Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Is it regarded backbiting if you talk bad about someone after they have died? also if s/he is kafir is it ok to say glad tidings of hell?
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
The rules of backbiting apply to the dead, too. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) specifically forbade speaking ill of the dead.
Even if the person is a kafir, one cannot be sure that they died like that… even in the last moment, Iman could have entered their heart because of some great good they were doing in their life.
Because of this, we cannot say that specific non-Muslims are in Hell, regardless of what they did.
As Shaykh Adib al-Kallas would emphasize, our responsibility is to worry where we will be in the next life and seek to rectify our actions accordingly; Allah will not consult with us about how to judge people on that Day.
The Beloved of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Make much remembrance of the destroyer of pleasures.” [Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, Ibn Maja, and Ahmad]
Allah Most High reminds us,
022.001 O people! Fear your Lord. Truly, the earthquake of the Hour is a tremendous thing.
022.002 On the day when you behold it, every nursing mother will forget her nursling and every pregnant one will be delivered of her burden, and you will see people as drunken, yet they will not be drunken, but the punishment of Allah will be tremendous indeed.
We have been instructed by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that, “From the excellence of one’s Islam is to leave that which does not concern one.”[A sound (hasan) hadith, transmitted by Tirmidhi and others]
The great Hanafi hadith expert, jurist, sufi, and expert in Qur’anic recitations, Mulla Ali al-Qari (Allah have mercy on him) mentioned in his expansive commentary on Mishkat al-Masabih:
“The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,
From the excellence of a man’s Islam is leaving that which does not concern him.’
That is, to leave that which is not important or befitting of him, whether in speech, actions, or thought. Thus, the excellence of a man’s Islam’ is its perfection, such that one remains steadfast in the submission to the commands and prohibitions of Allah, and surrenders to His rulings in accordance to His destiny and decree (qada wa qadr). This is the sign of the heart having been expanded by the light of its Lord, and the descent of quietude (sakina) into the heart.
The reality of that which does not concern him’ is that which is not needed for a worldly or next-worldly necessity, and dos not aide in attaining his Lord’s good pleasure, such that it is possible to life without it
This includes excess acts and unnecessary speech This hadith may well be taken from Allah Most High’s saying, “And who shun all vain things.” [Qur’an, 23: 3 f: vain things is lagw‘ is, which Imam Baydawi explains in his Tafsir as being: that which does not concern them of speech and actions’]
And it has been related in a Prophetic hadith that, “The people of the Garden will not remorse except for moments that passed them by without remembering Allah.” [Tabarani from our master Mu`adh (may Allah be pleased with him)].
So glad tidings to one who takes himself to account before he is taken to account!
Allah Most High has said, “O you who believe! Observe your duty to Allah. And let every soul look to that which it sends on before for the morrow. And observe your duty to Allah! Lo! Allah is Informed of what you do. And be not you as those who forgot Allah, therefore He caused them to forget their souls. Such are the wrongdoers.” (Qur’an, 59: 18)
Awza`i said, `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz wrote to us, Whoever is frequent in remembering death is content with but a little of this world. And whoever counts his speech from his actions speaks little except in that which benefits him.” [Mulla Ali al-Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih, 8: 585 #4840]