By A. Zeynep Donmez – Ozlem Ata Translated from Turkish by Yilmaz Kaso
A chapter from the book ‘Friday of the Youth” Sydney, AUSTRALIA
BACKBITING / GOSSIP
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
يَٓا اَيُّهَا الَّذ۪ينَ اٰمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَث۪يراً مِنَ الظَّنِّۘ اِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ اِثْمٌ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَبْ بَعْضُكُمْ بَعْضاًۜ اَيُحِبُّ اَحَدُكُمْ اَنْ يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ اَخ۪يهِ مَيْتاً فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُۜ وَاتَّقُوا اللّٰهَۜ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ تَـوَّابٌ رَح۪يمٌ
“O you who believe! Avoid much of the assumption. Indeed, some assumptions lead you away from the truth. Do not spy on each other or backbite. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would detest it! Refrain from opposing God. God welcomes the turnarounds and He is the Most Gracious”. (Al-Hujurat 49:12)
قِيلَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَا الْغِيبَةُ قَالَ ” ذِكْرُكَ أَخَاكَ بِمَا يَكْرَهُ ”. قِيلَ أَفَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ كَانَ فِي أَخِي مَا أَقُولُ قَالَ ” إِنْ كَانَ فِيهِ مَا تَقُولُ فَقَدِ اغْتَبْتَهُ وَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ فِيهِ مَا تَقُولُ فَقَدْ بَهَتَّهُ ”.
The Messenger of God (PBUH) was asked: Messenger of God! What is back-biting (ghiybah)? He replied: It is saying something about your brother which he would dislike. He was asked again: Tell me how the matter stands if what I say about my brother is true? He replied: If what you assert (the bad attribute) is indeed found (in him), you in fact backbite him. If that is not in him, you have slandered him. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab Al-Adab, 40 (4874))
We make some assumptions when making decisions in our daily lives. To make those assumptions, we use some indicators. For example, the cloudy weather indicates that it will rain. It is okay to give direction to our own lives by taking these indicators into account. However, the assumptions we make about people also affect our attitude towards them. It can cause us to be prejudiced about them and to avoid facts about them. Such assumptions are prohibited by the verse we read.
One of the things that are prohibited in this verse is to investigate the secrets of people. Just as there are things we share with those around us in our lives, there are also things that we keep to ourselves. Let’s assume you have a diary where you write down your emotions or some events you don’t want others to know. Would you like this diary to be found and read by a family member or a friend without your permission? Most of you won’t like it. Because nobody likes to have their private things revealed. Now let’s consider some of our behaviors in our daily lives more carefully based on this example. Let’s say your two friends are sitting aside and talking between themselves. You are just a few meters away and you can hear what they are talking about. What do you think you should do? Should you stay there eavesdropping on what they say or walk away? Even if a momentary thought says “I better stay there and listen to what they say,” don’t listen to it. Put yourself in your friends’ shoes. What you do not want to happen to you, do not do it yourself either.
Momentary thoughts that inspire us to do the things forbidden by God are whispers of the Devil which aim to delude us. Recite Auzu Basmala (I seek refuge from the accursed Satan, the one who was expelled and stoned; In the name of God, the most merciful and most compassionate) immediately and seek refuge in God from this thought and get away from there; because in the verse we presented at the beginning of our topic, it is explicitly forbidden to investigate people’s secrets, as well as following the assumptions about them. These are the most influential factors that open the way to sin, that is, gossip or backbiting. Already, the hadith we presented at the beginning explains in detail what backbiting is. When you say bad things about a person in his absence, you cannot say, “What is wrong with this? We are saying what has already happened.” Talking about the bad traits or flaws of people in their absence is considered backbiting. If you are talking about the bad traits or flaws which they in fact do not have as if they do have them, that is even worse and it is considered slander. Both are forbidden. Comparison of backbiting to eating dead human flesh also allows us to realize what disgusting behavior it is.
Backbiting is not performed just by talking. Today, people are backbiting many other people who are known or not known to them on blogs or social media by writing. If you ever took part in such a sin, you must repent fearing God, and turn back from that wrongdoing as it is commanded in the verse; because repentance is not just self-regret. To repent duly, you have to give up the mistake you have made, restore the damage you caused -if possible- and then start acting correctly. For example, if you have committed a sin of backbiting by speaking in a group, you should correct it by speaking in a group that will allow the same people to hear or see. Likewise, if you have committed a sin of backbiting by writing on social media, you must correct it by writing it the same way. Considering the difficulty of doing these, you will find that it is easier not to commit this sin at all. If we live by obeying the prohibitions of God at every moment of our lives, we hope that we will be among the saved ones.