May 29, 2009

The Many Guises of Backbiting

Ibn Taimiyyah (r) said that there are those from the people that backbite or listen to backbiting, and they do so to please the company they keep, with the awareness that the victim is likely to be innocent of some of the things that are uttered about him. Often such offenders feel that if they were to attempt to end such conversation in a gathering, their presence might become unwelcome or burdensome.

There are many methods and guises that are employed when one mentions another in a negative way.

- Under the pretense of being informative. one could say that it is not one's habit to mention others, except for the sake of relating another's condition to someone.

- Or one could state that by Allah, indeed so and so is one to be pitied thereby showing superiority over one who is to be rejected.

- Another method might be to say that so and so is a good person, however he has such and such qualities, thereby justifying himself in revealing another's faults.

- One could also simply state that we should forget so and so, and make supplication for their forgiveness as well as our own, intending only to belittle the one that was mentioned.

- There are those who backbite to raise their own status. When they hear of someone's error, they employ words like, "Had I not prayed for so and so last night in my prayer, the news of their sin would not have reached my ears."

- When a person states of another that he lacks understanding in a matter, the implication is personal superiority for the one that mentions the other's shortcoming.

- There are those that couple jealousy with backbiting - the act of being critical or belittling to those that are praised in the company of others.

- Some people also backbite for the sake of humour, playfullness and lightheartedness. A person finds a certain amount of satisfaction from being appreciated for his story-telling abilities; speaking ill of some one in a humorous fashion adds flavour to a tale.

- Some engage in backbiting by showing surprise and amazement at another's actions: "How is it that someone could do such a thing?" Yet others mention people and their actions with the pretense of sympathy for their actions or misfortunes. In reality, the one who backbites actually finds contentment and satisfaction at the mention of others and their misdeeds.

- Another form is relating someone's misfortune to their enemies, so that they too may find pleasure in putting them down.

In reality all these tactics are designed to try to deceive Allah and to please the creation, and in reality, the many that follow these methods only serve to deceive themselves.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "A man might speak a word without thinking about its implications, but because of it, he will plunge into the Hellfire further than the distance between the east and west." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6477) and Sahîh Muslim (2988)]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever can guarantee to me what is between his two lips and what is between his two legs, I can guarantee for him Paradise." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6474)]

Al-Hasan al-Basrî said: "Backbiting has three manifestations, all of which are discussed in Allah’s Book. They are: backbiting, tale-telling, and slander. As for backbiting, it is to say about your brother something that is true about him. Tale-telling is to say something that you have heard about him. Slander is to say about him what is not true."

Allah says: "O you who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a crime. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would abhor that. And keep your duty (to Allah). Lo! Allah is Relenting, Merciful." [Sûrah al-Hujurât: 12]

Allah says: "O you who believe! Let not some men among you deride others who may be better than they (are), nor let women (deride) women who may be better than they are; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. Evil is a bad name after faith." [Sûrah al-Hujurât: 11]

Allah says: "Woe to every sneering defamer." [Sûrah Humazah: 1]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "One of the greatest of the major sins is to stretch out one’s tongue without right against the honor of a Muslim." [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (4877)]

Backbiting pertains to a disease of the heart. May Allah save us from this most evil of actions and protect us from it's temptations. Ameen!
Page 51; Gems and Jewels, compiled by Abdul Malik Mujahid, Darussalam.

Sound Advice

Advice of Jundub (ra)
- I advise you to fear Allah.
- I advise you to adhere to the Qur'an - for it is light in the darkest of nights and it is guidance during the day.
- Apply it, but if a trial such as poverty comes to you, give precedence to your religion over wealth.
- If the trial worsens, continue to put your religion before your wealth and your soul, for indeed the only one who is destroyed is the one whose religion is destroyed. The one who is poor is the one who has lost his religion.
- Know that there is no poverty after Paradise and there is no riches after the Hellfire.
Ali Ibn Abi Talib (ra) said: "I advise you with five:
- None of you should hope except from His Lord and none of you should fear except his sin.
- None should be shy (when faced with a question) to reply humbly with "I do not know."
- And none should hesitate to acquaint themselves with the matter that they are ignorant about
- One should know that the patience to Iman is like the head to a body; if the head is cut off, the body perishes as well.
- Whoever desires richness without having wealth and abundance and without having a large clan, then let him turn from the depravity of sin to the honor of serving Allah."
Fudail bin 'Iyad said: "If you are not able to fast or pray, then know that you are shackled and confined by your sins." Allah (the Exalted) says:
"Yes! Whosoever earns evil and his sin has surrounded him, they are dwellers of the Fire (i.e. Hell); they will dwell therein forever." (Qur'an 2:81)
Ibn Mubarak said: "I saw that sins cause hearts to die, that base actions lead to their addiction, that avoiding sins is life for the heart, and that it is better for your soul for you to disobey it."
Hasan Basri advised some of his students admonishing them about avoiding the state of being proud. He said:
1. Do not deceive yourself into becoming too proud because you are in a good or righteous environment, for there is no place that is better than Paradise, and our father, Adam (as), experienced there what is known to all.
2. Do not become proud merely because you worship often, for consider what happened to Iblis (satan) after he spent a great deal of time worshipping.
3. Do not think yourself great because you have met with righteous people, for there is no man more righteous than the Prophet (pbuh), yet the disbelievers and hypocrites did not benefit by simply knowing him.
Luqman (as) said: "If you are in prayer, take care of your heart; if you are eating, take care of your throat, if you are in another man's house, take care of your eyes; if you are among people, take care of your tongue. Remember two matters and forget two matters: Remember Allah & death; forget any good that you have done to another and any evil that was done to you by another."

