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Friday, May 23, 2008, Jamadi-ul-Awwal 17, 1429 A.H

Say something good
and refrain from backbiting

By Dr Shariffa Carlo

Living in non-Muslim societies, it is easy for us to fall into the habits and customs of these lands. We start to set our moral compasses in relation to theirs. Sometimes, we go so far as to think that if what we are doing is better than what they are doing, its acceptable. While this may be true in a society of honourable people, in this society where the woman who wears a one-piece bathing suit instead of a bikini is considered modest, we cannot use them to set our compasses. We have to set our standards much higher. They have to correspond with the teachings and understandings of Islam.

Also, we have to recognise that when it comes to morality and values, Islam is the standard. Want to know a prime example? Ever heard of the Golden Rule? It says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Sound familiar? It should, Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) stated the same basic thing.

He said, Narrated Hadhrat Anas (Radhi Allaho anho): The Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) said, "None of you will have faith till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself." (Sahih Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 2, Number 12)
What about the statement, "If you can't say something good, say nothing at all." Here it is in our beloved Prophet's words. Narrated Hadhrat Abu Huraira (Radhi Allaho anho): Allah's Apostle (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) said, "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt (or insult) his neighbour..." (Sahih Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 76, Number 482)
All this goes to preface the idea that we have to care about each other in a way that is in line with Islam, not the lessor standards of the non-believers. Let them follow us.

When we think of 'Gheebat' (gossip, backbiting), most of us think that this is the speech as defined by the non-believers -- saying something negative about someone -- whether truthful or not.

But Islam has given it a stronger definition: Narrated Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (Radhi Allaho anho): Allah's Apostle (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) said: Do you know what is backbiting? They (the Companions) said: Allah and His Apostle (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) know best. Thereupon, he (the Holy Prophet) said. "Backbiting implies your talking about your brother in a manner that 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 backbitten him, and if that is not in him, it is a slander. (Sahih Muslim: Book 31, Number 6265, Abu Dawood, Ahmad and Tirmizi)

And Muttalib bin Abdullah said, "The Messenger of Allah (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) said, 'Gheebat (gossip, backbiting) means that a man mentions about a person something which is true, behind his back." (Majma'-uz-Zawaid)
Just imagine the high standards that Islam has set, that this horrible sin is not even confined just to the oral or written statement. Hasan bin Al-Makhaariq reported that "Once a woman visited Hadhrat Aisha (Radhi Allaho anha), and when the woman got up to leave, Hadhrat Aisha made a sign with her hand indicating to the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) that the woman was short. The Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) immediately chastised her, saying, "You have backbitten!" (Tafseer Ibn Jareer, vol 4, p 328)
In another Hadith, Ummul Momineen Hadhrat Aisha narrated: I said to the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam): It is enough for you in Safiyyah that she is such and such (the other version than Musaddad's has:) meaning that she was short-statured. He (the Holy Prophet) replied: You have said a word, which would change the sea if it were mixed in it..." (Sunan Abu Dawood: Book 41, Number 4857)

Here we can see that Gheebat (gossiping, backbiting) is also what we do that a person may dislike if done in reference to them. This is a serious sin. I know it is easy to underestimate its worth, but Allah has warned us about it in His Glorious Book: "O you who believe! Avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin, and do not spy nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? But you abhor it; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, surely Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful." (49:12)

Allah described backbiting as an act similar to eating the flesh of our brothers or sisters. But don't think of this as only metaphorical. Our beloved Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) proved this to us in one of his great miracles.
Ubaid, the freed slave of the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) reported that someone came to the Holy Prophet and showed him two women who were fasting and said that they were dying of thirst. The Holy Prophet turned away silently refusing to give permission for them to break their fast.

So, the man begged him again, mentioning that the women were on the verge of death. The Holy Prophet then said, bring them to me and bring along a bowl. When they turned to him, he turned to one and told her to vomit in the bowl. She complied, spitting up a mixture of vomit, blood, pus and pieces of flesh, which half filled the bowl.
He then turned to the other and had her do the same. After the bowl was filled, he said, "Verily these two have fasted from what Allah has made halaal for them and broken their fast from what Allah has made haraam. They spent their fast eating the flesh of others." (Ahmad)
These women gave up food and drink -- halaal substances, and, instead, partook of the flesh of their brothers and sisters. So distasteful was this fare that it made them sick to the point of near death.

