This post is originally published in The Zikr (Weekly newsletter by PERUBATAN) in April 2008. Written by me and edited by beloved Dr Izwan Kamal Tan. Just a repost for us to ponder and wonder.
Our tongue and mouth are two of many wondrous gifts bestowed on us by Allah. With them we can converse, eat, breathe, taste, and have pleasure. With them also we can do many good deeds such as reading the Quran, zikr, giving tazkirah, reminding people about Allah.
And with them we can also do many sinful things like lying, scolding, slandering, gossiping and etc. To put it short their use can affect us greatly, thus we must be very careful as how we use those two gifts.
Unfortunately, many people use them the wrong way. The highlight of this is talking behind people. A lot of people find it easier to criticize someone behind them than having a face-to-face talk without knowing that this might rattle the very foundation of ukhwah.
Behind people they can talk freely, without facing any consequences for their words and more importantly the wrath of the person in question. This can result in false assumption, addition of deceiving facts, and bad impression. Remember that Islam is a religion that emphasizes on truthful words, facts and proof.
A lot of us end up propagating rumors, lies and deceit. Suddenly people stop talking for no reason, conflicts surface, husbands and wives separate, friends detest each other, and nations go to war, all because of false information.
“O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful” (Al-Hujuraat-6)
Even if the story is true, it is of no use and wasteful to just criticize behind people and not in front of them. A lot of us say “Even if I tell him he would never listen, just wasting my breath”. This is absolutely WRONG! If the saying goes ‘Mencurah air ke daun keladi’, then this is no less than pouring fresh water in the sewer or toilet.
And after that we still keep talking and talking without any action, just like a spiral of shame. Whether he listens or not is of no importance, what counts are our own choices and we do our job Lillahi Taala provided with considerate and careful approach.
When we talk about ‘considerate and careful approach’, hikmah is not like soft words and soft voice but hikmah is the necessary way to make the person truly understand. Some people need it hard, and some need it soft. Some need a blow on the back and some only need a word on a piece of paper. To put it short it depends on people.
“Woe to every scorner and mocker” (Al-Humazah-1)
As for the person who had been criticized, he must accept it with an open heart, take it positively and try to change. Let go of our ego. Nobody is perfect. If we want to get angry of the critics, we must remember of their deeds to us, how they manage to tolerate us up until now, it is for our own good and for the sake of Allah and Ukhwah Islamiah.
Critics show that people still care about us, and they want us to be a good person. If people give up on us, we will be left alone and people don’t care anymore with what we do. We would end up walking this road all alone without guidance.
All because we are too self-absorbed and “perfect” to accept a critic and we don’t want to change. In truth, it is really hard to make all people satisfied with our actions. The important thing is that we show some changes, be a better person from day to day.
We criticize because we care; we want goodness from our critics. But what good comes from talking behind people’s backs? Every day we talk about ukhwah, but no ukhwah will be whole if we still cannot be sincere and truthful in our words towards our friends (bissorohah).
Do not give up on our friends. There is no doubt to just continue giving advice and criticism as this is a part of our responsibility. Never talk behind people’s backs and the worst, slandering. If a rumor comes around, investigate first before believing because such is the way of the righteous.
Lastly, this article is not directed to any particular person. It is for us all to think and see. If my words are too harsh, then accept my sincerest apologies from the deepest gaping void of my heart. Wassalam.