Backbiting for protection?

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Backbiting for protection?

Postby Keyvan » Tue Aug 28, 2007 9:27 pm

I'm having a difficult time finding writings on this and I'm wondering if anyone has encountered it.

Say a person is known for committing immoral acts against others (could be personal, business related, etc) and has a track record for hurting people. If someone else has knowledge of that persons track record, and then sees that person pursuing a friend of theirs in the same manner, how can they protect that friend without backbiting against the other persons faults?

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Postby Zazaban » Wed Aug 29, 2007 2:25 pm

Backbiting implies a malicious purpose.
Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations.
~ Bahá'u'lláh

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Postby Keyvan » Thu Aug 30, 2007 1:29 am

well on one level we can think: warning someone of another person does not constitute gossip and backbiting.

but on another level we can derive: regardless of intent, it is wrong to talk negatively about another behind their back

I'm trying to find writings which would make this matter clear, and for either understanding (whichever one is accurate) to be legitimately textually backed.

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Postby British_Bahai » Thu Aug 30, 2007 3:10 am

i think i remember reading something somewhere but my memory is really bad and cant remember, i'll post it up when i come across it... if i think hard, i might be able to remember where i read it by this afternoon...

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Postby brettz9 » Thu Aug 30, 2007 6:39 pm

Hello Keyvan and all,

This one would be nice to have a definitive answer for.

On the one hand, there are these which forbid comments even if true in a Baha'i context (unless to an Assembly or Auxiliary Board member):

"Even if what is said against another person be true, the mentioning of his faults to others still comes under the category of backbiting, and is forbidden."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, February 11, 1925)

"Abdu'l-Bahá does not permit adverse criticism of individuals by name in discussion among the friends, even if the one criticizing believes that he is doing so to protect the interests of the Cause. If the situation is of such gravity as to endanger the interests of the Faith, the complaint, as your National Spiritual Assembly has indicated, should be submitted to the Local Spiritual Assembly, or as you state to a representative of the institution of the Counsellors, for consideration and action. In such cases, of course, the name of the person or persons involved will have to be mentioned.

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 23, 1975)

“There is a clear distinction between, on the one hand, the prohibition of backbiting, which would include adverse comments about individuals or institutions made to other individuals privately or publicly, and, on the other hand, the encouragement to unburden oneself of one's concerns to a Spiritual Assembly, local or National (or now, also, to confide in a Counsellor or Auxiliary Board member)."

(Criticism : A Letter on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice)

On the other hand, I believe the following may weigh on the side of permitting such well-intended warnings:

"Kindness cannot be shown the tyrant, the deceiver, or the thief, because, far from awakening them to the error of their ways, it maketh them to continue in their perversity as before. No matter how much kindliness ye may expend upon the liar, he will but lie the more, for he believeth you to be deceived, while ye understand him but too well, and only remain silent out of your extreme compassion."

(Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, section 138)

"...When a difficulty is brought out into the daylight and freely discussed by a duly authorised and responsible group of people who are sincerely desirous of finding the best solution and are free from prejudice or personal motive, then there is a good chance of overcoming it, but discussion of the faults of others behind their backs by unauthorised people who have no authority to take action in the matter, is surely one of the most fertile causes--probably THE most fertile cause--of disunity, and the importance of putting an end to this practice should be impressed on all Bahá'ís."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, followed by an extract from the Guardian's postscript, February 11, 1925)

best wishes,

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Postby British_Bahai » Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:20 am

i just randomly came across this and thought its *kind of* related... ... er=5#n2043

2043. Is It Right to Tell Untruth to Save Another?

"As to the question whether it is right to tell an untruth in order to save another, he feels that under no condition should we tell an untruth but at the same time try and help the person in a more legitimate manner. Of course it is not necessary to be too outspoken until the question is directly put to us."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 21, 1927: Living the Life, p. 3)

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Re: Backbiting for protection?

Postby KunalCA » Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:26 pm

Say the person (wrongdoer) is someone that has seen his/her errors and is changing him/herself, then one would think that this person deserves the chance to correct thier ways, how else does someone improve?
On the other hand, you want to counsel your friend wisely (in case the wrongdoer is still doing wrong).

In such a situation, I feel it might be best to advise your friend to proceed with caution. That's it - Dont say why you say this, say this is what we must always do when engaging with people whom we dont have experience with. Then offer your friend to keep you in the loop, perhaps your presence may scare away the wrongdoer if that person still has malicious intent. :)

Just my views :)

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Re: Backbiting for protection?

Postby jenniferatemple » Wed Mar 04, 2015 3:34 pm

I think we are always allowed to seek the help of an authority, that is not gossip unless you give false evidence, LSA, Priest, Police, Christian Ministers etc.

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