The ‘Log Kiya Kahain Gay’ Syndrome

(What Will the People Say)

 “You were afraid of people, although Allah has more right to be feared.”                  

(Quran 33:37)


When I came back to Pakistan in early 21st century after a long sojourn, I realized in just a few days or a week that this phrase ‘What will the people say’ or in local language Urdu, ‘Log kiya kahain gay’ was the most often repeated phrase I heard; almost by everyone, everywhere, anywhere and anytime. I had rarely heard this phrase while living abroad. It compelled me to write a few humorous lines on this amazing trend!

I have discussed the following points:

  1. What do people say?
  2. Why people are conscious of what others will say?
  3. The economic, social, religious, ethical & psychological impacts
  4. Any benefits
  5. Why do people say things/make comments?
  6. Solutions

What Do The People Say?

Well, unfortunately people do say a lot of things. They may say it in front of us or behind our backs. They comment on our looks, about our clothes, our possessions; I mean everything from A-Z.

To give some examples, starting from the negative side:

“How terrible her cooking is! The food was rotten.”

“Their children are always fighting with each other.”

“She’s good-looking but she does not know how to do the housework.”

“You did not come to my wedding.”

“He didn’t even go to his uncles’ funeral.”

“Their children perform very poorly at school.”

“They didn’t give very much ‘Jehaiz’ to their daughter.”

“They didn’t give any kind of sacrifice at Eid.”

“You didn’t even celebrate your birthday?”

“Their house is so beautiful but there is not worth their standard.”

“She is looking beautiful but look at her height!”

“There were many dishes at the party but most of them were very terribly cooked.”

“She is a very religious women who observes prayers everyday but she doesn’t observe purdah!”

“Their children go to expensive schools although they find it very difficult to feed them!”

“He is a very kind person who gives thousands to the poor people but he doesn’t pray his prayers.”

Well, on the positive side many things are also said:

“Look how beautiful his dress is!”

“The furniture in our neighbors’ house is simply gorgeous!”

“His son came first in the class. He is a very intelligent boy.”

“I really enjoyed the food. The cooking was excellent.”

Their house is looking like a palace.”

“She was looking extremely gorgeous at the party!”

“They are giving a car in ‘Jehaiz’ to their daughter.”

“They are living very happily; what a lucky couple.”

“Their children are very well mannered.”

There are many many other examples and it is mostly the negative points about which people become conscious about and think on the line of ‘Log kiya kahain gay’

Why People Think like this here?

Why are people so conscious of what people will say?

Some of the reasons are given below:

Probably the main reason is always being conscious of going against the societies’, one’s statuses’ or ones families’ norms.

Some people suffer from an inferiority complex. They believe that they are socially inept and personally unappealing. This is why they go to excessive lengths to obtain nurturance and respect to the point of volunteering to do things that are unpleasant.

Many a time, people go to any length in trying to pleasing others. The lower class try to please or impress the middle class, the middle class try to please the upper class and the upper class try to get ahead of their own.

Some people are always in need of some praise. So they do many things just to obtain this praise. These people have received little or no love in their upbringing.

Some people try continuously to seek the attention of others by showing off and they feel uncomfortable when they are not the center of attention. They are overly concerned with their appearance and the appearance of their possessions.

Others have a grandiose sense of their own importance and at the same time are extremely sensitive to criticism. They exaggerate about their own sense their achievements and talents and expect to be recognized as superior. They are preoccupied with fantasies of power, brilliance, beauty and unlimited success. They envy others and are arrogant and lack any sympathy for others.

Some people just want to obtain love and support of others. They seek relationships as a source of care and support; they have an unrealistic preoccupation with fears of being left alone to take care of oneself. For this reason they have difficulty in expressing disagreement with others. They feel helpless when alone.

Some people are worried about being rejected or criticized in social situations and believe they are socially inept, personally unappealing or inferior to others and unwilling to get involved with other people.

Still other people are preoccupied with perfection, details, rules, lists or schedules etc. They are rigid and stubborn in their decisions.

All these personality traits result from development that has been influenced by culture and society as well as by the child-rearing practices of the individuals’ family. Genetically predetermined factors may also be involved.

