The Varying Forms of Wrongful Backbiting

by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah

There are found amongst the people those that will backbite in accordance to his gathering and his companions and his associates. Whilst his knowing that the one being backbitten is free of what it is they say – or of some of what they say. However; he sees that if he were to forbid them then the sitting will cease and the people of the sitting would become sullen with him just as they would become estranged from him. So he sees compliance with them through good social relations as well as good companionship; so when they become angered then he likewise becomes angry due to their being angered – so he takes it up with them.

Then there are those that take backbiting out into many forms. So at times it would be in the form of Religion and rectification, so he will say: ‘I am not in the habit of mentioning anyone except in good; and I neither like backbiting nor lies. However I shall inform you of his affairs.’ So He will say: ‘By Allaah – he is Miskeen (weak/pitied) – or he is a good man; however he has in him such and such.’ Or he may say: ‘let us leave off him; may Allaah forgive him and us.’ Whilst his intent is to belittle him as well as causing a wrong to his flank. Thus taking the backbiting out from the form of rectification and Religion. They seek to deceive Allaah with that just as they deceive the creation. For we have seen this and its like from them in many varying colours.

Then there are those that will elevate other than himself out of showing off – and then raise himself. So he will say: ‘If I had supplicated for so and so last night in my prayer; then there would have reached me from him such and such.’ So as to raise himself whilst putting him down with the one that may have faith in him. Or he may say: ‘so and so is dull in intelligence and has little understanding.’ So his intent is the praise of himself and establishing his awareness of him – and that he is better than him.

Likewise from them are those that are carried by envy upon backbiting; and so will gather between two ugly affairs: backbiting as well as envy. So when an individual is praised, then he will try to remove that from him through showing his deficiencies in the form of Religion and rectification – or in the form of envy and immorality and dispraise – in order to remove that from him.

Then there are those that take backbiting out into the form of mockery and play; in order to bring laughter to other than himself through his joking and his mimicry and his belittling of the one he is joking about.

Then there are those that take backbiting out into the form of amazement; so he will say: ‘I am amazed at so and so at how he does not do such and such?! And from so and so as to how he fell into such and such; and how he did such and such.’ Thus pronouncing his name during the course of his amazement.

There are those from them that show sorrow; so he will say: ‘so and so is weak/pitied, it has caused me sorrow for what has happened to him and what the outcome was for him.’ So he who hears him thinks that he has sorrow for him and that he is regretful and that his heart is covered in the attainment of recovery for him; and if it were possible then he would add to that which was with him. He may also mention him in front of his enemies so that they may profit from it. So this; and other than it is from amongst the greatest of the sicknesses of the heart as well as deceitfulness to Allaah and His creation.

From them are those that make apparent backbiting through the form of anger and disapproving something abominable. So there becomes manifest in this aspect certain things from the adornment of speech which contains fallacies. Whilst his intent was other than what he made apparent. And Allaah’s aid is sought.

How to Erase Our Sins

Following is a compilation of Ahadîth that speaks of ways in which we can erase our sins, InshaAllâh!


A servant [of Allâh’s] committed a sin and said: O Allâh, forgive me my sin. And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them. Then he sinned again and said: O Lord, forgive me my sin. And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them. Then he sinned again and said: O Lord, forgive me my sin. And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for sins. Do what you wish, for I have forgiven you. [Hadîth Qudsi]
O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great at it. [Hadîth Qudsi]

Abû Bakr radhiAllâhu `anhu reported:

“I heard the Prophet sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam saying: ‘Allâh forgives the man who commits a sin (then feels ashamed), purifies himself, offers a prayer and seeks His forgiveness.’ Then he recited the ‘ayyah: ‘And those who, when they do an evil thing or wrong themselves, remember Allâh and implore forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allâh? – and will not knowingly repeat (the wrong) they did. The reward of such will be forgiveness from their Lord, and gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever- a bountiful reward for workers.”‘ [al-‘lmrân: 135-136]. [Abû Dawûd, an-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, al-Baihaqi, and at-Tirmidhî who calls it hasan.]

