A group of us are reading the Kitab-i-Aqdas during the Fast. Today we were reading about backbiting. So I thought I’d share an article I wrote on the topic: Perfecting the Power of Praising and Avoiding the Most Great Sin.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá taught that the purpose of life is to acquire virtues. Since the portals of God’s mercy are opened wider during this time, the Fast is the best time to strive to get rid of all evil habits and acquire spiritual habits. One way to “refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in our souls” during the Fast is to increase the practice of praising one another so to be obedient to the laws of God. Obedience to Divine Laws assist us, not God.
Those who knowingly break or violate spiritual laws will be considered handicapped in the next life, just as a child delivered from the womb who lacked vital limbs, organs, or senses is. There are innumerable virtues, each with its opposite vice, so I thought I would start with the worst or most destructive vice.
Consider the company of these vices mentioned together in the same breath by Baha’u’llah in the The Kitab-i-Aqdas, “Ye have been forbidden to commit murder or adultery, or to engage in backbiting or calumny; shun ye, then, what hath been prohibited in the holy Books and Tablets.”
One would think that murder or adultery would be the worst human sin, but another one has an equally dubious distinction and:
- Is the most great sin
- Is the worst human quality
- Is cause for being dishonored
- Devours the heart
- Devours the soul
- Defiles the tongue
- Quenches the light of the heart
- Extinguishes the life of the soul
- Is the cause of Divine Wrath
- Is grievous error
- Is the most hateful characteristic of man
- Causes us to lose all the traces of spirituality,
- Excommunicates a person from the divine company of the worthy ones
- Submerges one in the sea of phantasms
- Suffers one to become cold and pessimistic
- Throws one headlong into the death of despair and haunting hopelessness
- Endures a century
- Is a deadly poison
- Is divisive
- Causes us to be cursed by God
For this reason, this message will be a bit longer today. “
Baha’u’llah warned us, “… observe silence and refrain from idle talk. For the tongue is a smoldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century. That seeker should, also, regard backbiting as grievous error, and keep himself aloof from its dominion, inasmuch as backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul”. (1)
I would urge each of us to reflect seriously on the potential spiritual suicide of this one vice today as we conclude the second week of our 19-Day Fast. Gossiping and backbiting have the power to put the light out in our hearts, and KILL the life of our immortal souls!!! I don’t know about you, but that is one vice that I am putting first on my radar and goal list and committing to working on breaking immediately!
“ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá warned that “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 Bahá’u’lláh would be spread, the hearts illuminated, the spirits glorified and the human world would attain to everlasting felicity.
I 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 dishonoured 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.” (2)
“This day is the day of joy and fragrance. These petty backbitings and jealousies
make one lose all the traces of spirituality,
excommunicate a person from the divine company of the worthy ones,
submerge one in the sea of phantasms,
suffer one to become cold and pessimistic and
throw him headlong into the death of despair and haunting hopelessness.” (3)
So, who do you need to begin praising? Perhaps, the next time you are dying to talk about someone and share some juicy tidbit, you’ll first pause, and ask yourself, is it really worth losing my your soul over?
- (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 264)
- (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West –
- (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West –
Fasting is more than just not eating