My enemy to bite me is more beloved than harming with his tongue, since teeth marks eventually fade away but how would I remove what has entered the hearts of people!
My brother and sister, If someone comes to you, speaking improperly, telling lies, or backbiting members or teachers of your community, realise that this person does not wish you well. People like him damage communities, causing families to split and friends to turn against one another.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “No tale-carrier will enter Paradise.” [al-Bukkārī] Tale-telling is simply saying to someone, “So and so said this about you.” However, tale-carrying is not limited to this; it also involves speaking of anything that should not be made public, whether speech or deed. So much so that if you spot someone secretly hiding their money and then tell others about it, it is termed tale-telling.
With their tongue, these tale-carriers destroy the reputation of du’āt or members of your community. The end result of this behaviour is either removing the credibility of those respected until you completely disassociate yourself from them and stop attending their lessons, or completely abstain the salafī masjid all together, al-Fudayl said, “When backbiting appears, brotherhood for Allah will disappear; and at that time you will be like things plated with gold and silver: wooden on the inside, [merely] looking good on the outside.”1
We have a clear example in history of how tale-carrying has caused great misfortune. Hypocrites such as ʿAbdullah ibn Sabá embarked upon anti-uthmanian propaganda and public shaming to disrupt and destroy the community at the time of ʿUthmān. He traveled the Muslim world – from Najd, Iraq and Egypt to promote this mischievous ideology which eventually gained followers in the thousands. Тhe Jews and the Magians capitalised on this anti-uthmanian propaganda and began conspiring against ʿUthmān. They too publicly aired their complaints and grievances sitting in lessons, public forums, private gatherings and social clubs until it was too difficult to distinguish friend from foe. So what was the end result? Public revolt and rebellion against the noble companion ʿUthmān. People began to lay siege to ʿUthmān’s home, and they prevented water and food from reaching him until they broke in and murdered him.
So pay attention to the initial steps of the tale-carrier because they are more worse than magicians in some aspects.
Shaykh al-Fawzān once said; “Magicians learn magic which causes splitting of the hearts and enmity, Likewise, tale-carrying is more severe than magic; perhaps due to the tale-carrier wars may occur, Muslims may split and show enmity to one another, neighbours may boycott one another and one’s household may show enmity to one another and split.” Beware of these people. Their harm is more severe than physical harm, as the poet said; ‘My enemy to bite me is more beloved than harming with his tongue, since teeth marks eventually fade away but how would I remove what has entered the hearts of people!‘
Some of these tale-carriers may be a friend or family member; some may be oblivious of this trial that Allah ﷻ has tested them with. They are oblivious to what they are doing. When you hear people tale-carry, your job is to be firm in prohibiting and halting the doer and defending Muslim honour, just as you would stop someone eating from the flesh of a dead person in front of you. “O believers! Avoid many suspicions, ˹for˺ indeed, some suspicions are sinful. And do not spy, nor backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of their dead brother? You would despise that! Fear Allah, surely Allah is the Accepter of Repentance, Most Merciful..” [Q 49:12] So when you encounter such people, advise them, maybe Allah ﷻ will save them by way of you, otherwise stay away and save your community.
Written by Ṣalāḥ al-Irānī