Spiritual Maladies

The actual nature of Takabbur (pride) is the feeling of superiority which arises in one on account of some attribute of excellence [or some achievement]. This feeling engenders contempt for others. If this feeling arises involuntarily, one will not be blameworthy – provided that one does not act in accordance with the dictates of this involuntary takabbur. In other words, one should not proclaim by word or deed one’s superiority nor show any contempt for others.

If this feeling of superiority is by deliberate design, or even if it is not by deliberate design, but one acts in accordance to the demands of takabbur, then one will be guilty of the crime of PRIDE.

The remedy for this malady is to praise and speak good of the person whom one despises. Meet him with honour, respect and humility.

Hishaam bin Kalbi Rahmatullah ‘Alayh once stated: “I had committed such a thing to memory which nobody had achieved before. I had memorized the entire Qur’an in a span of three days. In addition, I had forgotten something which nobody before had forgotten. When I had taken a scissors to trim my beard, I cut from above my fist instead of below it.”

[Shaami – Vol. 1, pg. 261]

Allah Ta’ala had allowed this to happen so that pride may not overcome him as a result of his extraordinary achievement.

 [Excerpt from booklet written by Hadhrat Sheikh Ibrahim Saheb]


There are eight causes of backbiting:

  1. Anger: Anger is the main cause of backbiting and other spiritual diseases. When a man tells another a thing that he dislikes, it fills hatred in his mind and heart. To avenge this feeling, he begins to backbite.

  2. Pleasing others: The next cause is to please and satisfy his friends and associates.

  3. Freeing from guilt: The third cause is to free oneself from blame and guilt by backbiting about others.

  4. Attribute: The fourth cause is to attribute sins to others whilst showing one’s own innocence.

  5. Express glory: The fifth cause is to praise and glorify oneself by making fools of others in the process.

  6. Hatred: The sixth cause is hatred towards others. Hatred drives one to ‘revenge’ and what better way to take revenge than to revile the name of another?

  7. Jest and ridicule: The seventh cause is jest and ridicule, trying to prove oneself to be superior and more intelligent than others.

  8. Contempt: The eight cause of backbiting is due to dislike or disrespect. In such a case one would consider the person’s honour to be unworthy of protection and would not think twice about dragging his name through the mud.


Read more: Eight causes of Backbiting:

Imaam Ghazaali’s brother was a sahib-e-kashf (he would receive Divine Inspiration). He never read his Salaah behind Imaam Ghazaali Rahmatullah ‘Alayh. The people were baffled as to why he refused to perform Salaah behind such a great person. Once, upon the insistence of some people, he joined the Salaah. However, in the middle of the Salaah, he broke his Salaah and went away. After the Salaah was completed, people asked him: “What caused you to break your Salaah and go away?”

He replied: “If a person has blood on his body to the extent of the size of his palm, will Salaah be valid behind him?” The people replied: “No!” Thus he said: “This person’s heart is drowned in the blood of Haidh.” The people related this to Imaam Ghazaali Rahmatullah ‘Alayh who replied: “Before Salaah I was writing the masaa’il of Haidh and during Salaah my mind went to the topic.”

The crowd then went to their mother and related the whole episode. Then their mother responded: “Inna Lillaahi wa inna Ilayhi Raaji’oon. Both of them are fit for nothing! The one that stood up to lead the Salaah – did he stand up to think about masaa’il of Haidh? And the one who made the intention of following him in Salaah – did he stand up in front of Allah Ta’ala or to examine the heart of the Imaam?”

 [Excerpt from booklet written by Hadhrat Sheikh Ibrahim Saheb]


Once, a Sahabi (Radiyallahu Anhu) said to Rasulullah Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam regarding another Sahabi: “He is an unfit person.”

Rasulullah Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “You have backbitten your brother.”

The Sahabi (Radiyallahu Anhu) said: “O Rasulullah Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam, we have said what is in him.”

Rasulullah Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “If what you say is not in him, it will be slander.”


Sayyidina Hasan Basri Rahmatullah Alayhi said: “There are three types of bad and evil discussions about one another: (1) backbiting (2) slander and (3) false narration. These three sins are mentioned in the Qur’an. Backbiting is to mention that quality which is found in the next person, whereas slander is to mention a quality which is not found in him and false narration is to say what is heard from others about another.”


Once a man came and said to Sayyidina Hassan Basri Rahmatullah Alayhi: “I heard that you have backbitten me?”

He replied: “You have not acquired and reached such ranks that I will give all my virtues to you.”


Read more: Backbiting II

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