Further, our scholars have warned us to repent from it. Al-Qurtubi said, "The scholars agree that it is a major sin, and that the committing of this sin necessitates repentance (Taubah) to Allah." (Tafseer Qurtabi)

The Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) has warned us of great punishments, which may befall us as a result of committing this sin. Narrated Abu Barzah al-Aslami: The Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) said: "O community of people, who believed by their tongue, and belief did not enter their hearts! Do not backbite Muslims, and do not search for their faults, for if anyone searches for their faults, Allah will search for his fault. And if Allah searches for the fault of anyone, He disgraces him in the open for everyone to see, even if he hid it in the innermost part of his house." (Abu Dawood: Book 41, Number 4862, Tirmizi and Ibn Hubban)

See, we talk about others, exposing them and Allah gives us a taste of our own medicine -- exposing us. Which of us has no secret, which would harm us if exposed? Who among us can afford to risk this punishment? May Allah protect us form His wrath!
We have to be very careful. Remember, on the Day of Judgement, Allah may forgive us the sins we committed against Him, but He will not take away our rights as individuals. On that day, people will have the right to take our good deeds or even the bad deeds of theirs would be given to us in case of crimes we have committed against them. One of these crimes is Gheebat, where we sacrifice the honour of our brothers and sisters.

Narrated Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (Radhi Allaho anho): Allah's Apostle (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) said: Do you know who is poor? They (the Companions of the Holy Prophet) said: A poor man from amongst, who neither has dirham nor wealth with him. He (the Holy Prophet) said: "The poor of my Ummah would be he who would come on the Day of Resurrection with prayers and fasts and Zakat but (he would find himself bankrupt on that day as he would have exhausted his funds of virtues) since he hurled abuses upon others, brought calumny against others and unlawfully consumed the wealth of others, and shed the blood of others and beat others, and his virtues would be credited to the account of the one (who suffered at his hand). And if his good deeds fall short to clear the account, then his sins would be entered in (his account) and he would be thrown in the Hell-Fire." (Sahih Muslim: Book 31, Number 6251)

Let's reflect on this. Here we are. We thought we were doing good. We prayed. We fasted. We worked hard on doing good deeds. Yet, there we will be on the Day of Judgement. We will have survived all of the horrible trials, the Judgement, the Bridge and the huge thorns, which snatch us according to our deeds and throw us into Hell. (Sahih Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 76, Number 577)

We will have been through all this, only to lose all our good deeds because we could not or would not control our tongue. On this day, we will stand there and be asked by those whom we harmed for their rights. A person whom we have backbitten may take that one crucial deed that means Heaven or Hell. How many deeds can you afford to give away?
Personally, I don't feel that I can spare one. On that day, the mother will drop her load. Your mom will not know you or care about you! Your mother! The Prophets will be saying, "I am not fit for that (intercession)." The Prophets, what chance do you or I have? We must not give ourselves so much credit that we actually have the gall to believe that we can afford to give away even one deed. May Allah protect us all!

This is a major sin that we have to guard against. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into it. Allah warns us that nothing will be hidden on that day. We will have even our limbs speaking against us or for us: Allah says, On the day when their tongues and their hands and their feet shall bear witness against them as to what they did. (24:24)
And Our Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) warns us to be careful of our tongues, what we say. He also encouraged us with the rewards we get for doing so. Narrated Hadhrat Sahl bin Saad (Radhi Allaho anho): Allah's Apostle (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) said, "Whoever can guarantee (the chastity of) what is between his two jaw-bones and what is between his two legs (i.e. his tongue and his private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him." (Sahih Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 76, Number 481)

And Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (Radhi Allaho anho) narrated: Allah's Apostle (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) told that the servant whose fault Allah conceals in this world, Allah would also conceal his faults on the Day of Resurrection. (Muslim: Book 31, Number 6266)
Hadhrat Uqbah bin Amir (Radhi Allaho anho) narrated: Whoever covers the faults of believer is like one who has brought to life a female child buried alive. (Abu Dawood: Book 41, Number 4873)

The rewards are so great. We should be so careful in this matter to avoid the punishment and to receive the great blessings. There are a few situations where it is allowed for us to talk about something, but these are limited. Here are a few allowed situations:
Marital advice or protection from possible harm:

