Is It Backbiting to Point Out a Sin That a Group of Youth Are Doing Publicly, and to Say by Name That Sigmund Freud’s Ideas Were Not Scientific?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


  1. Initially, I discussed youths smoking at my parent’s workplace, assuming it wasn’t backbiting. But when my parent mentioned a specific person, I realized it might be. Was it?
  2. I mistakenly linked psychology to Sigmund Freud, then corrected myself by acknowledging his ideas. Was this appropriate?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Backbiting was defined by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace).

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Do you know what backbiting is?” They replied, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “For you to mention your brother with that which he would dislike.” The question was made, “What if it is true what I said about my brother?” He said, “If it is true, you have backbitten him. And if it is false, you have slandered him.” [Muslim]

The scholars have mentioned various scenarios where mentioning such a thing about another would be excused (that is unless the person did intend to backbite).

The Exception to Backbiting

Amongst the exceptions for backbiting is the one who publicly flaunts their sins. For such a person to mention the public sins of others is not considered backbiting. [Bin Tahir; Sullam al-Tawfiq]

The reason behind this is that backbiting violates the objective of the Sacred law: preservation of honor. If someone is publicizing their sin, then it is they who has violated their own honor. [Ibid.]

Seeing that smoking is prohibited due to its clear harms on the body and the wastage of wealth therein – then speaking of the group of youth publicly committing this sin is not backbiting. However, this is on condition that one only mentions the public sin and does not mention other things.

Critiquing a Public Figure

There is a big difference between critiquing the works or ideas of a public figure and backbiting.

Backbiting in most cases is targeted at a person’s character or actions. As for a person saying such and such scholar made a mistake – this is neither a character assassination or an attack on their actions or motives.

See this link for more details.

Hope this helps

Allah knows best

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch teaches Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he completed four years at the Darul Uloom Seminary in New York, where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.