Beware of the fact that Shaytan can mislead a person to abuse these exceptions and take them as an excuse to do things which are forbidden, so that he may find himself constantly gossiping if he is not careful.
The types of Ghibah which are permitted are clearly defined and strictly limited, and such things must only be said when the intention is correct. There must be no motive of venting one's own anger or of defaming the person. Allah (SWT) "knows of (the tricks) that deceive with the eyes, and all that the hearts (of men) conceal.”
The types of Ghibah which are permitted are as follows: (2)
1. Complaint - such as complaining to a ruler or judge.
The evidence for this is the report of 'A'ishah (RA) in which she said: Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, told the Prophet (SAAS): "Abu,Sufyan is a miserly man and does not give me enough for myself and my child, but I take from him without his knowing." He said: "Take what is sufficient for yourself and your child, and no more."
Further evidence is to be found in the Hadith of Abu Hurayrah (RA), who said: A man said: "O Messenger of Allah! I have a neighbour who is harassing me." He said: "Go and put your belongings out on the street." So the man went and put his belongings out on the street. People gathered and asked: "What's wrong with you?" He said: "I have a neighbour who is harassing me; I told the Prophet (SAAS) about it and he told me to go and put my belongings out on the street." They began to say: "O Allah, curse him! O Allah, humiliate him!" (The neighbour) heard about this, so he came to the man and told him: "Go back into your house; by Allah, I will not disturb you again.” (4)
2. Seeking a Fatwa, such as telling the Mufti, “My brother - or so-and-so - has done me wrong: how do I get out of this situation?" This is what happened in the Hadith narrated above.
3. Seeking help to change a wrong deed (Munkar), or to prevent some disaster befalling a Muslim. This too may be referred to the Hadith quoted above.
This includes the critical appraisal of the reporters and witnesses in the transmission of Ahadith - this is in order to protect the authenticity of the Hadith of the Prophet (SAAS).
From Zayd ibn Arqam (RA) who said: We set out on a journey with the Messenger of Allah (SAAS), in which we faced many hardships. 'Abdullah ibn Ubayy said to his friends: "Do not give what you have in your possession to those who are with the Messenger of Allah (SAAS) until they desert him. And in this case, when we return to Madinah, the honourable will dive out the meaner therefrom."
I came to the Messenger of Allah (SAAS) and told him about this. He sent someone to 'Abdullah ibn Ubayy and he asked him whether he had said that or not. He swore an oath to the effect that he had not done that, and said that it was Zayd who had lied to the Messenger of Allah (SAAS). Zayd said: I was very disturbed on account of this until this Ayah was revealed attesting that I had spoken the truth: "When the Hypocrites come to you..." [al-Munafiqun 63:1]. The Messenger of Allah (SAAS) then called them in order to seek forgiveness for them, but they turned their heads away..." (5)
With regard to this, Imamal-Shawkani (may Allah have mercy on him) said: The clear evidence concerning that is the Hadith which was reported concerning al-Nasihah (sincerity) to Allah, to His Book, to His Messenger, to the leaders of the Muslims, to their common folk and to their elites. Exposing lies and liars is one of the greatest forms of Nasihah which is obligatory towards Allah (SWT), His Messengers and all the Muslims.
He also said: Likewise, exposing a person who has given false witness with regard to property, blood or honour, is also a form of the Nasihah which Allah (SWT) has made obligatory on us.
From al-Sharid (RA) who said: The Messenger of Allah (SAAS) said: "If someone is in a position to pay off his debts but does not do so, it is permitted to rebuke him harshly and to punish him.” (7)
Ibn Mubarak defined the punishment as imprisonment on the request of the one who is owed money.
AI-Munawi, in Qayd al-Qadir, also commented on this Hadith, saying that the harsh rebuke could take the form of the one who is owed money telling his debtor: "You are a wrong-doer (Zalim), you do not pay your debts on time," etc., but such rebukes should not include foul language or insults to his honour (Ird). The punishment could be decreed by the Qadi in order to make him pay his debts, and could take the form of lashing or imprisonment.
5. Consultation in the matters of marriage, business partnerships or asking about a particular neighbourhood (i.e. with a view to moving there), etc.
