Coping with slander and backbiting

Character assassination is an attempt to tarnish a person’s reputation. It may involve exaggeration or manipulation of facts to present an untrue picture of the targeted person. It is a form of defamation and can be a form of ad hominem argument.

For living individuals targeted by character assassination attempts, this may result in being rejected by his community, family, or members of his or her living or work environment. Such acts are often difficult to reverse or rectify, and the process is likened to a literal assassination of a human life. The damage sustained can last a lifetime or, for historical figures, for many centuries after their death.

In practice, character assassination may involve double speak, spreading of rumors, innuendo or deliberate misinformation on topics relating to the subject’s morals, integrity, and reputation. It may involve spinning information that is technically true, but that is presented in a misleading manner or is presented without the necessary context. For example, it might be said that a person refused to pay any income tax during a specific year, without saying that no tax was actually owed due to the person having no income that year.

The aforementioned Wikipedia quote summarizes what I have been going through for the past few months. One of the major tests Allah (s.w.t.) has given me is to deal with the fall out from slander and backbiting. Recently, I made a choice that many people in my community did not agree with. This resulted in rumors and gossip spreading. There have been a great deal of assumptions made about me and my character. The rumors and gossip eventually turned into slander and backbiting whose end result is character assassination. I am in no way a good comparison to Aisha (r.a.) but I can imagine the pain she must’ve felt when people accused her of doing something she did not do. Aside from the backbiting, innuendo and assumptions (if I could even begin to put them aside), as a woman, there is nothing more horrific than having people say or imply that you committed the egregious sin of zina when you know you have been chaste. At first, I brushed the rumors off, chalking them up to childishness and misinformation on part of some. Eventually, I realized why slander is a major sin in Islam. (Particularly when the slander is of the sexual nature and in relation to a woman’s chastity). It is very difficult to recover from such attacks once the word has been put out there. When people meet you, whatever they were told or heard about you precedes you. As a woman, slander may influence any future choice for marriage, put you honor into question, and make it difficult for you to feel comfortable in your community. For now, I am wearing a scarlet letter.

Alhamdulillah, I am a strong person and I understand some things about life. I ask Allah (s.w.t.) to vindicate me. I ask Allah’s forgiveness for anything I have done wrong. I ask Allah (s.w.t.) never to make my wrongs fair-seeming to me. And most importantly, I ask Allah to help and to guide us all. Ameen.

How can a person cope with backbiting, slander and character assassination?

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23 responses to “Coping with slander and backbiting

  1. sistafromanotherplanet

    My Nana used to tell me to never worry about what people say about me, to keep my head high and to keep on living, especially when the things folk say are not true. Well, that is much easier said than done because words CAN hurt even the strongest person. After the sting of the situation begins to wear off and all the whisperings die down, we tend to be left with lots of questions swirling around in our heads and can start to second guess ourselves, even when we KNOW we have done no wrong. So my opinion is that your character will speak for itself, regardless of the slander. Those that know you truly and those that love and care about you truly will not be swayed by any foulness said about you. There is a lesson in every situation we just have to find that lesson, learn it whatever it is and be wiser and stronger for it. Also I have learned from experience, what goes around ALWAYS comes back around! Those same people flapping their chops about you and Allah knows whom ever else, will find themselves in the same situation they have put you in in one way or another. All that they have said will come back to bite them where it hurts. Just wait on it! Beside all that, who are they to speak about YOUR character or YOUR decisions anyway?! They are not anyone’s judge or jury! The people listening to the gossip need to be questioning the character and decision’s of the people sperading the mess in the first place!! Continue to keep your head up Lady and keep a smile on your face, it will befuddle them!!! They won’t know what to do or how to handle you. I’m sending you my love and support from the “Dirty South”!

  2. As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve been going through this sort of thing. It’s very hurtful, particularly when people you expect to take your side don’t.

    I hope your engagement is still on?

