I just started my first year in high school and I have a pretty good group of friends. We all go to the same Madressah together and we’ve all learned that backbiting/gossiping is wrong and that we shouldn’t do it. However, one of my closest friend’s in the group is constantly gossiping even though she knows it’s a sin. She says it’s a bad habit and that she can’t stop. I don’t know what to do...I know it’s wrong and I’m sinning by listening to her.
--Sumayyah, Grade 9
Let me just say I have the same problem with some of my friends. Although my friends and I haven’t gone to the same Madressah together, we have relatively equal knowledge of Islam.
What I learned from a Sheikh at a Path to Piety conference in regards to gheebat (as it is called in arabic) is that as long as you put in a good word for the person who is being talked about, then the sin will not be yours. For example,
Laila: Oh my gosh, do you know Bob from Math class? He’s so annoying. He’s always asking questions in class, and he never shuts up! Bob’s so stuck up, he totally thinks that he’s better than everybody.
Saleha: But Bob is very smart. He’s helped me a couple times with my math homework. He's really patient.
In the scene that just took place, Bob was being gossiped about by Laila. However, instead of agreeing with Laila, Saleha immediately defended Bob by putting in a good word for him. This way, Saleha is not complicit in the sin. If this does not seem to help, then maybe you could provide your friend with some Hadith? I know it’s hard to approach these topics with friends, especially close friends, because you don’t want them to think that you are judging them. But think about the greater good and go for it.
“Fear Allah and obey Him. Be afraid of the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah. Then every person shall be paid what he earned; and they shall not be dealt with unjustly” (Al-Baqarah 2: 281)
Two of the major destructive sins are backbiting and slandering. These two sins were forbidden by Allah through His Prophet because they spread enmity, evils and conflict among people and lead to destruction. They cause fighting between people of the same household, and between neighbours and relatives.
Allah forbids these acts in His Book when He says,
“O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, in deeds 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” (Al-Hujuraat 49: 12)
This verse strongly forbids backbiting for Allah likens the backbiter to one who eats the flesh of his dead brother. If he would hate eating the flesh of his brother, he should also hate to have his own flesh eaten while alive by those backbiting and slandering him.
Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said, “Do you know what backbiting is?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He then said, “It is to say something about your brother that he would dislike.” Someone asked him, “But what if what I say is true?” The Messenger of Allah said, “If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him.” (Muslim)
The Prophet(SAW) said, “The gossiper will not enter Paradise.”
Hope this helps and may Allah make this easier for you.