My Grandsheikh was speaking on a point of utmost importance for everyone—about a very terrible and dangerous characteristic of egos which is the main source of every trouble for mankind, the fountain of evil and the famous ‘arm of devils’ for turning people into each others’ enemies and destroying good relations between people in general. We are very proud of our religion of Islam for the fact that it prohibited this worst characteristic of the ego. This characteristic is backbiting, and it destroys everything—thus it is strongly prohibited by Allah. My Grandsheikh says that we must be very careful on this point. Our faith (Iman) will never grow if we cannot desist from backbiting. Every time we backbite we do to our Iman what pouring acid on the roots of a young tree does to that tree. It is a very terrible action, and Grandsheikh pointed to the following verse (Ayat) of Qur’an in order to show just how terrible:
“O ye who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a sin. And spy not, neither backbite on another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You abhor that (so abhor the other) ! And keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Relenting, Merciful.”
Allah gave this ayat to the sons of Adam in order that they should hate that characteristic and be disgusted by it: you, when you backbite, are the same as someone who eats his brother’s cadaver.
We must clearly define backbiting so that we can distinguish it and seek to avoid it: ii you are plagued with a characteristic which you detest in yourself. and are trying to hide, and then someone comes along, spots it and makes it public with the intention of degrading and debasing you in the eyes of people—then he is backbiting. You are trying to hide your faults, and he comes along and spreads word of them around so that people’s hearts may turn away from you.
On the other hand there are some people who are committing every badness and are proud of their doings, not caring what people think of them, not hiding, nor feeling any shame for their sins; if you are cautioning someone so that he may not fall victim of such a devil, then this is certainly not backbiting but, quite to the contrary, a duty. You must differentiate between the two: One person is, so to speak, dragged to evil because his ego pulls him there and he is too weak to resist, but he feels shame; the other is a conscienceless devil, and you must describe his characteristics exactly and warn. Allah Almighty Himself describes Abu Lahab, Nimrod, Abu Jahl, Pharaoh and Haman in the Holy Qur’an for this reason.
Another very delicate matter is that of giving advice (Nasihat). We must not tell people about their faults directly, but we must be tactful and indirect in our approach. In Turkish we use the example of the mother-in-law who wanted to correct an objectionable trait in her daughter-in-law, but in order to avoid offending her she reprimanded her own daughter in the presence of the daughter-in-law for just that very fault which
she wished to correct in her. In this manner the daughter-in-law understood without taking offense. It is very important to use this sort of tactic, especially in our times when people’s feelings are more fragile than china teacups—you must be very careful.
In general, one must not tell anyone anything directly. When you see a no-good characteristic in someone you may say, “Oh my brother, sometimes I have such-and-such a problem with my ego, what shall I do about it?” Perhaps he will say, “Oh, I also have that problem.” This is real guidance,
ABOUT BACKBITING: A STORY FROM THE LIFE OF THE PROPHET
Allah Almighty is teaching us so many lessons so that we may become suitable for His Divine Presence. Now we shall speak about our Prophet’s miracles. Every Prophet brought miracles and indeed must bring miracles, so that people can understand that he is an extraordinary person with a personality distinct from ours.
Our Prophet said: “Who so sees me (and the miracles that I have brought) and believes in me that is a grant from Allah Almighty to His servant but I am not surprised that those who see me should believe; what I am astonished by are that those who come after our generation are believing in me just from reading about me in history books.
reatest happiness (Tooba for those who have en me and believe in me, but seven times greater happiness for those who did not meet me but are believing through having heard of me.”
One day the Holy Prophet was sitting with his companions when two men entered holding their stomachs in pain, saying, “Oh Rasulallah, we have intense pain in our stomachs—please treat us with your medicine.” The Prophet answered, “You must have eaten something which caused you this, you must have eaten some raw meat.” “Oh Prophet, we haven’t eaten any meat in fifteen days, hat to speak of raw meat.” “No, you must have eaten raw meat I tell you.” Again they denied it, he instructed them to induce vomiting, and each them vomited out large chunks of green, rotten raw meat. At this the two men were astonished on account of two things: Firstly, because they never ad eaten any such thing, nor would they have reamed of doing so, yet they regurgitated it from heir very own bellies; and secondly, because the pain they had been suffering disappeared immediately. “Oh Rasulallah, we swear to you that we never ate this.” To this the Prophet replied: “Oh people, did you not just pass by the house of a certain person and backbite about him? Did not Allah say that whosoever back bites eats the raw neat of his brother’s cadaver? Allah speaks only he truth, and this is proof of it.”
When you are backbiting you destroy your own [faith and-that of your victim as well, because when one speaks badly about another, a bad current reaches to that person, and he wears- that offense as if it were a heavy burden around his neck. You destroy your faith and his faith, and bring darkness and madness upon him. For this reason it is strongly forbidden in Islam to defame one another. On the other hand, if you are speaking good things about a person, a good current reaches out to him and sheds light on his soul, therefore, it has been ordered to make supplication (Du`a’) for people in their absence. The Prophet says that when a believer makes a du`a’ for an absent brother, that good wish goes out to him and makes him lighter, stronger and more joyful; also Allah Almighty sends an Angel to that suppliant with the following good tidings: “As much as you are asking for that brother of light, strength and happiness , that much Allah is giving to you also.” In this way both parties profit, and similarly, in the case of backbiting, both sides will suffer, as darkness will descend on your heart as well as his. If not for backbiting, relationships would be stronger, and as much as we are connected with each other the more Allah Almighty is pleased with us and extends to us His Divine Protection.
Our Grandsheikh was furthermore explaining that it a person back bites it means that he is burdening the victim with a heavy load so that it becomes difficult for him to bring himself to perform acts of worship. Allah Almighty has stated that He created man only to worship Him, and if you are backbiting you are cutting that person from worship, and thus killing him In this time the majority of people cannot perform the acts of worship asked of them; they are very heavy and lackadaisical in this respect but so quick and agile in serving the Devil and following his way. Backbiting is one of the biggest underlying reasons why people are delaying in performing their worship.
The Prophet says that Allah is the Judge of Judges and that no one can judge anyone as Allah does. If one is backbiting, he is making himself into a judge with no authority from the Judge of Judges: “So-and-so is a no-good person.” Know that you are not the judge of your Lord’s servants; He created them and He judges them as He wills! Who so ignores this point is making himself out to be a partner to Allah (Shirk), and this is one of the greatest sins—as Allah never accepts that partners be ascribed to Him.
Who seeks a partner? He who hasn’t enough power seeks a partner, but Allah Almighty has Endless Power and All-Penetrating Will for what does He need to seek a partner? No partner for Him and no son. A man may be in need of a son to succeed him, but Allah has no need for a successor. His is Eternal Existence knowing no boundaries of time. Therefore, everyone must be very careful. I think this is enough to show us what a terrible thing backbiting is.