Regardless of Others, We Should Not Be Involved in Backbiting, Defamation, Conflicts or Sedition
Figuratively speaking, there are times when you cannot stand on your feet without leaning against something, such as during Prayers. Sometimes, you cannot prostrate or stand back up after prostration without getting help from your hands. You accept this as a law of creation, and believe that as you get older, you are bound to have such needs. Still, it is not always possible to fully understand things like that before you actually experience them. Muslims can use such states to their advantage by regarding them as Divine tests, which will add to their relationship with God, and by thanking God for these tests, since they are only related to worldly matters. As Bediüzzaman cites, some scholars say:
“Al-hamdu lil’lahi ala kulli hal, siwa’l-kufri wa’d-dalal” (All praise be to God for every state except for infidelity and deviation); or “Al-hamdu lil’lahi ala kulli hal, siwa ahwali’l-kufri wa’d-dalal” (All praise be to God for all states except the states of infidelity or deviation).
If God has granted you the maturity to say these, it means He has granted you the key to stand against the most despairing situations; this key is another “wave length” of the Divine manifestation of His Mercy. For every age group, this Mercy has its own meaning: for youth, for maturity, and even for childhood. Although God always grants us things to be happy with, we do not always cherish them. In fact, we are surrounded by His favors; however, since it is left to people whether or not to regard events as His favors, choosing to cherish them is important. Therefore, whoever employs their logic and reasoning in this direction, they may be granted much more than what is normally expected out of such an act of cherishing. The more sincere the intention is, the higher the grant.
Also, metaphorically speaking, there may be times when you have an even temper which you hardly ever lose. But when things seem to go wrong, and you feel like you are losing your temper, you should be aware that such times are opportunities that you can exhibit your chivalrous qualities in the eyes of God by handling such difficult situations with tenderness. For instance, when you see a person, a thinker, or an opinion that is totally opposite of you and your viewpoint, instead of losing your temper and thinking negative things about them, you should choose to think altruistically. You should say “Astaghfiru’llah Ya Rabbi” (O God, I ask for Your forgiveness), and pray to Him saying “God! Please set right my feelings and thoughts, my mood and also that person’s mood.”
This attitude should be promoted and encouraged, especially nowadays. Otherwise, it brings about a vicious circle of negative actions inducing one another. Just like faults in the earth’s crust, tensions in a society, between groups of people, or between nations, cause earthquakes. Depending on several factors, you may just have an earthquake, or suffer a tsunami after one another; you may well see its effects in the world’s atmosphere and weather conditions; some insects or other life forms may disappear. There may be such similarities between the laws of creation and social dynamics.
Once there is a quake in a society, people start blaming each other for the sake of pinning the blame on others. If they have no basis for such claims, this is slander. Slander is two levels closer to the Hell than backbiting; where our noble Prophet identifies backbiting as “More violent than adultery.” Adultery is licentiousness; it is depravity and bohemianism, for which Islamic law has imposed severe punishments and taken extraordinary precautions against. Some types of backbiting are even more violent than adultery since they make vicious statements about someone when that person is not present, even if you tell the truth. Something as simple as criticizing somebody’s clothes is considered backbiting in Islam; or making a comment about how someone trimmed their mustache is also backbiting. In this accord, making vicious statements about someone for their opinions, beliefs, attitudes, lifestyles, and so forth, are considered as violent backbiting. Finally, doing so about a group of people, or a leader who represents a group of people, is not equal to backbiting one person, but equal to backbiting several people. This means, unless such a backbiter asks for, and is granted, forgiveness by each individual in that group, the backbiter cannot enter the gate of Paradise.
Please be reminded that the comments above are not my personal opinions, but an Islamic rule. Again, such a backbiter is doomed even if he delivers Islam from annihilation. May God protect us from it. As mentioned before, backbiting and slander are like the aftershocks of such an earthquake; because, once this vicious circle starts, it is difficult for a true Muslim to not get involved. Fending off this cycle means such a person is considered a person of stature and high standing by the Guardian Angels and in the eyes of God.
It is crucial to put up with some inconveniences even though they seem unbearable. This way you do not get dragged into their violence, negativity, backbiting, and slander; hence, the blame is not shared. If you fight fire with fire, you help the conflict, the chaos, the backbiting, the slander, to escalate. This acts like a chain reaction, and may result in a more serious outcome, including murder and assassination.
Expecting a collective agreement on holding this vicious cycle back may be too optimistic. That is: not every individual or broadcasting institute may agree to not circulate rumors, to not avoid provocative news, or to not increase social tension. However, those who could agree should be talked into using a tender language and attitude, and to wear their good heart on their sleeves. This may help fix the problems and the violence for our part. If one action of yours breeds chaos, it would escalate incrementally in the actions of others. If you add to it once, others would do the same in a greater magnitude and amount. Regardless of your initial intention, things might turn against you. May God protect us from it.
