Monday, July 10, 2017

Gheebah (Backbiting) - The Major Sin (Kabira) That Da'wah Carriers Can Fall Into

The carriers of the Islamic Da'wah usually refrain from the major sins (Kaba'ir) as they endeavor to ensure that their mentalities and dispositions are in line with the Islamic creed. The Kaba'ir are grave sins which are not easily forgiven.

Allah (swt) says:

 إِنْ تَجْتَنِبُوا كَبَائِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنْكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَنُدْخِلْكُمْ مُدْخَلًا كَرِيمًا 
"If you avoid the major sins which you are forbidden, We will remove from you your lesser sins and admit you to a noble entrance [into Paradise]." [TMQ An-Nisa: 31]

And He (swt) says:

الَّذِينَ يَجْتَنِبُونَ كَبَائِرَ الْإِثْمِ وَالْفَوَاحِشَ إِلَّا اللَّمَمَ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ وَاسِعُ الْمَغْفِرَةِ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِكُمْ إِذْ أَنْشَأَكُمْ مِنَ الْأَرْضِ وَإِذْ أَنْتُمْ أَجِنَّةٌ فِي بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ فَلَا تُزَكُّوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنِ اتَّقَى

"Those who avoid the major sins and immoralities, only [committing] slight ones. Indeed, your Lord is vast in forgiveness. He was most knowing of you when He produced you from the earth and when you were fetuses in the wombs of your mothers. So do not claim yourselves to be pure; He is most knowing of who fears Him." [TMQ An-Najm: 32]

Most of the Kaba'ir such as theft, murder, highway robbery (hiraba), fornication, adultery and consuming intoxicants require effort, planning and actions of the limbs so the one who calls to the deen of Allah and attempts to abide by his Shariah (law) is able to avoid them. However, one of the Kaba'ir that is much easier to fall into for the Muslim and the Da'wah carrier involves actions of the tongue that is relatively much easier to fall into.

Today, gossip, negatively talking about others and even slander are commonplace in the absence of an Islamic society governed by the laws of Allah (swt). From 'backchat' at the workplace to the gossip on family members, we are engulfed by an environment where people speak loosely and do not consider the grave sin they may be falling into. In the course of calling to the resumption of the Islamic way of life it is natural to encounter many types of people, some who may agree with us others who may disagree and even those who become argumentative and vehemently argue against our point of view. Da'wah carriers must guard themselves against falling into the grave sin of backbiting that angers Allah (swt) and is diametrically opposed to the very call they carry.

The following is a reminder to us all from the chapter titled 'The best of you in morals' in the book, 'The Essential Elements of the Islamic Disposition (Nafsiyyah)' by Hizb ut-Tahrir:

"Backbiting and slander:
Backbiting means to mention something about your brother which he does not like. If it is not true then it is slander. Both are harām due to the following evidences:
He (swt) said:
]وَلاَ يَغْتَبْ بَعْضُكُمْ بَعْضًا أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَنْ يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَحِيمٌ. [
“Neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” [TMQ Al-Hujurāt:12]
He (swt) said:
]هَمَّازٍ مَشَّاءٍ بِنَمِيمٍ. [
A slanderer, going about with calumnies.” [TMQ Al-Qalam:11]
Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
}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 بهتّه. {
“Do you know what gheebah is?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “It is to mention something about your brother (in his absence) that he would hate.” It was said, ‘What if what I say about my brother is true?’ He r said: “If what you said about him is true then you would have backbitten him, and if it is not true, then you would have slandered him (buhtaan).” Reported by Muslim.

Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrated that the Messenger for Allah (saw) said:
}كل المسلم على المسلم حرام دمه وعرضه وماله. {
“Every thing of a Muslim is sacred to one another in his blood, honour and property”         Reported by Muslim
Abu Bakrah (ra) narrated that the Messenger for Allah (saw) said in his farewell speech:
}إن دماءكم وأموالكم وأعراضكم حرام عليكم، كحرمة يومكم هذا، في شهركم هذا، في بلدكم هذا، ألا هل بلغت. {
“Verily your blood and your wealth and your honour are sacred (to one another) as the sacredness of this day, as the sacredness of this month, as the sacredness of this land. O Allah, have I given the message?”                                                                                                              (Agreed upon)

‘Ayisha (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said to his companions:
}تدرون أربى الربا عند الله؟ قالوا: الله ورسوله أعلم، قال: فإن أربى الربا عند الله استحلال عرض امرئ مسلم، ثم قرأ رسول الله: وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ بِغَيْرِ مَا اكْتَسَبُوا فَقَدِ احْتَمَلُوا بُهْتَاناً وَإِثْماً مُّبِيناً. {
“Do you know what the worst form of usury is in the sight of Allah?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best” The Prophet (peace be on him) replied, “The worst form of usury is the violation of the personal honour of a Muslim.” He then recited, “Those who harm believing men and believing women undeservedly have laid upon themselves a calumny and a manifest sin.
Reported by Abu Ya’la. Al-Mundhiri and al-Haythami said the transmitters are of the Sahīh works.

