Permissibility of Backbiting

There are certain conditions under which Islam has permitted the act of backbiting. These are

  • An oppressed person can speak before a judge or a person with authority about a tyrant ruler or any person who has wronged him. He is only permitted to do this so as to establish his lawful rights.
  • Backbiting with an intention to forbid evil. Suppose person A is committing evil deeds and has immoral conduct. Then person B can seek assistance of a third person C saying, “so-and-so does such and such evil deeds. Can you exhort him” etc.

Aishah (RA) said: A man sought permission for audience with the Prophet (PBUH). He said, “Give him permission but he is a bad member of his tribe.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

  • Seeking legal verdict on a matter by pointing out the defaults of another person.

Aishah (RA) said: Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, said to the Prophet (PBUH): Abu Sufyan is a niggardly man and does not give me and my children adequate provisions for maintenance unless I take something from his possession without his knowledge. The Prophet (PBUH) said to her, “Take from his possessions on a reasonable basis that much which may suffice for you and your children.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

  • Criticizing someone openly who commits acts of disobedience such as drinking, wine, gambling, hypocrite etc.
  • Mentioning the bad qualities of somebody to a person who seeks advice for marriage purposes.

Fatimah bint Qais (RA) said: I came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said to him: “Muawiyah and Abul-Jahm sent me a proposal of marriage.” The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Muawiyah is destitute and he has no property, and Abul-Jahm is very hard on women.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

  • A seeker of knowledge can also be counsel about an innovator of religion i.e. the following innovator is wrong etc.

‘Aishah (RA) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “I do not think that so-and-so understands anything of our Faith.” [Al-Bukhari]

Al-Bukhari said: Al-Laith bin Sa’d, who is one of the narrators of this Hadith, said: The two men mentioned by the Prophet (PBUH) in this Hadith were hypocrites (i.e., they revealed Faith and concealed disbelief).

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