GOD — Great and Exalted — said :

" Do not backbite one another ; would any of you like to eat the flesh of one's sibling dead ? " ( Quran 49:12 )

Abu Said Muhammad b Ibrahim al-Ismaili informed us : Abu Bakr Muhammad b al-Husayn b al-Hasan b al-Khalil informed us : Ali b al-Hasan told us : Ishaq b Isa b Bint Dawud b Abi Hind told us : Muhammad b Abi Humayd told us on the authority of Musa b Wardan , on the authority of Abu Hurayra , who said that when someone who had been sitting with The Messenger of GOD — may GOD bless and greet — rose and left , another one in the gathering said :

" How feeble this person is ! "

The Messenger — may GOD praise and greet — retorted :

" You have eaten your sibling alive , when you backbite ! " . . . .

Awf said :

" I came to Ibn Sirin and began to discuss the misdeeds of al-Hajjaj .

Ibn Sirin told me :

' GOD Most High is a just arbiter . GOD takes against al-Hajjaj as much as GOD takes for al-Hajjaj . As for you , if you were to meet GOD — Glorious and Magnificent — tomorrow , the smallest sin you have committed will be much more grievous for you than the greatest sin committed by al-Hajjaj ! ' "

It is said that Ibrahim b Adham was invited to a dinner , and attended it . They were discussing someone who did not come . Some of them said :

" So-and-So is boring ! "

Ibrahim said :

" This is what my soul has done to me ! I came to a party where people are slandered in their absence " .

Ibrahim left and would not eat for three days after that .

It is said :

" The backbiter is like one who has installed a catapult and started to shoot one's good deeds in all directions . One backbites one who is in Khurasan , another who is in Syria , one who is in the Hijaz , another who is in the land of the Turks .

One thus scatters one's good deeds , and when one finally finds oneself standing before GOD , one has nothing with one " .

It is said that a certain servant of GOD will be given one's ledger of deeds , see not a single good deed in it , ask GOD :

" Where are my prayers , my fasting and my acts of obedience ? "

and will be told :

" All your good works were invalidated due to your backbiting ! "

It is said :

" GOD will cut in half the sins of one who has suffered from backbiting " .

Sufyan b al-Husayn said :

" I was sitting with Iyas b Muawiyya and spoke badly of someone who was not there .

Sufyan asked me :

' Have you taken part in the holy war against the Turks and the Byzantines this year ? '

I answered : ' No , I have not . '

Sufyan said :

' So , the Turks and the Byzantines are safe from you , while your Muslim sibling is not ! ' "

It is said that a certain person will be given one's ledger and will find in it the good deeds one never did , and will be told :

" This is your reward for people's backbiting against you of which you were not aware ! "

Someone asked Sufyan al-Thawri about the saying of The Prophet — may GOD bless and greet —

" Verily , GOD hates the people of the house of flesheaters " .

Sufyan responded :

" That is , the ones who backbite ; as if they eat the other people's flesh " .

Someone mentioned backbiting in the presence of Abdallah b al-Mubarak , who commented :

" If I were ever to slander anyone in one's absence , I would slander my parents , for they are more deserving of my good deeds than anybody else " .

Yahya b Muadh said :

" Let each believer benefit from you in the following 3 ways :

If you cannot be of help , at least do not harm ;
If you cannot make happiness , at least do not make sadness ;
If you cannot praise , at least do not blame " .

Someone told al-Hasan al-Basri :

" So-and-so slandered you behind your back " .

So al-Hasan al-Basri sent the one who slandered a plateful of sweetmeats , saying :

" It has come to my attention that you have lavished your good deeds upon me , so I would like to recompense you " .

Ali b Ahmad al-Ahwazi informed me : Ahmad b Ubayd al-Basri informed us : Ahmad b Amr al-Qatawani informed us : Sahl b Uthman al-Askari told us : al-Rabi b Badr told us on the authority of Aban , on the authority of Anas b Malik that The Messenger of GOD — may GOD bless and greet — said :

" One who has renounced the veil of shame , cannot be an object of backbiting " .

I heard Hamza b Yusuf al-Sahmi say : I heard Abu Tahir Muhammad b Usayd al-Raqqi say : I heard Jafar b Muhammad b Nusayr say : al-Junayd said :

" Once I was sitting in the al-Shuniziyya mosque , waiting for the bier of a newly deceased to arrive , so that I could pray over it . The people of Baghdad were sitting there according to their social ranks waiting for the funeral bier to arrive .

Suddenly I saw a poor person who looked like an ascetic begging from people .

I thought to myself :

' If this one would work to sustain oneself , it would be better for one . '

When I returned home after that , I engaged in my usual routine of reciting a night litany , weeping , praying and so on . However , all my litanies weighed heavily on me . So I just sat there sleepless .

Then my eyes closed and , in my dream , I saw that poor person spread upon a table before me and I heard voices saying :

' Eat this flesh , for you have slandered ! '

The real state of affairs was revealed to me and I said :

' No , I did not slander . I only said something to myself . '

I was told :

' This sort of thing is not tolerated from the likes of you . Go and ask forgiveness ! '

So in the morning I left my house and began to go around until I saw the person at a place with running water where the person was picking up leaves from vegetables that were being washed there . I greeted .

The response was :

' Abul-Qasim you have returned to this again ? '

I said : ' No ! '

The response was :

' Then may GOD forgive both of us ! ' "

I heard Shaykh Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami — may GOD have mercy upon — say : I heard Abu Tahir al-Isfaraini say : I heard Abu Jafar al-Balkhi say :

" There used to be a person from Balkh who exerted in worshipping GOD , however , constantly slandering people behind their backs , saying ,

' So-and-so is like this , So-and-so is like that ' , and so on .

One day I saw the person coming out from a place frequented by gender-variant washers . I asked what had happened .

The response was :

' My speaking ill of other people has brought this upon me . I was attracted to one of them , and now I have to serve them because of that one . All of my old pious deeds have vanished , so pray GOD to forgive me ! ' "