Performing Wudhû

Narrated Abû Hurayrah radhiAllâhu `anhu: Allâh’s Apostle sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said:

When a bondsman – a Muslim or a believer – washes his face (in course of ablution), every sin he contemplated with his eyes will be washed away from his face along with water, or with the last drop of water ; when he washes his hands, every sin they wrought will be effaced from his hands with the water, or with the last drop of water; and when he washes his feet, every sin towards which his feet have walked will be washed away with the water, or with the last drop of water, with the result that he comes out pure from all sins. [Sahîh Muslim]

Narrated Uthmân ibn AffânradhiAllâhu `anhu:

The Messenger of Allâh sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said: He who performed ablution well, his sins would come out from his body, even coming out from under his nails. [Sahîh Muslim]

Performing Prayer

Narrated Uthmân ibn Affân radhiAllâhu `anhu: “I heard Allâh’s Apostle sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam say:

When the time for a prescribed prayer comes, if any Muslim performs ablution well and offers his prayer) with humility and bowing, it will be an expiation for his past sins, so long as he has not committed a major sin; and this applies to for all times. [Sahîh Muslim]

Narrated Abû Huraira radhiAllâhu `anhu: “Allâh’s Apostle said,

“The congregational prayer of anyone amongst you is more than twenty (five or twenty seven) times in reward than his prayer in the market or in his house, for if he performs ablution completely and then goes to the mosque with the sole intention of performing the prayer, and nothing urges him to proceed to the mosque except the prayer, then, on every step which he takes towards the mosque, he will be raised one degree or one of his sins will be forgiven. The angels will keep on asking Allâh’s forgiveness and blessings for everyone of you so long as he keeps sitting at his praying place. The angels will say, ‘O Allâh, bless him! O Allâh, be merciful to him!’ as long as he does not do Hadath or a thing which gives trouble to the other.” The Prophet further said, “One is regarded in prayer so long as one is waiting for the prayer.” [Sahîh Al-Bukhari]

Narrated Abû Hurayrah radhiAllâhu `anhu:

“The Messenger of Allâh sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said: He who purified himself in his house, and then he walked to one of the houses of Allâh for the sake of performing a fard (obligatory act) out of the Fara’id (obligatory acts) of Allâh, both his steps (would be significant) as one of them would obliterate his sin and the second one would raise his status. [Sahîh Muslim]

Attending the Jumu’ah Salâh

Narrated Abû Hurayrah radhiAllâhu `anhu: The Messenger of Allâh sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said:

Five prayers and from one Friday prayer to (the next) Friday prayer is an expiation (of the sins committed in between their intervals) if major sins are not committed. [Sahîh Muslim]

Narrated by Salman Al Farsi radhiAllâhu `anhu: The Prophet sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said,

Whoever takes a bath on Friday, purifies himself as much as he can, then uses his (hair) oil or perfumes himself with the scent of his house, then proceeds (for the Jumua prayer) and does not separate two persons sitting together (in the mosque), then prays as much as (Allâh has) written for him and then remains silent while the Imam is delivering the Khutba, his sins in-between the present and the last Friday would be forgiven.” [Sahîh Al-Bukhari]

Doing good deeds

Narrated Ibn Masud radhiAllâhu `anhu: A man kissed a woman and then came to Allâh’s Apostle and told him of that, so this Divine Inspiration was revealed to the Prophet sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam:

“And offer Prayers perfectly at the two ends of the day, and in some hours of the night; (i.e. (five) compulsory prayers). Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (small sins). That is a reminder for the mindful.” (Qur’aan : 11.114) The man said, Is this instruction for me only?” The Prophet said, “It is for all those of my followers who encounter a similar situation.” [Sahîh Al-Bukhari]

Performing Umrah and Hajj

Narrated by Abû Huraira : The Prophet sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said,

“Whoever performs Hajj for Allâh’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.” [Sahîh Al-Bukhari]

