What is the meaning of gossip, slandering and gheebat? Yasmin and Zaheera used to travel together daily to work in one car. They had a discussion regarding the petrol expenses but could not agree. They broke of contact. Rukayya seeing that the two are no longer together asked Zaheera: “Did you guys have a fight? I hope you did not have a fight?” Zaheera responded: “I’m not gona say anything, and Allah grants barakah in the salary for petrol.” Does this statement fall into the context of back-biting or slandering? Does it mean that Zaheera was creating illfeeling in Rukayya’s heart for Yasmin? Zaheera has the intention of asking maaf (forgiveness) from Yasmin for this statement. Please advise.

Gossip is termed nameemah in the Qur’aan and Hadith. It refers to any talk whether true, false, futile or idle which persons carry about just to create conversation, mischief and shaitaaniyat to soothe the ‘itching’ in their bestial nafs. While both men and women indulge in gossip, it is a special trait of women. Whenver they see or hear anything they remain restless as if they are itching – their restlessness continues unabated until they have finally discharged their nafsaani flotsam and jetsam by gorging it out to some people.

They typically startoff: ‘Did you hear what Yasmin said (or did)…….’ Severe warningsdire punishment are sounded for gossipmongers in the Qur’aan and Hadith.Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “The worst of Allah’s servants are those who walk about with gossip. They create dissension between lovers (husband and wife –brother and brother)…….”If a statement about a person is true, but if he/she comes to know about it he/she will feel hurt, then such a statement will be called gheebat if said in his/her absence. Example:You saw someone committing a sin, then you narrate this to another person.

This statement, despite being true is gheebat which is a major sin.The punishment for gheebat in the Qur’aan and Hadith will be forcedeating of human carrion meat of dead human bodies, not ‘halaalized carrion chickens’! If there is a valid reason for narrating the hurtful statement, it will not be sinful ‘gheebat’. Example: You have a relative who takes drugs and he proposes marriage for a pious girl who is your friend. The parents of the girl ask you for a reference. You inform them that the boy is a drug addict.

Although this statement is technically ‘gheebat’ it is not sinful, for you are merely discharging an incumbent obligation by stating the truth to save another Muslim from falling into a dangerous pit.If the statement you make behind someone’s back is false, it is termed buhtaan (slander) which is worse than gheebat.Are Yasmin and Zaheera males or females? The doubt is because you said that Rukayya referred to them as ‘guys’. This word in our understanding is a lewd term which should not be used for even males. Anyhow, we assume that despite referring to them with this ugly word, Yasmin and Zaheera are females.Zaheera’s statement:

“I am not gonna say anything, and that Allah grants barakah in the salary and petrol”,was calculated to convey to Rukayya that Yasmin had fought with her because of the petrol expenses.Zaheera has therefore besmirched the reputation of Yasmin. Even if there was an argument about the petrol expenses,Zaheera should not have created in Rukayya’s mind a bad impression of Yasmin. Thus, if Zaheera’s innuendo is based on a factual truth,then too it is gheebat, and if it is false, then it is buhtaan.

If Yasmin is aware of what Zaheera told Rukayya, then she (Zaheera) should seek forgiveness from Yasmin. If Yasmin is not aware of the fitnah statement of Zaheera,then she need not inform Yasmin.Nevertheless, she should do two things: (1) Make Taubah for her sin,and Dua for Yasmin. (2) Inform Rukayya that her (i.e. Zaheera’s) statement was an error made in a moment of thought lessness, and that the impression that Yasmin had quarrelled with her because of the petrol issue is incorrect and misleading.

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