  3. I am so sorry to hear you have to deal with this, I am not a good advice giver, all i can say is just hang in there insha-Allah and I hope there are at least someone you can count on for support, a true friend that will be there for you. Trust in Allah SWT, if people would slander Aisha RA, than that should be enough to show us that people are capable of anything. Stay strong, hold your head up high, Allah ALone is your judge and your whom you will return to, forget them. My du’as for you sis, I know you will get through this! Salaam

  4. Eventually, I realized why slander is a major sin in Islam,

    Yep, I’m one of those people who learns best by real-world application–which means I get burned quite a bit! I know a good brother, masha Allah, who was slandered about his business. Not only was it detrimental to his livelihood (which means his wife and children too!), but it was also very hurtful and he was not able to “brush it off” too quickly. Makes me see why backbiting is so dangerous. Even if I think I am being innocent or well-intentioned, I always have my own skewed pov of situations and when I talk to someone about someone else, I am alwaystwisting things even if just slightly and then the listener will get it further twisted and so on. I am really sorry this happened to you, alhumdiAllah you got some wisdom from it. Justice will be nice too, insha Allah!

    Character does speak for itself. And that is something I have learned in Islam, that you have to go by long term actions. But still I have had people who I am very close to slandered to me and it is so hard not to be doubtful and confused by it. Why the freak would someone lie? I dunno, but they do.

  5. If you wasn’t ashamed of your “decision” and what you exactly did, you would tell us the whole story and let us decide if it was Islamically inappropriate or not. If what you did was clean and straight up then you would have a cause to yell “slander”. As I see it, you want your cake and eat it too. You did something cruddy and against Islam and now you want the Muslim to accept that corruption. Riiiight.

    • Actually “Jamila”, I wasn’t sure what you as the reader wanted to know. If you wanted to know I felt you would ask. I like how you’ve automatically assumed that I did do something haram. Thanks for the vote of confidence! And tell me, where in Islam is it acceptable to automatically assume the negative or to form conclusion without having the full information? That is how backbiting and slander come into being in the first place.

  6. sistafromanotherplanet

    To “Jamila” the Negative Nellie, IF she was ashamed of her decision we would never even know anything about this situation. Who are YOU to judge her or anyone? Are you a member of the Haram Police? I can only hope that one day I can be as perfect as you are and feel that I am entitled to judge other people! You’re doing something “cruddy against Islam” by judging. Even if she did do something wrong, it’s not anyone else’s place to judge that. Allah is the only judge!

  7. Salams,

    I guess I’ll ask the question…so what happened?

  8. ASA from a Barbadian to sister to this Jamaican one.

    Take heart. The truth will always prevail, even if it doesn’t look that way at the moment. Most events are a nine-day wonder to gossips who don’t have to deal with the pain and heartache of loss. They will surely and unfortunately find someone else to talk about shortly. I’m cheering you on and making du’aa for you.

    Saadia

  9. Wow. First of all, I cannot believe Jamila’s comments…
    I wish you could just ignore and go on about your business but I know it’s impossible and how hurtful backiting is.
    Just remember that Allah is the only judge and put your trust in him that inchallah the truth will come out.
    Like someone already said, surround yourself with your true friends, people who know you and love you and will inchallah help you through this situation.
    Keep your head up, you are in my duas.

  10. As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,
    Sorry to hear that people are talking about you… its usually because of other people insecurities that they even decided to backbite just stay strong sister and you will persevere! Salaam

  11. Assalaamualaikum-

    I have never had this happen to me and I am sorry that it has happened to you. Yet-I cannot say that I have never backbitten one of my sisters (I am ashamed to admit this) out of hurt feelings or anger. We so often use feelings of being slighted or angry as an excuse to backbite.

    I think the best thing for you to do is to live your life and try to forgive.

    Another thing you may do is speak to the offending party (if that is plausible) and explain to them how much the things they said hurt you.

    I’M SURE YOU KNOW-YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY NADA ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS UP ON YOUR BLOG EXCEPT WHAT YOU FEEL LIKE SHARING.

    TAKE CARE SIS : )

  12. “Jamila Quander”

    Oh my, you do respond as though you yourself are in a ‘Quandry.’
    If the shoe fits…

    You don’t read much like a Muslim poster to me. Could be you’re a troll Islamaphobe?

    Or slightly aware of Islam as a born Muslim, but not too educated in Islam over all.

    Shoeeee troll fly, shoe ‘way. You silly monster.

    As for the possibility of you being a ‘bornie no-it-all’….

    Well, my, my, my, how you do hunger for more flesh with your statement of;
    “you would tell us the whole story…”

    And this;

    ” and let us decide if it was Islamically inappropriate or not.”

    Hahahaha, You’re joking, right?

    Let US decide? Let US decide? Just exactly who are ‘us’? It’s none of our business to be her jury & judge. We are her peers in humanity. A humanity that should be of support, understanding, compassion, empathy, wisdom, etc. Not of your uppity, sanctimonious attitude.

