Gheebah in English means backbiting’.

What is gheebah?
What are the consequences of gheebah?

  • Gheebah in English means backbiting’. Islamically, this means to say something true about someone in his/ her absence, which if he/she heard it, he/ she would not be happy.If the thing that is said was a lie, then this is called slander (“buhtaan in Arabic). Both gheebah and buhtaan mean to talk about people when they are not there, however buhtaan is worse because it means saying things that are not true. This lesson will focus on gheebah and its consequences. Aboo Hurayrah narrated how the Prophet ﷺ explained the meaning of gheebah in the following hadeeth:

قال رسول الله ﷺ : تدْرُونَ مَا الْغَيْبَةُ ؟ قَالُوا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَعْلَمُ، قَالَ ذِكْرُكَ أَخَاكَ بِمَا يَكْرَه . قِيلَ : أفَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ كَانَ في أخي ما أقُولُ قَالَ : إن كان فيه ما تَقُولُ فقد اغْتَبْتُهُ وَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُن (رواه مسلم)

Allah’s Messenger ﷺ asked (the Companions), “Do you know what gheebah is?” They said, “Allah and his Messenger know best.” He ﷺ said, “Gheebah means that you talk about your brother in a way in which he does not like.” Someone asked, “What if that which I say is (true) about my brother” He said, “If he has in him what you say, you will be committing gheebah. and if what you say is not in him, then you will be slandering him.” (Reported in Muslim)

  • Gheebah is a major sin in Islam and one of the worst social habits that a person can have. It is haraam and should always be avoided.
    Gheebah is one of the ways that breaks the bond of sister/brotherhood between two people.
    It is a way of pointing out and spreading the mistakes of people.
    To show how bad gheebah is, Allah ﷻ equates it to eating the flesh of a dead person:
  • The Prophet ﷺ told the Companions that those people who do gheebah will be punished. Anas ibn Maalik narrated that

قال رسول الله ﷺ ما عُرج بي مررتُ بقَوْمٍ لَهُمْ أَظْفَارَ مِنْ نُحَاسِ يَحْمُشُونَ وَجُوهَهُمْ وَصُدْرَهُمْ فَقُلْتُ مَنْ هؤلاء يا جبريل قَالَ هَؤلاء الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ النَّاسِ وَيَقَعُونَ فِي أَعْرَاضِهِمْ .(أبو داود)

The Prophet ﷺ said: When I was taken up to heaven I passed by people who had nails of copper and were scratching their faces and their chests. I said, “Who are these people, Jibreel. He replied, “They are those who used to backbite… (Reported in Aboo Dawood)

  • The one who listens to someone doing gheebah falls under the same ruling as the one who is doing the gheebah. This is because the one who listens and stays quiet is in fact encouraging the person to speak. It is as if the listener is agreeing with what is said. Instead, the listener should defend the person who is being talked about or simply tell the person doing gheebah to stop. If the person does not stop, then the listener should leave the gathering. The Prophet ﷺ told of the great reward for defending a person who is being talked about.

He ﷺ said: “He who defends the honor of his brother who is not there will have a right on Allah ﷻ , which is that He (Allah) frees him from the fire.” (Reported in Ahmad)

  • It can be seen that gheebah is something that should be avoided as it is haraam. A person doing gheebah can get punished for it by Allah ﷻ .
  • Gheebah is so bad that Allah ﷻ equated it to eating the flesh of a dead person. One way to stop doing gheebah and buhtaan is to think before speaking and to ask yourself about the benefits of what you are about to say. Is what you are going to say something that deserves the reward or punishment of Allah ﷻ ?Another question is: Will the person I am talking about be happy with what I am saying?
  1. Gheebah in English means backbiting.
  2. Gheebah is not allowed in Islam and it can lead to punishment by Allah ﷻ .
  3. Someone who listens to gheebah and stays quiet may also get punished.
  4. You should always think before speaking.

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