Question: I have been a terrible person talking behind the backs of one of my friends. Sometimes I felt hurt, and I ranted ill about him. He doesn’t know at all and is a good friend. I feel guilt, sadness, and depression; I don’t know what to do. I feel awful, I don’t have the courage to tell him about all the ill things I said about him, and every time I talk to him, I feel guilt and regret. Please help me; I’m an awful person.
Thank you for your question. Your regret and pain are some of the signs of accepted repentance. Your heartbrokenness and sincerity are a gift, and you should be grateful that Allah made you hate your action.
Telling your friend
You should not tell your friend that you were backbiting about him if it would upset the friendship and break his heart. Your sincere repentance is the first step, and you may also consider praying the Prayer of Repentance. Please see the excellent resources here:
Allah expects His servants to sin, but He also expects them to repent. Remember that you are not alone. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence, and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them.“ [Muslim]
In addition to this, Allah is keen to forgive his sincerely repentant servants. He tells us, in His book, “Say, ˹O Prophet, that Allah says,˺ “O My servants who have exceeded the limits against their souls! Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins. He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.“ [Qur’an, 39:53]
If you want to make it up to your friend, somehow, buy him a gift, or give some charity on his behalf and your behalf. You can even read some Qur’an and donate the reward to him. The possibilities are endless. Also, make a habit of catching yourself when you are backbiting and note where you were and who you were with. This is incumbent in figuring out one’s triggers and preventing the problem in the future.
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Have taqwa (fear) of Allah wherever you may be, and follow up a bad deed with a good deed which will wipe it out, and behave well towards the people. [Tirmidhi]
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next, and may He allow all of us to purify our tongues and hearts.
[Ustadh] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.