Backbiting

Being Two Faced to the Muslim Ruler

Muḥammad b. Zayd b. ʿUmar reports from his father:

Some people said to Ibn ʿUmar, “We enter upon our rulers, and we say to them something different to what we say when we leave their company.” He said, “We used to regard this as [a type of] nifāq (hypocrisy).”

Al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī no. 7178, and others.

Try to Meet Allah with This

It is reported that a man once wrote to Ibn ʿUmar – Allāh be pleased with them:

Please write down all knowledge for me. Ibn ʿUmar replied: Knowledge is vast, but if you can meet Allāh having kept your back light of the burden of people’s blood, your stomach void of people’s wealth and having kept your tongue from [disparaging] their honour, then do so.

Al-Dhahabī, Siyar ʾAʿlām Al-Nubalāʾ 3:222

Real Men

It is reported that ‘Umar b. Al-Khattāb – Allāh be pleased with him – said:
Do not be impressed by the twitter of an individual. But one who fulfils his duty and trust, and refrains from [transgressing against] the honor of people is the real man.

Al-Bayhaqī, Al-Sunan Al-Kubrā article 12345.

Sinning while fasting [does it break the fast?]

It is reported that ‘Umar – Allâh be pleased with him – said:

Fasting does not mean keeping away from only food and drink, it also means keeping away from lying, falsehood, inanity and swearing [by Allâh without need].

It is reported that Ibrâhîm Al-Nakha’î – Allâh have mercy on him – said:

They used to say: lying breaks the fast.

It is reported that Mujâhid – Allâh have mercy on him – said:

There are two practices, if a person can keep himself from them, his fast will be secured for him: backbiting and lying.

It is related that Abul-‘Âliyah – Allâh have mercy on him – said:

The fasting person is in a state of worship as long as he does not backbite. [1]

It is reported that Hafsah bint Sîrîn – Allâh have mercy on her – said:

Fasting is a shield as long as one does not tear it, and tearing it is when you backbite. [2]

It is reported that Anas b. Mâlik – Allâh be pleased with him – said:

If the fasting person backbites, his fast is broken. [3]

Notes

Explaining the meaning of sins breaking the fast, Shaykh Al-Islâm Ibn Taymîyah – Allâh have mercy on him – states: [4]

It is related from some of the Salaf that backbiting, tale carrying and the likes break the fast, and it is mentioned as one opinion in the madhab of Imâm Ahmad. The final word on this issue is that Allâh the Exalted commanded people to fast in order to achieve piety (taqwâ), and Allâh’s Messenger – praise and peace of Allâh be upon him – stated:

Whoever does not leave off false speech and acting by it; then Allâh is not in need of him abandoning his food and drink.

So if the fasting person does not achieve piety, he has not achieved what is intended through fasting, and so the reward of [his] fast will decrease in accordance [with how much he has gone against the intended goal, i.e. commensurate with his sins].

Righteous deeds have two intended goals: gaining reward and avoiding punishment. If a person fasts while also doing forbidden things, like backbiting, carrying tales between people or consuming what is forbidden and so on, he loses the reward.

Thus, when the imams say [backbiting etc.] does not break the fast, it means that the person who sins is not punished in the way a person who openly breaks his fast would be punished.

And those who said it does break the fast in the sense that the person has not achieved the intended goal behind fasting, or in the sense that he has lost the reward for fasting, then this statement is in agreement with the position of the imams.

One who says it breaks the fast in the sense that the person is to be punished for leaving [the fast], then he is in contradiction to the imams.

Conclusion

A person who disobeys Allâh while fasting hasn’t truly grasped the intent behind fasting. The real goal is to achieve piety and obedience of Allâh through the abandonment of food, drink and sin. Although a person who backbites, lies or does other sins is not considered to have physically broken his fast, he loses the reward of fasting and in this sense he has broken his fast.

Allâh knows best.

[1] Ibn Abî Al-Shaybah, Al-Musannaf articles 8975, 8980, 8981 and 8982.

[2] ‘Abd Al-Razzâq Al-San’ânî, Al-Musannaf articles 8975.

[3] Hunâd b. Al-Saree, Al-Zuhd article 1204.

[4] Badr Al-Dîn Al-Ba’lî. Mukhtasar Al-Fatâwâ Al-Masrîyah pp288, 289. 1st edn. 1418H. Dâr Al-Kutub Al-‘Ilmîyah. Beirut, Lebanon.

An Insult with a Gift [Backbiting]

It is reported that ‘Abd Al-Rahmān b. Mahdī – Allāh have mercy on him – said, “If it were not for the fact I hate that Allah is disobeyed, I would have wished that no one remain in this city except that he had spoken ill of me and backbitten me; for what is nicer than a good deed a man finds in his records on the Day of Resurrection without having done a thing or even having known?”

Abū Nu’aym, Hilyatu Al-Awliyā` 4:45.

Notes

This is a reference to a person who has been backbitten receiving good deeds on the Day of Judgment from the person who backbit him and didn’t repent and make amends, as mentioned in some narrations from the Prophet – Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. The narration reminds us of the dire consequences of backbiting others: your good deeds may go to them if you don’t repent and make up for what you have done. It also provides assurance for those who have been backbitten: if left wronged in this life, they will be given good deeds in the hereafter as compensation and justice will be done.