The Ruling of Gheebah and the Evidences for the Ruling
Gheebah is one of the worst social ills that Muslims are required to avoid, for it is forbidden according to the consensus (ijmaan') of the Musilm scholars and is considered one of the major sins. Islam has forbidden Gheebah and Prohibited it due to what it contains of severing brotherly ties, spoiling relations of affection, sowing seeds of enmity and spreading faults. To further discourage Muslims from committing Gheebah, the Quran likens the person who practices it to one who eats the flesh of his dead brother. Allah said,
".....and neither backbiting one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it." (49:12)
Therefore, he who criticizes his brother in his absence is like one who bites him and eats his flesh while he is dead, and unable to feel the pain of the bite or being eating. Ibn Kathir and Al-Qurtubi said, in explaining this verse, " Gheebah is forbidden according to the consensus (of the scholars)." Also, Aisha (a.r) narrated, "I said to the Prophet, it suffices you regarding safiyaah that she is such and such- meaning short."
"You have uttered a word that if it was mixed with the water of the sea, it would spoil it." (sahih Abu dawood)
The One Who Listens to Backbiting is the Same as the One who Backbites
Listening to someone who practices Gheebah, showing amazement and delight at what he says, falls under the same rulling as Gheebah itself. This behavior increases the activity of whoever commits Gheebah and encourages him. It also contains a form of affiriminf his truthfulness. Consequently, when the listener accepts the words of backbiter and becomes pleased with his speech, he will have participated with him in committing Gheebah.
An- Nawawee said:
"Know that whoever hears gheebah beining committed against another Muslim is requried to reject it and chastise whoever is saying it. If cannot chastise that person with words he should forbid him with his hand. If he is unable to forbid the Gheebah with his hand or tongue, then he i required to leave that audience (where Gheebah is being committed). If one hears Gheebah being committed against his teacher, or other who have a right on him or those who are honorable and righteous, he is required to implement what we mentioned above even more vigorously". (Al-Athkaar: 294)
What is Required of Whoever Hears Gheebah being Committed Against His Muslim Brother
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
"He who defends the honor of his brother in his absence, will have a right on Allah that He frees Him From Fire (sahih: Recoreded by Ahmad. see sahih Al-jaami, no 6240)