Imagine taking a knife and stabbing a person from behind – that’s what backbiting is – saying something mean or spiteful about another person behind his/her back. The truth is, most of us do not even realize that we have backbit or are still backbiting others. It is so common nowadays that it has become second nature to us. We make snap comments about our friends and relatives verbally or on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp – criticizing a person’s looks, commenting on a person’s way of dressing, or laughing at another’s failure. There are many cases of suicides and fights being caused by bad-mouthing and gossiping. Isn’t it time we look into ourselves and decide if this is the kind of life we want to lead – talking about other people instead of correcting ourselves?
In every religion, backbiting is considered as a sin and in some, it is regarded as worse than murder or being sliced with a sword. Since hundreds of years ago, men have come to realize the power of words – how they can build a nation or crumble it to pieces. The English author, Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote in 1839, “The pen is mightier than the sword”. And Napoleon Bonaparte, the French emperor who lived from 1769 to 1821 also made his remark, “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets”. These are words of wisdom which were true in previous centuries and still true in this age of technology. That is why we are often advised not to trust newspapers or online news or Facebook, Instagram etc. too much. Read but take it with a pinch of salt and do not fall into the trap of believing stories at face value. Check out the authenticity of the source.
Remember one thing though. No human is perfect. Everyone has flaws and weaknesses. We make mistakes all the time, throughout our lives. We are all fallible. So, be careful before you start talking bad about others. Making bad comments can destroy someone’s image, provoke jealousy and anger and can lead to arguments, conflicts and even fights. Would you want to be responsible for somebody’s break-up or altercation or wrongful blaming?
Once, a teacher was explaining to his students about backbiting. He told them that backbiting is saying something about another person something that he would dislike. One student asked,” What if it’s true?” The teacher then replied, “If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true, then you have slandered him.” Slander, in contrast to backbite, is to utter a false and defamatory statement about another person. Which means, it’s a fabrication, a false piece of information, which can ruin the reputation of that person.
The thing is, backbiting is rampant everywhere; it is just that we do not realize we are doing it. For example, if you are in your class or at your workplace, everybody seems to have an opinion about somebody else. As soon as someone walks out of the room, the rest of the members start talking about him/her. Do you join in the talk or do you keep quiet? Sometimes, you just can’t help it and join in the conversation, not realizing you are contributing to this bad habit. Think about it. What if the person who just left the room were you? Would you like it if you knew your friends or colleagues were talking about you? Realize that by devaluing others, it does not increase your own value.
So, either way, talking about another person is just bad and nefarious and can lead to evil effects. You may lose a friend or family or cause destruction to society and nation. Let’s be nice to each other and not utter anything except good things. Accept people’s shortcomings, mistakes, or failures with good faith. Enjoin kindness and spread happiness. In this challenging time and age, we need good vibes to continue living in harmony and peace.
“Don’t allow your tongue to utter the fault of another person, because you are covered in faults and everyone else has tongues too. Don’t allow you eyes to fall on the faults of others. Turn away your eyes and say to your eyes: Oh eyes, other people have eyes too.” (Iman Shafi)