Fatimah binte Qays went to the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) seeking marital advice when both Mu'awiyah bin Abu Sufyan and Abu Jahm had proposed to her. The Holy Prophet told her, "Muawiyah is stingy and tight fisted and Abu Jahm beats his women." So marry Usamah instead. (Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, Nisai and Ibin Majah)

Narrated Hadhrat Aisha (Radhi Allaho anha): Hind, the mother of Mu'awiya said to Allah's Apostle (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam), "Abu Sufyan (her husband) is a miser. Am I allowed to take from his money secretly?" The Holy Prophet said to her, "You and your sons may take what is sufficient reasonably and fairly." (Sahih Bukhari: Volume 3, Book 34, Number 413)
Seeking advice from someone who has the power to help:

Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (Radhi Allaho anho) narrated that a man said, ""O Messenger of Allah! I have a neighbour who is harassing me." He (the Holy Prophet) said, "Go and put your belongings on the street." So, the man went and put his belongings on the street. People gathered and asked, "What's wrong with you?" He said, "I have a neighbour who is harassing me; I told the Holy Prophet about that and he told me to go and put my belongings in the street." The people began to say, "O Allah curse him! (about the neighbour). The neighbour heard about that, so he came to the man and told him, "Go back to your house. By Allah, I will not disturb you again." (Bukhari)

Now, once we have seen this, we have to reflect upon it. What if we have committed Gheebat, what should we do? Well, Imam Nawawi said, "The Ulama have said that if you have committed Gheebat, then ask forgiveness for it. So, how do we repent from this awful deed?

We have to first ask Allah to forgive us and make a decision not to repeat it. Then, we have to go to the people whose backbite we did, if possible, and ask them to forgive us, and if they are dead, ask forgiveness from Allah for their sins and ask of Him to give rewards of His to them and make them happy from us. Remember, Allah will forgive us his right, if we ask sincerely, but He will not remove a right from a believer. So we must ask the believer for his forgiveness as well.

One thing more I would like us to note that what shall we do if we are in a situation where others are backbiting? We have to first remember Allah and advise them not to do so as well by in a nice and gentle manner. If this does not work, we must leave that place or that gathering at once, because sitting there and listening is as bad as doing the deed. For the scholars agree that a person who is in attendance when a sin is being committed is as guilty as the ones who are committing the sin.

Your presence is a kind of approval of the deed. If your friends are angry with you for not participating in their sins, they are not really your friends. Why would they want to harm you and, of course, your religion, and want to hurt your chances to get into Paradise?
Also, remember in doing so, you are protecting the honour of your brother or sister, and look to the reward of doing so. The Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) said: "On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will deflect fire from the face of the one who defends his Muslim brother's honour in the latter's absence." (Tirmizi)
O Allah! Guard our tongues! O Allah! Guard our actions! O Allah! Forgive us our sins against You and ease the hearts of those we have harmed.

Interfering in matters that do not concern you

By Shaikh Nasim Sultan

Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (Radhi Allaho anho) narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) said, "A sign of one's excellence in his Islam, is ignoring what does not concern him." (Related by Ahmad, Malik and Tirmizi)

Ibn-e-Rajab said, "This Hadith is a basic and an important source of good behaviour in Islam." Muhammad bin Zayd, a great scholar of the Maliki School of thought, said, "Four Ahadith comprise a perfect code of conduct." One of them is, 'Whoever believes in Allah and His Messenger should say that which is useful or keep silent.' Another Hadith is when the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) said to the man who sought his advice, 'Avoid getting angry.' A third is the Hadith, 'The believer loves for his (believing) brother what he loves for himself.' The fourth is the above Hadith."

A sign of one's excellence in the religion, is his ignoring what does not concern him, including all things said or done. The Muslim should only participate in what concerns him, such as anything that is his property, right, obligation or under his control. To be concerned with something entails preserving and taking care of this thing that one is allowed to be concerned with.