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud radhiAllâhu `anhu narrated that the Prophet sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said:

“Alternate between Hajj and ‘Umrah (regularly), for these two remove poverty and sins just as the blacksmith’s bellows removes all impurities from metals like iron, gold and silver. The reward for Hajj Mabrur is nothing short of Paradise.” [Nasa’i and Tirmidhi, who regards it a sound hadîth ]

Narrated Abû Huraira radhiAllâhu `anhu: Allâh’s Apostle sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said,

“(The performance of) ‘Umra is an expiation for the sins committed (between it and the previous one). And the reward of Hajj Mabrur (the one accepted by Allâh) is nothing except Paradise.” [Sahîh Al-Bukhari]

Saying ‘Amîn’

Narrated by Abû Huraira radhiAllâhu `anhu: The Prophet sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said,

“When the Imâm says ‘Amîn’, then you should all say Amîn’, for the angels say Amîn at that time, and he whose Amîn coincides with the Amînof the angels, all his past sins will be forgiven.” [Sahîh Al-Bukhari]

Fasting and performing prayers in the night of Qadr in Ramadân

Narrated by Abû Huraira radhiAllâhu `anhu: The Prophet sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said,

“Whoever fasted the month of Ramadân out of sincere Faith (i.e. belief) and hoping for a reward from Allâh, then all his past sins will be forgiven, and whoever stood for the prayers in the night of Qadr out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allâh, then all his previous sins will be forgiven .” [Sahîh Al-Bukhari]

Sending salutations

Abû Talha Al Ansari radhiAllâhu `anhu said, “The Prophet, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, woke up one day cheerful and beaming. His companions exclaimed, ‘O Prophet of Allâh, you woke up today cheerful and beaming.’ He replied,

‘Yes! A messenger of Allâh, the Mighty and the Glorified, came to me and said, “If anyone from your ummah sends you a salutation, Allâh will record for him ten good deeds, wipe off ten of his sins, and raise him thereby ten degrees in rank, and He will return his salutation with a similar salutation”.‘ [Ahmad] Ibn Kathîr considers this a sound hadîth ]

Being kind to animals

Narrated Abû Huraira radhiAllâhu `anhu: Allâh’s Apostle sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said,

“While a man was walking he felt thirsty and went down a well and drank water from it. On coming out of it, he saw a dog panting and eating mud because of excessive thirst. The man said, ‘This (dog) is suffering from the same problem as that of mine. So he (went down the well), filled his shoe with water, caught hold of it with his teeth and climbed up and watered the dog. Allâh thanked him for his (good) deed and forgave him.” The people asked, “O Allâh’s Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving (the) animals?” He replied, “Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate.” [Sahîh Al-Bukhari]

Narrated Abû Huraira radhiAllâhu `anhu: Allâh’s Apostle sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said,

“A prostitute was forgiven by Allâh, because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allâh forgave her because of that.” [Sahîh Al-Bukhari]

Leaving grey hair

Amr ibn Shu’aib related on the authority of his father from his grandfather that the Prophet sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said,

“Do not pluck the grey hairs as they are a Muslim’s light. Never a Muslim grows grey in Islam except that Allâh writes for him, due to that, a good deed. And he raises him a degree. And he erases for him, due to that, one of his sins.” [Related by Ahmad, Abû Dawûd, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah] And Anas said, “We used to hate that a man should pluck out his white hairs from his head or beard.” [Sahîh Muslim]

Some simple supplications through which we can erase our sins, Insha’Allâh!