The Economic Impact

The economic impact of this fear of what the people will say is quite tremendous. Millions of rupees are lost every month due to this unrealistic fear. Some examples are given below to give the reader an idea of the gravity of the matter.

There is tremendous overspending of money at engagements and weddings. Why? Just to show the people, that’s all. There are a thousand and one wedding customs; most of them derived from the Hindu culture, and every one of these customs are carried out at every wedding with great zeal and fervour. All these functions are made as luxurious as possible so that the people will be full of praise and more importantly, so that no negative remarks are made about the wedding.

Then there is a huge wastage of money at funerals, soyems, ‘Chillas’ and other functions of this kind after someone dies. In fact more money is spent on a persons’ funeral sometimes than what was spent on his wedding. A whole variety of dishes including fruits and sweet dishes are served just to show the people their status in the society. This money spent might be from a part of the diseased poor children’s inheritance!

Over-spending in daily life is not uncommon. Clothes and make-up are on top in this category among women. Millions are being spent in the cosmetic industry; from beauty soaps to shampoos and toothpastes, you name it, they are at the top at the modern ladies’ shopping list, all just to avoid people saying something (which they will anyways).

Excessive spending on home appliances is also very common. Everyone wants to buy the most expensive furniture, the largest television set with a brand new V.C.R., a fashionable deck, luxurious carpets and what not; all this for showing people so that they will be all praise for the owners of the house.

Everyone abhors even the idea of living in a rented house because of the fear of what the people will say! Everyone wants to buy or build that house which is the best; i.e. which is the most expensive, which is the most spacious, which looks the most attractive to people and which is the most decorated from the inside.

Everyone tries to enter ones’ children into the most expensive schools just because our neighbors’ children are studying there! Some people send their children for tuition just because their neighbors’ children also go for tuition!

Then there are the luxuries like cars which everyone can’t even afford. Nonetheless everyone tries to buy a car that is new, expensive, dashing and most importantly better looking than all our friends’ neighbors or relatives’ car!

All these things are done by the people, for the people and with the people.

The Social Impact

The social impact of the fear of what people will say on our lives is tremendous. This fear affects every aspect of our lives. To give the reader an idea, I will give some examples.

Attendances at functions like weddings and especially funerals have become a necessity nowadays because of the comments people make at those who do not come. In fact many people just go so that no one will complain afterwards. It has become just a formality to go to a funeral, say the prayers and come back home.

Children at schools and colleges are pressurized by their parents to get good grades so that they may show the people how intelligent their son or daughter is. They exaggerate excessively about their children’s academic performance. They may even tell lies e.g. that their son or daughter has come first in the board exams even though he or she might have failed that exam!

Students fear of what their colleagues will say if they fail more than anything else and probably this is the only motivation sometimes

Many girls are given education only because people will make remarks if they are not given any education. Many become doctors so that they will get a suitable match for marriage.

Men spend more than half their lives in pursuit of an ideal job resulting in delay in marriage with all the problems that come with late marriages.

On top of that young ladies and even young men spend all their lives searching for their ideal life partner. The reason is that they want that life partner at which people will point no ill finger at and who will be full of praise from the people.

Today thousands if not lakhs are left unmarried in search of the ideal partner or due to non-affordability to give enough Jehaiz (female dowry)’. “What will the people say, we didn’t give anything to our daughter for Jehaiz!” This is a common oft-repeated statement among people. Jehaiz is such an evil that it has crippled almost every family in the society. We may witness a case of refusal of a marriage proposal just because the guests were not served properly!

In our society there is a lot of competition among housewives who maybe relatives or neighbors. They try to outwit each other in every aspect; from dresses to cosmetics, from everyday necessities to luxuries, from house furniture to cars, you name it, all of them will try to get a better thing than the other.

This problem may create marital disturbances because either one of the partners especially the wife wants something so that her relatives or neighbors will not say anything or will get impressed by that thing, but the other partner is unwilling due to financial or other reasons to buy that particular thing.

