Issues Related to Backbiting
Fatwa No: 371257

  • Fatwa Date:22-2-2018 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 7, 1439
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I live in a non Muslim country. Is the following considered backbiting?1. My driving instructor backbites people in another car. I don't know the people in that car but I can see them2. My mother backbites a teacher at the school she works at. I do not personally know that teacher. 3. My mother backbites a teacher at the school she works at. This time I know her name but I don't know her personally 4. My friend says that "some of the imams are confusing" and I know which imams he is referring toOr you could just tell me if it's permissible to backbite non Muslims in a non Muslim country.Please don't refer me to other fatwa because I have read a lot of fatwa on backbitingThank you


All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Backbiting is when a person says something about his Muslim brother in his absence that he dislikes if he was to hear it; this is according to the definition mentioned in the Sunnah.

Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Do you know what backbiting is? “ They (Companions) replied: “Allaah and His Messenger know best.” He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “It is to say something about your brother that he dislikes.” [Muslim]

There are two types of backbiting:

Firstly, it is to specify the person spoken about, whether or not the listener knows him.

Secondly, not to specify the person spoken about while the listener knows who is being spoken about. This is considered backbiting because knowing the person spoken about is like specifying him.

Ikmaal Al-Mu’lim bi Fawaa'id Muslim reads: “Ibraaheem said: it is not backbiting unless one specifies the person spoken about, or points out to something by which makes it understood who the actual person is.

Moreover, the Athkaar authored by An-Nawawi, reads: “Among the forbidden backbiting is your saying: Some people did such and such; or some jurists; or some people who claim to have knowledge; or some Muftis; or some people who are presumed to be righteous or who claim to be ascetic; or some people who passed by us today; or some people whom we saw; and the like, if the addressee understands exactly whom we are speaking about because what is being said makes it clear who is meant.

Therefore, the examples that you mentioned in the question are included in the forbidden backbiting unless there is a significant benefit, such as seeking help to change evil, or seeking a Fatwa, or seeking advice, and other cases in which backbiting is permissible. Hence, you have to forbid this according to your ability.

An-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “Know that just as backbiting is forbidden for the backbiter to say it is also forbidden for one to listen to it and approve of it. Therefore, it is an obligation on someone who hears a person starting prohibited backbiting to forbid him from doing so if he does not fear to be harmed. If he fears an apparent harm, he should detest it in his heart and leave that gathering if he is able to do so. If he is able to forbid it with his tongue or to interrupt and divert the backbiting by saying something else, then he is obliged to do so.” [End of quote]

With regard to backbiting a non-Muslim, then if he is inviolable like a Thimmi (non-Muslim resident in the Muslim state), then according to the most preponderant opinion, backbiting him is forbidden as we have already highlighted in Fataawa 88054 and 88263.

Allah knows best.

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