Victims of Backbiting – Take Comfort in the Wisdom of the Salaf

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Ever-Merciful…

It has been narrated that one of the great imaams of the early Salaf (pious predecessors), ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Mahdee [d.198] (may Allaah have Mercy on him), said:

لولا أني أكره أن يعصى الله لتمنيت أن لا يبقى أحد في المصر إلا اغتابني!  أي شيء أهنأ من حسنة يجدها الرجل في صحيفته لم يعمل بها؟

“If I did not hate that Allaah be disobeyed, I would have wished that there was no one left in the whole city except that he has backbitten me!  What is more rewarding than a man finding a good deed (written) in his book for something he did not even do?!”

Source: Siyar A’laam An-Nubalaa’ (9/195-196), Risaalah printing


“If I did not hate that Allaah be disobeyed…”

Meaning that backbiting is haraam, and to wish that the Muslims would backbite would be wishing that Allaah be disobeyed.  However, to stress the benefit of being backbitten, he goes on to say:

“…I would have wished that there was no one left in the whole city except that he has backbitten me!”

When someone is backbitten or slandered, naturally he feels disturbed and upset, and even a sense of loss.  So people need someone to point out that there is a great amount of good in being the focus of people’s backbiting.  This advice of Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Mahdee seems to be from the idea of mutually advising each other to have patience, as mentioned in Soorah Al-‘Asr.

This may have been in response to his hearing that some people were talking about him, or possibly someone was complaining to him about having been backbitten, and Allaah knows best.  He says that if it were permissible to wish for others to fall into disobedience, he would have wished that they all would have backbitten him, and then he clarifies the reason for saying this:

“…What is more rewarding than a man finding a good deed (written) in his book for something he did not even do?!”

Since the one who backbites someone (in other than the permissible, sometimes obligatory, forms of backbiting) forwards to that person his good deeds or will be made to be accountable for bad deeds of his victim(s), as mentioned in the hadeeth of al-Bukhaaree Muslim (no.2581):

إِنَّ الْمُفْلِسَ مِنْ أُمَّتِي يَأْتِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِصَلَاةٍ، وَصِيَامٍ، وَزَكَاةٍ، وَيَأْتِي قَدْ شَتَمَ هَذَا، وَقَذَفَ هَذَا، وَأَكَلَ مَالَ هَذَا، وَسَفَكَ دَمَ هَذَا، وَضَرَبَ هَذَا، فَيُعْطَى هَذَا مِنْ حَسَنَاتِهِ، وَهَذَا مِنْ حَسَنَاتِهِ، فَإِنْ فَنِيَتْ حَسَنَاتُهُ قَبْلَ أَنْ يُقْضَى مَا عَلَيْهِ أُخِذَ مِنْ خَطَايَاهُمْ فَطُرِحَتْ عَلَيْهِ، ثُمَّ طُرِحَ فِي النَّارِ

“The bankrupt one from my nation will come on the Day of Judgement with deeds of prayer, fasting, zakaat, yet he comes after having insulted this one, maligned that one, taken the money of another, spilled the blood of someone, or hit someone else.  So some of his good deeds will be given to this one and that one.  If no good deeds remain before his account is settled, their bad deeds be taken and cast upon him, then he will be cast into the Hellfire.”

And we ask Allaah for protection.

So then his statement, “…a good deed (written) in his book for something he did not even do,” seems to be referring to what is mentioned in the hadeeth that the one who is maligned will be given some of the good deeds of the one who maligned him.

And Allaah knows best.

Written by: Moosaa Richardson

ST Archives: 03-21-2003

Revised & updated: 1437-5-20 (02-29-2016)

10 thoughts on “Victims of Backbiting – Take Comfort in the Wisdom of the Salaf

  1. Please give the full reference of the hadith at the end (from Bukhari), as I’ve already shared it and hope to reference properly for others.

  2. Assalaamu alaykum. My family backbite A LOT, and it becomes even worse after I advise them. I end up being ridiculed and mocked for being ‘so righteous’. Indeed I do commit sin, but backbiting is something I especially hate, and I find it hard to love them after what they say about me and other Muslims. Thus I tend to avoid family gatherings and do not really try and be good to them (including my mother), and feel like I am not even part of the family. So I want to ask what is the best thing to do in this situation?

