JUMU’AH MUBARAK! – Ramadan Day 2
A Moment with Our Prophet, Muhammad (S)
Day 312: Excuse Me! It is Ramadan; I do NOT Backbite!
Narrated by Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (S) asked: “Do you know what is Gibah (backbiting)? They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He (S) said: ‘It is mentioning about your brother/sister what he/she dislikes.’ One of the companions asked: ‘What if what I say about him/her is true?’ He replied: ‘If what you say about him/her is true, you have been backbiting, and if he/she is not as you say, you have slandered him/her.” (Muslim, Abu Dawud)
“أتدرون ما الغيبة؟” قالوا: الله ورسوله أعلم قال: ”ذكرك أخاك بما يكره” قيل: أفرأيت إن كان في أخي ما أقول؟ قال: ”إن كان فيه ما تقول، فقد اغتبته، وإن لم يكن فيه ما تقول فقد بهته”
Transliteration: “In Kana Fihi Ma Taqul, Faqad Igtabtahu; Wa In Lam Yakun Fihi Ma Taqul, Faqad Bahattahu.”
The month of Ramadan is the season in which, besides food, drink and pleasures, believers are asked to control their tongues from evils of the tongue.
One of these evils very commonly present in the community, even during the blessed month of Ramadan, is backbiting (Gibah)!
Gibah is not an easy term to translate into English for there is no single equivalent word in English for it, although it may be loosely covered by the term backbiting.
However, gibah also includes gossip and slander.
Whichever word we choose, we cannot escape from the fact that Gibah affects us all.
We have been victims and – we must be honest – we have been all guilty, one way or another, of this sin.
This matter should not be taken lightly for it can wreck lives and shatter communities…and destroy the reputation of one who backbites with Allah and the people!
If we seek to live in peace and unity as Muslims, we must combat this evil and especially in the month of Ramadan when we do not fast only from food and drink but from evils of the tongue including backbiting.
This evil is present in every human society, among all its members, people from all walks of life, among both, brothers and sisters.
What is Gibah (backbiting)?
The best answer is given by the Prophet Muhammad (S).
It was reported by Abu Hurairah (r) that the Prophet (S) asked: “Do you know what is Gibah (backbiting)? They said: ‘Allah and Prophet (S) know best.’ He said: ‘It is mentioning about your brother what he dislikes.’ One of the companions asked: ‘What if what I say about him is true?’ He replied: ‘If what you say about him is true, you have been backbiting, and if he is not as you say, you have slandered him.” (Muslim, Abu Dawud)
Imam Nawawi mentions the following definition of Gibah:
‘Backbiting is mentioning that what is with a person, and he/she does not like what one would say about him/her, his/her body, Din, property, Akhlaq, family, etc.”
Another person said: “Backbiting is like mud thrown against a clean wall; it may not stick, but it leaves a mark.”
Simple definition of Gibah is “sharing private information whether true or false, to those who are neither part of the problem nor the solution.”
This profound hadith qualifies it even further how Gibah is perceived by the Prophet (S).
‘Aisha (r) narrated that she said to the Prophet (S): “Do you see that Safiyyah (his wife) is such and such?’ She meant that Safiyah was short. The Prophet (S) said: ‘You have spoken a word such that, if it were mixed in the water of the ocean, it would darken it (poison it).” (Abu Dawud, At Tirmithi)
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ قُلْتُ لِلنَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَسْبُكَ مِنْ صَفِيَّةَ كَذَا وَكَذَا قَالَ غَيْرُ مُسَدَّدٍ تَعْنِي قَصِيرَةً . فَقَالَ ” لَقَدْ قُلْتِ كَلِمَةً لَوْ مُزِجَتْ بِمَاءِ الْبَحْرِ لَمَزَجَتْهُ ”
What are the excuses that people mostly have when they backbite others?
Evil thoughts come to people in many ways to tempt them and misguide them – to make them stand against each other, mostly, because of their personal differences and personal reasons.
Here are some of the excuses that we face in every-day life among our brothers and sisters when they backbite:
* What we have said behind the person’s back is true, so there is nothing wrong with it.
If we would ponder over the traditions of the Prophet (S), we would be able to realize that there are many things that are wrong with such statement.
The easiest answer would be the Hadith in which the Prophet (S) is warning us against backbiting, even if that what we say is true, and especially if that what we say is not true for it would be considered as slander.
* What we have said behind the person’s back is for his/her own benefit or what we have said behind him/her is in the interests of the community at large.
Such claims may be dismissed on several counts:
If the claims are true and said with the best of intentions, then the method of acting upon those intentions must also be sound: by speaking directly to the person and encourage him/her with gentle wisdom to adhere to the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (S) and avoiding his/her own whims.
– If a person is disclosed, it can create and cause many problems to the individual as well as in the community such as: transgressing the text that commands us to cover the faults of Muslims and others; spread of doubts that cause suspicions among brothers and sisters or other innocent people of the community; spread of Gossip in the community …
Every intelligent person will accept that there can be no benefit, to Muslims or to the larger community, in backbiting about a person who is trying to conceal his/her faults and sins.
I ask myself, what possible benefit can there be in such talk?
What good can this do to Muslims or anyone else for that matter?
O Allah! Help us so that we focus on our own shortcomings instead on peoples’!
O Allah! Guide us to protect ourselves from this the evil of Gibah which is a virus that destroys friendships, brotherhood/sisterhood and the community life!
O Allah! Save us from this unethical act (Gibah) especially during the blessed season of Ramadan!