Pick Your Teeth!
It's one of the greatest sins and yet it's something we do day after day. Sometimes we don't even realise it. You're just chatting away with your friends and you begin to talk about somebody else. Our whole lives are based around 'Home and Away' and 'Neighbours', soaps based on lying, backbiting etc. But look at what the Prophet (saw) said about it: The Prophet (saw) was sitting with his companions one day and one of them was speaking badly about someone who wasn't there. As the man got up to leave the Prophet (saw) said to him: "Pick Your Teeth!" "But I haven't eaten anything." The man protested. "No" the Prophet (saw) said "YOU HAVE EATEN THE FLESH OF YOUR DEAD BROTHER". As Allah tells us in the Quran "Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? No, you would hate it." (Ch49: v12)
But What If It's True?!
The Prophet (saw) told us "Backbiting is to say something about someone they wouldn't like said about them....If what bad you said about them is true, then you have backbited and if it is false then you have slandered them." (MUSLIM)
If you're still not convinced of how big a sin backbiting really is, then look at the punishment Allah has in store for the backbiters. The Prophet (saw) described: "On the night of mirage I passed by some people who had metal hooks in their hands and were clawing at their faces and their necks with them. I asked Gabriel 'Who were these people?' He said 'These are the people who eat the flesh of human beings and disgrace them' (Abu Dawud).
This is how big of a sin backbiting is looked upon and yet we continue to backbite without a second thought, next time you lie, talk about somebody, remember Allah (swt) and the Prophet (saw) and put them in front of you before you speak.
Just having a Laugh!
May be we think it's all right to take the mick out of someone so long as we say it to their face. 'We'll make fun of the way someone talks, walks, or how they look. Allah warns us against such behaviour: "O you who believe. Let not some men laugh at others, it may be the that they are better than you. Nor let some women laugh at others it may be that they are better than you. Nor abuse each other , nor be sarcastic to each other by using offensive nicknames..." (Ch49v11)
Don't forget that Allah made us the way we are, so how can you even think of making fun of his creation?
Cool to Swear?
Listen to yourself and to your friends speaking one day - nearly every sentence will have a swear word in it, thinking it's cool and macho to swear, copying the idols of TV and the cinema. Is it really 'cool' to swear? The Hellfire is far from being cool. People will wish they were cool then rather than being cool in this world. Remember! That every time you speak , an angel writes down what you say, and that one day you will have to answer for every single word you ever uttered. So if you swear at someone then it's written down as a sin against you. You're only harming yourself. The Prophet (saw) said that "Abusing a Muslim is a sin and fighting with him is disbelief." (MUSLIM).
'But sometimes you just have to swear'!
We've all been there - you're just so angry with somebody and the only way you can express yourself, is to swear at them. The solution? ...
Don't get angry in the first place
A man came to the Prophet (saw) one day and said "Advise me". The prophet (saw) said "Don't become angry. Don't become angry. Don't become angry"....
"When one of you gets angry while he is standing up, he should sit down. Then anger will leave him, and if not then he should lie down" (Ahmad). So let us follow this beautiful advice of the Prophet (saw) and remember that anger is from shaitan. If someone angers you or swears at you then don't harm yourself by doing the same but respond in a better way as Allah says in the Quran "Repel evil with what is better. Then he who was your worst enemy will become your best friend." (Ch41v33)
"It wasn't me. Honest."
How often do we say such a phrase or say that "I was only joking". We treat lies as being trivial. However we are told that "Allah's messenger did not hate anything more than lying"(Ahmed). The Prophet (saw) was once asked "Can a Muslim be a coward?" He (saw) replied "Yes." and then asked "Can a Muslim be a miser?" and the reply was "Yes." The Prophet (saw) was then asked "Can a Muslim be a liar?" The Prophet (saw) replied "NO! A Muslim can never be a liar". Furthermore, he said "Truth leads to virtue and virtue leads to paradise...Lying leads to wickedness and wickedness leads to the hellfire." (Bukhari). As we know that one lie leads to another ten lies which lead to bad actions. Remember you can lie and think that you have
got away with it but on the day of Judgement your hands, tongue and feet will bear testimony against you and tell the truth.
But it's only words!
One day one of the companions asked the Prophet (saw) "O Messenger of Allah. Will we be called to account for what we say?" He replied "May you be lost to your mother - people will be thrown, faces down into the hellfire, only on account to what their tongues said." (Tirmidhi).