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. Warn against backbiting and prevent it when you are able, excuse yourself from such gatherings when you are unable, and remain dutiful and patient with your parents throughout all of that. May Allaah give you success. And Allaah knows best.

  3. As-Salaamu Alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh Dear Ustaadh and Akhi Moosa Richardson,

    Is it backbiting if I speak about someone however do not state the persons name? For example tell a family member about someone at work however I do not say his name?

    Is this backbiting?

    BarakaAllahu Feek

    Abu Faarooq

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. If you describe him with enough of a description through which he can be known, then it is backbiting. When in doubt, abandon it, as backbiting is a forbidden limit set by Allaah, so do not approach His boundaries.

  4. Asalamu alaaykum,

    I hope your well. I also hope and sincerely ask Allah that you see my message. I just accidentally found this post and felt that I should just ask and hope for a reply Inshallah. My question is, what if your the perpetrator sometimes or even the one who listens to this sort of conversation (backbiting /tale carrying), it’s become such a norm that one is even unaware that one is doing it.. Therefore, how do I rectify this as I am now of grown age and am surrounded by family and friends whom are also accustomed to this evil behaviour. I don’t no where to start in rectification as yes do tawbah, but what about the victims? This is such a evil habit that I can’t even recall everyone I have backbitted of tale carried. I feel like I’ve grown up just talking for the sake of talking and silence is somewhat strange and now I wish that I could just escape. I hope Allah forgives me and grants anyone I have uttered a bad word or tale carried forgiveness, khair and jannah ameen. But what can I do? How should I reach out to the victims? Do I have to tell them exactly what I said? What about those who I don’t even recall backbiting shall I just supplicate for anyone I may have harmed with my evil tongue. Furthermore, I often daydream or talk to myself and I speak about situations, people is this still backbiting? Any advise or answer would be highly appreciated, jazkha Allahu khairan.

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. It sounds like you were likely raised in a tabloid culture of gossip. May Allaah give you success in earnestly repenting. Cease and remain silent, as you have mentioned. Silence is a virtue, and silence is a manifestation of true faith. Whoever believes in Allaah and the Last Day must only speak with good beneficial speech or remain silent. To repent, you need to speak well of those people, make du’aa’ for them, and rectify any damage. If you had lied upon them, correct those lies and clarify to whomever you spoke to previously. If you know that your bad speech reached them, then ask them to forgive you and apologize. If it has not reached them, then do not inform them, but rather mention them in good and pray for them. Also, remind all of those who used to speak with you in such sinful ways to repent to Allaah also, for at least being a witness to harmful speech and not forbidding it or leaving. Seek Allaah’s Assistance and be upright. May Allaah bless you and aid you. And Allaah knows best.

  5. Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

    I hope you are well ! I have recently moved into a business which has multiple partners, most of whom reside outside the country where we operate.. as a result of which they aren’t fully up to date with what happens inside the company.

    Being one of the only two fully involved in the day-day operations.. I get called and asked about whats going on by the international investors. In order to keep them abreast and to protect business interests – I often describe what the other active partner is upto in all honestly.

    I have reiterated the below statements many times amongst others to highlight his incapacity and lack of involvement – Would statements like this without his knowledge be backbiting ?

    “so and so is hasn’t been to here for the past few days”
    “he is in a hurry to make decisions without due diligence”
    “his style of operation lacks professionalism”

    I deeply worried that the company will suffer if a solution doesn’t come by involving the foreign partners but at the same time since I have done this often if it will fall into backbiting although my niya has been for the sake of the business

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah wa barakaatuh. If those statements are accurate and help your investors make an informed decision about their investments, then they have a right to know those things, and this seems like clarity in business and exposing the faults and shortcomings on your side of the deal. Exposing a potential harm or weakness in a business deal is required for honesty and clarity, and it is not forbidden backbiting, and Allaah knows best. But try to advise your partner to avoid this behavior and inform him that you have to reveal his reality to potential investors for the sake of clarity and transparency if he does not.

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