Broadcasting Mistakes of Others (Gossip)

In this time that we live, there is a disease which we are all experiencing either because we know someone who is subject to this or worse still, we are also guilty of committing.

Specifically, this reminder is about that habit in which the person is guilty of looking at, exposing and broadcasting the mistakes of others whilst ignoring the fact that they are guilty of mistakes and sins of their own.

Unfortunately, this is has reached a point in our society where people seem only to care about other people, what they are up to, the latest scandals in other people and gossip to ensure they follow the paths of other people.

Social media has made this easier than ever. As a species, we have gotten into the habit of raising the status of people online, only to knock them down. Nothing appeals more than the scandal, the gossip and the fault-finding online and this has a profound effect both on the individual and as a community.

The imam mentioned a hadith in relation to today’s reminder. It is translated to say:

O community of people, who believed by their tongue, and belief did not enter their hearts, do not back-bite Muslims, and do not search for their faults, for if anyone searches for their faults, Allah will search for his fault, and if Allah searches for the fault of anyone, He disgraces him in his house.

Dear brothers and sisters, we need to understand that this habit is a result of a problem within ourselves. Those who engage in this action tend to be miserable themselves, lacking self-esteem; and since they focus so much on others, they run the risk of becoming resentful; and rather than cherish people, they tend to develop a desire to undermine and discredit people.

The imam mentioned ayat 120 of Sura Imran which relates to today’s reminder. It is translated to say:

If good touches you, it distresses them; but if harm strikes you, they rejoice at it. And if you are patient and fear Allah, their plot will not harm you at all. Indeed, Allah is encompassing of what they do.

Dear brothers and sisters, today’s reminder is an important one but it should not be mistaken for sincere advice on helping one another out. It is one thing offering sincere advice on the shortcomings of others and it is another to point at the mistake just for the sake of making the other person feel bad.

And this isn’t something anyone but the person discovering the fault of the other can answer as it is a question of what is their intention and what is in their heart.

One thing is worth noting though and that is that even if the intention is sincere, there are still etiquettes in advising others such as not doing so publicly and doing it in a way that does not alienate or hurt the other person.

Allah SWT warns us of this habit in Sura Al-Hujurat, ayat 11 which is translated to say:

O you who have believed, let not any people scoff at (another) people who may be more charitable than they; neither let women scoff (other) women who may be more charitable (i.e., better) than they. And do not defame one another, (Literally: do not defame yourselves) nor revile one another by nicknames. Miserable is the name, evident immorality, after belief! And whoever does not repent, then those are they who are the unjust.

Dear brothers and sisters, we ought to counter this culture with the opposite to what is being warned of here. Instead of exposing the faults in others, we ought to be publicising the good in others. If we are truly the ummah of the Prophet SAWS then we ought to have love for one another and tell one another when they are doing something which pleases us, makes us proud, makes us want to imitate because it’s a positive deed.

The Prophet SAWS said in the translated hadith that:

“A Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe; and a Muhajir is the one who refrains from what Allah has forbidden”.

And so we ought to be a source for good vibes, positive affirmation and a pat on the back for one another.

The reminder concludes with 3 short tips we can do in relation to today’s reminder:

  1. Aim to see the good in others. Nobody is 100% flawed and so the focus should be on their positive traits first and foremost.
  2. If you do see fault in others, keep it quiet. Don’t share it, online or otherwise. Advise if the opportunity arises but do so with compassion and sincerity.
  3. Be known as the person who is stingy in your criticism but generous in your compliments. There ought to be no ego amongst our Ummah and in turn this habit will be reciprocated by those around you as well.

Dear brothers and sisters, we live in a time and a place now where every mistake has the potential to be recorded and transmitted across the globe in seconds. However, by avoiding this temptation we can hope to be of the right people who the Prophet SAWS mentioned in the translated hadith:

“Whoever conceals the (hidden) fault of his Muslim brother, Allah (SWT) will conceal his faults on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever exposes the fault of his Muslim brother, Allah will expose his faults, until (so that) He shames him, due to it, in his (own) house.”

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