As for the matters that do not concern one, they are in abundance. Usually, when a person tries to interfere in such matters that do not concern him, the tool frequently used for this is the tongue. Muslims are ordered to utter only good words, for Allah said, what translated means, "Not a word he (man) utters, but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it)." [50:18]

Many people ignore the fact that in Islam, words are considered actions. Such people care not to preserve their tongues from uttering evil or nonsense. Muaz bin Jabal (Radhi Allaho anho) did not know the importance of discretion in the words one utters, so he asked the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam), "Are we going to be held responsible for what we say?" The Holy Prophet answered, "May your mother lose you! What else will lead people to be dragged in the Fire on their faces, but the result of what they utter with their tongues." [Irwaa' al-Ghaleel]

An-Nawawi said in his book, "Riyadh-us-Saliheen", "Know that everyone should only talk about what might lead to benefit. When talking and being silent are equal in benefit, then the Sunnah is to be silent. This is because to be talkative will usually lead to uttering evil, even if it starts with seemingly harmless words. One should always be on the safe side, a state that is indeed desired." When a person utters only good words, he gains respect in his community. Likewise, if he is talkative and nosy, disrespect and a bad reputation are the result.

This Hadith indicates that ignoring what does not concern one is a sign of his excellence in the religion. Being successful in working the righteous deeds and gaining an increase in the number of good deeds are all results of this better behaviour. The number of sins will also decrease if one protects his tongue from uttering evil. Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (Radhi Allaho anho) said, "If you improve your Islam, then every good deed you work will increase (and will be multiplied) by ten folds to seven hundred times in reward. On the other hand, each sin is recorded according to its weight, until one meets Allah, the Exalted One." [Muslim]
The only way to know right from wrong is through the Islamic Shari`ah (Law). What one wishes and desires do not count in this regard. The Holy Prophet has considered the one who ignores what does not concern him to be an excellent Muslim. Therefore, Islam alone must be consulted to define what does or does not concern a Muslim. Because many Muslims do not depend on the Shari`ah to define what they can or cannot participate in, they sometimes abandon their obligations or what they are supposed to do or say, thinking that this is not of their concern. They sometimes defy the rules of the religion by not advising their Muslim brothers, thinking that this also is not of their concern. Or, they indulge in what does not concern them, thinking that this is their concern. To get out of this confusion, one should always consult the Shari`ah to know what he is supposed to do or say.

Benefits from the above quoted Hadith are:
1. This Hadith encourages Muslims to use the time in a manner that brings about their benefit in this life and in the Hereafter.

2. Muslims should always be concerned with what is beneficial and constructive, and should avoid what does not bring about benefit and what does not preserve the honour.

3. This Hadith also encourages Muslims to strive hard to discipline their behaviour, and to reject and abandon sins, dishonour and what brings about disrespect.

4. This Hadith also ordains avoiding interfering with other people's affairs, for unwarranted interference with other people's business causes divisions and hatred among Muslims.

New wave
of Islamic awareness

By QHA Rabbani

The Muslim historian does not judge any civilization on the basis of its material achievement only; he also takes into consideration the extent to which it has realised the basic objective ordained by God, the Creator for His creatures. Allah said: "I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me." (51:56)

Thus, a noble civilization is the one which creates a suitable environment -- political, social, economic, cultural, and material -- that will enable man to direct himself towards the worship of Allah Almighty and to adhere strictly to His commandments in all his activities, unimpeded by the institutions of the society.

These institutions should not be permitted to cause any contradiction between religious belief and conduct, nor should they put pressure on anyone to deviate from his obligations towards Allah, Lord of the worlds.

No matter how advanced a civilization may be in its sciences, literature and arts; no matter how colourful its achievements in architecture, furniture, clothing, and cuisine; no matter how far a civilization has advanced in material progress; in the opinion of the Muslim historian, it still remains "backward" and "deficient" so long as it falls short of creating an environment appropriate to the worship of Allah and the observance of His commandments as embodied in the Shari'ah.

Islamic civilization itself has passed through several stages, and undoubtedly, most of its material achievements were not realised during its early period. Major achievements came in the third and fourth centuries after the Hijra (migration of the Holy Prophet [Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam] to Madinah from Makkah), also termed as "AH".
For this reason, we find the Western historian Adam Mitez voicing the opinion that the fourth century of the Hijra represents the peak of Islamic civilization, because this period was the most appropriate for the worship of Allah.

When compared with the behaviour of the Muslims in the fourth century of the Hijra, the behaviour of the Muslims in the first century was clearly more in accordance with the teachings of the Shari'ah. The Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) alluded to this when he said: "The best of generations is my generation, then those that come after them, then those that come after them."

