One of the sins Islam has strongly opposed is gossip – speaking evil about the other behind his or her back, even if it be true. Sheikh Husayn Al-Awaishah has strong words on this trait (excerpt from his book Gossip and Its Adverse Effects on the Muslim Community):
If any of us hear gossip about one of our brothers, we are enjoined to oppose it, and correct the speaker – gently, politely, and with wisdom. This is in accordance with the various ways of changing a bad deed which were described by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), which we should try to do to the best of our ability.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever of you sees an evil deed should change it with his hand [by acting], or if he cannot do that, then with his tongue [by speaking out], or if he cannot do that, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.” (Sahih Muslim)
The least of these is opposing the wrong deed in our hearts, which in this case should make us leave the gathering where the gossip is taking place. Let us think about the words of Allah, the meaning of which is:
“When you see men engaged in vain discourse about Our Signs, turn away from them unless they turn to a different theme. If Satan ever makes you forget, then after recollection, do not sit in the company of those who do wrong.” (Qur’an, 6:68)
“O you who believe! Avoid much suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 49:12)
Let those Muslims who relish gossip beware! The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) ordered those who hear gossip to reject it, but these Muslims are indulging in this pastime with pleasure! Woe to you! Are you not thinking about where you will end up? It is as if you think you were created only for fooling about and committing sins!