Dealing with gossip/backbiting

Oct 2014
1,798
Stockholm
#11
Ohm those happy days, when Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá were active! Those were the days when backbiting was a big issue. It's not any more. It´s rather a minor problem these days. Nowadays, it seems as if the very notions of "Truth" and truthfulness are falling into disrepute. The web is full of stories, deliberately concocted in order to confuse.

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from

gnat
 
Mar 2013
191
CA
#12
Ohm those happy days, when Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá were active! Those were the days when backbiting was a big issue. It's not any more. It´s rather a minor problem these days. Nowadays, it seems as if the very notions of "Truth" and truthfulness are falling into disrepute. The web is full of stories, deliberately concocted in order to confuse.

Best

from

gnat
Hm, I don't know if I'd say it isn't still an issue. For me, it ripped about a close-knit group of 20 women, so it's very much a cause of disunity rather than unity. It also breeds mistrust and can hurt feelings to the core. Maybe I just experience it a lot being a young woman, but I have seen so, so much backbiting and the ill effects of it.

When I was trying to figure out what to do, I felt I kept getting "signs" that I was on the right track wanting to stand up to it. I just kept seeing passages about backbiting like these, and they all point to how severe of a problem it is and how it is incumbent on us to not even passively participate by idly sitting by:

ʺAs regards backbiting, i.e. discussing the faults of others in their
absence, the teachings are very emphatic. … Even if what is said against
another person be true, the mentioning of his faults to others still comes
under the category of backbiting, and is forbidden.
ʺ
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of
the British Isles, February 11, 1925 ‐ Lights of Guidance, p. 88)

ʺIt is obvious that if we listen to those who complain to us about the
faults of others we are guilty of complicity in their backbiting. We should
therefore, as tactfully as possible, but yet firmly, do our utmost to prevent
others from making accusations or complaints against others in our
presence.

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of
the British Isles, February 11, 1925 ‐ Lights of Guidance, p. 94)

ʺ… If any individual should speak ill of one who is absent, it is
incumbent on his hearers, in a spiritual and friendly manner, to stop him,
and say in effect: would this detraction serve any useful purpose?
Would
it please the Blessed Beauty, contribute to the lasting honour of the
friends, promote the holy Faith, support the covenant, or be of any
possible benefit to any soul? No, never! On the contrary, it would make
the dust to settle so thickly on the heart that the ears would hear no more,
and the eyes would not longer behold the light of truth.ʺ

(ʹAbduʹl‐Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ʹAbduʹl‐Bahá, pp. 230‐231 ‐ Lights of
Guidance, p. 93)

O SON OF MAN!
Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner. Shouldst
thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I
bear witness.
(Bahaʹuʹllah, The Arabic Hidden Words no. 27)

ʺAs to backbiting, the House of Justice points out that learning not to
concern oneself with the faults of others seems to be one of the most
difficult lessons for people to master, and that failing in this is a fertile
cause of disputes among Baháʹís as it is among men and women in
general.
In ʹStar of the Westʹ, Volume 8, No. 10, on page 138, there is a
record of a reply given by ʹAbduʹl‐Bahá in a private interview in Paris in
1913. He was asked ʹHow shall I overcome seeing the faults of others ‐‐
recognizing the wrong in others?ʹ, and He replied: ʹI will tell you.
Whenever you recognize the fault of another, think of yourself! What are
my imperfections? ‐‐ and try to remove them.
Do this whenever you are
tried through the words or deeds of others. Thus you will grow, become
more perfect. You will overcome self, you will not even have time to
think of the faults of others... ʹ
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 13, 1980 ‐
Lights of Guidance, p. 89)

... Thou hast written regarding aims. How blessed are these aims,
especially the prevention of backbiting! I hope that you may become
confirmed therein, because the worst human quality and the most great
sin is backbiting; more especially when it emanates from the tongues of
the believers of God.
If some means were devised so that the doors of
backbiting could be shut eternally and each one of the believers of God
unsealed his tongue in the praise of the other, then the teachings of His
Holiness Baháʹuʹlláh would be spread, the hearts illuminated, the spirits
glorified and the human world would attain to everlasting felicity.