Or if the poor husband is too soft, he might be compelled to carry out his wife’s wishes. This might make him earn him money through illegal means. Thus he will not care from where his money is coming from or how he earns it he will do anything to please his wife.

So you may deduce what kinds of evils this leads to in the society; bribery, fraud, robbery and even murder!

Even doctors are not immune to this disease. Doctors will give their patients unnecessary antibiotics and steroids just to satisfy their patients. They give them injections and drips so that patients will not complaint afterwards that this doctor didn’t even give me an injection!

If married women are not living a happy life for some reason or another and even if they get beaten up by their spouses they will not tell anyone lest people should make comments and so that she  may not earn a bad name for herself and her family in the society. Similarly men will also keep silent. Psychologically speaking they are said to be living in a marital skew. Both will say that their marriage is going along wonderfully well although it might be in the doldrums.

A father refuses his son’s plans of a love marriage because of fear of what the people will say.

Relatives bring gifts when they come back from abroad otherwise people will make comments if they don’t. “The rich guy can’t even afford a cheap gift.”

A relative helps his deceased brothers’ children only because if he does not people will make comments about his miserliness.

A person commits suicide because of impending imprisonment; he could not face the comments people would make about him going to jail.

Relatives fail to tell the doctor their patient has attempted suicide due to the fear of what the people will say and as a result the person dies!

One can’t keep anyone’s mouth shut. Whatever you do, wherever you go or whatever you say people will still make statements and comments behind your backs! You can’t do anything. It is just out of your control! It has become a part of our habits and customs.

Some people just can’t see other people happy no matter good they may do them. They hate them, despise them, ridicule them and criticize them for any slight mistake.

To give an example a friend of mine went to a relative’s funeral and when he came back he heard they made lots of comments about him.

The next time he didn’t go and they made the same comments! So what is the difference?

It makes little difference whether we fear people or not in terms of benefits, but in terms of its horrible impacts mentioned above one should not be over conscious of this fear.

It goes on and on! It never ends because no one is and can never be perfect. People make every use of making fun of other people. Actually, when they see people with these blessings, negative thoughts and feelings creep up. They become jealous and an inferiority complex develops. To overcome this they make these statements.

Religious Impact

This ridiculous fear of people has a positive as well as a negative impact on the religious attitudes and activities of people. Examples are given below.

Many people just pray because if they don’t, other people will criticize them for not praying! Similarly many give Zakat, fast in Ramadan, perform Hajj, and do numerous other good deeds just to show people that they are also among the Muslims.

Many give the sacrifice during the big Eid just for show so that no one will complain that they didn’t give a sacrifice. They will choose the biggest and the most beautiful sacrifice and show it to all their neighbours and relatives.

Many women observe purdah/Hijab just because the society they live in observes it. If given a chance to get out of that society and if they go into a more liberal society they will immediately throw away their veils! I have witnessed such a phenomena occurring right in front of my eyes!

A woman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia who observes full purdah in Jeddah was observed without the veil and only with a scarf around her neck at the airport. She was going to Pakistan!

Many people try to show they are very religious just because they belong to very religious families or they are associated with a religious party; otherwise people will point a finger not only at them but also at their families or the whole party as a whole.

Similarly many people hold religious programs like Melaad-un –Nabi, Khatme-Quran, etc. so that people will praise their religious fervour. These are also done to prevent people from making remarks like “They didn’t even bless their father at his ‘Chaleeswan (40th day of death)’.

Some people perform Hajj and Umra every year just to obtain the praise of people and to be called a Hajji and maybe to prevent all the bad talk about their wrong deeds throughout the year.

Many make their young children Hafiz- Quran or a scholar of the Quran so that people will praise them.

However on the other hand there are people who avoid religion and religious activities to avoid being labeled as a ‘Maulvi’, fundamentalist etc.

They will not keep a beard because they fear people will make fun of them!

They will not go to religious programs nor will they try to attain religious knowledge or convey it to others for fear of rejection from relatives and friends.

Women who are almost willing to observe purdah finally decide not to because they are afraid they will be rejected or made fun of by their family, friends and their spouses.

