Backbiting is Sinful in Practice as it is to Listen to


Imaam An-Nawawee (rahimahullaah) said:


Know that backbiting – just as it is forbidden upon the one who backbites to utter it; then likewise it is forbidden upon the listener to listen to it and to approve of it. So it is obligatory upon the one who hears a person initiating forbidden backbiting that he prohibits him – as long as he does not fear apparent harm. For if he fears that then it is obligatory that he disapproves of it in his heart and that he leaves that sitting if he is able to part from it.

If he is able to disapprove of it with his tongue or that he interjects the backbiting with speech of another topic – then it is a must upon him to do so, if he does not do so then he is sinful.

If however he were to pronounce with his tongue to: ‘be silent’ whilst he desires in his heart that it should continue then regarding this Aboo Haamid Al-Ghazaalee said:

‘That is hypocrisy which does not remove him of sin; and it is a must that he should dislike it in his heart.’

And when one is compelled to be present in a gathering in which there is backbiting and he is unable to disapprove of it or that he disapproves of it – however it  is not accepted from him and neither is it possible for him to leave and be on his way, then it is forbidden for him to listen and pay attention to the backbiting. Rather his conduct should be that he makes dhikr (remembrance) of Allaah, The Most High with his tongue and his heart – or with his heart, or that he thinks about another matter in order to busy (distract) himself from listening to it.

And so it will not harm him after this what is heard without the listening attentively and paying attention to it in this particular circumstance. So if he is able after that to leave and they continue in their backbiting and its like then it is obligatory that he leaves. He, The Most High said:

{وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ الَّذِينَ يَخُوضُونَ فِي آَيَاتِنَا فَأَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ حَتَّى يَخُوضُوا فِي حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِ وَإِمَّا يُنْسِيَنَّكَ الشَّيْطَانُ فَلَا تَقْعُدْ بَعْدَ الذِّكْرَى مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ}

((And when you see those who engage in false talk regarding Our Ayaat [verses/signs], then turn away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Shaitaan causes you to forget, then after the remembrance do not sit with the wrong-doers)) (Al-An’aam: 68)


Imaam Ibn Al-Jawzee (rahimahullaah) said:


And how many there are that are silent in regards the backbiting of the Muslims when they are backbitten in front of him – his heart becomes delighted. Yet he is sinful of that from three aspects:

The first of them: the delight; for it was attained due to the presence of this sin emanating from the one who backbit.

The second: due to his happiness at the defamation of the Muslims.

The third: that he has not disapproved.


(Taken from: Saheeh Al-Adhkaar wa da’eefuhu (An-Nawawee) p.394 & Tilbees Iblees p.128.)

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