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What is permitted from “GHEEBAH” (backbiting)?

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ ۚ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma’ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful. 3:104

What is permitted from “GHEEBAH”(backbiting)?

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Imaam al-Hasan al-Basree (d.110 H– rahimahullaah) concerning (permitted) backbiting :

“There is no backbiting in the case of a person of innovation or a person who openly commits sin.”

refer : Sharh Usoolul-I’tiqaad (1/140)

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All praise is for Allaah, Lord of all the Worlds, who ordered us to follow His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and to call to His Way, and may Allaah send praises and blessings of peace upon our Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and upon his family, his Companions, and those who truly follow them until the Day of Judgment.

Verily the best speech is the Book of Allaah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and the worst of affairs are the newly – invented matters in religion, every newly invented matter (in deen) is an innovation, every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the Fire.

Indeed, Allaah the Glorified and Exalted sent His Messenger Muhammad (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) to all of mankind to explain to them the affairs of their religion and to educate them what is halaal (lawful) and what is haraam (unlawful). As Allaah the Exalted said,

هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ

الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِن كَانُوا مِن قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ

“He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammadsallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) from among themselves, reciting to them His Verses, purifying them (from the filth of disbelief and polytheism), and teaching them the Book (this Quran, Islamic laws and Islamic jurisprudence) and Al-Hikmah (As-Sunnah: legal ways, orders, acts of worship, etc. of Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). And verily, they had been before in mainfest error.” 62:2

In general al-gheebah (backbiting) is haraam (unlawful) as the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘Do you know what is backbiting?’ They said, ‘Allaah and His Messenger know best.’ He said, ‘It is that you mention about your brother (in his absence) what he dislikes.’ It was said, ‘What is your view if my brother is as I am saying?’ ‘He said, ‘Even if he possesses that which you accuse him of, then you have backbitten him. And if he does not possess that which you accuse him of, then you have slandered him.” refer : Sahih Muslim (2589).

Based on above hadith and other text common masses consider backbiting as impermissible in all cases and situations but they are generally not aware that their are some exceptions wherein backbiting is permissible. The Fataawa and research committee of Saudi Arabia explained some of such exceptions.

Quote :

“Gheebah (backbiting) means that a Muslim mentions the defects and shortcomings of his brother (in religion) which he does not like. However, there are certain situations in which scholars permit a Muslim to speak about his brother for the public interest. Some of these situations are : Speaking out against the injustice done to oneself such as saying to the judge or ruler that so and so wronged him by doing such and such; or asking for a Fatwa (legal opinion issued by a qualified Muslim scholar) such as saying to the Mufti (Islamic scholar qualified to issue legal opinions) so and so did such and such; is he right or wrong? Some of them are also warning Muslims against people of evil and suspicion, such as Jarh (criticism of Hadith narrators) and asking for advice when intending to get married to the daughter of someone or entering into partnership or living near someone. Some of which are also mentioning the acts the Fasiq (someone flagrantly violating Islamic law) does openly in public. Added to that : Defining someone in a way that does not intend defaming him as being known as the Blind, Lame, Deaf and the like. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions. End quote. Fataawa Al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah li’l-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah wa’l-Ifta’(http://goo.gl/TzJM1j)

We can further understand this matter under the hadith reported from Aaishah (radiyallahu ‘anha) who said, ‘Hind the wife of Abu Sufyaan said to the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam), ‘Abu Sufyaan is a tight-fisted man and he does not give me that which is sufficient for me and my son. So I take it from him whilst he does not know.’ So he said, ‘Take what will suffice you and your son with fairness.” refer : Sahih al-Bukhari (5359)

Great scholars and Imaams of Islaam derived the below benefits from the above hadith :

Imaam Nawawee (d.676 H– rahimahullaah) mentioned this hadith in Riyaad us-Saaliheen (p. 399) under the chapter “what is permitted from backbiting”

Imaam Ibn Rajab (d. 795 H– rahimahullaah) said in an-Naseehah wat-Taghyeer (p. 34), “So as for the people of innovation and misguidance and whomsoever tries to pretend to be a Scholar whilst he is not from them, then it is permissible to clarify his ignorance and to make apparent his faults and to warn against following him.”

Imaam Ibn Katheer (d. 774 H– rahimahullaah) in his Tafseer (6/381) said , “And backbiting is prohibited by ijmaa’ (consensus), and there is no exception from that except for that which brings about a benefit such as what occurs in al-jarh wat-ta’deel (criticizing and appraising) and in naseehah (advising).”

Imaam Ibn Hajr (d. 852 H– rahimahullaah) in Fathul-Baaree (9/509), “This hadith is to be used as an evidence for the permissibility of mentioning a person with that which he will not find admirable in order to get a fatwaa (legal verdict) or to complain and the likes of that. And this is one of the instances when backbiting is permissible.”

It is clearly stated in Sharhul-’Ilal (p.59), “… the faults of a man must be mentioned if there is a benefit in that, even if it names a specific individual. For example, it is permissible for the one who has witnessed some evil to rebuke it without any disagreement. So what occurs therein has a general benefit for the Muslims.”

Imaam Sufyaan Ibn ’Uyaynah (d.197 H– rahimahullaah) said, ‘Shu’bah used to say, ‘Let us come together so that we can backbite for the sake of Allaah the Mighty and Majestic.” Imaam al-Hasan al-Basree (d.110 H– rahimahullaah) concerning backbiting, “There is no backbiting in the case of a person of innovation or a person who openly commits sin.” refer : Sharh Usoolul-I’tiqaad (1/140)

Abu Mariyah Junaid Bin Munawar Bin Ali Al-Hindi

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Baarak-Allaahu Feekum, wa sal-Allaahu wa sallam ‘alaa Nabiyyinaa Muhammad

was-Salaam ‘Alaykum wa-Rahmatullaahe wa Barakaatuhu

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وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْهُدَىٰ وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّىٰ وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا

“And whosoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follow other than the believers way, We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in the hell -what an evil destination (4 : 115)

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