The Varying Forms of Wrongful Backbiting

By Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah .


*The original translation of this text has been edited for readability.

There are found amongst the people those that will backbite depending on the gathering, his companions and his associates whilst knowing that the one being backbitten is free of what they say, or of some of what he says. However, he sees that if he were to forbid them then the gathering will cease and the people in the gathering would become sullen and estranged from him. So he undertakes compliance with them just for good social relations as well as to retain companionship.

Then there are those that backbite in other ways. So at times it would be under the guise of religion and rectification, so he will say: ‘I am not in the habit of mentioning anyone except with good and I neither like backbiting nor lies, however, I shall inform you of his affairs.’ So He will say: ‘By Allaah! He is Miskeen (weak/pitied) or he is a good man however he has in him such and such.’ Or he may say: ‘Let us leave him; may Allaah forgive him and us.’ Whilst his intent is to belittle him. They seek to deceive Allaah with that just as they deceive the creation. We have seen this and its like in various colours (i.e. forms).

Then there are those that backbite to show off and in order to raise himself in the eyes of man. So he will say: ‘If I had supplicated for so and so last night in my prayer...’ He then raises himself whilst putting his brother down in front of the one that may have faith in him. Or he may say: ‘So and so is dull in intelligence and has little understanding.’ Although his intent is to praise himself and establish good awareness of himself in society and to show that he is better than the one he sinfully backbit.

Likewise, from them (i.e. such people) are those that backbite due to envy. Such people are between two ugly affairs: backbiting as well as envy. So, when an individual is praised then he will try to stop the praiser by showing and highlighting his deficiencies under the pretense of religion and rectification, or in the form of envy, immorality and dispraise so as to change the praiser's mind about him.

Then there are those that backbite by way of mocking and play, just to make other than himself laugh through his joking, mimicry and belittling of the one he is joking about.

Then there are those that backbite when showing amazement. So he will say: ‘I am amazed at so and so, at how he does not do such and such?! And from so and so, as to how he fell into such and such, and how he did such and such.’ Hence, he says his name while expressing his amazement and astonishment.

There are those that backbite when showing sorrow. So he will say: ‘So and so is weak/pitied, it has caused me sorrow for what has happened to him and what the outcome was for him.’ In this way the one who hears him thinks that he has sorrow for him and that he is sad for him, and that his heart is covered in worry for him. Such a person may also mention him (the one backbit) in front of his enemies so that they may profit from it. So this, and other than it, is from amongst the greatest of the sicknesses of the heart as well as deceitfulness to Allaah and His creation.

From them are those that may backbite when angry and when disapproving something abominable. There then becomes manifest about him certain things from his speech which contains fallacies whilst his intent was other than which he made apparent.

And indeed Allaah’s aid is sought.


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