Nov 11, 2013

Gheebah: the Ills of the Tongue Part 2

By Umm Yusuf Zaid

Part I


This article is a continuation of Gheebah: the Ills of the Tongue Part 1 where I discussed what gheebah is and its ruling according to our Islamic teachings.  In this part, I shall discuss why many of us commit gheebah.

Causes of Gheebah

Hatred and enviousness are among the main causes of gheebah. The backbiter mentions the errors of whomever he hates in order to satisfy the hatred he feels. Or one backbites someone who has been favored upon by Allah, be it in terms of wealth, children or knowledge. Therefore, a jealous backbiter who is weak in his religion will try and remove this favor. However, he finds no way of doing this except by backbiting the person.

The trade of a person who indulges in Gheebah is a losing trade, as he surrenders his goods to whomever he backbites in spite of himself. At the same time, it is a profit for the other (backbitten) party, as he acquires its rewards in goods deeds, thus making his scale of deeds heavier while he is unaware.

Those who commit Gheebah have an awful stench.

Jaabir (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:
We were with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) when an awful odor arose. He (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Do you know what that odor is? It is the odor of those who commit gheebah against the believers.” (Hasan: Recorded by Ahmad)

The one who listens to backbiting

Listening to someone who practices gheebah, showing interest, amazement and delight at what he says, falls under the same ruling of gheebah itself. This behavior increases the activity of whoever commits gheebah and encourages him. It also contains a form of affirming his truthfulness. Consequently, when the listener accepts the words of backbiter and becomes pleased with his speech, he will have participated with him in committing gheebah.

Worse than gheebah

Abu Dawood narrated in his Sunan via Nawfal ibn Masahiq from Sa’eed ibn Zayd that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The most prevalent kind of usury (riba) is going to lengths in talking unjustly against a Muslim’s honour.” [4858]

From the calamities that the Muslims have been tested with is that you see a person backbiting his brother, but not because of a sin or shortcoming; but solely based on his assumptions of matters that he is oblivious off.

For example, a person maybe humble in his dressing, even though he is able to be extravagant. Therefore, the ignorant person will say “Look at this stingy person. Look at this man who forbids for himself the adornment of the worldly life. Look at this person who tries to put our worldly life to death.” The opposite is also true. For example, if Allah provides a person with a house and animal, they say, “Look at him. Verily he does not fear Allah regarding the Muslims. While he is living in his house and riding his animals, he does not think about the Muslims.” And so forth.

Do we know their hidden secrets, as to whether he spends in the way of Allah or not? If Allah provides for him from His bounty, does he reject that bounty or does he give it its just due?

Such assumptions and slander are the worst type of gheebah. It is most emphatically forbidden to cast aspersions upon one's honesty, look down upon a Muslim, do one’s utmost to insult and dishonor him. This is a blameworthy characteristic and a serious malady; it is one of the major sins and the one who does this is subject to severe punishment

Cure for Gheebah

There are two ways to treat one’s inclination to commit gheebah. The first is to repent from gheebah. This is that the person knows that if he commits gheebah, he is exposed to the anger and wrath of Allah. Also he should know that by committing backbiting, some of his good deeds are transferred to the backbitten person on the Day of Resurrection. Therefore, one should sincerely repent to Allah from gheebah, feel sorry for his sins and intend to refrain from committing gheebah in the future.

The second cure is that the person should look into the reason that caused him to backbite. For verily, the problem is rectified by cutting off its originating source. An intelligent person cuts off the, means of gheebah and takes the means of cure and remedy. He occupies himself with his own shortcomings instead of the shortcomings of others. He guards his tongue from speaking anything but goodness. In this way he is victorious with both the good of this world and the good of the Hereafter.

Fear Allah, fear Allah regarding the honor of the Muslims and their flesh.

A wise man once truthfully spoke who described Gheebah as the entertainment of the sinners, the pastures of the women, and the condiment of the dogs of the people [i].

We ask Allah to save us all from the ills of the tongue and torment of the Fire. Insha Allah a reminder for me first.


[i] Al-Gheebah - Backbiting & its Evil Effects on Muslim Society by Abdul Malik al-Qasim, Second edition 2004, Darussalam.


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