Wavering on the Religious

One’s etiquette in social situations is the key foundation to having strong relationships with others. This article is the tenth in a series taken from the On Demand Course: Discussion on Sulami’s Adab of Keeping Company.

Be easygoing in worldly matters, even on matters where there is a difference of opinion. We have a duty as believers to command the right and forbid the wrong in matters that are clearly right and clearly wrong. We have a duty as believers to only do what is right and to never do what is sinful, regardless. Unless it is a life and death matter.

What if there is slander taking place in the gathering? Or someone’s about to disclose someone else’s secrets? This has religious implications. The privacy of people is sacred. 

You have to be firm and respectful. Change the topic. Sometimes take the person out of the gathering and check on the food for example. Sometimes you have to coach people. 

This is not about matters that are differed upon, but rather, things that are clear-cut right and wrong, religiously.


The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reportedly said, “The one who listens to backbiting is like the one backbiting.”

There are many harms in this to those it is being said about, but also there is harm in it for you. Allah says:

لَّا خَیۡرَ فِی كَثِیر مِّن نَّجۡوَىٰهُمۡ 

“There is no good at all in a great many of their secret conversations” [Quran, 4:114 tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

The harms of social gatherings are backbiting, slander, mockery, gossip, divulging of secrets, and talking about the sinful. 

Distinguish between discretion, consideration, and tact, and between wavering and easiness of faith and religious conduct. Discretion, consideration, and tact are to do what is right with consideration of people, circumstances, and consequences.


Wavering and weakness of faith and religious conduct is when you know what is right, but you leave it because of people. This is in the clear-cut right and wrong. 

It does not matter if it is a parent or an elder, if you can correct them you must. It is required. Anyone who deals with people needs to know the religious guidance related to commanding the right and forbidding the wrong.

If you are not able to stop that or correct it, at the very least, change the topic. If you cannot even change the topic, step away. It does not mean you have to leave forever. There are three places you can go:  the washroom, usually the kitchen, or you could go to your jacket.

When they have changed, come back. People notice and appreciate that. That is only the last recourse. 

If it is a toxic gathering, you may just need to leave early. If one is at work and one needs to remain there and the above issues are present, only then do you hate it with your heart.

Spiritual Pollution

Many people harm themselves much in relationships, friendships, and family because of the amount of spiritual social pollution and evil that they experience – of lying, backbiting, and slander. 

Someone was mentioned and one of the wives of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) indicated with her hand that she was kind of short. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reportedly said:

“You just said something that if you took this and you threw it into the ocean, the whole ocean would have been polluted.”

This is how vile these kinds of things are. In these one should not waiver.

Plan Ahead

Keep wholesome company. When topics start coming, do not be passive. Change the topics to food for example. Even if you do not care about sports, talk to them about it. 

Sometimes you can even plan things that you could bring up, just to navigate the relationship. Especially if someone is a gossip-oriented person.

We need to know the rules of commanding the good and forbidding the wrong. Take yourself into account and reflect in life about your religious work. What kind of gatherings do you have? Where you err, repent.