When both Mu'awiyah and Abu' I-Jaham asked for the hand of Fatimah bint Qays in marriage, she consulted the Prophet (SAAS) about them. He told her: "As for Abu'l-Jaham, he does not drop his stick from his shoulder (8) and as for Mu'awiyah, he is poor, and has no money.” (9)
In another Hadith, the Prophet (SAAS) said: "Each Muslim has six rights over another:" It was asked: "What are they, O Messenger of Allah?"
He said: "When you meet him, you should greet him with salaam; when he invites you, you should accept; if he asks for our advice, then you should advise him..." (10)
6. Mentioning the sin of one who commits his sin openly, or the Bid'ah of the innovator. No other faults of such people should be mentioned, unless there is good reason for doing so, as outlined above.
From 'A'Ishah (RA): A man asked permission to see the Prophet (SAAS) who said: "Let him enter! What a bad member of the tribe he is!"
Al-Bukhari concluded from this Hadith that it is permissible to speak about wrongdoers and those about whom one has misgivings in their absence.
From 'A'ishah who said: The Messenger of Allah (SAAS) said: “I don't think so-and-so and so-and-so know anything about our religion.
AI-Layth said: They were two men of the Munafiqin (Hypocrites).
7. Description of someone who is known by a certain physical characteristic, such as al-A'raj (the one who walks with a limp), al-Asamm (deaf), al-A’ma (blind), etc.
It is not permitted to use these names for the purposes of insulting: if it is possible to identify a person by another name, then this is better.
From Usayyir ibn Jabir: The people of Kufah sent a delegation to Umar (RA), among whom was a man who was making fun of Uways. Umar said: "Is there anyone from the tribe of Qaran here?"
That man (who had mocked Uways) came forward, and Umar said: "The Messenger of Allah (SAAS) said: A man will come to you from Yemen, and he will leave only his mother behind there. He will suffer from leprosy; he will pray to Allah, and Allah will cure him of it, except for a patch the size of a Dinar or Dirham. Whoever of you meets him, let him ask for forgiveness for you.” (13)
Imam al-Shawkani (may Allah have mercy on him) said: If you ask me, "What if a person who had a nickname (Laqab) was not known by any other name?" I would say, "If such was the case, then that nickname would not really be a nickname at all; it would be a proper name (Ism) by which the person is known, and he would not be known by any other name at all."
The specific Shar'i cases outlined above have also been referred to in verse:
“Criticism in not Ghibah in 6 cases: Complaint, Identificaton, warning, Criticizing someone who openly commits sin, seeking a Fatwa and asking for help to correct wrongdoing.”
1. The phrase is taken from the Qur'an (Gharir 40:19) [Translator].
2. Adapted from al-Nawawi, Riyadh al-Salihin, with explanations and references as necessary.
3. AI-Bukhari (7180), Muslim (1714).
4. AI-Bukhad, Adab al-Mufrad (124). AI-Hafiz al-Mu-idhiri classed its Isnad as Hasan in al-Targhib wa'I-Tarhib; and it was reported elsewhere. See also: Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, al-Ihtijaj bi'l-Qudr (57 and 58) (ed. al-Albani).
5. AI-Bukhari (4903) and Muslim (2772). Their turning their faces away meant that they did not want to the Prophet (SAAS) to ask for forgiveness for them.
6. Raf al-Ribah, ed. Muhammad Ibrahim al-Shaybai, p27 (published by Maktabah Ibn Taymiyah, Kuwait).
The word Nasihah, translated here as "sincerity", also carries the meanings of "good advice", "doing justice to a person or
situation", "integrity", etc. See al-Nawawi's Forty Hadith (Hadith 7). [Translator].
7. Abu Dawud (3628), Sahih Sunan Abi Dawud/3086;al-Nisa'i;
Ibn Majah, et al. Classed as Sahih by al-Albani, al-Inva', No. 1434.
8. This phrase may mean either that he travels a great deal, or that he is accustomed to beating his wives frequently.
9. Muslim (1480) et al.
10. Muslim (2162) et al.
11. AI-Bukhari (6054), Muslim (2591).
12. AI-Bukhari (6067).
13. Muslim (2542).
14. Raf al-Ribah, p33