Taken from "The Life of Muhammad" by Muhammad Husayn Haykal,
translated by Dr. Ismail Ragi A. al Faruqi
Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:
O you who have believed, avoid much suspicion, for some suspicions are sins. Do not spy, nor should any one backbite the other. Is there any among you who would like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?' Nay, you yourselves abhor it. Fear Allah, for Allah is Acceptor of repentance and All-Merciful. (49:12)
Gheebat (back-biting) has been defined thus: "It is saying on the back of a person something which would hurt him if he came to know of it. " This definition has been reported from the Holy Prophet himself. According to a tradition which Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and others have related on the authority of Hadrat Abu Hurairah, the Holy Prophet defined Gheebat as follows:
"It is talking of your brother in a way irksome to him." It was asked: "What, if the defect being talked of is present in my brother ?" The Holy Prophet replied: "If it is present in him, it would be Gheebat; if it is not there, it would be slandering him."
In another tradition which Imam Malik has related in Mu'watta, on the authority of Hadrat Muttalib bin `Abdullah, "A person asked the Holy Prophet: What is Gheebat? The Holy Prophet replied: It is talking of your brother in a way irksome to him. He asked: Even if it is true, O Messenger of Allah? He replied: If what you said was false, it would then be a calumny."
These traditions make it plain that uttering a false accusation against a person in his absence is calumny and describing a real defect in him Gheebat; whether this is done in express words or by reference and allusion, in every case it is forbidden. Likewise, whether this is done in the lifetime of a person, or after his death, it is forbidden in both cases.
According to Abu Da'ud, when Ma`iz bin Malik Aslami had been stoned to death for committing adultery, the Holy Prophet on his way back heard a man saying to his companion: "Look at this man: Allah had concealed his secret, but he did not leave himself alone till he was killed like a dog!" A little further on the way there was the dead body of a donkey lying rotting. The Holy Prophet stopped, called the two men and said: "Come down and eat this dead donkey." They submitted: "Who will eat it, O Messenger of Allah?" The Holy Prophet said: "A little before this you were attacking the honor of your brother: that was much worse than eating this dead donkey."
The only exceptions to this prohibition are the cases in which there may be a genuine need of speaking in of a person on his back, or after his death, and this may not be fulfilled without resort to backbiting, and if it was not resorted to, a greater evil might result than backbiting itself. The Holy Prophet has described this exception as a principle, thus: "The worst excess is to attack the honour of a Muslim unjustly." (Abu Da'ud).
In this saying the condition of "unjustly" points out that doing so "with justice" is permissible. Then, in the practice of the Holy Prophet himself we find some precedents which show what is implied by "justice" and in what conditions and cases backbiting may be lawful to the extent as necessary.
Once a desert Arab came and offered his Prayer under the leadership of the Holy Prophet, and as soon as the Prayer was concluded, walked away saying: "O God, have mercy on me and on Muhammad, and make no one else a partner in this mercy beside the two of us." The Holy Prophet said to the Companions: `What do you say: who is more ignorant: this person or his camel? Didn't you hear what he said?" (Abu Da`ud). The Holy Prophet had to say this in his absence, for he had left soon after the Prayer was over. Since he had uttered a wrong thing in the presence of the Holy Prophet, his remaining quiet at it could cause the misunderstanding that saying such a thing might in some degree be lawful; therefore, it was necessary that he should contradict it.
Two of the Companions, Hadrat Mu`awiyah and Hadrat Abu Jahm, sent the proposal of marriage to a lady, Fatimah bint Qais. She came to the Holy Prophet and asked for his advice. He said: "Mu`awiyah is a poor man and Abu Jahm beats his wives much." (Bukhari, Muslim). In this case, as there was the question of the lady's future and she had consulted the Holy Prophet for his advice, he deemed it necessary to inform her of the two men's weaknesses.
One day when the Holy Prophet was present in the apartment of Hadrat 'A'ishah, a man came and sought permission to see him. The Holy Prophet remarked that he was a very bad man of his tribe. Then he went out and talked to him politely. When he came back into the house, Hadrat `A'ishah asked: "You have talked to him politely, whereas when you went out you said something different about him. " The Holy Prophet said, "On the day of Resurrection the worst abode in the sight of Allah will be of the person whom the people start avoiding because of his abusive language." (Bukhari, Muslim). A study of this incident will show that the Holy Prophet in spite of having a bad opinion about the person talked to him politely because that was the demand of his morals; but he had the apprehension lest the people of his house should consider the person to be his friend when they would see him treating him kindly, and then the person might use this impression to his own advantage later. Therefore, the Holy Prophet warned Hadrat `A'ishah telling her that he was a bad man of his tribe.