This logic seems strange indeed to the minds of the non-Muslim historians, because they have accepted the criteria and values of Western civilization. But for the Muslim historian, who has managed to break free of the domination of Western values, criteria and concepts, the whole matter appears self-evident.

The Muslim has been able to achieve this new vision due to the new wave of Islamic awareness, the effects of which are now quite visible throughout the contemporary Islamic world.

One of these effects has been the breaking away of the young Muslim generation from the clutches of Western civilization. Islam and faith have inspired them with feelings of superiority, self-confidence, and independence, both spiritual and intellectual. This is significant because it represents the first correct step in the direction of establishing a new civilization, God willing.


'Allah created
mercy in 100 parts'

By Abdul Wakeel

Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (Radhi Allaho anho) related that the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) said: "Allah created mercy in one hundred parts and sent down to earth only one part. Because of this one part, there is mutual love amongst creation, so much so that an animal will lift up its hoof from its young one, fearing that it might harm it. Allah has reserved the remaining ninety-nine parts of this mercy to favour His believing servants on the Day of Judgment. " (Bukhari and Muslim)

Hadhrat Umar (Radhi Allaho anho) related: Once there was a woman who was frantically searching for someone amongst the prisoners of war who had been brought to the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam). When she found a child amongst the prisoners, she took it and pressed it against her chest for it to suckle.

At that point the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) turned to his Companions and said: "Do you think that this woman will ever allow her child to be thrown into a fire?" They said: By Allah! As far as it lies within her power, she will never allow the child to be thrown into a fire. The Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) then said: "Indeed Allah is kinder to His servants than this woman is to her child." (Muslim)

Abdullah bin Umar (Radhi Allaho anho) relates that the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) mounted the pulpit and said in a loud voice: "O You who have accepted Islam with your tongues, but in whose heart faith has not yet entered! Do not annoy the Muslims nor revile them, nor seek out their faults. For whosoever seeks out the fault of his brother Muslim, Allah will seek out his faults. He whose faults are sought out by Allah, then Allah will expose him, even if he is inside his house." (Muslim)

Hadhrat Ubadah bin Saamit (Radhi Allaho anho) related that the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) said: "Whosoever seeks forgiveness for the believing men and the believing women, Allah will record for that person -- equivalent to every believing man and believing woman -- a good deed." (Majma'-uz-Zawaaid)

Hadhrat Amr bin Abasah (Radhi Allaho anho) said: I came to the Messenger of Allah (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) and said: O Messenger of Allah! Who is with you in this matter: He said: "A free man and a slave." (Meaning Abu Bakr and Bilal). I asked: What is Islam? He replied: "Good speech and serving food."

I asked: What is faith? He replied: "Patience and excellence." I asked: What Islam is the most excellent? He replied: The one from whose hands and tongue other Muslims are safe." I asked: What faith is most excellent? He replied: "Good character." I asked: What prayer is most excellent? He replied: "Standing in humility and recitation for a long while."

I asked: Which migration is most excellent. He replied: "That you leave that which your Lord hates." I asked: What Jihad is most excellent? He replied: That in which one's stead is injured and one's blood is shed." I asked: What hour is most excellent? He replied: The last half of the night." (Ahmad)

Hadhrat Abu Jaree Jaabir bin Saleem said: I have seen a man whose opinion is followed, he does not say anything except that they take it. I said: Who is he? They said: This is the Messenger of Allah (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam). I said (twice): 'Alaik-us-Salaam (upon you be Allah's prayers) O Messenger of Allah. He said: "Do not say 'Alayhis-salaam, for that is the greeting of the dead, rather say: Assalaam-o-'Alaika.

I said: Are you the Messenger of Allah? He said: "I am Allah's Messenger, whom if an affliction touches you and you were to invoke Him, He removes it. And if a year of famine comes upon you and you invoke Him, He causes the crops to sprout for you. And if you were in a water-less desert and your she-camel strays and you invoke Him, He returns it to you."

I said: Give me advice. He said: "Do not abuse anyone." After that, I did not abuse any free man, slave, camel or sheep. He said: "Do not look down upon any good work, and when you speak to your brother then be cheerful to him by your face, and that is from goodness..." (Abu Dawood, Ahmad and Haakim)

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