The Slander Incident

All of us are aware of the slander incident that took place during the time of the Prophet [pbuh] involving his wife, Aishah (ra). While I was reading about this a few days back, four main point stood out to me:
1. The manner in which the Prophet [pbuh] handled the situation. He did not succumb to heresay but instead sought Allah's help and said to her, "If you are innocent, Allah will acquit you, otherwise, you have to beg for His forgiveness and pardon."
2. Aishah (ra)'s response to these words, "Should I tell you I am innocent, and Allah knows that I am surely innocent, you will not believe me; and if I were to admit something of which, Allah knows, I am innocent, you will believe me; so there is nothing for me and you except the words of the father of Prophet Yusuf: "So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is Allah (alone) Whose Help can be sought against that which you assert" [Qur'an 12:18]
3. The revelation of Allah coming down at the decisive moment acquitting Aishah (ra) of all the slanderous talk fabricated in this concern. "Verily! Those who brought forth the slander (against Aishah (ra) - the wife of the Prophet [pbuh] are a group among you." [24:11]
4. The principal elements involved in the slander affair, Mistah bin Athatha, Hassan bin Thabit and Hamnah bint Jahsh, were flogged with eighty stripes. As for the man who took the principal part, ‘Abdullah bin Ubai, he was not flogged, either because the corporal punishment commutes the chastisement in store for him in the Hereafter, and he does not deserve this merit, or for the same public interest for which he was not killed previously. He, moreover, became the butt of reproach and humiliation amongst his people after his real intentions had been unequivocally exposed to all the public. [Sahih Al-Bukhari 1/364,2/696-698; Za'd Al-Ma'ad 2/113-115; Ibn Hisham 2/297-307]

Almost a month later, the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] and ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab were engaged in the following talk: "Don’t you see ‘Umar if I had had him (Abdullah bin Ubai) killed, a large number of dignitaries would have furiously hastened to fight for him. Now, on the contrary, if I ask them to kill him, they will do so out of their own free will." ‘Umar replied "I swear by Allâh that the Prophet’s judgement is much more sound than mine." [Ibn Hisham 2/293]
Subhan Allah! The Prophet [pbuh] truly was a blessing from Allah (swt) to mankind. There is no problem in our life that we are faced with, except that there are examples from the Sunnah on how we are meant to respond to it.

Always Forgive Your Enemies, Nothing Annoys Them More

I've often come across this saying and always wondered what it truly meant. It's not easy to forget and forgive some one who has wronged you. It's human nature to feel anger towards some one who has caused you harm, either physically or emotionally or both.
We've been sent unto this Earth as a test from Allah (swt). Our every breath and every action should be done for the sake of Allah (swt) and to please Him. We have been created for the purpose of being a sincere slave to Him alone, and to worship Him in a manner best known to us. Everything else that follows is just a mere means of 'existence' to help us pass through this phase of our lives, yearning for a better life in the hereafter. Allah (swt) sent down the Prophet (pbuh) as a example for us to follow. The Prophet (pbuh) taught us how to implement the teachings of Islam and make it our way of life.
If you read about the life of the Prophet and how he handled different situations he was put in, there is so much we can learn. I'd like to share with you one of the many incidents that have touched my heart and have left a profound impact on my mind.
"In Shawwal, ten years after receiving his mission from his Lord, the Prophet [pbuh] set out towards At-Ta’if, about 60 kilometres from Makkah, in the company of his freed slave Zaid bin Haritha inviting people to Islam. But contrary to his expectations, the general atmosphere was terribly hostile. He approached the family of ‘Umair, who were reckoned amongst the nobility of the town. But, to his disappointment, all of them turned deaf ear to his message and used abusive language as regards the noble cause he had been striving for. Three brothers from the chieftains of Thaqeef —‘Abd Yaleel, Mas‘ud and Habeeb — sons of ‘Amr bin ‘Umair Ath-Thaqafy met the Prophet [pbuh], who invited them to embrace Islam and worship Allâh, but they impudently jeered at him and refused his invitation. "He is tearing the cloths of Al-Ka‘bah; is it true that Allâh has sent you as a Messenger?" said one of them. "Has not Allâh found someone else to entrust him with His Message?" said the second. "I swear by Allâh that I will never have any contact with you. If you are really the Messenger of Allâh, then you are too serious to retort back; and if you are belying Allâh, then I feel it is imperative not to speak to." said the third. The Messenger of Allâh [pbuh], finding that they were hopeless cases, stood up and left them saying: "Should you indulge in these practices of yours, never divulge them to me."

