs or a sinner remorselessly declares his sin and is thus being a bad example for others; then warning others against him is allowed. But if he commits a sin secretly and as such harms just himself, to openly declare his sins is still strictly prohibitted.
The Messenger of Allah – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – said, “Do not nurse a grudge (against a Muslim) and do not outbid him for raising the price and do not nurse aversion (strong dislike) or enmity and do not enter into a transaction when others have entered into that transaction and be as fellow-brothers and servants of Allah. A Muslim is the brother of another, he neither betrays (or deceives him), nor humiliates him, nor looks down upon him. Piety is here (and while saying so) he pointed towards his chest three times. All things of a Muslims are inviolable for his brother in faith, his blood, his wealth and his honor.” – [Saheeh al-Muslim (4/6219), part of the wording being that of Sunan Abu Dawood (3/4864)]
He – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – also said, “No (Muslim) man will desert a man who is a Muslim in a place where his respect may be violated and his honor aspersed without Allah deserting him in a place where he wishes help; and no (Muslim) man who will help a Muslim in a place where is honor may be aspersed and his respect violated without Allah helping him in a place where he wishes his help.” – [Sunan Abu Dawood (3/4866) and and authenticated by Sheikh al-Albani in Saheeh Jaami’ Sagheer.]