Ghiybat means to backbite a believer or a (non-Muslim) by mentioning (one of) their faults in order to speak ill of them. Ghiybat is haram. It is not Ghiybat if the listener does not know the person backbitten. If the person who has been backbitten would be sad if he heard it, then it is backbiting. When a person is talked about in his absence, if the remarks made about his body, his family genealogy, his moral behaviour his work, his speech, his faith, his worldly life, his clothes, or his animals, or in such a nature as to hurt him if he heard them, they are Ghiybat. Convert backbiting, as well as that much is done through signs, gestures or writing, is a sinful as overt verbal backbiting. The twelfth Ayat of Sura Hujurat purports: “Nor speak ill of each other behind their backs.…’’ Ghiybat means backbiting, which in turn has been compared to eating a dead person’s flesh. There are many reasons which tempt a person to commit Ghiybat, Animosity towards the person concerned; the appealing nature of blaming a popularity disliked person; temptation to exclude oneself from a certain sin; to make a show of superiority; jealousy; feeling of jocularity; witticism; and mockery; to express personal surprise; regret, sorrow, or loathing at a sinning of a person not expected to do so.
Backbiting causes decrease in ones reward (thawabs) and causes other’s sins to be added to the backbiter’s sins. Thinking about these all the time protects one from committing backbiting. Backbiting is of three types: In the first instance the backbiter denies to have committed Ghiybat and claims that he has merely stated a fact about a certain person. This denial causes Kufr (unbelief), for it means to say ’halal’ about something Islam has forbidden (haram). In the second case the intention is to let the person who has been backbitten here about his being criticized, which intern is haram and a grave sin. This kind of backbiting will not be forgiven only through Tawba. It is also necessary also to get the forgiveness of the person whom one has backbitten. In the third case, the person who has been backbitten would not be aware of this. This kind of backbiting is forgiven by Tawba and by pronouncing a blessing on the person backbitten. A person who realizes that someone is backbiting in his presence should prohibit it immediately. While backbiting is committed, a person who is present there should stop it with words if he is not afraid of the backbiter. If he is afraid of him then he should reject it through his heart, otherwise he will be sharing the sin of backbiting. If it is possible to stop the backbiter or to leave, he should do one or the other. It is necessary to tell him that he should stop backbiting. The atonement for backbiting is the feeling of sadness, making Tawba, and apologizing to the person backbitten. An apology without feeling sorry is no more than hypocrisy, which is another sin.