By Afsha Ibrahim
Gheebah is a serious sin that some Muslims take lightly. The Muslim must choose his/her words wisely and speak what is good. However, there are some cases where Gheebah is permissible. See Part 1 for an introduction to this part.
Situations where Gheebah is permissible
- To criticize those who openly commit acts of disobedience, such as drinking wine, gambling, engaging in immoral habits, fornication, hypocrisy, and making mischief.
- It is also permissible to mention the bad qualities of somebody for marriage purposes in case an advice is sought.
Fatimah bint Qais (radiAllahu anha) said: I came to the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and said to him: "Muawiyah and Abul-Jahm sent me a proposal of marriage.'' The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Muawiyah is destitute and he has no property, and Abul-Jahm is very hard on women.'' [Bukhari and Muslim].
- Also, if one has noticed that a "seeker of knowledge'' frequently goes to the gatherings of an innovator in religion and one fears that this "seeker of knowledge'' may be affected by this so-called scholar, then in this case one must consult the person by telling him about the "innovator,”.
- It is permissible to use names such as "Al-a`mash'' which means `the blear-eyed' to talk about people who are known by such names for the sake of identification and not as an insult. To identify them without resorting to such names is however better.
Examples from the Prophetic narrations
Aishah (radiAllahu anha) said: A man sought permission for audience with the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). He said, "Give him permission but he is a bad member of his tribe.''[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Backbiting of wicked people is obviously justified to save people from being deceived from their appearance. If people are not informed of the real conduct of such persons, their religious as well as worldly life will be exposed to a grave danger. For this reason, the backbiting of wicked persons for the purpose of warning others is permissible.
`Aishah (radiAllahu anha) said: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "I do not think that so-and-so understands anything of our Faith.'' [Al-Bukhari]
Al-Laith bin Sa`d, who is one of the narrators of this Hadith, said: The two men mentioned by the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) in this Hadith were hypocrites (i.e., they revealed Faith and concealed disbelief).
Hypocrites are also people of mischievous and doubtful conduct. It is, therefore, not only permissible but necessary to make people aware of their real position so that people become cautious about them and their religious and worldly life may remain safe from their machinations evil plots.
Apart from these exceptions it is absolutely forbidden to speak ill of a person behind his back. If what is spoken is true, it is Gheebah, if it is false, it is calumny; and if it is meant to make two persons quarrel, it is slander. Gheebah must never be made a source of entertainment. The Shari’ah has declared all these as forbidden. In the Islamic society, it is incumbent on every Muslim to refute a false charge made against a person in his presence and not to listen to it quietly, and to tell those who are speaking ill of somebody unjustly and without a genuine religious need, to fear God and desist from the sin. May Allah be our source of spiritual strength and guidance. Ameen