Backbiting and Triple Filter Test
This is about our friend Kiwir and a great figure named Socrates. Although Kiwir was not sure enough about the validity of the story, he still thought that it would be useful to remind us about it, since what Socrates taught was very useful for many.
First, Socrates. In ancient Greece (469 – 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance that ran up to him excitedly and said, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students called Plato?”
“Wait a moment,” Socrates replied. “Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test”.
“That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my student let’s take a moment to filter what you’re going to say.
“The first Filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”
“No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”
“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the Filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?”
“No, on the contrary…”
“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, even though you’re not certain it’s true?”
The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.
Socrates continued. “You may still pass the test though, because there is a
third filter – the Filter of usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?”
“No, not really…”
“Well,” Socrates concluded, “if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good, nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?”
The man was defeated and ashamed.
This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.
Consequences of Backbiting:
Upon reading the above story, Kiwir told his friend that The Test would be very useful for good people, you and me, to learn and comprehend it as we then can avoid ourselves from committing the big sin of backbiting (or ‘ghibah‘ in Arabic). Here are some consequences of backbiting according to Islamic teachings:
- Prophet Muhammad (s) once said to Imam ‘Ali (‘a): “O ‘Ali! When someone hears the backbiting of his Muslim brother committed in his presence, yet he does not rally to his assistance despite being capable of doing so, God shall humiliate him in the world and in the Hereafter.”
- The Prophet (s) once gave counsel to Abu Dharr (r) , saying: “O Abu Dharr! Beware of backbiting, for backbiting is graver than adultery (zina’).” Abu Dharr (r) said: “Why is that so, O Messenger of Allah?” He (s) replied: “That is because when a man commits adultery and then repents to God, God accepts his repentance. However, backbiting is not forgiven until forgiven by its victim.”
For bahasa Indonesia version of this story, please click here.