These people stop going to mosques, don’t perform Hajj, and other good deeds because of the fear being labeled as a religiously fanatic person!

The Ethical Impact

All ethical norms are brought down to earth because of the fear of what the people will say.

People tell lies, huge enormous lies, just to please other people and earn self-praise, to avoid people making comments and to save ones’ self respect and honour.

Many become proud and arrogant. They tend to show off to people all the expensive valuables they have.

People become unthankful to Allah. When they see other people who are financially well off and have more possessions than them they wish they had like them. So then they start complaining and say a thing, which shows their unthankfulness to God. They continuously lament on their miserable condition although they may be living much more comfortably than others. They never look down at those people who are not better than them.

Thus these people greedy and try to obtain money by ‘Haraam’ (illegal) means. They cheat, take bribes as well as take interest. They steal and rob just to achieve their aims and to satisfy the people. They obtain by any means, by hook or by crook.

There is no true love between the family members and relatives of the society. All are competing with one another and each are trying to show that one is superior to the other.

Similarly there is no respect among the members of the society. There is an air of hatred , enmity and jealousy among the members of the society.

Because of all this there is an increase in the crime rate. Killing, robbery and sexual crimes are done to degrade other people or upgrade oneself. People make fun of one another, do backbiting and laugh at one another.

Psychological Impact

The psychological impact of this dilemma on the people is quite alarming. Almost every person in Pakistan suffers from a borderline personality disorder in which they have difficulty in maintaining interpersonal relationships. The main reason is because of this phrase at the back of their minds before every action they take.

Many people suffer from different anxiety disorders. They are anxious at all times and thinking about what people are thinking about them! They are anxious about how to obtain things others have but they don’t have. They are in a state of continuous worry.

If they cannot obtain the things they want they either go into a state of depression or become enraged and psychotic. They may become so depressed that they may commit suicide.

Some people become get anxious and depressed by peoples’ comments about their looks and possessions etc. they become so worried that they get sudden heart attacks and strokes.

Many people develop different personality disorders. Grandiose, narcissistic histrionic and antisocial personality disorders are some examples.

Other people become so anxious that they take to smoking and even drugs. Other people become overexcited and show maniac type of behaviour. They go on a shopping spree and waste lots of money.

Any Benefits?

After reading these entire horrible impacts one can’t possibly believe there are any benefits of the fear of what people will say.

Well, there are some benefits and the fear does have its effectiveness.

We receive a lot of praise and respect when we please people. We get a lot of support and love from relatives, friends and neighbors. We receive sympathy, compliments and facilitations from the people. We maintain our status and reputation amongst the society.

One friend told me it even helps keep a marriage together. I asked how was that. He said that whenever the couple planned or decided to separate the fear of what the people will say stopped them from separating!

It keeps friends, neighbors and relatives together. It seems that we all have been caught symbiotically in this web of pleasing each other so much so that it is impossible to escape. So although we seem to be united in love and support but this is only superficial. The actions taken to counteract the fear are far more exaggerated and excessive than they deserve.

Ever heard this benefit? : a person fails to commit suicide on the fear of ‘Log kiya kahain gay?’

Why do people say things?

People here have an ‘inherited’ tendency to interfere in others affairs.

They may be satisfying their inferiority complex.

They may be just jealous of the person, can’t reach his/her stature & can’t do anything except make comments.

They may want to harm the person psychologically, harm his marriage or other relations etc.

Solution-Islam and Quran

As we know, the solution to all our problems lies in Islam and in the Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). So we should seek the answer to this problem through these sources.

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) also made the ‘mistake’ of fearing what the people will say in the case of his companion Hazrat Zaid (RA), his so called ‘son’ by him and the people. This was after he had freed him and called him his son.  This great companion was having some marriage problems. At this time Almighty Allah had revealed to the Prophet that you will marry his wife after he divorces her.

Now the Prophet knew the people considered it a great sin as a whole to marry the wife of ones’ divorced son. That is why you said to Hazrat Zaid (RA):

“ Keep your wife and have fear Allah”       Quran 33:37

This was so that the Prophet would not have to marry her and thus he would be saved from the remarks of the people.

