Tale-bearing, backbiting, and hypocrisy

Q: I have had a discussion with some people in Al-Rayth Mountains area, south of Saudi Arabia. At the end of the discussion, they started backbiting other people and mentioning their failings. They called them by bad names just to make the attendants laugh. This stirred jealousy in me about the teachings of Islam (Part No. 26; Page No. 17) and motivated me to deliver a piece of admonition. I told them that they were engaged in backbiting, hypocrisy and tale-bearing, since they started listing the faults of particular people and spoke ill of them. As I invoked prayers for Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) marking the end of my admonition, one of the attendants argued with me, saying that the session might comprise backbiting only, but there was no hypocrisy or tale-bearing. The attendants doubted my words, though I meant by hypocrisy that when people are present, they speak well of them; when they are absent, they disparage them. That is why I described their act as hypocrisy, backbiting and slander.Please, elaborate on this situation and explain in detail whether or not their behavior comprised hypocrisy, backbiting, tale-bearing, slander and injustice. May Allah guide you and bless your lifetime! May Allah support Islam and Muslims with you!

A: First, Ghibah (backbiting) is to mention the faults and shortcomings of a person out of contempt and dispraise, such as describing a person as blind, bleary-eyed, short or poor etc. Second, Namimah (tale-bearing) signifies spreading malicious news for the sake of damaging people's reputation and spoiling their relations. Third, hypocrisy is divided into (a) hypocrisy in belief, which refers to concealing Kufr (disbelief) and showing Islam, and (b) hypocrisy in actions, which is possessing some or all qualities of the hypocrites, such as telling lies, betrayal, breaking promises, treason and the like. (Part No. 26; Page No. 18) Therefore, those who spoke ill of their Muslim brothers in their absence have definitely committed the sin of backbiting. Thus, they must repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness for what they did. Moreover, they must ask for the forgiveness of those whom they have backbitten.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions!