Kashf al-riba 'an ahkam al-ghiba (book)

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Kashf al-riba 'an ahkam al-ghiba
Author Al-Shahid al-Thani
Original title کَشفُ الرّیبَة عَن اَحکام الغیبَة
Language Arabic
Series Demonstrative Jurisprudence
Subject Jurisprudence and Ethics
Published 1319/1901
Publisher Beirut: Dar al-Adwa'

Kashf al-rība ʿan aḥkām al-ghība (Arabic: کَشفُ الرّیبَة عَن اَحکام الغیبَة, lit.: Resolving the doubt in the rulings of backbiting) is an ethical and jurisprudential book in Arabic authored by al-Shahid al-Thani (d. 966/1559). The book concerns Ghiba (backbiting) —its definition, kinds, and its laws in Islam, as well as hadiths and ethical issues in this regard. The work has always been a center of attentions in subsequent works —many great faqihs have appealed to it in their discussions, writing commentaries and notes on it, as well as translations and summaries. Al-Shahid al-Thani later wrote another book called Mustathnayat al-ghiba (exceptions of ghiba —cases where backbiting is legitimate) which is, according to Aqa Buzurg Tihrani in his al-Dhari'a, to make up for some issues that were absent in Kashf al-riba.

About the Author

Main article: Al-Shahid al-Thani

Zayn al-Din b. Nur al-Din 'Ali b. Ahmad al-Amili al-Juba'i known as al-Shahid al-Thani was a progeny of al-Allama al-Hilli and a prominent Shi'a scholar of jurisprudence in the 10th/16th century. He has written many books and essays the best-known of which is al-Rawda al-bahiyya fi sharh al-lum'a al-dimashqiyya —a book concerning Shiite jurisprudence. He was assassinated in 966/1559 by some religious fundamentalists and was thus called the Second Martyr (al-Shahid al-Thani).

Motivation for Writing the Book

Al-Shahid al-Thani writes about his motivation for writing the book as follows:

I observed many scholars who are careful with respect to their prayers and fasting and other worships, and who avoid illegitimate acts such as adultery, drinking wine and the like, while they spend their times in meetings where they backbite their religious brothers or other Muslims, without considering it as a sin and without fearing the punishment of the Dooms Day, and the reason why they do this, though they avoid other sins, is either that they overlook it as a sin followed by divine punishments or they challenge the significance of the verses and hadiths for the Hurma (prohibition) of backbiting. Therefore, I saw it necessary to write a book in which I collect some verses and hadiths regarding Ghiba (backbiting), and I have called it Kashf al-riba 'an ahkam al-ghiba. I added some issues about gossiping and jealousy to the book. It concludes with hadiths that encourage fraternity, friendship and kindness.

Structure and Content

The book discusses the definition of al-Ghiba (backbiting), kinds of backbiting and Islamic laws concerning them, hadiths and ethical issues regarding backbiting, and finally 12 hadiths encouraging the love and friendship between believers —the 10th hadith being a letter from Imam al-Sadiq (a) known as al-Risala al-ahwaziyya.

The book employs the methodology of demonstrative jurisprudence; it appeals to several hadiths and draws the Islamic laws from them. However, the book does not cite the views of other scholars of fiqh.


  • Definition of Ghiba (backbiting) both literally and terminologically
  • The Hurmat (prohibition) of backbiting in the Quran
  • The prohibition of backbiting in hadiths
  • Kinds of backbiting
  • How to quit backbiting
  • Cases in which backbiting is permitted
  • Other sins close to backbiting
  • The expiation (Kaffara) of backbiting
  • Conclusion

Commentaries, Glosses, and Translations

There is a gloss on the book by Sayyid Muhammad b. Mahmud Husayni Lawasani, known as 'Assar, which is published with the original book in 1305/1888. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani says in his al-Dhari'a that it is a precious work.

Here are some of the translations of the book:

  • The book was translated by Sayyid Mirza 'Ali b. Muhammad al-Husayni Shahristani (d. 1344/1926) into Farsi. It was also translated into Farsi by Mirza Hasan b. 'Abd al-Razaq al-Lahiji (d. 1121/1709) —the latter has summarized some contents of the book and expanded on some other contents, and is called Ta'lif al-mahabba or Tazkiya al-suhba.
  • A translation of the book by Sayyid Ibrahim Mirbaqiri into Farsi under Qibat, gunah-i kabira, ya yik bimari-i rawani (Backbiting, a major sin or a psychological disease), Ansariyan Publications.
  • A translation of the book into Farsi by Rida Rajabzada under Ghibat wa ahkam-i an, Backbiting and its laws, published in Mashhad.

Al-dhari'a points to another summary of the book in the Library of Shaykh Abu al-Majd Muhamamd Reza Isfahani.

In 1379 AH (1960) Murtaza Mazahiri Isfahani translated Kashf al-riba into Farsi and published it under a summary and selection of Kashf al-rayba.

Publications of the Book

  • In 1305/1888 marginalized by 'Assar's notes.
  • In 1319/1901, the book was published together with the book, Muhasaba al-nafs.
  • It was also published together with Sayyid b. Tawus's Muhasaba al-nafs and al-Kaf'ami's Muhasaba al-nafs.

The book is written by the fabulous handwriting of Hasan b. 'Abd al-Karim Harisi.