Islamic stand on twin vices

 Lies, suspicion, back-biting, slander and gossip are totally alien to Islam. Islam demands that our relationship with mankind should be one of sincerity and responsibility. It should be one where we have respect for the honor, reputation and privacy of others.

Islam teaches us that we are not only held accountable for our own attitudes and actions but also for anything else over which we have control or influence in our society or the world around us. Islam not only teaches us to be good to each other and to help each other and to treat each other with mutual respect in their interactions, but it also goes a step further and requires believers never to speak against people behind their backs. In fact, backbiting is considered among the most destructive of major sins because it sows enmity and discord among people. In the Qur'an, backbiting has been compared to eating the flesh of the dead. The Qur'an states:

"O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion. Indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not; neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear God, verily, God is the one who accepts repentance, Most Merciful." (49: 12)

The definition of backbiting in Islam is clearly brought out by Prophet Mohammed, on whom be peace, in the tradition where he is reported to have once asked his companions: "Do you know what backbiting is?" They replied, "God and His Messenger know best." He then said, "It is to say something about your brother that he would dislike." Someone asked him, "But what if what I say is true?" The Messenger of God said, "If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him." 

Many of us back bite and gossip without giving it much thought. While we think it a minor matter of no consequence, God reminds us in the following Qur'anic verse that the case is otherwise: "Behold, you received it on your tongues, and said out of your mouths things which you had no knowledge; and you thought it to be a light matter, while it was most serious in the sight of God?" (24: 15)

If we are going to be held accountable for what we say, then we would do well to follow the Prophetic dictum: "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say [what is] good, or keep silent."

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