Elephant's Makeover: Lessons in Gossip
Rukhsana Khan’s latest book, Elephant’s Makeover is a rich text that will inspire conversations about bullying, gossip, and creating friendships.
In the opening scene, Elephant is hoping to make friends but she overhears the animals backbiting about her body. She goes to the mirror, looks herself over, and decides that they are right. Those words affect how she sees herself and pushes her to change her body.
This scene opens up an opportunity to talk to our children about backbiting.
The prophet Mohammad (SAW) described backbiting as, “Saying something about your brother that he dislikes.”
We can avoid falling into backbiting by remembering that it is not our right to speak about others negatively, or to judge them harshly.
Remind yourself and your children that we are all lacking. No one is perfect. We are not responsible for the faults of others, we are responsible for our own. So focus on your faults. Work on yourself, and seek forgiveness.
Shaytan will try and corrupt our relationships by encouraging us to assume the worst about even the smallest things. Try and give people the benefit of the doubt!
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Let the one who believes in Allah and the Hereafter utter good words, or let him be silent.”
But what does it really mean to backbite someone? Does it really hurt that person?
Allah describes it in a powerful way in the Quran, Surah 49 Verse 12: And do not spy nor backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?
Scholars say, the word “dead” in this ayah is a description of the victim’s absence, because, like a dead person, he can’t defend himself of accusations made on him. Also the victim is unable to recover his reputation and his honour after it was damaged from the backbiting.
The victim of backbiting has lived years building his reputation and honour in society. Rumours and harsh comments can quickly destroy that reputation and honour. This damage will change how society deals with him in the future.
Backbiting habitually can affect the backbiter as well. They might start consistently assuming the worst about people.
While reading Elephant’s Makeover to your children, start a conversation about backbiting. Help them understand that it is a hurtful thing to talk about others behind their backs.
May Allah let our children be from those who fear Allah.