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Question & Answer » Backbiting

1 Question: What is the proper definition of 'backbiting'? Please, give some references from the Quran and Hadith also.
Answer: Backbiting means “speaking ill of a believer in their absence of someone with the purpose of disparaging him, no matter whether the alleged shortcoming was related to his body, lineage, behaviour, deeds, statements, religion, or life, and other defects which are [usually] concealed from the people. Similarly, it does not matter whether the description was done by words or by gesture.”
Almighty Allãh condemned backbiting in His noble Book and has described it such that mind and body feel abhorrence towards it. He said, “And some of you should not backbite the others: would anyone of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? No, you abhor it.” (49:12)
The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Be careful of backbiting because backbiting is worse than adultery, in that a person who commits adultery can repent and ask forgiveness from God, and Allãh can forgive him whereas Allãh will not forgive the backbiter until the person who was at the receiving end forgives him.”
It is not appropriate for a believer to listen to backbiting against his believing brother. Indeed, it appears from the sayings of the Prophet and the Imams (may Allãh bless them all) that it is obligatory upon one who hears backbiting to support the person who is being disparaged; and that if he does not repel the backbiting [against his believing brother], Allãh will abandon him in this world as well as in the hereafter, and he shall be held accountable just like the one who did the backbiting.
2 Question: An elderly person has a habit of doing gheebat and it is very difficult for me to stop him and I also do not want to hear but I am forced to. What should I do?
Answer: To listen to someone who is backbiting a momeen is a sin. If you can stop him from doing this, you should do so. If you cannot, then leave the place where the gheebah is taking place. If you cannot do this either, then turn your attention to something else.
3 Question: If a couple (spouses) want to be transparent to each other and not conceal the slightest thing from each other, is talking about others considered Gheebat?
Answer: Yes, it is considered Ghibat (backbiting), if they talk ill of them.
4 Question: If I do gheebah of a believer is it obligatory for me to tell them about it and ask them to forgive me? Is it true that Allah will not forgive me for doing gheebah of a believer unless that believer forgives me first? What if telling that believer (that I did his gheebah) will make him feel bad and damage my relationship with him, should I still tell him about it? If not, then how can I get forgiveness for that gheebah?
Answer: It is not necessary to tell him that you have backbitten him; rather you can ask him, in a general manner, to forgive you. You should also seek God's forgiveness.
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