Once Hind bint 'Utbah, wife of Hadrat Abu Sufyan, came to the Holy Prophet and said: "Abu Sufyan is a miserly person: he does not provide enough for me and my children's needs. " (Bukhari, Muslim). Although this complaint from the wife in the absence of the husband was backbiting, the Holy Prophet pemitted it, for the oppressed has a right that he or she may take the complaint of injustice to a person who has the power to get it removed.
From these precedents of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, the jurists and traditionists have deduced this principle: 'Gheebat (backbiting) is permissible only in case it is needed for a real and genuine (genuine from the Shari'ah point of view) necessity and the necessity may not be satisfied without having resort to it". Then on the basis of the same principle the scholars have declared that Gheebat is permissible in the following cases:
(1) Complaining by an oppressed person against the oppressor before every such person who he thinks can do something to save him from the injustice.
(2) To make mention of the evils of a person (or persons) with the intention of reform before those who can do expected to help remove the evils.
(3) To state the facts of a case before a legal expert for the purpose of seeking a religious or legal ruling regarding an unlawful act committed by a person.
(4) To warn the people of the mischiefs of a person (or persons) so that they may ward off the evil, e g. it is not only permissible but obligatory to mention the weaknesses of the reporters, witnesses and writers, for without it, it is not possible to safeguard the Shariah against the propagation of false reports, the courts against injustices and the common people or the students against errors and misunderstandings. Or, for instance, if a person wants to have the relationship of marriage with somebody, or wishes to rent a house in the neighborhood of somebody, or wants to give something into the custody of somebody, and consults another person, it is obligatory for him to apprise him of all aspects so that he is not deceived because of ignorance.
(5) To raise voice against and criticise the evils of the people who may be spreading sin and immorality and error, or corrupting the people's faith and persecuting them.
(6) To use nicknames for the people who may have become well known by those names, but this should be done for the purpose of their recognition and not with a view to condemn them. (For details, see Fat-h al-Bari, vol. X, p. 362; Sharah Muslim by An-Nawawi; Riyad us-Salihin; al-Jassas, Ahkam al-Qur an; Ruh al-Maani commentary on verse wa a yaghtab ba 'dukum ba 'dan).
Apart from these exceptions it is absolutely forbidden to speak ill of a person behind his back. If what is spoken is true, it is Gheebat; if it is false, it is calumny; and if it is meant to make two persons quarrel, it is slander. The Shari'ah has declared all these as forbidden. In the Islamic society it is incumbent on every Muslim to refute a false charge made against a person in his presence and not to listen to it quietly, and to tell those who are speaking ill of somebody, without a genuine religious need, to fear God and desist from the sin. The Holy Prophet has said: If a person does not support and help a Muslim when he is being disgraced and his honour being attacked, Allah also does not support and help him when he stands in need of His help; and if a person helps and supports a Muslim when his honour is being attacked and he is being disgraced, Allah Almighty also helps him when he wants that AIlah should help him. (Abu Da'ud).
As for the backbiter, as soon as he realizes that he is committing this sin, or has committed it, his first duty is to offer repentance before Allah and restrain himself from this forbidden act. His second duty is that he should compensate for it as far as possible. If he has backbitten a dead person, he should ask Allah's forgiveness for the person as often as he can. If he has backbitten a living person, and what he said was also false, he should refute it before the people before whom he had made the calumny. And if what he said was true, he should never speak ill of him in future, and should ask pardon of the person whom he had backbitten. A section of the scholars has expressed the opinion that pardon should be asked only in case the other person has come to know of it; otherwise one should only offer repentance, for if the person concerned is unaware and the backbiter in order to ask pardon goes and tells him that he had backbitten him, he would certainly feel hurt.
In the verse, Allah by likening backbiting to eating a dead brother's flesh has given the idea of its being an abomination. Eating the dead flesh is by itself abhorrent; and when the flesh is not of an animal, but of a man, and that too of one's own dead brother, abomination would be added to abomination. Then, by presenting the simile in the interrogative tone it has been made all the more impressive, so that every person may ask his own conscience and decide whether he would like to eat the flesh of his dead brother. If he would not, and he abhors it by nature, how he would like that he should attack the honour of his brother-in-faith in his absence, when he cannot defend himself and when he is wholly unaware that he is being disgraced. This shows that the basic reason of forbidding backbiting is not that the person being backbitten is being hurt but speaking ill of a person in his absence is by itself unlawful and forbidden whether he is aware of it, or not, and whether he feels hurt by it or not. Obviously, eating the flesh of a dead man is not forbidden because it hurts the dead man; the dead person is wholly unaware that somebody is eating of his body, but because this act by itself is an abomination. Likewise, if the person who is backbitten also does not come to know of it through any means, he will remain unaware throughout his life that somebody had attacked his honour at a particular time before some particular people and on that account he had stood disgraced in the eyes of those people. Because of this unawareness he will not feel at all hurt by this backbiting, but his honour would in any case be sullied. Therefore, this act in its nature is not any different from eating the flesh of a dead brother.