For ten days he stayed there delivering his message to several people, one after another, but all to no purpose. Stirred up to hasten the departure of the unwelcome visitor, the people hooted him through the alley-ways, pelted him with stones and obliged him to flee from the city pursued by a relentless rabble. Blood flowed down both his legs; and Zaid, endeavouring to shield him, was wounded in the head. The mob did not desist until they had chased him two or three miles across the sandy plains to the foot of the surrounding hills. There, wearied and exhausted, he took refuge in one of the numerous orchards, and rested against the wall of a vineyard. At a time when the whole world seemed to have turned against him, Muhammad [pbuh] turned to his Lord and betook himself to prayer and the following touching words are still preserved as those through which his oppressed soul gave vent to its distress. He was weary and wounded but confident of the help of his Lord:

"O Allâh! To You alone I make complaint of my helplessness, the paucity of my resources and my insignificance before mankind. You are the most Merciful of the mercifuls. You are the Lord of the helpless and the weak, O Lord of mine! Into whose hands would You abandon me: into the hands of an unsympathetic distant relative who would sullenly frown at me, or to the enemy who has been given control over my affairs? But if Your wrath does not fall on me, there is nothing for me to worry about."

"I seek protection in the light of Your Countenance, which illuminates the heavens and dispels darkness, and which controls all affairs in this world as well as in the Hereafter. May it never be that I should incur Your wrath, or that You should be wrathful to me. And there is no power nor resource, but Yours alone."

Seeing him in this helpless situation, Rabi‘a’s two sons, wealthy Makkans, were moved on grounds of kinship and compassion, and sent to him one of their Christian servants with a tray of grapes. The Prophet [pbuh] accepted the fruit with pious invocation: "In the Name of the Allâh." The Christian servant ‘Addas was greatly impressed by these words and said: "These are words which people in this land do not generally use." The Prophet [pbuh] inquired of him whence he came and what religion he professed. ‘Addas replied: "I am a Christian by faith and come from Nineveh." The Prophet [pbuh] then said: "You belong to the city of the righteous Jonah, son of Matta." ‘Addas asked him anxiously if he knew anything about Jonah. The Prophet [pbuh] significantly remarked: "He is my brother. He was a Prophet and so am I." Thereupon ‘Addas paid homage to Muhammad [pbuh] and kissed his hands. His masters admonished him at this act but he replied: "None on the earth is better than he is. He has revealed to me a truth which only a Prophet can do." They again reprimanded him and said: "We forewarn you against the consequences of abandoning the faith of your forefathers. The religion which you profess is far better than the one you feel inclined to."

Heart-broken and depressed, Muhammad [pbuh] set out on the way back to Makkah. When he reached Qarn Al-Manazil, Allâh, the Almighty sent him Gabriel together with the angel of mountains. The latter asked the Prophet [pbuh] for permission to bury Makkah between Al–Akhshabain —Abu Qubais and Qu‘ayqa‘an mountains. Full narration of this event was given by ‘Aishah [R] (the Prophet’s spouse). She said: "I asked the Prophet [pbuh] if he had ever experienced a worse day than Uhud. He answered that he had suffered a lot from those people (the idolaters) but the most painful was on the day of ‘Aqabah. I went seeking support from Ibn ‘Abd Yalil bin ‘Abd Kalal, but he spurned me. I set out wearied and grieved heedless of anything around me until I suddenly realized I was in Qarn Ath-Tha‘alib, called Qarn Al-Manazil. There, I looked up and saw a cloud casting its shade on me, and Gabriel addressing me: Allâh has heard your people’s words and sent you the angel of mountains to your aid. The latter called and gave me his greetings and asked for my permission to bury Makkah between Al-Akhshabain, the two mountains flanking Makkah. I said in reply that I would rather have someone from their loins who will worship Allâh, the All–Mighty with no associate." A concise meaningful answer fully indicative of the Prophet’s matchless character and the fathomless magnanimous manners. [Bukhari 1/458; Muslim 2/109]
(Taken from Ar Raheequl Makhtum; The Sealed Nectar, Biography of the Prophet [pbuh])
Subhan Allah! How many of us can say that if put in a similar situation we will exhibit the same amount of patience and trust in Allah (swt)? How many of us, despite being abused so much can make sincere dua to Allah (swt) to bless the offsprings of the wrong doers and bless them with the guidance of Islam?
There is so much we can learn and so much more we need to do to be the type of Muslims our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) wanted us to be.
Have patience and trust Allah (swt) alone, and He will surely set your affairs in order. Forgive your enemies, for they know not, and a greater reward is in store for you in the hereafter, which is better for you than the rewards in this life.