Answered by Ustadh Nail Kadi
Is it considered backbiting to read testimonials from victims against the accused?
In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate
I pray you are well.
The believer’s criterion for investing time and energy is based on benefit to oneself, one’s family, and the public at large.
If reading verified testimonies will benefit you, your family, or your community, then it is permissible to read. This might be the case if there is abuse by an individual and others need to be alerted to it.
On the other hand, if reading it will yield no benefit, then it is not permissible. This is often true in cases of domestic discord.
Here are two tips:
- Verify it. One should always be wary of the source and truth of the testimony. Allah, Most High, says, “O you who believe, if a sinful person brings you a report, verify its correctness, lest you should harm a people out of ignorance, and then become remorseful on what you did.” (49:6)
- Assess it. How will reading this change my life? Am I reading for entertainment? Will knowing this help me or others?
Note on Backbiting
The Messenger of Allah, blessings, and peace be upon him, said, “Do you know what is backbiting?” The Companions said: “Allah and His Messenger know better.” Thereupon he said, “Backbiting is talking about your (Muslim) brother in a manner which he dislikes.” It was said to him: “What if my (Muslim) brother is as I say.” He said, “If he is actually as you say, then that is backbiting; but if that is not in him, that is slandering.” (Muslim)
Assuming that the testimony is true and portrays the person negatively, is this backbiting?
Mentioning another person’s flaws is permissible in six exceptional cases.
One of the exceptional reasons is “To stop a wrong-doing by telling someone who can correct it, with the intention of using the necessary measures to eliminate that wrong.”
If you intend to be part of the actual solution and resolution, then reading it may not just be permissible but recommended.
And Allah knows best
[Ustadh] Nail Kadi
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Born in the Pacific Northwest to immigrant parents from Apartheid-era South Africa, Nail Kadi has lived in the Great Plains, California, New England, and the South. Nail has served various communities as an imam, hafidh (memorizer of the qur’an), and qari (reciter of the qur’an) with a focus on nurturing the spiritual lives of young people. During his middle school years, Nail attended a southern African seminary and memorized the Qur’an.
Nail spent 12 years at Harvard University, completing bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in the History of Science, Theological Studies, and Dental Medicine.
Nail has also studied the religious sciences with a host of scholars from South Africa, Jordan, Turkey, India and Syria. Currently pursuing advanced studies in Istanbul, he is also pursuing an Ijaza in Calligraphy under masters of the art.