Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|09/09/01 at 00:13:17|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
Dr Muhammad Kamal Al-Shareef[/center]
The Prophet defines backbiting as mentioning someone in a way that that person dislikes. This means that should the one who is being talked about be unhappy or annoyed if he hears what is being said about him, then that is backbiting. It does not matter that what is being said may be true of that person. When somebody's real faults are mentioned, then that is backbiting. Should the faults attributed to a person be untrue, then that is malicious falsehood, which is far worse than backbiting.
Good has forbidden backbiting, describing it as eating someone's flesh after that person is dead: "Do not spy on one another, nor backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Surely you would loathe it. Have fear of God. God is forgiving and merciful." (49: 12)
To listen to backbiting is to participate in it. Hence, the Prophet urges us to defend our brethren, should anyone backbite them in our presence. He says: "Whoever defends his brother's honor, God will protect his face from the Fire on the Day of Judgment." (Related by At-Tirmithi).
In this metaphor God gives a horrible picture, with one person eating the flesh of a dead human being. This image in fact points to the negative effects of backbiting on the backbiter himself. Although he imagines that he supports and strengthens himself by what he says, like one who eats meal, but the fact remains that he is only eating human flesh, horrible and disgusting.
One resorts to backbiting only to express his dislike of others or his envy. Backbiting also gives the backbiter a sense of superiority as he highlights other people's faults that do not apply to him. He also tries, by backbiting others, to brandish his own image in the eyes of his listeners. Anyone who listens to him concludes that he himself has nothing of these faults. Normally a person does not highlight other people's faults if he himself has the same faults.
Modern psychology shows that a person may attribute to others feelings and emotions he himself experiences, and desires which he would not like to see in himself. Thus, he subconsciously denies having them and attributes them to others. This is an unconscious attempt to absolve oneself and blame others. But even if this is the case, the backbiter will have to bear responsibility for his action and incur its punishment, because deep inside, he knows that backbiting is not a quality of a person who loves others or is compassionate to them. It is a product of feelings of hatred, malice, envy and contempt. He knows that these are his own feelings toward others. Had he had different feelings toward them, he would not have spoken ill of them in their absence. Moreover, he realizes that human beings are alike. Hence, he believes that other people bear the same feelings of hatred, malice, envy and contempt toward him. He thinks that, like him, they search for his faults in the same way that he tries to identify their faults. Thus, he will lose all reassurance and inner contentment and peace. How can he be reassured when he thinks that others bear him ill will, malice and hatred?
By contrast, a person who refrains from backbiting and restrains himself from searching after other people's faults, and purges himself of all backbiting, even in his thoughts, is the one who is able to love others. He is compassionate to them, and does not begrudge them whatever they may have received of God's favors and blessings. By the same token, he feels that others bear him no ill will, envy or hatred. Nor does he feel that they are looking for his faults so that they would make fun of him in his absence. That enables a feeling of reassurance and inner peace to grow within him. It is similar to the atmosphere of peace which believers will have in heaven.
God says in the Qur'an: "The righteous shall dwell among gardens and fountains. (They are received with the greeting): 'Enter you here in peace and security.' We shall have removed from their hearts any lurking feelings of malice, (and they shall rest) as brothers, face to face, on raised couches. No weariness shall ever touch them there, nor shall they ever be driven out." (15: 45-48)
We pray to God to include us all with them and to purge our hearts of any ill feeling toward believers. He is Compassionate, Merciful.
[i]"Islam in Perspective" - Arab News - 11 December 2000[/i]
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Haniff (with 2 f's)
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