Abu Hurayra reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, "No human child has ever spoken in the cradle except for 'Isa ibn Maryam, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the companion of Jurayj." Abu Hurayra asked, "Prophet of Allah, who was the companion of Jurayj?" The Prophet replied, "Jurayj was a monk who lived in a hermitage. There was a cowherd who used to come to the foot of his hermitage and a woman from the village used to come to the cowherd.
"One day his mother came while he was praying and called out, 'Jurayj!' He asked himself, 'My mother or my prayer?' He concluded that he should prefer the prayer. She shouted to him a second time and he again asked himself, 'My mother or my prayer?' He thought that he should prefer the prayer. She shouted a third time and yet again he asked himself, 'My mother or my prayer?' He again concluded that he should prefer the prayer. When he did not answer her, she said, 'Jurayj, may Allah not let you die until you have looked at the faces of the beautiful women.' Then she left.
"Then the village woman was brought before the king after she had given birth to a child. He asked, 'Whose is it?' 'Jurayj's,' she replied. He asked, 'The man in the hermitage?' 'Yes,' she answered. He ordered, 'Destroy his hermitage and bring him to me.' They hacked at his hermitage with axes until it collapsed. They bound his hand to his neck with a rope and took him along to the king. When he passed by the beautiful women, he saw them and smiled. They were looking at him along with the people.
"The king asked, 'Do you know what this woman claims?' 'What does she claim?' he asked. He replied, 'She claims that you are the father of her child.' He asked her, 'Where is the child?' They replied, 'It is in her room.' He went to the child and said, 'Who is your father?' 'The cowherd,' he replied. The king said, 'Shall we build your hermitage out of gold?' 'No,' he replied. He asked, 'Of silver?' 'No,' he replied. The king asked, 'What shall we build it with?' He said, 'Put it back the way you found it.' Then the king asked, 'What made you smile.' 'Something I recognised,' he replied, 'The supplication of my mother overtook me.' Then he told him about it."
Taken from Parents: Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari
Muhammad (PBUH) (Blessings and Peace be upon him) was born in Makkah, Arabia, on Monday, 12 Rabi' Al-Awwal (2 August C.E). His mother, Aminah was the daughter of Wahb bin Abd Al-Manaf of the Zahrah family. His father, Abdullah, was the son of Abd Al-Muttalib. His genealogy has been traced to the noble house of Isma'il, the son of Ibrahim (Abraham) (PBUH) (May Peace be upon him) in about the fortieth descent. Muhammad's father had died before his birth and his mother died when he was about six years old making him an orphan. In accordance with the tradition of noble families of Makkah, he was taken by a foster mother, Halimah, to her village where he lived for a few years. During these years he was taken to Makkah several times to visit his mother. After the death of his mother, he was placed under the custody of his grandfather, Abd Al-Muttalib. When the grandfather died, he was under the care of his uncle, Abu Talib. By this time he used to look after sheep around Makkah and used to accompany his uncle on trade journeys to Syria.
In his youth he believed firmly in the Oneness of Allah (God)(SWT). He lived a very simple life and hated vanity and pride. He was compassionate to the poor, widows and orphans and shared their sufferings by helping them. He avoided all vices, which were commonly practiced among young people such as gambling, drinking wine, vulgarity and others. He was well-known as As-Sadiq(the truthful) and Al-Amin (the trustworthy). He was always trusted as a mediator between two conflicting parties in his homeland, Makkah.
1033. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "Were people to know the blessing of pronouncing Adhan and the standing in the first row, they would even draw lots to secure these privileges. And were they to realize the reward of performing Salat early, they would race for it; and were they to know the merits of Salat after nightfall (`Isha') and the dawn (Fajr) Salat, they would come to them even if they had to crawl.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This expression 'to crawl' is used to illustrate the high merit of praying `Isha and Fajr in congregation in the mosque. This Hadith also urges to make best to occupy the first rows, as the `Angels of Mercy' pray for the Imam first, then for those who pray immediately behind him in the first row, then those behind them, and so on. The Hadith also points out the excellence of Adhan and the great reward of the person who pronounces it.
1034. Mu`awiyah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying: "The Mu'adhdhinun (callers to prayer) will have the longest necks on the Day of Resurrection.''
