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Backbiting is worse than fornication

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed
Translated by Ruqayyah Ahdab

Is the hadith authentic which says, “Backbiting is worse than fornicating thirty times while Muslim”? And what is its meaning?

Answer:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

The learned scholar Ibn Hajar al-Haytimi has said (in his book Fataweh al-Fiqhiyeh Al-Kubrah), “…with regard to the narration ‘Backbiting is worse than fornicating thirty times while Muslim’, I have not seen it mentioned in the books of Hadith, both the extensive and abridged versions, and so it appears that there is no origin to this saying.”

If the saying that was mentioned was in fact authentic then its meaning would be that it stresses the condemnation of the backbiter and slanderer and implies that he deserves a mighty punishment in measure of his bad deed. Backbiting being greater in consequence than adultery or even thirty counts of adultery is from the perspective that repentance from adultery is enough to cancel out the sin if the conditions of regret over the action and resolving not to go back to the sin are met, as opposed to the repentance from backbiting. Repentance from backbiting does not cancel out the sin even if the conditions of repentance are met, because the backbiter must also ask the victim for his forgiveness. From this aspect, backbiting is in indeed worse than adultery, just as Ibn Hajar pointed out in his book.

The inquirer should know that the proofs of the prohibition of backbiting, the condemnation of the backbiter, and the determined punishments are plentiful, both from the Quran and what has been authenticated from the Sunnah.

 

السؤال : هل حديثُ :” الغيبةُ أشدُّ من ثلاثين زنية في الإسلام “. صحيح، وما هو معناه؟
الجواب: قال العلامةُ ابنُ حجر الهيتمي في “فتاويه الفقهية الكبرى” :” وأما خبرُ :” الغيبةُ أشدُّ من ثلاثين زنية في الإسلام “. فلم أرَ له ذكراً في كتب الحديث طويلها ومختصرها، والظاهرُ أنه لا أصلَ له “. اهـ ولو صحَّ ما ذكره السائل فإن معناه التشنيعُ على المغتاب وأنه يستحقُّ عقوبة عظيمة على سوء فعله، ووجهُ كون الغيبة أشدَّ من الزنا أو ثلاثين زنية؛ أن التوبةَ من الزنا إن استوفت شروطَها من الندم والإقلاع عن المعصية والعزم على عدم العود مكفرةٌ لإثم الزنا بمجردها، بخلاف الغيبة؛ فإن التوبة وإن وجدت فيها هذه الشروط لا تكفرها بل لا بدَّ من أن ينضم إليها استحلالُ صاحبها مع عفوه، فمن هنا كانت الغيبة أشدَّ من الزنا كما بينه ابن حجر في الفتاوى المذكورة.
وليعلم السائل أن الأدلةَ على حرمةِ الغيبة والتشنيعِ على المغتاب وبيانِ عقوبته كثيرةٌ من الكتاب والسنة الصحيحة يُستغنى بها عما ذكره.

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