The Messenger of Allah (S) explains Ghiba in the following words, “Ghiba is remembering your brother in a way he dislikes.” (Makasib Muhrima)
Imam Sadiq (AS) says, “Ghiba is exposing that aspect of your brother which Allah had concealed.” (Makasib, al-Kāfi Vol. 2 page 358)
Imam Mūsa Ibn Ja’far (AS) says, “If one speaks of a person in his absence about those of his traits which are actually present in him and people are also aware of it, it is not Ghiība. But if he mentions something which is present in the person but people are unaware of it, it would be Ghiība. Moreover if what he says is not present in the man, it is allegation (Bukhtān).”
If someone, God forbid, has been guilty of this ugly act, he or she must purge this vice and nourish the roots of sincerity, unity, and solidarity in his or her heart by following these steps:
- Meditate for a while about the effects of this sin in this world and in the Hereafter. Reflect on the fearsome, frightful forms that will beset you in the grave, in the Barzakh, and on the Day of Resurrection. Heed the words of the Holy Prophet (s) and his household (‘a) for their pearls of wisdom in this regard will overwhelm you. Then weigh a quarter of an hour’s pleasantries, gossip, and satisfaction of the imaginative lust against thousands upon thousands of years of adversity or eternal damnation in hell and everlasting painful chastisement!
- Consider this: even if you have enmity toward a person whom you backbite, that animosity requires that you should not resort to backbiting. It is stated in the traditions that the good deeds of the backbiter are transferred to the book of deeds of the victim of his backbiting, and the victim’s sins are transferred to the record of the backbiter.
- Repent and seek the forgiveness of the victim, if this is possible without any chance of vicious consequences; otherwise, you must implore God’s mercy for the victim.
- Gather all your strength to rid your soul of this sin at all cost, by making a covenant with yourself to abstain from this abominable for a certain time. Bring your tongue under control and be fully watchful of yourself, steadfastly vigilant, calling yourself to account. God willing, it is hoped that after some time you will find yourself reformed and free of its ill traces. Gradually the burden of the task will ease, and you will feel a natural disposition to dislike and detest it. At that point, you will come to possess spiritual peace and delight in achieving freedom from this vice.
- Backbiting often results from a weakness in the backbiter’s own soul, such as an inferiority complex. You should pry into your soul to discover what weakness prompted you to backbite your brother or sister; then set out to remedy the weakness.