الْغِيبَةُ جُهْدُ الْعَاجزِ۔
Backbiting is the tool of the helpless.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #461)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. Peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
The Arabic Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states, "الْغِيبَةُ جُهْدُ الْعَاجزِ۔" This Hadith translates to,
Backbiting is the tool of the helpless.
Let us delve into the profound wisdom contained within this statement, drawing upon the teachings of the Quran to gain a deeper understanding.
Firstly, let us examine the word (ghibah) "غِيبَة", which refers to backbiting or speaking ill of someone in their absence. It is important to note that ghibah is considered a grave sin in Islam, as it undermines the sanctity of human dignity and fosters discord within society. The word (juhd) "جُهْدُ" means effort or tool, indicating that backbiting is a means employed by those who lack the strength and ability to address their grievances directly and constructively.
The Quranic teachings emphasize the importance of guarding one's tongue and refraining from backbiting. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah Al-Hujurat (49:12),
O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.
This verse highlights the gravity of backbiting, comparing it to consuming the flesh of one's own brother. Just as we would find such an act repulsive, we should also detest backbiting and refrain from engaging in it. Moreover, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) warns against making negative assumptions about others, as this can lead to backbiting. It is essential for Muslims to cultivate a culture of trust, respect, and positive assumptions about one another.
Furthermore, the Quran teaches us to resolve conflicts and address grievances in a just and compassionate manner. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah An-Nisa (4:114),
And there is no good in most of their secret talks except [in] the one who enjoins charity or kindness or reconciliation between people. And whoever does that seeking means to the approval of Allah - then We are going to give him a great reward.
This verse emphasizes the importance of engaging in conversations that promote charity, kindness, and reconciliation. Instead of resorting to backbiting, Muslims are encouraged to actively seek ways to resolve conflicts and foster unity among people. This requires patience, wisdom, and the ability to address issues directly and constructively, rather than engaging in harmful gossip.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), known for his profound knowledge and wisdom, reminds us through this Hadith that backbiting is a tool employed by those who lack the strength and ability to address their grievances effectively. It is a manifestation of helplessness and a failure to uphold the principles of justice, compassion, and unity that Islam promotes.
Reflecting upon this Hadith, we are reminded of the importance of self-reflection and self-improvement. Instead of succumbing to the temptation of backbiting, let us strive to develop the strength and courage to address conflicts directly and constructively. By doing so, we can contribute to the betterment of our communities and the fostering of harmonious relationships among Muslims.
May Allah (تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَىٰ) guide us in refraining from backbiting and grant us the wisdom and strength to resolve conflicts in a just and compassionate manner. Ameen.
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