    Dang, you best be careful, maybe Allah be all asking you what’s with your ‘tude on the Day of Days. Maybe He be more stern with you than you ever imagine.

    Soooooo grateful, again & again, Allah IS the Judge and not us dumb, idiot folks.
    We all be roasting in Hedoublehockeysticks if we was the judges.

    Sheessshhhh, go get yourself some gratitude, humbleness,
    ‘Jamila Quander.’

    And when ya do, ya might find yourself outta your family of “Quandry.’
    I sure as Heaven hope so.

    As for the troll in you, meh, go eat some turkey, turkey.

  13. HijabiApprentice

    Asalaamu Alaykum Sis,

    I’ve been there (slander, backbiting etc) myself twice since I’ve been Muslim. My solution was to leave the area because I was so hurt. That is not a solution at all but it was just my way of protecting myself. I pray Allah makes this easy for you.

  14. Salaam Alaikum and Eid Mubarak Sister
    ;–)
    Concerning you being slandered here are some thoughts that come to mind:

    Gurrrl, if I were you I’d make myself a nice cup of tea/coffee, run a hot bath, and turn on some calming meditation music! And after that, I’d hit the mall, and buy myself something new to wear! LOL ;–)
    Seriously though, with all of the pathology, and challenges facing our faith community, any intelligent Muslim who wishes to preserve our way of life would not be sitting up there tweedling their thumbs over someone else’s bedroom life. Or running their mouth about some ones else’s business period. There is too much going on—good and bad.
    Also, I learned about ten years ago there is no expectation of “privacy” or “respect for ones boundaries” amongst us. Your reputation can easily be destroyed IRL or OL. It’s a easy as a whispering campaign.
    So, I’d treat myself with compassion, and move right on! You know your circle of influence, and those are the people who actually matter!
    Salaam

  15. Assalamu alaikum sis,

    Just discovered your blog recently, I’ve really enjoyed reading your perspective. Sorry to hear you’re going through a tough time. Sadly, people with small minds find perverse enjoyment in making others miserable. But don’t let it bring you down! You know the truth & Allah (swt)knows all truths….that’s always enough to help me weather the storm. Thought I’d comment and share a quote which always helps when others ‘try’ to bring me down. Hope it helps somewhat Insha’Allah :) (Who knew Dr, Sues was so wise?)

    “Be who you are and say what you feel. Because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
    By Dr. Seuss

    Take care :)

  16. Salaam alaikum,
    I’ve been slandered before and I know how much it hurts. I’m really sorry you’re going through this. Seriously…for those that slandered you, if they don’t get theirs in this life, then they will get theirs in the hereafter. The only condolence is that you are stacking up their good deeds.

  17. May Allah swt make it easy on you.

  18. As salaamu alaikum sis,

    I had to deal with slander and backbiting as well. You will be vindicated at the proper time, if you haven’t been already.

  19. I’m sorry to read that as well. Sad to say, but I don’t even spend much time around the muslim community, not because I’ve been slandered (at least not that I know of), but because people are so phony I choose not to waste my time around much of them. My motto is, if they don’t put no food on my plate, they don’t matter. And trust me, the people who are talking the most probably have committed the most horrendous “sins” of all, thus their need to deflect. Nobody is more important than your relationship with Allah and yourself, so brush those haters off and keep it movin’. The so called “community” today is not what it should be, don’t even think about those people.

  20. Salam Sister. There are two ways to handle slander;
    1. Staying quiet, ignoring
    2. Responding with reason and clearing the air
    About personal slander, I’d prefer to stay quiet, ignoring. However, about anything related to the dearest in my heart i.e. Allah (swt) and Rasulullah (saw), I’d bring about the kind of response (obviously in a humble way) that nobody will be left with any reason or logic except the usual cussing or harassing which belongs to cowards only.

  21. it’s too bad dear! I can understand…..I’m also facing this kind of situation,believe me I was just to suicide,it is excruciating for any innocent being especially when you have been given lot of respect before & when you are women living in a backward area…….. but continuously ignoring has somehow worked for me & is working,I’m in my teens…before this scenario I was probably knowing nothing about reality of this world…I was happy & proud of the people who were around me but now I have seen their real UGLY faces….at the end I would like to say that have a strong faith in god,ALLAH is the one who knows the best,& be good in your deeds,we can get hurt for sure but they would never get peace,subconsciously they would get harmness back & in hereafter they would get their REWARD!!!

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