wa-kunnā nakhūdhu ma‘al-khā’idhīn
We used to indulge in falsehood along with others.
(Sūratul Muddaththir No.74, Āyat 45)
This verse is part of conversation that will take place between the people in Heaven and the people in Hell. When the latter will be asked about the causes of their downfall they will give different reasons. One of the reasons is the above verse, the acknowledgement that they participated in gatherings where evil and falsehood were the subject of discussion.
The word khawdh is used for the concept of immersion in something. Here it means immersing oneself in vain and false talks, discussions that are inappropriate, indecent, even out-rightly wrong. Examples are when people sit together and mock God and His religion, where other people are put down, when indecency and evil deeds are glorified. It includes gatherings that are purposeless except to while away the time, extravagant gatherings of the very wealthy, of corrupt leaders, and those who promote false ideas.
People who participate in such gatherings take on the color of the rest of the group. They are party to the evil that comes out of it. The negative effects stay with them long after the gathering is over, influencing their personalities and the way they lead their lives. Such groups earn the displeasure of Allah and are far removed from His mercy and the hope of eternal reward.
When believers are caught in these gatherings they should try to change the topic of discussion. Almighty Allah says: And indeed He has revealed to you in the Book that when you hear Allah’s communications disbelieved in and mocked at, do not sit with them until they enter into some other discourse; surely then you would be like them (Q 4:140). When commenting on this verse, Imam al-Ridhā (a) said: When you hear a many denying the truth, refuting it and disparaging the people of truth, then stand up from near him and do not sit with him (Al-Mīzān in English, v.9, p. 160). ‘Allāmah Tabātabā’ī says that it is forbidden for a person to continue being part of such a majlis (gathering) because the Almighty is informing Muslims that, “We have forbidden you because if you would sit with them in this situation you would become like them and Surely Allah will gather together the disbelievers and the hypocrites all in hell” (ibid). This prohibition was in sūra revealed in Madinah. A similar command is also found in a Meccan sūra of al-An‘ām: And when you see those who enter into false discourses about Our communications, withdraw from them until they enter into some other discourse (Q 6:68). Silence in such gatherings would be considered as approval of what is being discussed. If it is not possible to change what is being discussed then the only option is to leave that gathering.
Recite this verse to remind yourself of the need to stay away from such type of gatherings and realizing that even the attendee in a majlis has a responsibility. It may not be easy to speak up, but leaving the gathering is a better option. For this is what is required, to please Allah, and to help the self and society remain pure and righteous.
Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; ‘Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i, Al-Mizan, English tr. Vol.9.