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Question: When someone talks to others about the general bad characteristics of the brothers in his community without mentioning names, is this considered backbiting?

Answer: When someone speaks generally about the characteristics of an individual who he does not know and the listener does not know him, as occurs in the Qur’aan where Allaah سبحانه و تعالى mentions certain unfavourable characteristics without mentioning specific individuals. Allaah mentions:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيراً مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ

{O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins…} [al-Hujuraat 49:12]


There are many aayaat in the Qur’aan and proof from the Sunnah. In the case where no one knows who is being spoken about then there is no backbiting involved. However, if the person is known then it is from gheebah (غيبة – slander, backbiting) if it is the truth; if it is a lie it is buhtaan (بهتان – defame, fabricate lies against). Gheebah is mentioning your brother with what he dislikes. If in him is what you said then it is gheebah and if there isn’t what was said then it is buhtaan.


Answered by: Shaykh Abdullah Al Ghuydaan

Title of lecture: Tafseer Surah Al-Hujuraat, Class #6

Date answered: 5th May 2007

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