Indeed the tongue controls the rest of your body. A well controlled tongue will keep us within Islam but a loose tongue will destroy us. The Prophet (saw) said "When a person gets up in the morning, all the parts of his body make a plea to his tongue saying; 'Fear Allah regarding us, because we follow you. If you are right then we shall also be right , and if you are wrong then we shall also be wrong." (Tirmidhi)
Instead of swearing, lying and engaging in useless talk we can use our tongues in better ways and what better than telling people about Islam. Allah says "Who is better in speech than one who calls (men) to Allah and works righteousness and says I am one of those who bow down in Islam" (Ch 41v33)
Your tongue can save you as well!
Indeed if you control your tongue and speak good then paradise can be yours. The Prophet (saw) said "Whoever can guarantee me two things I can guarantee them Paradise." The companions asked "What O Messenger of Allah?" He replied "What is between his jaws (his tongue) and his legs (private parts)." (Bukhari)
I've lied and backbited, sworn and made fun of others. I must be doomed I must be going to hell!"
NO! Allah (swt) tells us in the Quran: "O my servants who have wronged themselves. never despair of the mercy of Allah for truly he forgives all sins. He is the Forgiving, the Merciful." (Ch39v53)
So if you really repent and turn back to Allah and promise not to commit the sin again then truly Allah's promise is true and He will forgive you.
If you've backbitten someone - go and tell the person whom you backbited and apologise sincerely and ask them to forgive you. But if you think that the situation will get worse then turn back to Allah sincerely begging for his forgiveness then to make up for what you said, go around and talk good of him.
The Best Example
As we know that the best person to have ever lived is the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and he is the best of example for mankind. If we follow him we can never go wrong. Ayesha (RA) the Prophet's wife described the Prophets conduct as follows "He was neither a obscene talker nor a user of bad words. He did not shout nor did he repay evil with evil. He used to forgive people and overlook their sins." (Tirmidhi)
Final Advice: A beautiful saying of the Prophet (saw) that will ensure the protection of our tongue. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last day, LET HIM EITHER SPEAK GOOD OR KEEP SILENT" (Agreed upon)
Gheebat (backbiting) is perhaps the most commonly committed sin of the tongue. Most people who are religious conscious would refrain from lying, swearing, slandering, etc. However, even such people invariably become entrapped in the snare of Shaitaan and allow their conversation to drift into gheebat. Indeed only the one who has a firm control of his tongue can be saved from this malady, but what is gheebat?
It is thus imperative that Gheebat be accurately identified and recognized in order to be able to refrain from it. The Ahaadith have defined this malady very simply and clearly. It is reported in a hadith that Rasulallah (saw) once inquired of the Sahaba (ra): "Do you know what is gheebat?" "Allah and His Messenger know best," they replied. "To mention something about your brother which he would dislike" Rasulallah (saw) informed them.
A person then asked: "What if this is true?" (That the person being spoken about is actually involved in that sin). The Messenger of Allah (saw) replied: "If it is true then you have indeed backbitten about him. But if it is untrue, then you have slandered him (which is worse)."
Hence to mention anything about a person in his absence which he would dislike is gheebat. The magnitude of the sin, the gravity of this malady could be gauged from the following Ahaadith. Rasulallah (saw) is reported to have said: "Gheebat is worse than zina (adultery)." In another hadith it is reported that there are more than seventy stages of consuming interest, the lowest of which is equivalent to cohabiting with one's mother. To consume one Dirham of interest is worse than committing adultery thirty five times.
However, a sin more severe than interest is the dishonoring of a Muslim (which is a natural consequence of gheebat). (Baiqahi) Engaging in gheebat is also an extremely costly affair. It is reported in a Hadith that on the day of Qiyamah the person who was backbitten about would claim retribution from the one who spoke ill of him. Allah (swt) will compensate the victim by handing over the good deeds (the currency of the Hereafter) of the culprit to him. If the latter has no good deeds to his credit, the sins of the victim would be transferred to him.
Hence the Salah, Sawn, Zakat, Hajj, etc. of a person would all be lost due to gheebat. A tremendous loss indeed! How often do we engage in gheebat, yet regard ourselves as free from this crime? This is due to certain misconceptions. Many people assume that gheebat does not apply if one could mention the same facts about a person in his presence. How often does a person retort: "This is not gheebat. I can say it to his face." This, however, is the deception of Shaitaan. The Ahaadith contain no such restriction which excludes the above from the purview of gheebat.
Likewise many people believe that gheebat only applies if the sin of the spoken person is not known. This is another misconception. If the sin is well known, it is gheebat only, however, if such a sin of a person was discussed which the next person was unaware of, two severe sins have been incurred; one is the sin of gheebat, and the other is the sin of disclosing the fault of another Muslim.