Obscenity of Backbiting from Islam Viewpoint

Obscenity of Backbiting from Islam Viewpoint

Backbiting is to speak ill of a believer behind his back, including matters concerning his moralities, appearance, or personality. Not only is backbiting restricted to words, but also it includes every behavior and deed, whether suggestive or direct.

The Prophet (PBUH) defined backbiting by saying:

"Do you know what is backbiting? It is to mention things that your brother dislikes. To mention things that are really found in the personality of your brother is backbiting. To mention things that are not found in the personality of your brother is slander"(Vasael-o-Shia, Vol.8, P.599, Hadith.9).

 Backbiting is however one of the meanest manners and most serious crimes and sins. God likens the backbiter to the one who eats the flesh of the dead:

"O you who have faith! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And do not spy on one another or backbite. Will any of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it. Be wary of Allah; indeed Allah is all-clement, all-merciful"(49:12).

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Backbiting destroys the religion in a way that is more destructive than canker"(Al-Kafi,Vol.2, P.357, Hadith.1).

Imam Jafar-Sadiq in two traditions (PBUH) said:

"For him who publicizes an affair of a believer for disgracing and disrespecting him, Allah will dismiss him from His custody and deliver him to the Satan but the Satan does not accept him too"(Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, P. 358).

Also:

"Do not backbite (others) so that others will not backbite you. Do not dig a hole for making your brother fall in it, lest you yourself may fall in it. As you condemn others, others will surely condemn you"(Bihar-ol-Anwar, Vol.75, P.248, Hadith.16).

Disregard of Backbiting

It is necessary to avoid being in conformity with the backbiters or listening to them, for the listener of backbiting is regarded as partner in the sin. To do so can be achieved by denying backbiting verbally, changing the subject into another innocent one, leave the session of backbiting, or, in the least, deny backbiting in heart, so as to be saved from the partnership of the big sin.

A wise man said: Try your best to avoid introducing yourself to the backbiter, because the greatest share of harm is burdened by the closest to him.

In the same manner, it is important to honor the dignity of the believer who is backbitten.

The Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Paradise is unquestionably the share of him who defends the honor of his believing brother" (Vasael-o-Shia, Vol.12, P.292).

 It is worth mentioning here that the illegality of backbiting does not include the deviants and apostates. It means Muslims are allowed to backbite the deviants and apostates.

Incentives of Backbiting

1) Enmity and envy are the strongest incentives of backbiting.

(2)Joking is another incentive of backbiting, because it is regarded as fresh subject for arising joking and laughter at others.

(3)Boasting is also an incentive of backbiting, because the boastful, in most cases, tries to refer to the others defects to prove that he disdains and does not enjoy such defects.

(4)It frequently happens that an individual who associates with backbiters tries to be in conformity with them by according them in their ill speech of others so that they may not reject him.

Disadvantages of Backbiting

Through its regulations, Islam intends to reinforce fraternity of Muslims to make it a never-ending constitution. Thus, it has gone on enjoining to cling to all matters that develop mutual amicability and achieve fraternity; such as well mannerism, truth, fulfillment of trusts, and paying attention to Muslims affairs and general interests. Islam also has warned against any matter that roils the pure hearts or arises malice, such as lying, cheating, treachery, and contempt.

Since backbiting is a destructive element that devastates the social construction and spoils the tied up relations, the Islamic code has forbidden and regarded it as a grand sin. It shows the poisonous seeds of spite among Muslims. When the ill speech reaches the one about whom it is said, it will arise the feelings of hatred in his inner self; so, he tries to revenge himself upon the backbiter by answering him by ill speech. In so many cases, backbiting has caused serious problems and unwelcome tragedies.

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said:

"On the Day of Resurrection, one of you will not find the good deeds that he did in his life in his record when he will be interrogated. He will ask the Lord about this, and the Lord will answer him: Your Lord never makes a mistake and never forgets. Because you backbite people, your good deeds were erased from your record. Another one will find many good deeds that he did not do in his record. He will ask the Lord about such deeds, and the Lord will answer: Because you were backbitten by so-and-so, I added his good deeds to you"(Bihar-ol-Anwar, Vol.72, P.259).

Reasonable Grounds of Backbiting

Backbiting is decided as forbidden so long as it is intended to disgrace others, but if it is not intended for so or if a reasonable ground relies upon it, it is not forbidden. Muslim jurisprudents have mentioned a number of reasonable grounds for backbiting:

(1)If backbiting represents the complaint of a wronged person so as to prove his right before a judge, it is not forbidden, even if it includes the ascription of injustice and criminality to the other party.

(2)The person whose advice is sought in definite matters, such as marriage or trust, is permitted to backbite the other party “by mentioning just his defects-. It is also acceptable to warn a believer against the association with deviants, by referring namely to their defects, provided that such reference is intended to protect the believer. It is also acceptable to defame a testifier when it is NECESSARY.

(3)Backbiting is permitted when it is intended to disavow the claim of a false lineage.

(4)Backbiting is allowed when it is intended to refute an untrue saying or an illegal claim.

(5)Backbiting is let when it takes the form of testimony against wrongdoers.

(6)It is acceptable to mention certain epithets (such as the blind, the one-eyed, and the like) of certain people if this is NECESSARY to introduce them.

(7)Backbiting is accepted when it is intended to forbid evil, by mentioning the defects of a person before somebody who is able to guide him.

(8)It is acceptable to backbite those who declare publicly their commitment of sins, such as the drunk and gamblers, provided that such backbiting should not exceed the limits. It is said that to backbite a sinful is not offensive.

Finally, well intention and sound objective must be proposed. Likewise, it is improper to aim at evil intentions, such as enmity, envy, and the like.

Treatment of Backbiting

It is necessary to keep in mind the fore cited disadvantages of backbiting. Also it is necessary to pay the greatest attention to self-discipline by applying the noble traits to oneself.

As he was asked about his educator, Mohammed ibn al-Hanafiyya said: It is my Lord Who educated me in myself. I have followed and imitated any element that is enjoyed by men of sense when I found good, and I have avoided any element that is practiced by the ignorant when I found ugly. Hence, I could attain the treasures of knowledge.

It is advisable to speak of joyful things, such as pleasant stories and nice purposeful talks, instead of backbiting.

 It is worthwhile, finally, to control ones wording and abstain from the initiatives of backbiting.

Penance of Backbiting

To make amends for it, one must feel regret and repent from the sins of backbiting. Then, he must curry favor with the one he backbit and ask him for acquittal. If the backbitten forgives, it will be satisfactory. If not, to curry favor with him and apologize will be equivalents of the commitment of backbiting. The previous acts should be done when the backbitten is alive and when such confessions before him does not arise his rage. If they do, or if he is dead, it is necessary to seek Allah forgiveness to him.

The Prophet (PBUH) said:

"The penance of backbiting is to seek Allah forgiveness to him “the backbitten- whenever you mention him"(Al-Kafi, Vol.2, P.358).

Totally these traditions summon Muslims all to avoid backbiting and prevent others from backbiting people. Also defend from backbitten as much as possible.

Of course there are some factors allow to backbite people but it is important to mention that those reasons are in necessary situations and no one is allowed to abuse them.