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Hold that Tongue

by Muhammad Alshareef

Ibn Abbas narrates:

On the day of Nahr (in Hajj, the day of Eid), RasulAllah addressed the people and said, "O people, what day is this?"

They said, "It is the sacred day!"

He then remained quiet. Then he asked, "What month is this?"

They said, "It is the sacred month!"

He then remained quiet. Then he asked, "What land is this?"

They said, "It is the sacred land!"

He remained quiet and then he announced, "Verily your blood and your wealth and your honor is sacred (to one another) as the sacredness of this day, as the sacredness of this month, as the sacredness of this land." RasulAllah repeated it over and over, and then he raised his head to the heavens and said, "O Allah, have I given the message? O Allah, have I given the message" (Bukhari and Muslim)?

Allah commanded us to be merciful, loving, and forgiving to one another. And He made this a quality in His Messenger so that we could follow RasulAllah's example:

It is from the mercy of Allah that you dealt gently with them. Were you severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you. So pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah's) forgiveness for them, and consult them in the affairs. Then, when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, for Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him) (A’le- Imran 3/159).

Indeed, the Sahaabaa followed the example of RasulAllah and were described by the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth as such:

Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and those who are with him are strong against unbelievers, (but) compassionate-merciful amongst each other…(Al-Fath 48/ 29).

One of the biggest and evilest wreckers of this compassion, love, and brotherhood is backbiting. The word in Arabic is gheebah, coming from the root gha-yaa-baa, meaning that which is unseen. When a Muslim sees his brother or sister committing a sin, instead of advising the brother or sister directly, the Muslim goes to others where they are unseen and there they speak ill of the brother or sister in their absence.

Backbiting is haram; it is one of the major sins and repentance must be sought for this sin. There is no other opinion in Islam.

Imam Al-Qurtubi said, "There is ijmaa' (a consensus) that backbiting is a major sin and that it is fard that a person do tauba for it."

RasulAllah said to his companions, "Do you know what gheebah is?"

They said, "Allah and His Messenger know best."

He said, "It is to mention something about your brother (in his absence) that he would hate."

It was said, “What if what I say about my brother is true?”

He sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said, "If what you said about him is true then you would have backbitten him, and if it is not true, then you would have slandered him (buhtaan)" (Muslim).

Look at the severity of the situation and the result of someone who runs after their Muslim brothers and sisters trying to expose their faults. RasulAllah said:

"O you who have believed with (only) your tongues, yet faith has not yet entered your hearts! Do not backbite the Muslims. And do not search out their faults. For verily he who follows the private matters of his Muslim brother, Allah shall follow his private matters. And whoever has his private matters followed by Allah, Allah shall expose them even if they were (hiding) in the belly of their home" (Ahmad and Abu Dawood).

Imam Malik said about the sacred city of Madinah:

"I have met in this land people that had no faults. But they spent their time finding faults in others and as time passed, they accumulated their own faults. And I have met in this land people who had faults. However, they kept silent when it came to the faults of others, and so as time passed

their faults were forgotten!"

Listen! Allah is calling us:

O you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much as possible for suspicion in some cases is a sin. And spy not on each other, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, you would abhor it...But fear Allah, for Allah is Oft- Returning, Most Merciful (Al-Hujurat 49/12).

What causes someone to backbite his Muslim brothers and sisters?

1. Satisfying Anger

This is done by backbiting the person who kindles his anger. So every time this person makes him angry, he subdues it by backbiting the person. Through this (the backbiting), he feels he is getting even with the other person.

The cure for this is the advice of the Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam when a man came to him and said, “Advise me.”

RasulAllah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, "Laa taqhdab (Do not become angry)!"

2. Wanting to Make or Keep Friends

In order to maintain friends with others, a person indulges in backbiting because he is afraid of losing their friendship. Thus he does not reprimand them when they backbite, but indulges in it with them.

To cure this, he must remember the saying of the Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam:

"Whoever seeks the pleasure of men by displeasing Allah, Allah will abandon him to the people" (Tirmidhi).

3. Playing Around, Joking and Making Fun of Others

This could involve mockery and sarcasm. It is enough to remind those indulging in this practice of what Allah, the Most High, said:

O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter is better than the former... (Al-Hujurat 49/11).

It could very well be that Allah loves them and does not love us.

