Imam Sajjad’s words to a mischief maker
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Syed Abdul Husayn Dastaghaib Shirazi
Once a man came to Imam Zainul Abideen and in a foolish gesture of sympathy, told him that in such and such gathering such and such fellow has backbitten you, saying that Ali bin Husain is misguided fellow and an innovator. Curse of God on every false allegation maker and against whom! Against Zainul Abideen. The Imam, who was busy worshipping his Lord in a corner of his house, addressed that person. Summary: First of all, you are dishonest to that person about whom you have complained. A person spoke badly about me in my absence. You have no right to tell it to me and expose what he hid when he considered you honest and trustworthy. Secondly, you did not observe my respect by telling me a thing, which I did not need. Then the holy Imam said, "Did you not know that slanderers are dogs of hell. Tell that man we will die, our place will be the grave and the promise of Judgment Day has been given to us and Almighty God is the arbitrator between us."
Restrain yourself from the beginning
Another fact is that when a man hears backbiting, then if he is habituated, he is unable to restrain and he also begins backbiting. He finds out a defect in someone and tells it to others. Then both parties fall in a continuing prohibited matter. As a result, backbiting is easy to indulge in and it becomes so common that its wickedness wanes and even those religious minded people who refrain from adultery devour backbiting like sweetmeats.
They become habituated to it and see nothing wrong in it and it becomes a routine thing. It is said: O parents! Do not speak badly in front of your children so that their respect may not vanish. Do not speak a lie in front of a child, do into give a false promise to him. If you have told your child: I am going to the market to buy sweetmeat for you, then do buy sweetmeats. If you do not bring it, the child feels that breaking a promise is an ordinary and easy thing and he also feels that lying is not so serious an offence. This is why backbiting becomes easy and common for the people. Consequently everyone indulges in backbiting and no one prevents anyone from it.
Pious looking backbiting
Sometimes one indulges in backbiting as a kind of piety. By so doing he puts a cap on his own head and on the head of people also. For instance, one comes to you, sits down, then takes somebody’s name and says: How good a person so and so is, praises him for a while and then says: But alas, how much my heart is burning for him as he is not behaving nicely with his wife and children. The first words of sympathy and praise were a show, so that, thereafter, he may sting him and also boast that he did not indulge in backbiting.
Thus he added show-off to backbiting. It is a show of piety. It is, as if to say that I have a religious heart that is why I had to backbite one, to make allegation, to disgrace someone. He calls it religiousness and piety.
The late Second Martyr says in Kashfur Reebah: There also is a sin of joining the sin of backbiting with the sin of show-off. After the Second Martyr, whoever wrote a book about backbiting has considered the aforesaid backbiting (joined with show-off) as a most dangerous sin. How fine is the supplication of Dua Makarimul Akhlaq. You recite: O My Lord! Make my tongue mention You instead of uttering a bad and shameless word, instead of backbiting someone, instead of disgracing or insulting a believer, instead of attacking someone’s honor.
Too bad is a tongue, which can plant a tree in Paradise by saying, "There is no god except Allah", indulges in backbiting and thereby puts a few trees, which he had put to fire and burned them down. It is hoped that those who are present here will convey them to those who are not here and do not forget themselves. The Messenger of Allah says: By God in whose control is my life, (this is both from the Prophet and Amirul Momineen) faith does not become aright unless the heart does not become aright and the heart also does not become aright until this tongue is reformed. These three are always with one another: faith, heart and tongue. They are constantly attached to one another. If the tongue becomes right, the heart also gets steadiness and when the heart is right, faith also becomes correct.