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Legitimate Reasons to Speak Bad of Others

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Question: Is complaining of being wronged to someone who cannot help one at all considered backbiting?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

Speaking bad of an individual to someone who cannot help one either stop that individual wronging him or help him personally deal with the problem is backbiting (ghiba) and is sinful.

For example, your manager said something offensive to you, so you tell everyone you know what he/she said. Does everyone you know need to know that? Is it essential that they all know that for this wrong to set aright? No, therefore, it is sinful.

However, if one brought it up with two people, both of whom may offer advice on how to deal with it, it is not backbiting.

(One should also conceal the person’s identity one is speaking badly about as much as practically possible. If the person whose help or advice you are seeking doesn’t need to know who this person is, they shouldn’t know.)

Importantly, there is a qualitative difference between ranting and trying to solve a problem. Ranting is done out of vengeance and anger, whereas trying to solve a problem is done to protect oneself or someone else, or (ideally) purely for the sake of Allah.

Ranting about an individual is sinful and constitutes backbiting. Trying to solve a problem is part of commanding the right and forbidding the wrong. The two, unfortunately, can easily become mixed. May Allah forgive us all!

Please see:
https://seekersguidance.org/articles/saving-our-souls-series-part-7-38-sins-of-the-tongue-shaykh-yusuf-weltch/
https://seekersguidance.org/show/31-content-of-character/
https://seekersguidance.org/courses/upright-speech-birgivi-on-holding-ones-tongue/
https://seekersguidance.org/articles/prophet-muhammad/imam-ghazali-guarding-tongue/

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years, he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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