Islamic Studies

How Bad Is Backbiting, Anyway?

By AbdelRahman Murphy

When we look at descriptions Jannah and what Allah promised for it’s inhabitants, we see that some of the actions or materials that were previously forbidden will be, at that time, allowed and encouraged as a reward for obeying Allah and living our lives for Him.

One vice that is clearly forbidden in Islam the drinking of alcohol. Besides the wisdoms of it being a catalyst of physical, mental, emotional, social, and even political decay, the reason to avoid alcohol for a Muslim is that Allah [swt] knows best, and He told us to stay away. However, we find that later on in Jannah, Allah [swt] says that there will be rivers of wine that the inhabitants of Paradise will enjoy drinking from.

We also know that, in this life, men are not allowed to wear silk. This is found in the authentic hadith of the Prophet [saw] which mentions that the he held a piece of gold in his right hand and a piece of silk in his left hand and said, “these two are forbidden to men of my Ummah, but permissible for women.” Look again in the Qur’an, though, and you’ll find that Allah promises his followers in Heaven garments made of “fine green silk with golden embroidery.

Some things that are haram in this life, however, won’t be found in Jannah. One of them is backbiting.

In Surat an-Naba, Allah [swt] says,

There they shall neither hear ill speech nor any falsehood.” 78:35

Here, Allah clearly states that one thing that’s forbidden to us now will always be forbidden, even in Jannah, is backbiting (along with other forms of evil speech).

We never would consider drinking wine to be a small sin, as something that we could do a few times and then simply brush off with a couple of du’aa for forgiveness (though Allah is Most Merciful and easily can forgive sins much worse than that). But all too often we become victims of Shaytan’s traps and fall into backbiting about another brother or sister, even sometimes without knowing it! It has become such a norm in society to speak ill about others that we find it to be second nature to make explicit or even sly comments in a negative way about someone else.

It’s incredibly interesting how backbiting is viewed as a minor mistake, something that’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, while alcohol is treated (rightfully so) as a poison. It’s true that alcohol may poison the mind and body, but brothers and sisters, backbiting poisons the heart of the Believer.

So while we spend Ramadan making du’aa for Jannah, good grades healthy lives, marriages, more marriages, and other wants and needs, let’s not forget to ask Allah to forgive us for any comments we may have made knowingly or unknowingly. Because now that we know that speaking bad is not a characteristic of the people in Paradise, we know that it’s not a characteristic we want to come close to having

“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him say good or remain silent.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

And Allah knows best, He is The Most Forgiving and The Most Merciful


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  • JazakAllahu Khair Br. AbdelRahman for this great reminder. Many time as you stated we do this unknowingly.

    Also its stated that Backbiting is worse than Zina, Is this correct?

  • I never thought of it that way, thanks for the new perspective. I’ll be sure to mention it to my students, because unfortunately I hear a lot of them backbiting… even while fasting! 🙁

  • Indeed it is the Devil’s Deception that we are desensitized to the evils of backbiting and slander.

    Also it is very sad that this post only got 3 comments while some of the more controversial/juicy topics get flooded with posts. However, the issue of controlling the tongue is truly an issue of salvation.

  • It’s easy to speak and read about this act…soooo difficult to practice as we all know. May Allah make us strong on his path.

  • Alhamdullillah, a wonderful direct article. Please make dua for me to be stong in this matter of backbitting and only speak good of others and to keep away from those who speak ill of others.

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