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How to Overcome the Guilt of Gossiping

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Jul 12, 2017

Question

Salaam. A few years ago, I did something very stupid. One of my friends was having an affair and she confided this secret in me. We’ve both distanced because of this and I had some resentment toward her. We fell out and I told a couple of my friends about what had happened and consequently revealed her secret. Since then we have patched up, but I feel guilty every day about it. I really want to be honest, but I am too cowardly to tell her that I have been a horrible friend. I have indirectly asked for her forgiveness but haven't told her why. She does not know until now that I revealed her secret and gossiped about her. If I could go back in time and stop myself I would. I feel so guilty and cannot sleep thinking about this. I did not realize what a big sin I had committed until I read up on Islam. We are good friends again and I have stopped gossiping, but I regret my actions every single day. I have never done anything like this before, and I wish I could have stopped myself saying anything, but I didn't. I pray for forgiveness from Allah and for her forgiveness for gossiping, but I cannot get rid of the guilt. Please help me on this issue as I want forgiveness from Allah and also from her, but I am very afraid to tell her the truth. How should I go about this?

Counselor

Answer


How to Overcome the Guilt of Gossiping

Answer:

As-Salaamu ’Alaykum sister,

As you may know, there are two central themes to this question that we should remember.

  1. Revealing one’s own or another person’s wrong is wrong in itself.
  2. You have done wrong by revealing your friend’s wrong, and now you feel guilty for breaking her trust.

It is good that you and your friend are on good terms, yet you are in a tricky situation. You feel guilty about your gossip and that you did not get her direct forgiveness. Furthermore, is telling her really about helping her or is it about you releasing your guilt? Think deeply about this. Sometimes, we think we are doing the right thing, but in reality, it is about our own inner conflict.

You have learned a lot from this situation, and it is important that you move forward with right actions in your friendships. Your friend will likely feel hurt if you tell her, but to your knowledge, she does not know about your gossip, thus maybe God has kept it veiled for a reason for both of you. Ultimately, you will have to decide on whether to tell her about your gossip. Telling her seems like the right thing, but it may not release your guilt; it might make you feel worse, especially if she gets upset.

Here are the possibilities you should consider before making a decision.

If you tell her, your friendship could be in jeopardy once again, but you may (or may not) release your guilt.

If you tell her, she may understand and forgive you, and things will be okay and you released your guilt.

You don’t tell her and she never finds out. You continue asking God for forgiveness hopefully releasing your guilt and more importantly, you never gossip again.

You don’t tell her and she finds out eventually, and your friendship can be in jeopardy.

Here are some reminders from our tradition to contemplate before deciding.

“A man came to the Prophet (saw) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! I have mingled with a woman on the far side of al-Medina, and I fulfilled my desire short of actually having sexual intercourse with her. So, here am I, judge me according to what you decide. Umar Ibn al-Khattab then said: ‘Allah had kept your secret, why did not you keep your secret?’ ” (Sahih Muslim)

Similarly, if one becomes aware of somebody else’s sin, he should keep it a secret. Allah’s Messenger (saw) said:

He, who relieves a hardship of this Dunya (Word) for a believer, Allah will relieve (from him) a hardship of the Day of Resurrection. He who makes easy an indebted person, Allah will make it easy for him in the Dunya and the Hereafter. He who covers a Muslim (meaning his mistakes and shortcomings), Allah will cover him in the Dunya and the Hereafter…” (Muslim)

Think about these possibilities and ask yourself what seems right to you and which course of action has the greatest value for you and your friend. You are at a point of exposing yourself for exposing your friend’s sins. It is a sin to reveal a sin, and it is a sin to gossip. If you feel this falls under the category of exposing a sin, then act wisely. In sha’ Allah with your sound heart, you will make a good decision.

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.




About Karim Serageldin

Karim Serageldin, founder of Noor, completed his BA in psychology & religion, followed by an MA in east-west psychology with a specialization in spiritual counseling. He is a certified life coach with years of teaching and community outreach experience. His practical work and research includes developing a modern framework of Islamic psychology, relationship, family and youth coaching. He provides seminars and workshops in the United States. You can contact Br. Karim at: http://www.noorhumanconsulting.com or facebook.com/noorhumanconsulting

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