Those little...backbiters

>> Saturday, October 23, 2010

Assalamu Alaykum. I have learned that listening to backbiting is haram and one should not listen to it, but sometimes I find it hard to stop a person from backbiting another person, I'm afraid that I might offend him/her or something, especially if we're not really friends or he/she is older than me so I need to be extra respectful. So sometimes, all I do is just leave the room or act like I have to go, but sometimes I just cant leave. Please advise me on what to do. Thanks


Dear Sister,

Wa’alykum as salam wa rahmatullah wa barkatoo ! Well, I gotta admit it. This is a super tough question. I mean, how many of us have been in that situation where we sat down with some seemingly innocent friends/even sweet grey haired ladies for a cup of tea only to find out that their particular cup of tea includes a little extra ‘spices’- someone’s dead flesh…….

Yeah. Backbiters…

They’re hard to deal with (but we have to admit that we’ve also sometimes messed up ourselves and “backbit”). Anyways, it’s great that you sometimes leave the room, but I know that isn’t always possible.

What I would suggest doing is simply saying:

“You know, auntie/uncle, sir, *respectful term*, the thing is, I’ve personally made a lot of mistakes myself that I really hope people don’t know about. Wouldn’t it be a lot better if we concealed this person’s mistake so that inshaAllah on the Day of Judgment Allah will conceal all of ours? Maybe instead we can just talk to him/her and give them naseeha, inshaAllah, or make dua that Allah will guide them?”

See, the great thing about following this method is that not only would you have avoided listening to haram, you would have also done your Islamic duty (which is advise them against backbiting).

However, I’ll be the first to admit though that method doesn’t always work. Sometimes, the person insists that they are not backbiting or that they have to tell you this…blah blah blah…

If that happens, we switch tactics depending on the scenario:

Scenario 1:

  • Backbiter: an older relative of mine
  • Victim: another relative
  • What’s being said: that the other relative did something completely rude/unbelievable

My stance: I simply sorta crinkle up my eye brows, look a little confused and say in a respectful but disagreeing voice: “I really don’t know that about him/her. In fact, this person has always been …… If that did happen, I’m sure there’s a reason and maybe we can ask him/her about it.”

It might be a little hard to try this method, but if you defend the ‘victim’, inshaAllah you will have the greatest defense ready for YOU on the Day of Judgment! The prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam said:
“Whoever defends his Muslim brother’s honor, Allah will defend his honor on the Day of Resurrection.”

Scenario 2:
You’re meeting someone you either

  • a) Know has a history of backbiting
  • b) Don’t really know and may turn out to be a backbiter

You decide on the conversations and what you’re going to talk about in advance! Be armed with an Islamic magazine/ interesting stories/things that will keep the conversation interesting but won’t lead to backbiting.

As soon as you sense that the Backbiter is about to begin- you know when they’re about to start- you just switch the conversation:

“HEY, did I tell you about this hilarious thing that happened…” or “Do you have any advice on how to deal with headaches/stomach pain/etc. whatever,” :P

Of course, there could still be countless of other scenarios. The important thing to do, though, in each case is to keep in mind that even as a listener, you have an active role in the conversation. You give the message to the person whether to continue or not….If you let your face show you discomfort and your unwillingness to ‘engage’ in the conversation, the person will sense a ‘red light’...

And you know what I’ve discovered is that if you consistently give people – EVERYONE around you- the message that you don’t want to talk about others or hear others being talked about, the word will soon spread about you- you’ll find people automatically guarding the way they talk around you, inshaAllah.

Well, I know I couldn't think of any 'super idea', but I hope the readers can also chip in some more suggestions for you, inshaAllah =) May each and every one of us guard our tongues and listen to only that which pleases Allah. May we honor our sisters and brothers and treat them the way we want to be treated :D

- the little aunties

P.S. for those who want to know more about the seriousness of backiting, please see here

6 wonderful sprinkely thoughts:

Ghadeer October 23, 2010 at 10:41 AM  

I've always had this problem, until I came up with something brilliant. I wrote a note on facebook tagging all my friends that I'm having problems getting over my bad habit of backbiting, and requesting everyone to help me stop by preventing me when I start. Which worked because people won't backbite if they're trying to stop somebody else, and in this way you're not hurting them because you're not offending their ego. Try it ;)

Anonymous,  October 23, 2010 at 11:12 AM  

I've always wondered. Is it backbiting if your telling a story about something that happened to you, but it has others involved and you'd be saying what they said/did to tell the story?

Ghadeer October 24, 2010 at 6:34 AM  

^It is if you mention their names and they're brought in a negative light.

Little Auntie,  October 26, 2010 at 10:47 AM  

aslamau aliakum,

GREAT tip, Jnana! Ma'shaAllah :)

Anon, try reading the article on the bottom that I posted. It explains that backbiting is saying something that a person wouldn't like you to say.....:)

Noorigirl..,  March 24, 2012 at 12:31 AM  

Assalam u alaikum..
ME and my friend..always argued about what backbiting actually is..Well thanks to u Little Auntie..all my doubts..are cleared..Jazakallah Khairun..

Anonymous,  June 1, 2012 at 5:23 PM  

Jazaki Allah Khair- Awesome advice!! for real

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Asalamu aialkum!
Well, what do you think? You know, you're part of the team, as well. Please help a sister out and share your own advice/experiences/etc. One for all and all for one =)
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