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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter to let you know that The Islamic Bulletin. Is the best newsletter I have ever read. I thank Allah for giving the writers such knowledge and understanding. Many of the articles are extremely touching that they make me cry. It is such a joy for me to find your bulletin available for English-Speaking people. Being a single woman it is difficult to incorporate all the principles in my daily life, but I do my best and hope Allah is pleased with my sincerity and efforts.

Your articles give me the feeling that I am not alone. I anxiously wait for them every month.

I thank you again on such fine work and hope that with Allah's help you may continue your great work. May Allah bless you.

Sister Elizabeth
Los Angeles, California

Dear Editor,

Yesterday I was given 2 copies of "The Islamic Bulletin" from a Saudi woman. I found it to be very interesting. Even though I live in a Muslim country, where Islam is all around me, it is hard to find good articles in English. Most everything here is in Arabic. There are great books of course, but not enough. I would like to receive a copy (subscription) to your bulletin. Can you please let me know the cost?

What I find here are many Islamic articles in the newspapers, magazines, etc. I put together a newsletter from this. I now have a list of 67 people from all over the U.S. What I would like to do is copy the back of one of your bulletin's and send it to all those on my list. Insha Allah many of them will subscribe.

Sister Mashal
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Dear Editor,

Assalamu Aleikum!

I am currently incarcerated at Folsom State Prison and have accepted Islam about a year and a half ago. I have repented to Allah, a sincere repentance Inshallah. Your newsletter has completely guided me and changed my life. After reading each article I have tried to adapt it in my life, as they say 'Islam is a Way of Life'. As there are no scholars here in prisons I would like you to answer me the following question if you can.

Exactly how much are you allowed to talk about a person without 'back-biting'? Can you please give some examples of 'back-biting'?

Brother A. Rasheed
Folsom, California


Dear Brother,
Wa Aleika Alsalam

I hope the following answer will be of help to you. The Arabic word for back-biting is ghibah. When the Prophet - peace be upon him - was asked, "What is ghibah? He said, 'It is to talk about someone (in his absence) what he should have disliked'. The man further asked the Prophet, 'But if what I say is the truth, would it still be counted as ghibah? The Prophet - peace be upon him - said, "If what you say is true, then it is ghibah, but if what you say is not true then it is accusation (buhtan)".

The Hadith makes it very clear that if we have to talk about the mistakes of someone then we would do that in his presence and not at his back. Because when you talk about the mistakes of a person in his presence, he or she will be able to clarify his position or will be able to correct himself/herself. Also when you talk about someone in his/her presence you will be careful and will not exaggerate or say wrong things, but when the person is not present, then you are at liberty to say whatever you want and the poor fellow has no way to speak on his/her behalf. Also, sooner or later the report of your conversation will reach to that person and that will grieve him or make him angry. These things slowly ruin the group harmony and good relations.

You asked me to give you a few examples of back-biting. We'll take this one. A goes to B and starts talking about C. A he says to B, 'You know, C is a very cruel person. He beats his wife. He is very harsh to his children. He was fired several times from his job because of this bad behavior. And, moreover, do you know B, I have seen him once going into a video shop, probably, he was going to rent some X-rated movies.' Now, poor C is not present and all this conversation about him is occupying A and B's time. Do you think A would dare say these things in the presence of C? What will be the opinion of C about A and B when he finds out about this conversation? This is back-biting and it is forbidden in Islam.

But sometimes one cannot handle the problem oneself and one has to talk to someone else. Imam Nawawi in his Riyad al Salihin, has mentioned six situations where ghibah is allowed.

1. A person to whom injustice is done and she/he complains to the authorities in order to seek justice.

2. A person who seeks the help of someone to correct a wrong action or to stop a wrong doer. Ghibah is allowed if the intention of the person is sincerely to stop the wrong, otherwise it is haram unlawful).

3. A person who seeks the fatwa (religious decision) and goes to a Mufti (jurist) and says, "So and so is doing wrong to me or has deprived me of my right, what should I do? What am I allowed to do according to Shariah (Islamic Law), to address this wrong?" It is better to ask this question without giving the name of the person. But if it is necessary to mention the name then you are also allowed to mention the name and more details about the person.

4. In order to warn Muslims about someone who might harm them in their religion or their worldly matters, it is allowed to expose these wrong doers. It is for this reason the muhaddithin used to do critically examine people's record and give their opinions about the reporters of the hadith of the Prophet (PBUH).

5. If a person openly flouts the rules of Islam, such as drinking alcohol openly, there is no sin in telling people about those things that he does openly, but one should not speak about his other private wrongs unless there is a need that makes it necessary to do.

6. If a person is generally known among people by some nickname or title it is not ghibah to repeat that as long as the intention is not to defame the person.

As the hadith of Prophet (PBUH) says that every action will be judged according to the intention, it is very important that one should check one's intention before talking about another person's faults or mistakes.


Editorial correspondence should be addressed to:

The Editor of the Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186
San Francisco, CA 94141-0186

December 1994
Rajab 1415
The Wisdom in Islam
Letters to the Editor
Islam in Europe is
on the Rise
Do You Knock
on Wood?
Benefits of Honey
Women in Islam
Why I Embraced Islam
The Kid's Corner
The Miracles of
the Quran
Stories of the Sahabah
Qur'anic Science