Worse than Zina


The extent to which the Shariah detests the extremely abhorrent crime of zina is evident from the punishment that has been stipulated for it. An unmarried person found guilty of this crime will be given eighty lashes. A married person will be stoned to death. Aside from the Shar’i punishment, every straight thinking person abhors this evil totally. If the person guilty of this evil is exposed, he becomes disgraced in society. The parents of such a person, who has been exposed, will not have the courage to face society. Yes. Zina is a terrible deed. Everybody rightly regards it as such.

However, there is something worse than zina. It is worse than that evil which is punishable with eighty lashes or stoning to death. It has been declared to be worse by none other than Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Yet, despite the fact that it is worse than zina, it goes on all the time. The whole family engages in it together. It is a favourite past time for many. It continues even in the Musjid. It does not even stop in Ramadhaan. People indulge in it even while sitting directly in front of the Ka’ba Shareef. The camps of Mina and the plains of Arafaat are also not free of it . . . The list goes on and on.

What, then, is this terrible sin, this ghastly deed, this disgusting evil which is worse than the most despicable crime of zina? Yet it takes place almost everywhere. It is simply the wretched act of . . . GHEEBAT (backbiting). Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “Gheebat is worse than zina” (Mishkaat). But do we regard it as such? Do we carry the same abhorrence in our hearts for gheebat as we have for zina? Does the husband stop his wife in her tracks when she indulges in the act that is worse than zina, and vice versa? Rarely does this happen.

The Qur’an denounces the sin of gheebat in extremely strong terms. Allah Ta’ala asks: “Does any one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother?” Gheebat is thus akin to eating the flesh of a dead person.



In the Hadith Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “Backbiting is to mention something of your fellow Muslim brother what he would dislike (that such a thing is being mentioned about him.” Somebody asked: “And what if it is true?” Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) replied: “If it is true you have indulged in gheebat. If it is a lie, you are guilty of slandering him” (Mishkaat). Thus the common retort to justify one’s backbiting such as “what I am saying is true!” will not negate the sin of gheebat. In fact this is gheebat in its totality.



Why is gheebat worse than zina? The person guilty of adultery realizes he is committing a grave sin. He even feels ashamed. Thus such a person would often quickly make sincere tawba and gain the forgiveness of Allah Ta’ala. But the one involved in gheebat feels that he is doing nothing wrong. He therefore does not even repent. In the meantime he has passed on his precious good deeds to the one he has spoken ill of.

Also, gheebat is a means of creating mischief. Those who were not involved in any way in an incident or who have nothing to do with it listen to the sordid details with relish. They in turn pass it on to others until entire families and communities are engulfed in its flames. The end-result is severe fitna. Allah Ta’ala declares: “And fitna is worse than murder.” Thus the gravity of the crime of gheebat is apparent.

Therefore STOP this evil. STOP passing your good deeds to those you dislike. STOP making your pet past time the discussion of the ills of your boss, employee, colleague, rival, partner, mother-in-law/daughter-in-law/other-in-laws, or any body else. Use the time to ponder over one’s own sins and weaknesses. This will be of benefit to one. Just simply put a fullstop to backbiting. You may not always be in the position to stop others. But you definitely can . . . STOP YOURSELF . . . from backbiting or listening to it.

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