If one wants to make Allah (SW) his opponent and expose his own defects even if he was inside his home, let him get busy gossiping and prying into people’s private matters. The Prophet (SAAW) said: “O gathering who believe with their tongues but faith has yet to enter into their hearts, do not backbite the Believers. And do not search into their private matters. Whoever searches for their private matters will have Allah follow up his private matters. And whose private matters Allah follows, He will expose him even
[if his act were done] in his house.” [1]

The equation of causing harm is very clear in the Quran: Suspicion, spying, then gossip. Allah (SW) said: {O you who believe! Shun much suspicion. For, indeed, certain kinds of suspicion are sinful. Nor shall you spy [on each other]. Nor shall you backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat his dead brother’s flesh? You would mostly, surely, abhor it. So fear God. Indeed, God is all-relenting, mercy-giving} 49:12. Pay close attention to the way Allah (SW) described people backbiting others as if they are inhuman, equating backbiting with eating their dead brother’s flesh!

Many people seem to be under the mistaken assumption that backbiting someone even if a matter is true causes no harm! The Prophet (SAAW) said: “Do you know what is backbiting? They said: Allah and His Messenger know best! He (SAAW) said: To mention something about your brother that he hates. They asked: What if it was true? He said: If it is true, it is backbiting and if it is not true then it is slander.”[2] Once when Ayesha (RAA), the wife of the Prophet, mentioned a matter about Safiyyah (RAA), she referred to her as being short. Even though Ayesha (RAA) meant no harm in her words, the Prophet (SAAW) guided her by saying: “You have said one word that if mixed with all the water of the sea it would change it.”[3]

The tool of gossip and backbiting and following people’s private matters is the tongue. And that’s why all the organs of the body send a message to it every morning as the Prophet (SAAW) said: “When son of Adam wakes up, all organs are in a status of humiliation towards the tongue saying: Fear Allah in us for if you are straight (righteous) we are straight but if you are twisted (in evil) we are twisted.”[4]

When the Companion of the Prophet, Mu’adh ibn Jabal (RAA) asked the Prophet (SAAW) about that which would entitle him to enter Paradise and save him from the hellfire, he (SAAW) mentioned the pillars of Islam and informed Mu’adh of the importance of the night prayers and of Jihad. He (SAAW) then said, “Should I not inform you of that which controls all this?” and then took hold of his tongue and said, “Exercise restraint on it.” Mu’adh (RAA) then asked, “O Messenger of Allah, will we be held responsible for what we say with it?” Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah said, “Mu’adh, will anything else besides (irresponsible) talk cause the people to be thrown in the Hell-Fire upon their faces?” [5]

Our community is commanded to speak righteousness or remain silent. The Prophet (SAAW) said: “Let one who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment speak good or be silent.”[6] Our community is commanded to mind its own business, the Prophet (SAAW) said: “A sign of the excellence of one’s Islam is to let go of that which is not of his business.”[7] Our community is commanded to cause no harm to others. Abu Moosa al-Asharee (RAA) asked, “O Messenger of Allah, which of the Muslims are better?” The Messenger of Allah said, “Those who do not harm the Muslims with their tongues and hands.” [8]

One who occupies his time gossiping and backbiting should be aware that Allah (SW) is documenting all his matters. Allah (SW) said: {Not a word does one utter, but that with one is a ready observer} 50:18.

The backbiter should be worried that all the people he has slandered will take his good deeds or throw their bad deeds on him on the Day of Judgment. The Prophet (SAAW) said: “Do you know who the bankrupt is?” The companions replied, “One who has no money or wealth!” He (SAAW) said: “Alas the bankrupt of my Ummah will come at the Day of Judgment with prayer, fasting and Zakat, but in addition he comes with foul words and backbiting, and taking money from others and causing bloodshed and physical harm to others. Each (of his victims) will be given from his good deeds (as recompense) until no good deeds remain. Then their bad deeds will be heaped onto him which causes him to be thrown into Hell Fire.”[9]

The type of punishment waiting for people of gossip and backbiting was seen by the Prophet (SAAW) during the trip of Mi’raaj. He saw people with nails of copper piercing their faces and chests and he asked Jibril: “Who are these?” Jibril replied: “Those who eat people’s flesh (backbiting) and speak of their private matters in harm.”[10]

Those who hear others backbiting should advise against that. The Prophet (SAAW) said: “If one defends his brother’s honor Allah will protect his face from fire on the Day of Judgment.”[11] If people do not stop their evil gossip then it is imperative to leave such gatherings so as not to be part of such harm. Allah (SW) said: {Thus, whenever you see those who fall to [vilifying] Our [revealed] signs, then turn away from them until they take up some other discourse} 6:68.

By Sh. Kifah Mustapha

_________________________[1] Hadith by Muslim[2] Hadith by Abu Daoud[3] Hadith by Abu Daoud[4] Hadith by Tirmizi[5] Hadith by Tirmizi[6] Hadith by Bukhari[7] Hadith by Tirmizi[8] Hadith by Muslim[9] Hadith by Muslim[10] Hadith by Abu Daoud[11] Hadith by Tirmizi