Narrated Abû Huraira radhiAllâhu `anhu: Allâh’s Apostle said,

“Whoever says, ‘Subhan Allâh wa bihamdihi,’ one hundred times a day, will be forgiven all his sins even if they were as much as the foam of the sea.” [Sahîh Al-Bukhari]

Narrated Abû Huraira radhiAllâhu `anhu: Allâh’s Apostle sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said,

“Whoever says: ‘La ilaha illal-lah wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahu-l-mulk wa lahu-l-hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shai’in qadir,’ one hundred times will get the same reward as given for manumitting ten slaves; and one hundred good deeds will be written in his accounts, and one hundred sins will be deducted from his accounts, and it (his saying) will be a shield for him from Satan on that day till night, and nobody will be able to do a better deed except the one who does more than he.” [Sahîh Al-Bukhari]

Narrated Abû Hurayrah radhiAllâhu `anhu: Allâh’s Apostle sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam said:

If anyone extols Allâh after every prayer thirty-three times [SubhanAllâh], and praises Allâh thirty-three times [Alhamdulillah], and declares His Greatness thirty-three times [Allâh hu Akbar], ninety-nine times in all, and say to complete a hundred: “There is no god but Allâh, having no partner with Him, to Him belongs sovereignty and to Him to praise due, and He is Potent over everything,” his sins will be forgiven even if these are as Abûndant as the foam of the sea. [Sahîh Muslim]

Abû Hurairah radhiAllâhu `anhu reported that the Prophet, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, said,

“If anyone sits in an assembly where there is much clamor and says before getting up to leave, “Subhanaka Allâhumma wa bihamdika, ashadu an-la illaha illa-anta, astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayka” (Glory be to You, O Allâh, and I begin with declaring all praise is due to You, I testify that there is no god but You; I ask Your pardon and turn to You in repentance), he will be forgiven any sin that he might have committed while in that assembly. [Tirmidhi and Al-Baihaqi, (Kitab ad-D’wat Al-kabir)]

Mu’adh b. Anas radhiAllâhu `anhu reported that the Prophet, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, said,

“If anyone wears a new garment and says, “Alhamdu lillahillazi kasaabi hazaa wa razakabehi min ghairi hawlin minna walaa kuwwata” ‘All praise be to Allâh, Who clothed me with this garment and provided it for me, with no power or strength from myself’ Allâh will forgive all his previous sins.” [Abû Dawûd, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah]


Polishing the Hearts

by Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah

Allaah – the Most High – said:

“O you who believe! Remember Allaah and remember Him a lot.” [Soorah al-Ahzaab 33:4I].

“Those men and women who remember Allaah a lot.” [Soorah al-Ahzaab 33:35].

“So when you have finished the rights of your Pilgrimage, then remember Allaah as you remember your fore-father, or with more intense remembrance.” [Soorah al-Baqarah 2:200].

These verses contain a command to remember Allaah intensely and abundantly, since the worshipper is in dire need of [remembering Allaah] and cannot do without it even for a twinkling of an eye. This is because every moment that a person does not spend in the dhikr (remembrance) of Allaah will not be of any benefit to him. Rather, the harm entailed in being neglectful of the dhikr of Allaah is far greater than any benefits that can be gained. One of the ‘aarifeen (those who are knowledgeable about Allaah) said:”If a person were to spend such and such number of years engaged [in the dhikr of Allaah], then he turns away from it for just a moment, what he will lose is far greater than whatever he has already gained.”

Al-Bayhaqee relates from ‘Aaishah radiallaahu ‘anhaa that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “There is no time in which the son of Aadam does not remember AIIaah in it, except that it will be a source of regret for him on the Day of Judgement”2

Mu’aadh ibn jabal radiallaahu ‘anhu relates that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “The people of Paradise will not have any regrets except for those moments in which they were not engaged in the dhikr (remembrance) of Allaah.”3

Mu’aadh ibn Jabal also relates that Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was asked: What action is the most beloved to Allaah? So he replied: “That you continue to keep your tongue moist with the dhikr of Allaah, until you die.”4


Abu Dardaa radiallaahu ‘anhu said:”For everything there is a polish and the polish for the heart is the dhikr of Allaah”.

