17.12.2013 – Article on Gheebah (Backbiting)




Backbiting known as Gheebah in the light of the Qur’an and Ahadith is from the illnesses of the heart. An illness, that if not cured can determine your fate in hell.

Gheebah literally means to utter a statement against a person in his absence; a statement that  would cause him grief if it was conveyed to him. Many people are under the false illusion that as long as the statement is true, there is no sin. This is delusional thinking. In a Hadith recorded in the Sahih of Imam Muslim, on the authority of Abu Huarairah (may Allah be pleased with him), the messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him) asked (the companions) ‘do you know what is Gheebah?’ The companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) replied: ‘Allah and his messenger know best’ The messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him) said ‘to utter a statement behind your brothers back which he would dislike’. The Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) of the messenger (may peace and blessings be upon him) enquired what if the uttered statement is a true fact found in him? The messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him) replied ‘even if it is a true fact found in him, he has backbitten him and if it’s not a true fact mentioned about his brother then he has slandered him’.

Gheebah is not confined to just verbal statements. There are a variety of acts which come within the purview of gheebah. The great Muslim Sufi theologian Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali (may the mercy of Allah be upon him) explains in his book ‘Tableeghuddeen’, the various kinds of gheebah, which he lists as follows:-

  1. Verbal gheebah i.e. a harmful statement made about a person.
  2. By the sign of the hands or eyes, e.g. to mockingly indicate with the hands the short size of a person.
  3. To mockingly imitate another person’s walking or looks or ways.
  4. Gheebah commited in the heart, i.e. thinking ill of a person.
  5. Finding faults with the victim of the statement is grieved.


Gheebah is also committed by means of writing. Those involved in writing unanimous letters in an attempt to damage the characters of others or ruin their good reputation are guilty of both, gheebah and slander.

The evil of this grave sin is illustrated in a hadith mentioned on the authority of Jabir bin Abdillah (may Allah be pleased with him) the Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘Gheebah is worse than adultery’  

Both the actual perpetrator of this sin and the one listening are equal in the crime of this despised sin. Both will have to answer to Allah on the Day of Judgement. The one listening must remind the one speaking of this sin and should not attempt to entertain the moment and continue this sin.

We pray that Allah safeguards us all from the sin of Gheebah and all sins.