The Official Website of the Office of His Eminence Al-Sayyid Ali Al-Husseini Al-Sistani

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.”
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 is not Haram in it self, however the listener must act in accordance to enjoining the good (Amr bil Marouf) and forbidding the evil (Nahy anil Munkar)., and if it is not effective one must show their dissatisfaction from the person performing the backbiting.
3 Question: A friend has gone to propose for a potential spouse, and the family of the girl have asked me for a reference regards to my friend, am I allowed to inform them of his faults?
Answer: In this case it is permissible and not considered Ghibat (backbiting),
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