Mildness and agreement are crucial. We can find examples of these behaviors in the Messiah or our noble Prophet, both of whom are interrelated, and exemplified the principle of turning the other cheek. I should add that some Muslim scholars have not validated the principal of turning the other cheek, probably due to its possible abuse during wars. However, it is definitely an important one, especially in times of conflict, like the End Times where disorder and corruption, backbiting and slander, tactlessness prevail and lead to pillages, murders and assassinations. In such a period of time, when bestiality is represented by humans, we need mildness and agreement the most. What we need is “to be without hands against those who strike you, and without speech and complaint against those who curse you.”
We have such great figures in our culture like Khoja Ahmad Yasawi, who said “You should be numb,” meaning numb against negativities like the present ones. Another one is Yunus Emre, who uttered the principle I have just rephrased above. He also says “A dervish should be uncomplaining. Being a dervish does not only mean to bear habiliments or a headdress; once you negotiate, you will not need either of them.” Moreover, we have Jalalu’d-Din ar-Rumi, who we shortly call Mawlana. He was inclusive towards everyone, and tolerated all faiths. He said “One of my feet is on the center of Islam and the other, like a leg of a compass, is in the realm of 72 nations.”
These are easier said than done. What matters, especially for those whose role is to guide others, is not only implementing them in our lives by putting them into practice, but also demonstrating that they are realizable. Instead of only achieving such virtues at an individual level, they need to be implemented at the public level, regardless of the difficulties and challenges. This can only be done through leading a social life.
What the speaker means with the line “One of the feet being on the center of the religion” is to avoid any contradiction with the principles of Islam; and by “the other foot like a leg of a compass” is that we must tolerate and admit all faiths. It should be considered natural for someone to show a more comprehensive inclusiveness towards people of their own faith and to embrace them more eagerly. Still, channels should be kept open with those who are neutral, or rather, in between. God honored them by granting them humanity; regardless of their faith, they are human, and deserve humane conduct.
This way, disorder can be minimized and confined, if not resolved totally.
In addition, if you can act as a role model, even in a small way, you will serve as an example to be imitated. People all around the world will take your example, and want to employ it as a nucleus of their desired society. Once you can realize your utopia, it will be admired worldwide and you will see similar formations. This is possible for all of us as long as we act with determination, persistence, and purity of intention, by relating everything to God.
Like I said, it is easier said than done to refer to the morality of Yunus Emre, Khoja Ahmad Yasawi, Haji Bektash Veli, Jalalu’d-Din ar-Rumi, or other great figures such as Messiah or of the Pride of Humankind, peace and blessings be upon him. It is essential that such morality be implemented and internalized. It can be achieved by living a life in spite of one’s own self, by ignoring one’s own self, despite every external factor. We need self-sacrificing generosity, the devotion of ourselves to the lives of others in complete forgetfulness of all concerns of our own, the spirit of devotion, and commitment to humanity, Muslims, our nation, and our lofty ideals. God will grant peace and restoration through such people only.
People of these virtues would be charmed by anyone.
I personally believe Abu Bakr was poisoned just like the other three caliphs; hence, they are all martyrs. Umar had such perspicacity that he could warn Sariyah, his commander in chief, to back up towards a mountain while they were about a hundred miles away, and while Umar was giving a sermon at his podium and Sariyah was in the battlefield. It does not sound reasonable for Umar to have seen Sariyah but not Abu-Lu’lu’ah, who assassinated him. It was his tender-mindedness that let him lead Prayers unguarded.
Likewise, noble Ali, whose vision could embrace centuries ahead of him, who put forward answers to the questions of centuries ahead of his time, could not have overlooked Ibn Muljam, his assassin. I am very confident that he had seen him; yet, he did not choose to show harshness.
When his enemies appeared at his doorway, Uthman ibn Affan said he did not want to be a Muslim who kills other Muslims—just like Abdul Hamid II did—at the cost of his own life. Another example is Saladin, who is falsely blamed by his Fatimid wife for unfaithfulness. He turns his back to her and says, “If it is true, you can stab me in my back,” which makes her see she is wrong.
In sum, those who have committed to act as role models and guides should have the same spirit as all of the examples above. They should sacrifice their lives to save their nation from disorder, and they should say, like Murad I, “You can take my life and martyr me, but do not touch the integrity of my nation.”
Violence yields and rebounds upon itself; so do anger and hatred. Once perpetrated, hatred leads to counter-hatred, and this wounds an entire nation. Had violence, harshness, and violence proven any good, the 30-year-old problems in southeastern Turkey would have already been resolved. They cannot solve such problems. Some people should consecrate themselves to the lives of their community in complete sacrifice of all concerns of their own—so that not only can problems be solved, but also to prove, before history and collective conscience, the rightness of their way.
Finally, “Be killed but do not kill. Get hurt but do not twist a finger. Be disgraced but do not put anyone to shame.” This looks like the only way to heal our excessively disintegrated community.
May God bestow sagacity and understanding on us. May God set our and their hearts right.
This text is the translation of “329. Nağme: Bari Biz Gıybet, İftira, Kavga ve Fitnelere Geçit Vermeyelim!“
Tags: altruism, commonsense, conscience, devotion, dialogue, faith, Fethullah, Fethullah Gulen, Gulen, Gulen Movement, happiness, Hizmet, Islam, love, modesty, peace, philanthropy, religion and science, sincerity, spiritual guide, spiritual journeying, spirituality, tolerance, virtue, wisdom