Friday, September 29

Ramadhan 1427 (5): Al-Ghiba'a (Part I)

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the All-Merciful

Allah (swt) reminds us in the Quran:

"O Believers, fasting is decreed for you as it was decreed for those before you, so that you may learn to restrain yourselves."

This restraint isn't limited at our abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours....its more than that, it's about gaurding every part of our body from haram...and that is more important than the giving up of food and drink ramadhan, because it is the control of your nafs that will truly make us believers.

Reprehensible actions and characteristics that come under the title of ‘Major Sins’ are many. Some rate higher on the scale due to the damage they cause to the individual’s spirituality, and havoc they wreak on the society.

Backbiting or "Al-Ghiba" is of these Major Sins, because it is the root of dissension and discord. It is the ‘arm of the devil’ responsible for spreading unpleasantness, malice and spite, and the leading cause of enmity amongst people.

What is Al-Ghiba???
The Prophet of Allah (SAW) said: "Backbiting is to mention something about your brother that he may hate to have mentioned".
Moussa bin Jaafar (AS) said: Whoever mentions something about a man behind his back which is a part of him and his character, and the people already know about it, then it is not backbiting. Should he mention something about him behind his back which the people have no knowledge of, then he has backbitten him. If he mentions him behind his back with something that is not part of him, then he has slandered him. If the defect or characteristic in a person is present, visible, and known to all then it does not come under the category of backbiting, but it would come under the subtitle of defamation, causing hurt and scorning the faithful. Nonetheless, under the guise of these subtitles it is still forbidden.

A Summary of Al-Ghiba
1. Al-Ghiba is the revelation of a defect of shortcoming, be it something common, or concerned with ones religion, which has been hidden by Allah from the ears of the one about to hear it. It is that which the person being talked about would hate to have revealed and the intention of the backbiter is to belittle the one who possesses that characteristic.
2.Transmitting news of something which is not known to others, not for sake of scorning or belittling, but for other reasons, such as amusement, or to use as evidence, or even as a show of compassion (for example you feel sorry for someone who may have a physical or some other defect or problem, which is known only to you, but you talk about it to someone else who has no knowledge of it out of pity. This is considered backbiting). There is no doubt that this type of backbiting referred to in the above instances is forbidden.
3. There is the transmitting of news of a person's defect to someone else who already knows of this defect. On face value, some narrations say that this form of talk is removed from under the title of backbiting, although there is other narrations that place this also under the title of backbiting. Nevertheless in light of that, should the backbiter's intention be to scorn and belittle, then without doubt it again falls under the title of a forbidden act. Because the transmitting of such news may cause harm and weaken a believer’s position. Although the backbiter's intentions may not be to cause harm, it nevertheless happens and it is beyond his power to control the fallout from what has been relayed to others.
4. There is little difference between the mentioning of defects or characteristics in one form or another. Be it a physical, dispositional or hereditary characteristic or defect, be it about one's words or one's actions, about one's worldly business or religious matters, or about matters related to his dress, house, transport and the likes.
5. Things that come under the mentioning of physical bodily characteristics is to say so and so is bleary-eyed, cross-eyed, bald, short, black, yellow and so on. Characteristics a person may possess, thus causing him hurt should it be mentioned in an ill manner. As for backbiting related to heritage is to say this persons father is immoral, cruel, sordid etc. As for dispositional backbiting, it is to say that one is covet, or proud, or a coward, is weak, or a thief, etc.
6. Backbiting which strikes at ones beliefs and principles is to say for example, so and so is a liar, or drinks alcohol, or is negligent in his prayers. Backbiting related to one's worldly affairs is to say, so and so is a big eater or big sleeper, or his clothes are dirty, old, torn, long, short. In short, it is mentioning something that the other party does not accept.
7. It is also forbidden to generalize. An example of that is that you may have seen a Lebanese man stealing. You cannot say, 'The Lebanese are thieves', for then you have backbitten a whole nation.

The main point to note is the concept of controlling one's actions seems easy in ramadhan, because everyone jumps on the bandwagon and prays, fasts, recites quran and has the excuse that the shayateen are locked up we are able to do such and such. The action most people really have an issue with is the control of the tongue and in effect, the control of the nafs.
So turn, reflect, and really consider the value you are adding to a person through your it could be that in turn your speech is taking you closer to jahanum, not jannah...
‘Backbiting eats at one's good deeds (hasanaat) in the same manner that fire eats wood’.

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