What is backbiting ?
Is generally speaking bad about a group of people considered ghibat ( backbiting)? For example: “people from so and so country are harsh.” Answer: ﺑﺴﻢ اﷲ اﻟﺮﺣﻤﻦ اﻟﺮﺣﯿﻢ In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
If someone speaks about a group of people in a general way and those listening do not know about whom he is speaking about, that would not be considered backbiting. An example of this is mentioned in a hadith where the Prophet ﷺ said, “What is the matter with people that they do such and such things.” (Abu Dawud) However, if he specifies a particular group or person and speaks ill of them by way of insult and disdain, and not due to a legitimate reason, e.g. saying people from a certain country have bad manners, this would constitute backbiting. In addition, if someone or a group of people sin openly, e.g. they drink alcohol in front of others without any shame, then mentioning that sin which they commit publicly would be permissible. Furthermore, to backbite open sinners (fasiq m’ulin) without any necessity is disliked due to it being a waste of time. Nevertheless, mentioning his private sins, e.g. a person scornfully tells others that so and so is neglectful of paying zakah, would entail backbiting, hence prohibited, irrespective of whether he is an open sinner or not.1 In summary, exceptions to the general rule are made when there is a genuine need and benefit to mention someone’s deficiencies.
Only Allah knows best
Written by Maulana Mohammad Ahsan Osmani Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah Darul Ifta Birmingham
1 Bayanul Quran: v. 2, p. 442 (Idarah e taleefat e Ashrafiya); Tafseer Qurtubi: v. 16, p. 290 (Maktaba Rasheedia); Ruhul M’aani: v. 26, p. 435; Ahkamul Quran (Moulana Zafar Usmani): v. 4, p. 291 (Idaratul Quran wal Uloom Al-Islamia); Al-Azkaar (Imam Al-Nawawi): p. 373 (Al-Maktaba Al-Tawfeeqia); Ihya ul Uloom Al-Deen: v. 3, p. 195 & 205 (Maktaba Rasheedia); M’aariful Quran: v. 8, p.142-143 (Maktaba-e-Darul-’Uloom)