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Mind your language


Mind your Language

Bism-illah irahman nirahim

In the name of Allah, the beneficent and most merciful

‘O believers, shun much suspicion for suspicion is a sin, and spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother?’ (Surah 49, 12)

Islamic law has forbidden the consumption of swine or any other meat, which has not been slaughtered according to the Shariah law, it is referred to as haram – unlawful. The other prohibitions include alcohol, gambling, adultery etc. These are the most commonly recognised activities that are outside the Islamic teachings of morality and conduct. Then how shocking is it that we commit other terrible sins without taking responsibility and understanding their harm. What leads us to do this and why do we continue despite knowing it is wrong?

The Noble Qur’an confirms that the sin of backbiting is the same as eating human flesh, which on all accounts is deplorable. There are also numerous hadith that explain the serious consequences of backbiting and slander. Certain narrations confirm that the Prophet (saw) passed by the graves of two men who were being punished. The Prophet (saw) explained that one of them spoke ill of people and the other did not care when passing urine. There are other narrations that compare the sin of backbiting with eating the flesh of a brother. Slandering the dead has also been extensively explained in the Ahadith of the Prophet (saw). One narration confirms that the Prophet (saw) reprimanded his companions (ra) for speaking bad about someone who had passed away. The Prophet (saw) explained that defaming your brother is worse than eating the carcass of a dead donkey. These hadith talks about one of the great sins that even the Ummah – nation of the Prophet (saw) do abundantly. The sin of backbiting involves us discussing someone else’s faults and mistakes behind their back whether it is done humorously or spitefully, the result is the same. We have participated in cannibalism, eating the flesh of our own brother. We do this unashamedly and openly yet if any unlawful meat was offered to us, we would loudly refuse it. We class our actions into categories that do not reflect the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. The sins that are easily avoidable we stay away from, but those that are part of our daily life become acceptable.

In western society there has been a growing trend of labelling wrong actions with a ‘harmless’ name. For example people who drink alcohol are classed as ‘heavy’ drinkers and ‘social’ drinkers, but in Islam the drinking of alcohol is forbidden regardless of the amount or frequency. The sin of gambling has also been put into separate groups of addicted gamblers and people who just have a flutter. This phrase of having a ‘flutter’ has also been termed as being a ‘wager’. Even some Muslims buy into this ‘categorising’ sins by having a flutter on the lottery or at the races claiming it as acceptable because they are not becoming victims of the negative effects of gambling. We need to realise that Islam has forbidden certain activities completely without exception, there has been no reference to any of these sins being allowed in a limited amount or in specific circumstances. The only exception is if our life was at risk and therefore we would need to pick the lesser of two evils, suicide is a greater sin. However it is unlikely that we would ever need to commit these sins to save our life. Similarly the categories of white and black lies is misleading, as to lie in nearly all situations is unacceptable. The backbiting trend is more common and widespread then any of the ones previously mentioned, and whether we think it is harmless gossip or a simple discussion, the reality is punishable.

The Prophet (saw) said, "A Muslim is the one who avoids harming Muslims with his tongue and hands. And a Muhajir (emigrant) is the one who gives up (abandons) all what Allah has forbidden." (Bukhari)


Everything that has been forbidden in Islam has behind it great reasons and benefits for mankind. Firstly, obeying the commands of Allah (swt) as taught by his final messenger Prophet Muhammad (saw) is in itself considered worship. We gain reward for seeking the benefits of everything that has been ordained for us and if we stay away from all things that are unlawful, this is pleasing to Allah (swt). However following the Qur’an and Sunnah brings not only benefit in the hereafter but also in this world too. By not consuming alcohol we have submitted to the command of Allah (swt) but also have protected ourselves from the harmful effects of alcohol, which is the indignity of becoming intoxicated and losing control, the loss of our health and its terrible smell etc. Similarly we need to understand the effects of backbiting, which also damage society as a whole. Whenever we backbite there is a great chance of this turning into slander. Slander is to tarnish someone’s name or reputation and this is done by the hypocrites, the ones who will be in the deepest depth of the fire. Whenever we talk ill of someone, we may easily be influencing people’s opinion of that person whether it is truthful or not, this would lead to slander and can make us hypocrites. Often the sin of backbiting leads to the facts having little bearing on what is being said and we become prone to exaggerating, twisting the truth for the sake of convenience, or simply to have a laugh.

Narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra) ‘The Prophet (saw)said that anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet. (i.e. abstain from all kinds of evil and dirty talk). (Bukhari)

Backbiting also involves many assumptions about the people being discussed and judging each other is a grave mistake in itself. Allah (swt) has forbidden us to make judgements on others, as our position in the sight of Allah (swt) is not known. Backbiting has at least two victims, the first is the one who is being talked about and the other is our-self. Whenever we do a deed against the teachings of Islam, we have hurt our own faith – emaan. These types of activities takes us further away from taqwa – piety and closer to the shaytaan – devil. We need to realise that our so-called ‘harmless’ gossip against each other includes so many sins and so much misguidance. We have acted against the sunnah of our beloved Prophet (saw), the one who will intercede for all of us, inshallah. Should we find someone at fault, be sincere with them by helping them not killing them. If it is awkward for us to approach them, we should request someone closer to that person to discuss the problem with the one who’s at fault. Some narrations state that if the Prophet (saw) felt a person was doing something undesirable, he would rarely address that person himself as he didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings so would ask one of his companions (ra) to make the fault clear to that person. This was to avoid anyone feeling even more guilty because the Prophet (saw) is pointing out their error. This is constructive and shows sincerity to the person who may be making a mistake. Remember that the belief we have in the kalima, our prayers, recitation of the Qur’an, the remembrance of the Sunnah is all so that we can attain Jannah – Paradise, but whenever we deviate from the correct way and hurt one another, we have failed.

We are all at fault and all of us sin but most others are not aware, this is due to the mercy of Allah (swt), from Who we seek forgiveness and hope for mercy . May Allah (swt) shield us from humiliation in this world and the hereafter. Lets always remember our own faults, and think that if we never forgive others and no one is safe from our tongue then how can we expect mercy from the Knower of all things. Allah (swt) commands us that the one who shields the sins and faults of his brother and sister in this life, will have the same mercy of his sins being shielded by Allah (swt).

Narrated by Jarir bin Abdullah (ra) ‘The Prophet (saw) said, "He who is not merciful to others, will not be treated mercifully‘. (Bukhari)

May Allah (swt) give us the guidance to remove the poison of hypocrisy from our hearts, be safe from all misguidance and be kind to one another. Then we can sincerely hope for the mercy and shade of Allah (swt). Ameen.

Allah's Messenger (saw) as saying: Do you know what is backbiting? They (the Companions(ra)) said: Allah and His Messenger know best. Thereupon the Prophet (saw) said that backbiting implies your talking about your brother in a manner, which he does not like. It was said to him: What is your opinion about this that if I actually find (that failing) in my brother which I made a mention of? He said: If (that failing) is actually found (in him) what you assert, you in fact backbited him, and if that is not in him it is a slander‘. (Muslim).

The Prophet said, "The worst people in the Sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be the double faced people who appear to some people with one face and to other people with another face." (Bukhari)

Allah's Apostle said, "Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales. and do not look for the others' faults, and do not do spying on one another, and do not practice Najsh, and do not be jealous of one another and do not hate one another, and do not desert (stop talking to) one another.

O, Allah's worshippers! Be brothers!" (Bukhari)

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