Sometimes, when I meet a friend (friend X, say) they will ask me about how another friend (friend Y) is going, with genuine concern about their well being. Friend Y might not be doing well, but I'm uncomfortable explaining this to friend X as it might be interpreted as backbiting.

At the same time, saying to friend X that friend Y is fine seems inappropriate, as it could be considered lying (or is, at least, misleading), which might obstruct friend X helping friend Y.

Nor can I easily explain "it's inappropriate for me to talk about friend Y negatively", as it implies that friend Y is struggling, which may again be interpreted as backbiting.

Question: When a genuinely concerned friend asks about another friend who is struggling, how can I reply in a meaningful way without it being backbiting?

This dilemma doesn't seem to be addressed here yet. The two most relevant backbiting questions I found were:

  • struggling mean ?
    – melbx
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 23:24
  • 1
    E.g. struggling with money, not being happy in their job or relationships. Anything really. Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 23:29
  • 1
    If you would say the same thing in the presence of the friend as in his absence, it's a good indicator that's not backbiting.
    – Noor
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 14:03
  • Sister it'll be hard to provide an exact answer for this question. But IMHO, if my friend X ask me about my friend Y who is going through this sort of circumstances, then simply I'll explain all the situation he is going through but I'll also add good things about my friend Y as well.
    – mmushtaq
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 17:45
  • @RebeccaJ.Stones In order to answer unanswered questions; Could you try specifying a situation (I.e bad relationship, lost work, lost a relative or such) that the one answering could base his/her answer? Which also would make it less broad
    – Kilise
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 23:32

1 Answer 1


Based on what I’ve perceived of your interesting query, I presume that in case it would be permissible (not backbiting) that it is related to: Helping in eliminating/preventing sin, and turning the sinner to goodness; in this case it is permissible to mention about badness, and backbiting is permissible only in right/correct intention, otherwise it won’t be permissible.

But, based on my perception/assumption in (diverse) parts of backbiting:

E.g., if your speech to your X (present friend) is necessary/profitable to eliminate your Y’s sin (or may be removing him/her from hard dangerous situation…), then it would be permissible; but on the other side, solely having conversion about (negative things/situation of) someone’s status which it is not a necessary/helpful conversion in its removing …, hence it doesn’t seem to be permissible, why? Since, as a rule of thumb, he/she (the absent person) won’t be satisfied that others have a dialogue about him/her in negative …


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