4. Anger for the Sake of Allah

A person may become angry because of a sin committed by another person. So, he talks about it venting his anger and mentioning that person's name instead of concealing it and not mentioning him.

Sufyaan Ibn Al-Husayn narrates:

“I was sitting with Iyaas Ibn Mu'aawiyah when a man walked by and I said ill of that man. ‘Keep quiet!’ Iyaas said to me. ‘Have you fought the Romans?’”

“I said no. He asked, ‘Have you fought the Turk?’”

“I said no. He then said, ‘The Romans were saved from you and likewise the Turk were saved from you. But your own Muslim brother was not saved!’”

“After that, I never backbited anyone.”

5. Having Too Much Spare Time

This can cause a person to fall into backbiting, because it is easy for such an idle mind to become busy with men, their honor, and their faults. To correct this, a person must spend his time in acts of obedience to Allah, worshipping, seeking knowledge, and teaching others.

6. Conceit and Lack of Awareness of One's Faults

Such people should think about their own faults and try to correct themselves, and feel ashamed to criticize others when they have many faults themselves.

It was said to Rabee' Ibn Khaytham, "We never see you finding fault in others."

He replied, "I am not satisfied with myself enough to dedicate my time to finding faults in others."

Uqbah Ibn Aamir narrates:

I said, "O RasulAllah! What is salvation?"

He sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said, "Hold your tongue! Your house should suffice you! And cry over your (own) faults” (Tirmidhi)!


Shaykh Al-Qarnee narrates in one of his lectures:

Abu Bakr once disputed with another companion about a tree. During the dispute, Abu Bakr said something that he rather would not have said. He did not curse, he did not attack someone's honor, and he did not poke a fault at anyone. All he said was something that may have hurt the companion's feelings.

Immediately, Abu Bakr ordered him, “Say it back to me!”

The companion said, “I shall not say it back to you.”

“Say it back to me,” said Abu Bakr, “Or I shall complain to the Messenger of Allah.”

The companion refused to say it back and went on his way.

Abu Bakr went to RasulAllah and told him what had happened and what he said. RasulAllah called that companion and asked him, “Did Abu Bakr say so-and-so to you?”

He said, “Yes.”

He, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “What did you reply.”

He said, “I did not reply it back to him.”

RasulAllah said, “Good, do not reply it back to him (do not hurt Abu Bakr). Rather say, ‘May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr!’”

The companion turned to Abu Bakr and said, "May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr! May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr!"

Abu Bakr turned and cried as he walked away.

How can we revive this air of mercy and love and brotherhood that the companions lived? The Messenger of Allah showed us in the following ways:

1. Having Eman in Allah and Doing Acts of Goodness

Allah says:

On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will the Most Gracious bestow love (Maryam 19/96).

2. Spreading Salaam to Those Whom You Know and Those Whom You Do Not

Abu Hurayrah narrates that RasulAllah said:

“You shall not enter Jannah until you believe, and you shall not believe until you love one another. Shall I not guide you to something that – if you do it – you shall love one another? Spread salaam amongst yourselves” (Muslim).

Abdullah Ibn Amr narrates:

A man came to RasulAllah and asked him, “Which Islam is the best?”

He said, “To feed the hungry and to give salaam to those you know and those you don't know” (Bukhari and Muslim).

3. Giving Gifts to Your Brothers and Sisters

Suffice is the statement of RasulAllah:

“Tahaaddu tahaabbu (Give gifts and you shall love one another)” (Bukhari).

4. Telling Your Brother or Sister that You Love Them for the Sake of Allah

This is one of the ways to solidify the brotherhood and sisterhood when your brother or sister knows that you love them.

These days people are loved for the clothes they wear, so they buy more expensive clothes. Others are loved for the cars they drive, so they buy newer models. But how many are loved for the sake of Allah and what kind of effect would that have?

RasulAllah showed us the example when he said to Mu'aadh:

“O Mu'aadh! I love you for the sake of Allah!”

Allahu Akbar! Imagine if it were you that RasulAllah said this to.

Mu'aadh replied, “May He whom you have loved me for love you also.”

In conclusion, if you remember only one thing today, let it be the following words of RasulAllah. Take it as your motto until it carries you to Jannah. He sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:

"Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him say good things or keep quiet!"