The Treatment of Backbiting
by Hazrat Maulana Shaha Abrar ul Haq Sb RA (Khalifa Hazrat Thanvi RA)
There is an extremely detrimental spiritual disease which has become very widespread in our day and age. It is the disease of gheebah (back-biting) due to which a person is harmed both in this world as well as in the hereafter.
In reply to the request of some of my acquaintances I have briefly compiled some of the harms of this disease along with the remedy for it from the writings and utterances of our pious predecessors.
By continuously pondering over these harms and by practicing and applying the remedies mentioned, we will Insha-Allah rid ourselves of this evil habit and be able to protect ourselves from it.
THE HARMS OF GHEEBAH
1. Gheebah causes disunity and separation. And from disunity and separation; arguments, fights and disputes break out. One is deprived from the benefits and advantages which come from unity and love.
2. Due to gheebah, darkness overtakes the heart. If a person has any spiritual perception and feeling in the heart, then at the time of gheebah he will feel a type of choking feeling and discomfort.
3. Both one’s Deen and dunya are harmed by gheebah. The worldly harm is that if the one who is being back-bitten finds out about it then he will disgrace and rebuke the one who is back-biting him. The Deeni harm is that Allah Ta`ala becomes displeased with such a person and Allah’s displeasure is tantamount to hell-fire.
4. It is mentioned in a Hadith Shareef narrated by Imam Baihaqi in Shu`abul Imaan that:
“Gheebah is worse than fornication.”
5. Allah Ta`ala will not forgive gheebah until the one against whom this sin was committed forgives him. (On the condition that the person knows that he was back-bitten. But if he does not know then it is sufficient to ask forgiveness from Allah.) This is because of the fact that the sin of gheebah affects the rights of the slaves of Allah.
6. Making gheebah is tantamount to eating the dead flesh of one’s own brother as mentioned in the Qur`an Majeed, Suratul Hujuraat, verse no.12. How despicable can a person be to do such a lowly action? Now the same way a person would hate to devour the flesh of his own dead brother, similarly one should abhor doinggheebah just as much.
7. Doing gheebah is sign of cowardice and fear. This is why it is done “behind the back” in another person’s absence.
8. By continuously being involved in gheebah, the NOOR and spiritual brightness of the face is taken away. The face becomes lusterless and everyone has scorn for such an individual.
9. Another great harm of gheebah is that on the Day of Judgment the good deeds of a person will be transferred to the one whom he made gheebah of. If his right is not fulfilled by the transferring of deeds, then the sins of the person who was back-bitten will be loaded onto him. Ultimately he will be doomed to enter hell-fire due to his pitiful condition at that time. This person has been called a muflis (a poor and destitute person) in light of the Ahaadeeth. Therefore one should make amends of this before that time.
PRACTICAL REMEDY TO GHEEBAH
1. One should take action and not be passive and quiet when gheebah is taking place. Rather one should take a practical approach. If someone does gheebah in front of you then first of all you should prevent the person from doing it. [This could easily be done in a friendly manner by changing the subject saying, “Aw come on…. Let’s talk about something else!”]
If the person still persists in his gheebah then you must excuse yourself to leave that gathering. [Make an excuse to go to the bathroom or something else. Freshen up and come back. Hopefully the person will get the idea that you are trying to avoid his harmful conversation by leaving that gathering. And if he doesn’t get the idea, then…] one should clearly let him know that what he is doing is a sin and do not be afraid of breaking his heart or hurting his feelings.
A true believer does not break his own Deen for the sake of not breaking the heart of someone else. We do not cause hurt to our own Imaan for the sake of not hurting someone else’s feelings.
2. One very brilliant remedy to this evil habit is that you should notify the person whom you have back-bitten and let him know what you said about him. If one punishes and humiliates the nafs like this a couple of times then one will regret doing this sin for good Insha-Allah.
IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER
1. The definition of gheebah is to say something about someone (whether Muslim or non-Muslim) in their absence that they would not like to hear. Such as, saying someone is stupid, or lacks intelligence or to talk low of someone due to their lineage or family/worldly status. Or to talk about the defects in someone’s house, clothes, body, appearance, etc. In short, to mention anything about somebody that would hurt their feelings.
Gheebah can be done verbally, by making a gesture, by winking the eye, or even by giving an indication to it in one’s speech. All of these things are included ingheebah.
2. To attain complete benefit from these advices one should also consult a qualified Muslih (reformer) and form an ISLAAHI TA`ALLUQ (reformative and spiritual connection) with him. If these methods of remedy do not have any effect then one should refer back to one’s Muslih and notify him of one’s condition.
3. There are some instances in which gheebah can be permissible such as:
-If by hiding someone’s condition and not speaking about him openly, you are sure that it will definitely cause harm to the Deen or to people, then it is necessary to speak about him. This is NOT haraam, rather it will be considered naseeha (well-wishing) for others.
-Of course before openly speaking about the condition of someone and making “gheebah” of him one should first consult an Alim who practices the Deen, whether the condition of this person is such which can be spoken about openly or not. After he has overlooked the situation and allowed it, then one can go ahead and implement his allowance.
Otherwise if this is not being done for the sake of saving the Deen and people from harm and it is done due to the desires of one’s nafs and enjoyment, then it will be considered gheebah and it will be haraam. To talk about someone’s short-comings and faults without proper knowledge of his condition, is buhtaan (SLANDER).
4. Even if gheebah takes place in one’s Shaikh’s gathering, then one should make an excuse and leave that gathering. Just like rain is a beneficial thing and enjoying the rain drops fall is pleasing, but if it starts to hail then one should run from there for fear of getting hurt. [Likewise the Shaikh’s majlis is a means of showers of mercy but when there is sin in that very majlis then the showers of mercy turn to the shower of Allah’s displeasure. Therefore one should not remain there.]