Spotted. Two sisters hunched down close together at a corner of a room. The tips of their hijabs were almost touching each other. They appeared to be deep in conversation.
"Ugh! She is so annoying!" complained Hani, frowning.
"Who? What? When? Give me the 'deets'!" urged Melor impatiently. Her eyes were bulging with anticipation. One could almost see a twinkle in those round, big eyes.
"It's the same person. You know, that girl I told you about ..." Hani hesitated. She thought twice about revealing the girl's name. She would not be bad-mouthing anyone if she didn't reveal the person's name ... right?
"Who? Which one? Be specific, dear," urged Melor again.
Hani's emotions got the better of her. What the heck, she thought, it is not like I'm spreading lies. "It's Shifa. Oh my God, she completely made a fool out of me in class. I was answering the lecturer's question and then she had to go and correct me in front of the whole class. What a nuisance, right? I am sure she wanted to embarrass me. I've always known she had a thing against me. Eee, I can't stand her!" complained Hani, her face contorted with hatred.
"She is so mean. You're right. She is totally jealous of you. I don't like her, too," Melor said while making a face and pretending to puke.
Ah, gossips. They are so enticing – especially to us, girls. (Although, I have to say, the number of boys who gossip in this day and age are definitely growing. Is it a hormonal thing? Just wondering...) I mean, name me one living girl who has never ever gossiped in her life ... yet?
Okay, maybe you can name a girl who has never gossiped in her life yet (most probably she is a toddler). But you get my point. Trust me, girls and gossips are hard to be separated. (Yes, with regret, I admit I am speaking from experience.)
Why do girls gossip? Well, most of the time we gossip out of pure boredom. We easily get anxious if we just sat quietly in the presence of each other. So, instead of doing something beneficial like reading a book, we talk. Of course, the talk started as innocently as possible – you know, with the topic being something as harmless as 'assignments'. But soon enough, we would talk about the lecturer – about how bad his method of teaching is, how his hair always flops to the side, how he drools a little bit when he talks ... okay, you get what I mean.
It is bad enough that we would talk about people whom we are not really close to – but still, we had to go and add to our sins by talking about people we are actually close to and care about – such as our own family and friends.
"Shifa can't act like that. I think it was rude. What she did was wrong. I am discussing with you, instead of her, because I care about her. Why wouldn't I just tell her directly so she is aware of her mistake and change instead of spreading her badness to other people, you ask? Well ... because I care about her, that's why!"
How many times have you heard that excuse – that we talk about a person to others because we 'care'? Anyway, don't you think that excuse is somewhat ironic? If you 'care' about a person, would you want that person to feel sad because you have 'discussed' about her wrongful behaviour with other people and painted a bad image of her in others' minds?
Come to think of it, would it not be easier to just 'discuss' her alleged misbehaviours directly with her so she would become aware of it and try to change?
Allah SWT forbids backbiting (in other words, saying mean things about others) in the Qur'an;
"O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, in deeds some suspicions are sins. And spy not neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah, verily, Allah is the one who accepts repentance, Most Merciful"
(Surah Al-Hujuraat 49: 12)
Backbiting is likened to eating a dead person's flesh because a dead person cannot defend himself from being eaten by another. When we backbite a person, the person being talked about is not given a chance to give her side of the story and defend herself. Imagine that you are the person being talked about and your mouth was taped so you could not defend yourself. How would you feel? Frustrated, right?
So, why would we backbite if we hate being backbite on? (I am not sure whether that sentence was grammatically correct, but again, you get what I mean.)
Even if what we say (when we backbite another) is the truth, it is still backbiting (saying mean things about another). Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said, "Do you know what backbiting is?" They said, "Allah and His Messenger know best." He then said, "It is to say something about your brother that he would dislike." Someone asked him, "But what if what I say is true?" The Messenger of Allah said, "If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him." (Reported by Muslim)
Sometimes, no, MOST of the time, we are not sure if the thing we talk about is really true. Often, we just make our own conclusions about a person's motive of acting a certain way. In other words, without us realising it, we often spread rumours about a person.
"I'm telling you. I can tell by Shifa's facial expression when she was correcting me in front of the whole class that she totally enjoyed humiliating me!"
Are we mind-readers? Unless you're a comic character (like Professor X in X-Men), then you can never really read a person's mind. (Yes, I am aware that X-Men do not exist, thank you very much.) No matter how good we think we are in judging a person's characteristics, we can never be 100 percent sure of why he or she acts a certain way. Besides, we should avoid judging people (outside of legitimate courts, of course). Instead, we should (sit back, relax and) leave the judging to Allah, the All-Knowing, All-Wise.
Allah SWT forbids the spreading of rumours;
"Behold, you received it on your tongues, and said out of your mouth things which you had no knowledge; and you thought it to be a light matter, while it was most serious in the sight of God."
(Surah An-Nur 24: 15)
Come to think of it, a lot of bad things can happen if we spread rumours (no matter how light the rumour seems to be). The chain of events is unimaginable. What if people actually believe the rumours that Shifa is a bad person? A lot of people could distance themselves from her. She could in turn become depressed, drop out of college, make her parents and family angry, run away from home ... okay, again, you get what I mean.
So, in a nutshell, zip your mouth. Think before you talk. Stop gossiping and spreading rumours (yes, I am telling this to myself). And when we are told a gossip, do not immediately believe it. Instead, Allah SWT told us in the Qur'an to remind the person spreading rumours that it is not right to gossip;
"And why did you not, when you heard it, say? "It is not right of us to speak of this: Glory to God this is a most serious slander."
(Surah An-Nur 24: 16)
Wallahu a'lam. xoxo
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