so corrupt that you abandon all respect and act so repugnantly as to consume your brother’s flesh?”
According then to the total sense of the verse, as well as the indications of each of its words, slander and backbiting are repugnant to the intelligence and the heart, to humanity and conscience, to nature and social consciousness.
You see then that the verse condemns backbiting in six miraculous degrees and restrains men from it in six miraculous ways. Backbiting is the vile weapon most commonly used by the people of enmity, envy, and obstinacy, and the self-respecting will never stoop to employing so unclean a weapon. Some celebrated person once said: “I never stoop to vexing my enemy with backbiting, for backbiting is the weapon of the weak, the low, and the vile.”
Backbiting consists of saying that which would be a cause of dislike and vexation to the person in question if he were to be present and hear it. Even if what is said is true, it is still backbiting. If it is a lie, then it is both backbiting and slander and a doubly loathsome sin.
Backbiting can be permissible in a few special instances:
First: If a complaint be presented to some official, so that with his help evil be removed and justice restored.
Second: If a person contemplating co-operation with another comes to seek your advice, and you say to him, purely for the sake of his benefit and to advise him correctly, without any self-interest: “Do not co-operate with him; it will be to your disadvantage.”
Third: If the purpose is not to expose someone to disgrace and notoriety, but simply to make people aware, and one says: “That foolish, confused man went to such-and-such a place.”
Fourth: If the subject of backbiting is an open and unashamed sinner; is not troubled by evil, but on the contrary takes pride in the sins he commits; finds pleasure in his wrongdoing; and unhesitatingly sins in the most evident fashion.
In these particular cases, backbiting may be permissible, if it be done without self-interest and purely for the sake of truth and communal welfare. But apart from them, it is like a fire that consumes good deeds like a flame eating up wood.
If one has engaged in backbiting, or willingly listened to it, one should say: “O God, forgive me and him concerning whom I spoke ill,” and say to the subject of backbiting, whenever one meets him: “Forgive me.”
The Eternal One, He is the Eternal One!
S a i d N u r s i