Al-Bayhaqee relates from Ibn ‘Umar radiallaahu ‘anhu that AlIaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “For everything there is a polish, and the polish for the hearts is the dhikr (remembrance) of Allaah. There is nothing more potent in saving a person from the punishment of Allaah than the dhikr of Allaah.” It was said: Not even Jihaad in the path of Allaah. So he replied: “Not even if you were to continue striking with your sword until it breaks.”5

There is no doubt that hearts becomes rusty just as copper and silver coins become rusty. The polish for [this rust] is the dhikr of AIlaah. This is because [dhikr] is like a polish [which polishes the heart] like a shiny mirror. When dhikr is left, the rust returns. But when dhikr resumes, then the heart is [again] polished. And hearts become rusty due to two things:-

(i) neglecting remembering Allaah, and

(ii) committing sins.

The polish for these two things is:-

(i) seeking Allaah’s forgiveness and

(ii) dhikr.


Whoever neglects [remembering Allaah] most of the time, then his heart will become rusty in accordance with how neglectful the person is. And when this [filthy] rust accumulates on the heart, then it no longer recognises things as they really are. Thus, it views falsehood as if it is the truth, and truth as if it is falsehood. This is because this rust darkens and confuses the heart’s perception, and so it is unable to truly recognise things for what they really are. So as the rust accumulates, the heart gets blackened, and as this happens the heart becomes stained with this filthy rust, and when this occurs it corrupts the heart’s perception and recognition of things. The heart [then] does not accept the truth nor does it reject falsehood, and this is the greatest calamity that can strike the heart. Being neglectful [of dhikr] and following of whims and desires is a direct consequence of such a heart, which [further] extinguish the heart’s light and blinds its vision. Allaah – the Most High – said:

“And do not obey him whose heart We have made to be neglectful of Our remembrance, one who follows his own whims and desires and whose affairs are furat [have gone beyond bounds and whose deeds have been lost].” [Soorah al-Kahf 18:28].


So when a worshipper desires to follow another person, then let him see: Is this person from the people of dhikr, or from the people who are negligent [about remembering Allaah]? Does this person judge in accordance with his whims and desires, or by the Revelation? So, if he judges by whims and desires then he is actually from those people who are negligent; those whose affairs have gone beyond bounds and whose deeds are lost.

The term furat [which occurs in the above verse] has been explained in many ways. It has been explained to mean:- (i) losing the rewards of that type of action which is essential to do, and in which lies success and happiness; (ii) exceeding the limits of something; (iii) being destroyed; and (iv) opposing the truth. Each of these sayings are very close in meaning to each other.

The point is that Allaah – the One free from all imperfections, the Most High – has prohibited following all those who possess such attributes. So it is absolutely essential that a person considers whether such attributes are found in his shaykh, or the person who’s example he follows, or the person that he obeys. If they are, then he should distance himself from such a person. However, if it is found that the person is, in most cases, pre-occupied with the dhikr of Allaah and with following the Sunnah, and his affairs do not exceed the limits, but rather he is judicious and resolute in his affairs, then he should cling to him very firmly.

Indeed, there is no difference between the living and the dead, except with the dhikr of Allaah; since [the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] said: “The example of one who remembers Allaah and someone who does not, is like the example between the living and the dead.”6



1. AI-Waabilus-Sayyib min Kalimit-Tayyib (pp.78-82).

2. Hasan: Related by Abu Nu’aym in al-Hiliyatul-Awliyaa (51361-362). It

was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albaanee in Saheehul-Jaami’ (no.5720).

3. Saheeh: Related by lbnus-Sunnee in ‘Aml al-Yawma wal-Laylah (no.3).

Refer to Saheehul-Jaami’ (no.5446).

4. Hasan: Related by lbn Hibbaan (no.2318). It was authenticated by

Shaykh Saleem al-Hilaalee in Saheeh al-Waabilus-Sayyib (p.80).

5. Saheeh: Related by Ahmad (4/352), from Mu’aadh ibn Jabal radiallaahu

‘anhu. It was authenticated by al-Albaanee in Saheehul-Jaami’ (no.5644).

6. Related by al-Bukhaaree (11/208) and Muslim (1/539).