Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem
Gossip and backbiting are a couple of those issues that no matter how much they seem to be brought up in khutbahs, lectures, and halaqas, they continue to be prevalent in our societies. If we take a look into our social gatherings and interactions, especially as women,we’d notice that talking about people who are not present is at the core of many of the discussions we have.
We all know that gossip is bad and that it is forbidden in Islam, so today I would like to focus on how we can begin to break the habit for ourselves instead of focusing on the many ahadith and ayat from the Qur’an that talk about the punishments awaiting the backbiters in this world and the next.
The first step to breaking this bad habit is to understand what backbiting actually is in the deen of Islam. We tend to think of it only as malicious talk about someone behind their back, especially if this talk is untrue, but the scope is actually far wider than that.
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم defines backbiting in the following hadith:
In discussing this hadith, a teacher of mine recently mentioned that it does not say that backbiting is saying something bad about someone, rather it is talking about someone in a way that she would dislike when she is not present. This can include any range of things from insults, sharing her personal secrets, or even sharing good things about her that you know she would prefer not to have shared with others.
There are many examples of this. Casually making mention about another sister's bad habit that you saw and telling a sister's secrets with the universal preface of, “don't tell anyone, but...” are common instances of gossip. Given the the above definition though, it could also mean something like sharing the news of a sister's pregnancy at a gathering where she is not present. While it is technically good news, and a happy thing you are sharing, if you know that she did not want the news out yet then it will still count under the Prophet's صلى الله عليه وسلم definition of backbiting.
Seeing exactly how broad the definition of backbiting is, it is all the more imperative for us to learn to steer our conversations clear of any talk of other people, whether good or bad.
There are many descriptions of what will happen to those who backbite in the akhirah, of the gruesome punishments and one narration that even mentions that a backbiter will not enter paradise. The following hadith, however, really puts it into a perspective that we can understand as 21st century Muslimahs:
*This article is written by an SFC Guest Contributor *
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem
Salah, fasting, paying zakat, dressing modestly and observing proper gender relations—these are all things that come into our minds when we think of our Islamic duties and obligations. We tend to think primarily of the “rules” or the more ritual aspects of our worship, but today I want to begin my writing for the Ideal Muslimah section here at Striving for Clarity with a series on a characteristic that is just as important for our faith as those mentioned above : sound Islamic manners.
The above hadith is just one of many that emphasizes the importance of manners and etiquette in the deen of Islam. One of the things that attracted to me to Islam in the very beginning of my journey was the fact that Islam is such a “social” religion, in that in the Muslim community, how we treat one another is of the utmost importance. Another hadith even equates being a perfect believer with having good manners:
The aim of this new mini series is to go through some of the important aspects of proper manners and etiquette that an ideal Muslimah should strive to cultivate. For this first post, I will provide a general overview and in shaa Allah, delve more in-depth in future posts. I will get into detail on some of the various traits and aspects of good manners that are mentioned in the Qur'an and sunnah.
Today I would like to touch on the underlying theme of respect. In my opinion, respect is the origin of all good manners. When we see the word respect, it is probably very easy to call to mind a couple of people that we feel respect for in our lives. For me, when I hear respect, my mother's face immediately appears, as well as my husband's and my grandfather's. If I widen that scope a little bit I can think of various scholars and speakers whose work I respect, and of course when I think of respect I would be remiss if I left out our beloved Prophet (ﷺ) and the whole generation of righteous Muslims at that time.
While this is a good start, as a community and as individuals, we need to dig deeper. It is easy to respect the people that we love or public figures whose private lives we may never see. But what about the rest of the world? If we look within our hearts, how much can we truly say we respect those who differ in opinions from us? Those we see in less fortunate circumstances than us? How much do we respect Allah's عز وجل weaker creations?
Allah عز وجل says in the Qur'an
The "Ideal Muslimah" section of Striving For Clarity provides an array of articles, micro-series and short tidbits geared towards highlighting the important characteristics of a Muslim woman.