But Allah had other plans. He wanted to tell our Ummah that the real son is only that one who one gives birth to and all others are actually not really sons in the sense of the word.

This is where Allah interferes and says:

“You were afraid of men, although Allah has more right to be feared.”                   Quran 33:37

i.e. Almighty Allah is telling the Prophet that you should fear only me and not the people. And so it happened that the prophet married her after her divorce and the people were told clearly that one may marry the divorced wife of one’s adopted son.

In this is a great lesson for us. In matters of faith we should fear Allah only and should not care what the people say.

One has to strengthen ones’ defenses and develop immunity against any type of fear of what the people say.

A person who develops such immunity will certainly be one of the most relaxed people on this Earth.

We should just do what we want to do by ourselves and try not to be influenced by other people.

We should be moderate in spending. We should not over exaggerate in spending, dressing or decoration.

“Squander not your wealth in the manner of a spendthrift. (Holy Quran 17: 26)

Islam is a religion of moderation and Allah loves those who choose the moderate path.

We should be thankful to Allah for what Allah has given us. He has given us much much more than others.

“Which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?” (Holy Quran 55: 13)

“If you count the favours of Allah , you will not be able to count them.”               (Holy  Quran 16: 18)

He has given us more because there are millions less fortunate than us.

“Give thanks to Allah. He who gives thanks to Him has much to gain, but if any one is ungrateful, Allah is Self- Sufficient.” (Quran 31:12)

“Inspire me, my Lord, to render thanks for the favours You have bestowed upon me and on my parents and make me do good deeds that will please you.”                                            (Quran 27 :19)

Sometimes Allah tests us by taking something away from us. We then have to be patient.

“We shall surely test you with fear and hunger, with loss of property and crops. Give good news to the patient , who in adversity say: To Him we belong and to Him we shall we return.”    (Quran 2:156)

We should not envy or be jealous of each other and should seek refuge from Allah from those who envy.

“I seek refuge in the Lord……. From the mischief of the envier when he envies.” (Quran 113:5)

We should be true to our religion. We should not perform religious deeds for the people to see. This is called ‘Riyaa’ (Showoff)

We should fear Allah alone, because anyone with even a grain of Riyaa in his heart will not enter Paradise as stated in a saying of the prophet.

“Say: behold my prayers, my sacrifices, my living and my death are for Allah alone and in this I order ( to all) and I am the first of the Muslims.” (Quran 6: 162)

We are all equal in all aspects . No one is superior to another except in piety.

“Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you”   (Qur’an 49:13)

Therefore we should not be proud of ourselves and try not to be show- offs.

“Don’t walk proudly on the Earth. You can never reach the depths of the Earth or the height of the skies .”                                       (Quran 17: 37)

“Do not turn away from men with scorn, nor walk proudly on the earth: Allah does not love the arrogant and the vain-glorious.”     (Quran 31:20)

Allah also tells about some social manners in the Quran:

“Believers, let no man mock another man, who may perhaps be better than himself. Let no woman mock another woman, who may perhaps be better than herself.”

“Do not defame one another, nor call one another by nicknames. It is an evil thing to be called by a bad name after embracing the true faith. Those that do not repent are wrong-doers.”

“Believers, avoid most suspicion, for in some cases suspicion is a crime.”

“Do not spy upon another nor backbite on one another. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?” (Holy Quran 49:10,11,12)

What better advice can we give than this?

Therefore we should hold fast to the teachings of the Quran and try to run our lives according to it. Only then will be able to solve this problem.

We should be sincere in our love and hate. It brings out a true person in us. We should be sincere to our friends, neighbors and relatives. People will then love and respect us. We should not be disrespectful.

We should be kind, loving and supportive to people irrespective of whether they are poor or rich and even if they are bad to you. This is the way to excellence:

“Good and evil deeds are not alike. Requite evil with good and (you will see) that between whom you and him is enmity, will become your closest friend. But none will attain this save who endure with fortitude and are truly fortunate.”                  (Quran 41:34)

Some Quotes to Remember In this Regard:

I better close now, after all, what will the people say?


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