‘O you who have believed, avoid assumptions. And do not spy or backbite each other.’
The Holy Qur’an
Bisma Shafi Bhat
The above mentioned ‘ayah’ refers to the common flaw in our society: the urge to speak unfavorably about others. It’s rightly said by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH): “Either speak good or remain silent.” Gossip is extremely dangerous as it can bring disrepute to someone. There are many reasons why people engage in gossiping. It makes them feel superior (they feel better by demeaning people), or they speak out of envy, or to fit in a group, or to seek attention, or out of vengeance, or even out of ennui. Gossip is usually an exaggeration of the truth by adding some ‘spice’ to it, to make it more appetising.
Rumors and gossip usually seen as harmless but in reality they can be ugly and distressing for the victim. The victim feels utterly miserable and goes through a cycle of myriad anxieties. The victim’s response may range from anger, frustration, embarrassment, to turning defensive in an attempt to explain. But even after all the clarification and explanation, the damage has already been done.
The gossiper ruins relationships that a person has woven since years and has invested in enormously. It’s like a murder of a person’s reputation, but a murder unpunished, as the gossip monger, more often than not, manages to escape unscathed.
We need to remind ourselves that we will be held accountable in the court of Allah. The Prophet (PBUH) said that when a man wakes up in the morning each day, all his body parts warn his tongue, saying, “Fear Allah with regard to us, for we are under your mercy. If you are upright, we will be upright, and if you are crooked, we will be crooked” (Al-Tirmidhi).
To err is human! There is absolutely no doubt about it. We live in a world where we advertently or inadvertently fall into the evil of gossiping and backbiting. This can’t be changed overnight. But every individual is capable of reformation and certainly has the ability to change their attitude. We can break the chain of gossip if we intend to do so. All we need to do is to constantly remind ourselves how much our creator despises those who engage in backbiting and gossiping.
The more you try to control yourself in the visible world, the more you will be rewarded by the merciful in the invisible world. This Duniya is a test. Let’s not fail in it by falling prey to the evil of gossiping.
Tailpiece: A poem by Colfax Burgoyne Harman sums up the message that I want to put through. It’s called “Truth will Triumph”.
When gossip’s talk and traitor’s
And jealous fiends on evil bent,
With basest vices unredeeming,
Brand the names of the innocent;
When hope’s bright sun seems nearly setting,
The future dim and cloudy lies,
And you more tired of life are getting,
And tears of sorrow dim the eyes;
Cheer up, take courage, do not falter,
Truth will triumph by and by,
Time all evil things will alter,
Vice and wickedness must die.
The writer has done her Master’s in English from the University of Kashmir. firstname.lastname@example.org