GHIYBAH – غيبة
A speaking ill of a person behind his back. Also, any tale told about an absent person. Backbiting. Calumny. To speak disparagingly of a person during his absence. To backbite.
بِاسْمِهِ وَاِنْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ اِلاَّ يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِ
In the Fifth Point of the First Ray of the First Light of the Twenty-Fifth Word, a single Qur'anic âyah having the effect of disparaging and restraining was shown to induce repugnance at ghiybah in six miraculous ways. It was shown too how abominable a thing is ghiybah in the view of the Qur'an, and that there is, therefore, no need for any further explanation of the subject. Indeed, after the Qur'an has made its declaration, there is neither the possibility nor the need for anything further.
The Qur'an disparages the disparagement with six reproaches in the âyah: اَيُحِبُّ اَحَدُكُمْ اَنْ يَاْكُلَ لَحْمَ اَخِيهِ مَيْتًا 1 and forbids him to commit ghiybah with six degrees of severity. When the âyah is directed to those persons actually engaged in ghiybah, its meaning is the following.
As is well-known, the hamza2 at the beginning of the âyah has an interrogative sense. This interrogative sense penetrates all the words of the âyah like water so that each word acquires an implied injunction. Thus the first word asks, with its hamza: "Is it that you have no mind capable of discrimination so that you fail to perceive the ugliness of this thing?"
The second word يُحِبُّ 3 asks: "Is your heart, the seat of love and hatred, so corrupted that it loves the most repugnant of things?"
The third word اَحَدُكُمْ 4 asks: "What befell your social life and civilization which obtains life from jamâ’ah, that you are able to accept something poisonous to life?"
The fourth word اَنْ يَاْكُلَ لَحْمَ 5 asks: "What has befallen your sense of humanity that you are tearing your friend apart with your fangs like a wild animal?"
The fifth word اَخِيهِ 6 asks: "Do you have no fellow-feeling, no sense of kinship (sila ar-rahm), that you are able to sink your teeth into ma’nawî personality of a wretch who is tied to you by numerous links of brotherhood? Do you have no intelligence that you are able to bite into your own limbs with your own teeth, in such lunatic fashion?"
The sixth word مَيْتًا 7 asks: "Where is your conscience? Is your fitrah so corrupt that you abandon all respect and act so repugnantly as to consume your brother's flesh?"
According then to the total sense of the âyah, as well as the indications of each of its words, disparaging and ghiybah are repugnant to the mind and the heart, to humanity and conscience, to fitrah and nationhood.
You see then that the âyah disparages disparagement in six miraculous degrees and restrains men from it in six miraculous ways. Ghiybah is the vile weapon most commonly used by the people of enmity, envy, and obstinacy, and the self-respecting will never stoop to employing so unclean a weapon. Some celebrated person once said: اُكَبِّرُ نَفْسِى عَنْ جَزَاءٍ بِغِيْبَةٍ ٭ فَكُلُّ اِغْتِيَابٍ جَهْدُ مَنْ لاَ لَهُ جَهْدٌ "I never stoop to vexing my enemy with ghiybah, for ghiybah is the weapon of the weak, the low, and the vile."
Ghiybah consists of saying that which would be a cause of dislike and vexation to the person in question if he were to be present and hear it. Even if what is said is true, it is still ghiybah. If it is a lie, then it is both ghiybah and slander and a doubly loathsome sin.
Ghiybah can be permissible (jâiz) in a few special instances:
First: If a complaint is presented to some official so that with his help evil be removed and justice restored.
Second: If a person contemplating co-operation with another comes to seek your advice (mashwarah), and you say to him, purely for the sake of his benefit and to advise (mashwarah) him correctly, without any self-interest: "Do not co-operate with him; it will be to your disadvantage."
Third: If the purpose is not to expose someone to disgrace and notoriety, but simply to introduce and describe, one says: "That crippled or vagrant man went to such-and-such a place."
Fourth: If the subject of ghiybah is a Mutajahir bi’l fisq; that is, he is not troubled by evil, but on the contrary takes pride in the sins he commits; finds pleasure in his dhulm; and unhesitatingly sins in the most evident fashion.
In these particular cases, ghiybah may be permissible (jâiz), if it is done without self-interest and purely for the sake of haqq and communal welfare. But apart from them, ghiybah is like a fire that consumes ‘amal as-sâlih like a flame eating up wood.
If one has engaged in ghiybah, or willingly listened to it, one should say: اَللّٰهُمَّ اغْفِرْلَنَا وَ لِمَنِ اغْتَبْنَاهُ 8 and say to the subject of ghiybah, whenever one meets him: "Forgive me."
اَلْبَاقِى هُوَ الْبَاقِى
The Letters (326-328 )