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Gheebat - When it is allowed and when not?

Prophet Muhammad (s) once said to Imam 'Ali ('a): "O 'Ali! When someone hears the backbiting of his Muslim brother co...


Prophet Muhammad (s) once said to Imam 'Ali ('a): "O 'Ali! When someone hears the backbiting of his Muslim brother committed in his presence, yet he does not rally to his assistance despite being capable of doing so, God shall humiliate him in the world and in the Hereafter." [Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi`ah, vol. 8, hadith no. 16336]

Consequences of Backbiting



.^. The Prophet (s) once gave counsel to Abu Dharr (r) , saying: "O Abu Dharr! Beware of backbiting, for backbiting is graver than adultery (zina')." Abu Dharr (r) said: "Why is that so, O Messenger of Allah?" He (s) replied: "That is because when a man commits adultery and then repents to God, God accepts his repentance. However, backbiting is not forgiven until forgiven by its victim." [Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasai'l al-Shi`ah, vol. 8, hadith no. 18312]


Prohibition of Listening to Backbiting



In the same manner as backbiting is prohibited, so also is listening to it. Indeed, as some traditions indicate, the listener is like the backbiter in all the evil aspects—so much so that his act is a grave sin carrying an obligation to seek forgiveness from the victim.


.^. The Prophet (s) said: "The listener is one of the two backbiters." [Al-Fayd al-Kashani, Al-Mahajjat al-Bayda', vol. 5, p. 260]


Is Backbiting Ever Allowed?



There are very few situations where it is permissible to speak about the faults of another person. One must be very careful not to let the existence of these exceptions allow transgression into sin. Some of these situations are:


.^. to protect Muslims from the evil of another person, including situations where one is asked to vouch for the integrity of a marriage prospect

.^. when the person being talked about does not conceal his violations of Divine commands

.^. to describe any fault of a patient before a physician for purposes of treatment 

.^. criticism about a narrator of traditions (hadith).



The Cure for this Disease



If someone, God forbid, has been guilty of this ugly act, he or she must purge this vice and nourish the roots of sincerity, unity, and solidarity in his or her heart by following these steps:

.^. Meditate for a while about the effects of this sin in this world and in the Hereafter. Reflect on the fearsome, frightful forms that will beset you in the grave, in the Barzakh, and on the Day of Resurrection. Heed the words of the Holy Prophet (s) and his household ('a) for their pearls of wisdom in this regard will overwhelm you. Then weigh a quarter of an hour's pleasantries, gossip, and satisfaction of the imaginative lust against thousands upon thousands of years of adversity or eternal damnation in hell and everlasting painful chastisement!

.^. Consider this: even if you have enmity toward a person whom you backbite, that animosity requires that you should not resort to backbiting. It is stated in the traditions that the good deeds of the backbiter are transferred to the book of deeds of the victim of his backbiting, and the victim's sins are transferred to the record of the backbiter.

.^. Repent and seek the forgiveness of the victim, if this is possible without any chance of vicious consequences; otherwise, you must implore God's mercy for the victim.

.^. Gather all your strength to rid your soul of this sin at all cost, by making a covenant with yourself to abstain from this abominable for a certain time. Bring your tongue under control and be fully watchful of yourself, steadfastly vigilant, calling yourself to account. God willing, it is hoped that after some time you will find yourself reformed and free of its ill traces. Gradually the burden of the task will ease, and you will feel a natural disposition to dislike and detest it. At that point, you will come to possess spiritual peace and delight in achieving freedom from this vice.

.^. Backbiting often results from a weakness in the backbiter's own soul, such as an inferiority complex. You should pry into your soul to discover what weakness prompted you to backbite your brother or sister; then set out to remedy the weakness.


Conclusion


The Prophet (s) said: "No fire is faster in consuming dry wood than gheebah in consuming a devotee's virtues." [Al-Mahajjat al-bayda', vol. 5, p. 264]


The Forty-first Greater Sin: BACKBITING


http://www.al-islam.org/greater_sins_complete/47.htm