Commentary: This Hadith highlights the eminence of Mu'adhdhin and Adhan. Adhan means calling people to the worship of Allah. Mu'adhdhin (the caller) gets reward for the Salat of all those who hear his Adhan. The phrase "will have the longest necks'' has been given different interpretations. One of them is that they are those who long for the Mercy of Allah more than anyone else. Another interpretation is that their necks will grow longer on the Day of Requital and so sweat will not reach them, for every one will sweat on that day depending on his deeds: sweat will reach up to one's ankles or knees or waists. In the case of some people, sweat will reach up to their mouths. Another interpretation is that those who call Adhan will have an honourable and great status on the Day of Requital.
1035. `Abdullah bin `Abdur-Rahman reported: Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) said to me: "I see that you like living among your sheep in wilderness. So whenever you are with your sheep or in wilderness and you want to call Adhan, you should raise your voice because whoever hears the Adhan, whether a human or jinn or any other creature, will testify for you on the Day of Resurrection.'' Abu Sa`id added: "I heard this from the Messenger of Allah (PBUH).''
Commentary: Shayun is used for everything, or every other thing, and covers animals, vegetables and inanimate matter. On the Day of Requital, Almighty Allah will grant the faculty of speech, and all these things will testify for the Mu'adhdhin, as would be done by mankind and jinn.
1036. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "When Adhan for Salat is pronounced, the devil takes to his heels and breaks wind with noise so as not to hear the call. When the Adhan is finished, he returns. When the Iqamah is announced, he turns his back, and after it is finished, he returns again to distract the attention of one and makes him remember things which he does not recall in his mind before the Salat, and says `Remember this, and this,' and thus causes one to forget how many Rak`at he performed.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: The words signify that Satan runs with great speed and he breaks wind, or he intentionally does so. In any case, it shows that he has an aversion for Adhan. The second point that we learn from this Hadith is that the concentration of mind is a must for Salat to defeat all attempts of Satan to disrupt it.
1037. `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "When you hear the Adhan, repeat what the Mu'adhdhin says. Then ask Allah to exalt my mention because everyone who does so will receive in return ten rewards from Allah. Then beseech Allah to grant me Al-Wasilah, which is a high rank in Jannah, fitting for only one of Allah's slaves; and I hope that I will be that man. If any one asks Al-Wasilah for me, it becomes incumbent upon me to intercede for him.''
Commentary: To invoke blessings upon the Prophet (PBUH) means to recite "Allahumma salli `ala Muhammadin, wa `ala ali Muhammadin, kama sallaita `ala Ibrahima wa `ala ali Ibrahima, innaka Hamidun Majid.'' Wasilah literally means that mode or method by which one attains his goal, but here it stands for that high rank in Jannah which will be awarded to the Prophet (PBUH). The word Shafa`ah means to beg someone to pardon somebody's faults and shortcomings or to request someone for doing a virtuous deed. In the context of this Hadith, it refers to the privilege of intercession of the Prophet (PBUH) due to which he will request for the forgiveness of such people for whom he will be given permission by Allah.
1038. Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "When you hear the Mu'adhdhin (pronouncing the call to Salat), repeat after him what he says.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith also tells us to repeat the words of Adhan when we hear it. But when he says "Hayya `alas-Salah'' or "Hayya `alal-Falah'' we must say "La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah.''
1039. Jabir (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "He who says upon hearing the Adhan: `Allahumma Rabba hadhihid-da`wati-ttammati, was-salatil-qa'imati, ati Muhammadanil-wasilata wal-fadhilata, wab`athu maqaman mahmuda nilladhi wa `adtahu [O Allah, Rubb of this perfect call (Da`wah) and of the established prayer (As-Salat), grant Muhammad the Wasilah and superiority, and raise him up to a praiseworthy position which You have promised him]', it becomes incumbent upon me to intercede for him on the Day of Resurrection.''
Commentary: This Hadith tells us the merit of (the prayer by maens of which one attains his should be recited in the manner narrated by `Abdullah bin `Amr, which says that one should first repeat the wording of Adhan, then recite the prayer asking to exalt the mention of the Prophet (PBUH) and then pray Allah to grant him the Wasilah.
1040. Sa`d bin Abu Waqqas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "He who says after the Adhan: `Ash-hadu an la ilaha illallah Wah-dahu la sharika Lahu; wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa Rasuluhu, radhitu Billahi Rabban, wa bi Muhammadin Rasulan, wa bil Islami Dinan [I testify that there is no true god except Allah Alone; He has no partners and that Muhammad (PBUH) is His slave and Messenger; I am content with Allah as my Rubb, with Muhammad as my Messenger and with Islam as my Deen],' his sins will be forgiven.''
Commentary: This Hadith mentions another prayer which should be recited beside the already mentioned Du`a-al-Wasilah.
1041. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "The supplication made between the Adhan and the Iqamah is never rejected.''
[Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi].