Islam strictly forbids spying into people’s sins and secrets and backbiting. It also forbids talking ill of people behind their backs. The Quran declares:
O you who believe! Refrain from cherishing suspicions about others for some of such suspicions are a grave sin, and do not spy. And let some of you not backbite the others. Would anyone among you love to eat of the flesh of his dead brother? (You see that) you abhor it. Fear God. Surely God is the All-Relenting, the All-Compassionate.
Ibrahim Adham, one of the famous Muslim Sufis, left a table of food where a Muslim was backbitten, and said:
- I came here to eat food, but you have begun eating rotten flesh.
Khalid Rabi’, a famous Muslim saint, narrates:
- Some people were backbiting a man at that time in the mosque. I warned them not to do that but later when they began backbiting another one, I also happened to utter a few ill words about him. That night I had a dream in which a tall, dark man offered me a dish of bacon. I refused it saying that bacon was regarded as foul and therefore forbidden by my religion. He responded to me:
- You ate something fouler than this in the day just past.
When I woke up, I felt the smell and taste of that bad flesh in my mouth and stomach. I asked for God’s forgiveness for forty days.
To those who backbit him, Hasan al-Basri, one of the most famous Muslims ascetics who lived in the seventh century, sent a present with a letter in which he wrote:
- I have heard that you talked ill about me. By doing so, you took over my sins and gave me your spiritual merits. I request you to accept this present in return for the good you did me.
Imam Sha’rani, a Muslim scholar and saint who lived in Egypt in the 16th century, writes:
After the people receive in the Hereafter the records in which the deeds they did in this world are registered, some people will say to God Almighty: ‘O God! Where are the prayers and fasts I did and the alms I gave? None of them have been recorded here.’
God replies to them:
- Whatever good you did was recorded there. However, you were not able to keep those good deeds. You gave their merits to those you backbit. Go and look at the records of your brothers whom you backbit! You will see them there!
Again Imam Sha’rani writes:
Together with his people, the Prophet Moses, upon him be peace, prayed to God for rain for three days, but even a drop of rain did not come. When Moses asked God about the reason why rain did not come, God answered:
Your prayer is unacceptable by Me, for there is one among you who always talks ill about his brothers and backbites them.
The Prophet Moses entreated God to inform them who that man was so that they could expel him from among them. However, the Almighty responded:
O Moses! Would you like to cause me to backbite a man?
‘Abdullah ibn Masud, one of the leading Companions of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, used to say to those who backbit others:
- Stand up and do wudu’! For what comes out of your mouths is not less foul than what comes out of your bowels.