17 ‘Azamat (Grandeur)

“If any soul speak ill of an absent one, the only result will clearly be this: he will dampen the zeal of the friends and tend to make them indifferent. For backbiting is divisive, it is the leading cause among the friends of a disposition to withdraw. If any individual should speak ill of one who is absent, it is incumbent on his hearers, in a spiritual and friendly manner, to stop him. . . .

“If, however, a person setteth about speaking well of another,opening his lips to praise another, he will touch an answering chordin his hearers and they will be stirred up by the breathings of God.” —(Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 230-31)

Sermon on Gossip from the movie “Doubt”

“O Son of Man!  Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner.  Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness. “
(Baha’u’llah, Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah)


A woman was gossiping with a friend about a man she hardly knew – I know none of you have ever done this – that night she had a dream. A great hand appeared over her and pointed down at her. She was immediately seized with an overwhelming sense of guilt. The next day she went to confession. She got the old parish priest, Father O’Rourke, and she told him the whole thing. 


‘Is gossiping a sin?’ she asked the old man. ‘Was that the hand of God Almighty pointing a finger at me? Should I be asking your absolution? Father, tell me, have I done something wrong?’


(Irish Brogue)
‘Yes!’ Father O’Rourke answered her. ‘Yes, you ignorant, badly broughtup female! You have borne false witness against your neighbor, you have played fast and loose with his reputation, and you should be heartily ashamed!’ 


So the woman said she was sorry and asked for forgiveness. 


‘Not so fast!’ says O’Rourke. ‘I want you to go home, take a pillow up on your roof, cut it open with a knife, and return here to me!’ 


So the woman went home, took a pillow off her bed, a knife from the drawer, went up the fire escape to the roof, and stabbed the pillow. Then she went back to the old parish priest as instructed. 


‘Did you gut the pillow with the knife?’ he says.


‘Yes, Father.’


‘And what was the result?’ 


‘Feathers,’ she said.


‘Feathers?’ he repeated. 


‘Feathers everywhere, Father!’


‘Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out on the wind!’


‘Well,’ she said, ‘it can’t be done. I don’t know where they went. The wind took them all over.’


‘And that,’ said Father O’Rourke, ‘is GOSSIP!’

(2008 movie “Doubt” by  Miramax Films)

LIARS, STORY TELLERS, and GOSSIPS – A Poem By Tricia Hague-Barrett


Stories are told, gossips abound,
backbiting is seen as fun.
Stories unfold, often retold,
embellished on the run. Read more

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