Answered by Shaykh Sulayman Van Ael
Question: Assalam alaykum,
Today I had a meeting with one of my teachers in university. Whithin this conversation he said bad things about a group of people I was interested to join. I kept silent. Was this permisible?
Answer: Dear questioner about ghiba, assalam alaykum.
Saying bad things about people that are true is “ghiba”, saying bad things that are not true is “buhtan”. Both of them are sins. We muslims are not allowed to speak bad about anyone. Not about rulers or those who are ruled over.
When it comes down to meetings in schools or at work where one has to evaluate a student or a teacher or an employee then this is allowed as far as it is necessary. This can be achieved by not saying more than needed and by only referring to job-student-related matters. If one word is sufficient then the second word is haram.
Sitting with people that gossip and slander
If we sit with people that gossip or slander we kindly remind them that this is haram, if they do not stop then we defend the honour of the one they are speaking about, if they continue then we leave the congregation. Sometimes this might be impossible, when it is a job meeting etc. In this case one tries to steer the discussion in another direction, and if they keep on talking then one will do istighfar with his heart and not participate until they have something good to say.
Do not spy
When you hear things being said about people then this does not require from you to find out if this is true or not, unless it has to do with someone that wants to get married to your daughter of son, of wants to start a business with you etc. In this case one will also stick to the minimum amount of words that are needed to clarify the situation.
This and Allah knows best,
[Shaykh] Sulayman Van Ael
Shaykh Sulayman Van Ael received ijazah from various luminaries in the ten Qur’anic readings, in Ihya Ulum al-Din, in the major books of hadith, in different texts in Guelph classical Islamic sciences–including grammar, tafsir, fiqh, and usul.