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Mesha Fakhruddin (Photo courtesy of Zahra Ali).

Mesha Fakhruddin (Photo courtesy of Zahra Ali).

By Zahra Ali, Plainfield North

Sometimes, there’s a vicious satisfaction in bad-mouthing someone behind their back. Whether it’s complaining about your lousy boss or criticizing your teacher’s lack of fashion sense, most of us can’t go more than a few hours without insulting someone when they’re not present. Now try going 10 days.

That’s the idea that Naperville teen Mesha Fakhruddin had when coming up with the “Tazkiyah Challenge.” Here’s how it works: The participants cannot insult anyone, living or dead, behind their back for at least 10 days. If someone messes up, they report themselves on a group chat and an additional day is added to the challenge.

So what’s the motivation? Well, the word “Tazkiyah” is an Arabic term meaning “purification of the soul.” Taking the challenge is an opportunity to break a bad habit and become a kinder person. It also serves as a tool to build friendships that are based on self betterment.

“We decided we would take it upon ourselves to find a destructive flaw within our circle of friends, and we chose backbiting, which is speaking badly of someone else behind their back. It’s something we fall into really easily,” Fakhruddin said.

And while “purifying oneself” is a pretty great incentive, ice cream is even better. Completion of the challenge is marked with a prize such as going out for dessert or playing some mini golf. This month’s prize was an outdoor movie night, but it can be anything that the participants decide on.

“The reason why I like the Tazkiyah challenge so much is that it’s actually brought a change into our lives,”  Fakhruddin said. “We may not be perfect after it, but we do take an extra two seconds to think before we speak.”

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