ʺI hope that the believers of God will shun completely backbiting, each
one praising the other cordially and believe that backbiting is the cause of
Divine Wrath, to such an extent that if a person backbites to the extent of
one word, he may become dishonored among all the people, because the
most hateful characteristic of man is fault‐finding.
One must expose the
praiseworthy qualities of the souls and not their evil attributes. The friends must overlook their shortcomings and faults and speak only of
their virtues and not their defects.ʺ
(ʹAbduʹl‐Bahá: Tablet to Dr. M.G. Skinner, August 12, 1913: Star of the West, Vol. IV,
No. 11, p. 192)
 
Last edited:
Mar 2013
191
CA
#13
Hi Rose,

I'm sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience, and I can sympathize with how you must feel.

Regarding backbiting, you already know that we are not to engage in it. When others backbite in our presence, we should not participate and should dismiss ourselves from where it is happening. Perhaps it could be appropriate to say something to stop it, and discuss why it should not be done, but perhaps this is not always possible. But we are minimally obligated not to engage in it. It seems to me the shunning or cutting off such contacts for backbiting is not something we are called to do, but maybe some extreme circumstance might warrant it. I feel it is better to just be a good example and use caution while discussing this in your group because it seems to me that it might be possible to inadvertently engage, perhaps ever so subtly, in backbiting about those alleged backbiters...which would, of course, itself be backbiting and best avoided.

I wish you luck and hope your situation improves!
Thank you.

Yes, it is a very tricky situation. I tried to tread as cautiously as possible, and luckily the response has been very good so far. Lots of apologies going around the group and owning up the the mistakes and thanking me for standing up to it.

I haven't personally cut off anybody, but I said my piece and removed myself from the running "group chat" where this was all continually happening. I'm maintaining the friendships I can one-to-one instead.
 
Oct 2013
1,208
United States
#14
Hi Rose!

Thank you for standing up to the very nasty and destructive social practice of backbiting and intervening. Few people are willing to do what you did. And oh so important to do so!
 
Oct 2014
1,798
Stockholm
#15
Hm, I don't know if I'd say it isn't still an issue.
Oh, dear Rose, I didn't say that it isn't still an issue. It certainly is, and always will be. I just try to say that nowadays the problem seems to have grown to such dimensions that it is difficult to fathom it. Those of us who try to live up to this standard, often do not realize the magnitude of this plague. I've been unfortunate enough to get some insights into how the art of lying and backbiting is practiced in real-life administrative matters in the public sector of my country. It's an immensely saddening experience.

We are a little band of people, who are waging war on these tendencies, who try to help fathers ensnared in intrigues and conspiracies - yes, that unfortunately is the correct terminology, and I use it deliberately, because that is what I find - created to bereave their children of their fathers. I couldn't believe that such a thing was possible until I saw it with my own eyes. The control mechanisms simply don't work. This isn't backbiting - it is a public sector running amok.

gnat
 
Last edited:
Dec 2015
378
N Ireland
#16
Oh, dear Rose, I didn't say that it isn't still an issue. It certainly is, and always will be. I just try to say that nowadays the problem seems to have grown to such dimensions that it is difficult to fathom it. Those of us who try to live up to this standard, often do not realize the magnitude of this plague. I've been unfortunate enough to get some insights into how the art of lying and backbiting is practiced in real-life administrative matters in the public sector of my country. It's an immensely saddening experience.

We are a little band of people, who are waging war on these tendencies, who try to help fathers ensnared in intrigues and conspiracies - yes, that unfortunately is the correct terminology, and I use it deliberately, because that is what I find - created to bereave their children of their fathers. I couldn't believe that such a thing was possible until I saw it with my own eyes. The control mechanisms simply don't work. This isn't backbiting - it is a public sector running amok.

gnat
Jan, is there a branch of Fathers For Justice (F4J) in Sweden?
 
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