Listening to backbiting is harām due to the saying of Allah (swt):
]وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُونَ. [
“And those who turn away from Al-Laghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk, falsehood, and all that Allah has forbidden).”      [TMQ Al-Mu’minūn:3]
He (swt) said:
]وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ الَّذِينَ يَخُوضُونَ فِي آيَاتِنَا فَأَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ حَتَّى يَخُوضُوا فِي حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِ وَإِمَّا يُنسِيَنَّكَ الشَّيْطَانُ فَلاَ تَقْعُدْ بَعْدَ الذِّكْرَى مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ. [
“And when you (Muhammad) see those who engage in a false conversation about Our Verses (of the Qur’ān) by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Shaitan (Satan) causes you to forget, then after the remembrance sit not you in the company of those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong­doers, etc.).” [TMQ Al-An’aam:68]

The Muslim should defend the honour of his brother in his absence due to the hadīth of Abu Hurayrah (ra) reported by Muslim:
}المسلم أخو المسلم لا يظلمه ولا يخذله ... {
“The Muslim is the brother of another Muslim, he is not unjust to him, and nor does he desert him.”
The one who is able but does not defend his brother in his absence then that constitutes deserting him. This is due to the hadīth of Jabir (ra) reported by Abu Dawud. Al-Haythami said the isnad is hasan. The hadīth states that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
}ما من مسلم يخذل امرءاً مسلماً في موضع تنتهك فيه حرمته، وينتقص فيه من عرضه، إلا خذله الله في موطن، يحب فيه نصرته وما من امرئ ينصر مسلماً في موضع ينتقص فيه من عرضه، وينتهك فيه من حرمته، إلا نصره الله في موطن يحب فيه نصرته. {
“No (Muslim) man will desert a man who is a Muslim in a place where his respect may be violated and his honour aspersed without Allah deserting him in a place where he wishes his help; and no (Muslim) man who will help a Muslim in a place where his honour may be aspersed and his respect violated without Allah helping him in a place where he wishes his help.”
Similar ahadīth have been reported by Abu Darda’, Asma bint Yazeed, Anas, ‘Imrān b. Husayn and Abu Hurayrah. All of these already have been mentioned in the chapter on love and hate for Allah’s sake. The Messenger of Allah r approved what Mu’adh (ra) did when he defended the honour of his brother Ka’b b. Maalik. In the hadīth narrated by Ka’b b. Malik t in a long hadīth about his repentance, the Prophet (saw)said:
}ما فعل كعب بن مالك؟ فقال رجل من بني سلمة: يا رسول الله حبسه برداه والنظر في عطفيه فقال له معاذ بن جبل: بئس ما قلت، والله يا رسول الله ما علمنا عليه إلا خيراً، فسكت رسول الله. {
“O Messenger of Allah, he was hindered by his garments and pleasure for his clothes and his self.” Mu’adh bin Jabal said: “What a wretched statement you have uttered. O Messenger of Allah, we do not know of him save goodness.” Hence, the Messenger of Allah r became silent.”                                                                          (Agreed upon)
The scholars permitted backbiting for six reasons: to complain, in seeking help to change a munkar, seeking a legal verdict, warning Muslims of evil, which is considered naseehah, mentioning the sin of the one who openly commits sins and to introduce someone. An-Nawawi said in his al-Azkaar ‘in the majority of these cases there is agreement that backbiting is allowed.’ He said: ‘their evidence is clear from the sahīh and mashur hadīths.’ He reported this in his Riyadh as-Saliheen where he mentioned some of the evidences. As-Sanaa’i also mentioned the evidences in Subul as-Salaam. Al-Qarafi sad in az-Zakhīrah: ‘Some scholars exempted 5 things from the prohibition of backbiting and they are as follows: advice (an-Naseeha), disparagement and attestation (jarh wat ta’deel) of witnesses and hadīth narrators, those openly committing sins, people who commit innovation (bid’ah) and write misguiding books and when the one who says backbiting and the one who hears it, both knew of the subject of backbiting’."

So the next time someone raises something negative about a brother or sister who we have known to be upright let us be careful and guard ourselves from falling into a major sin which is not easily forgiven. Even if we do not see eye to eye with them or have disagreements with them, let us defend their honour in their absence. When coming across gossip about the believers, let us not fall into the trap of Shaytan and allow it to pollute our minds.

He (swt) said:
]يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِنْ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ. [
“O you who believe! Avoid much suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins.” [TMQ Al-Hujurāt:12]
Ibn ‘Abbas said in the Tafseer (exegeses) of this ayah: Allah (swt) forbade the believer from thinking badly of another believer.
Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
}إياكم والظن، فإن الظن أكذب الحديث. {
“Beware of suspicion for suspicion is the most mendacious of talk.”
To think badly of a believer who is apparently good and upright is not allowed. Rather it is recommended that one thinks well of him.

May Allah (swt) overlook our mistakes, forgive our sins and allow us to people of Taqwa (piety).

Muhammad Abdullah

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