In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Most Merciful
"Beware of your tongue (if you don't hold it)":Dear brother, one of the most peculiar characteristics of the believer is keeping silent and holding his tongue. Perhaps talking is the most frequent action man does in his life.. Imam Al-Ghazali, may Allah have mercy on him, had listed more many harms which are caused by the tongue.
((Muadh bin Jabal narrated that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: "May your mother be bereaved of you, O Muadh! Is there anything that throws people into the Hellfire upon their faces — or: on their noses — except the harvests of their tongues?"))And Aishah once made a gesture with her hand about Safiyyah indicating that she is short; 'Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said:
((I said to the Prophet (?): " Safiyyah (May Allah be pleased with her) is a woman (and moved my hand in a certain way)." (She means to say that she was a woman with a short stature). He said, "You have indeed uttered a word which would pollute the sea if it were mixed in it."))I have started with this introduction, because I want every believer to believe deeply that his words are part of his actions (deeds). A man may say something thinking that it is trivial, and so neglecting its bad consequence. Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:
((Indeed a man may utter a statement that he does not see any harm in, but for which he will fall seventy autumns in the Fire.))Also, someone may be humiliated by his tongue, or even he could be killed because of it. It is said:
Hold your tongue o man,
Lest it bites you as the snake does
Many are the people whose tongues
caused them to be in graves
Although their tongues were feared
By even the brave men
Talking, dear brother, is a very frequent activity in man's life, and it is supposed to be submitted to Allah's Method. Words may exalt man to the highest level, or reduce him to the lowest of the low.
First of all, what does "keeping silent" mean? Some scholars said, "You must only say the truth [because refraining from saying the truth is satanic] and abstain from saying the falsehood." You should never say the falsehood, because when you mention it, you attract people's attention to it, and so promote it. Not to mention, some people will be tempted to adopt it.
Some philosophers said that "a person is silenced when the truth appears before him". This means that when the truth is crystal clear, there is no need to utter words that may raise doubts. Also, it is said:
- "Keeping silence means becoming speechless before revealing the truth."
- "Stop talking upon the appearance of the obvious thing."
- "Truth makes man speechless."
Scholars have made a difference between the unwillingness to speak and keeping silent. Abstaining from talking in certain occasions is considered one of the virtues. Also, there is a rule concerning this point: we should refrain from talking about the issues which are not mentioned in the Noble Quran. Some people are keen on looking for details which are not mentioned in the Noble Quran. Thus, we are supposed to refrain from talking about the matters which are not mentioned in the Noble Quran. We are only allowed to go into details about the issues which are mentioned in details in the Noble Quran. Out of Allah's wisdom, some stories which revolve around mankind are mentioned briefly in the Noble Quran to make them universal, so that man can learn the moral lesson. They are mentioned concisely in order to make man realize their universality, and that they may happen over and over again. Hence, if you exaggerate in looking for the details which are not mentioned in the Noble Quran, you will be claiming that they took place in a certain place and at a certain time, so they are not universal which is contrary to Allah's wisdom.
Let me repeat again: there is a difference between the unwillingness to and the absolute silence. As for the absolute silence, it indicates stop from talking for ever no matter whether the silent person has the ability to talk or not. Unwillingness to speak, on the other hand, means preferring to keep silent although the silent person has the ability to speak. There is another difference between two verbs in Arabic, "samata (kept silent)" and "sakata (refrained from speaking)". "Samata" means that someone kept silent for a considerable period of time, while "sakata" means that someone stopped talking for a while. Accordingly, the difference between the two is the duration of time. One more time, keeping silent is stop talking; whether it is the truth someone stops saying or the falsehood, whereas, the unwillingness to speak is stop uttering the falsehood only, while keep saying the truth.
One of the accurate definitions of "holding ones' tongue" is avoiding it from lying, backbiting, malicious gossip, giving false testimony and whatever is rejected in Shari'ah. Can you believe, dear brother, that some sins committed by the tongue can cause you to be thrown in Hell ?
((A backbiter will not enter Paradise.))A backbiter is whoever transmits to someone what people say about him at his absence, severing by that the social relations. I am not exaggerating when I say that most Muslims backbite other people and practise malicious gossip during their meetings and the evenings they spend with each other. Beware; malicious gossipis more dangerous than adultery as Allah's Messenger said. Moreover, it prevents man from entering Paradise.
((A backbiter will not enter Paradise.))The backbiter is the Qattat (Qattat is a term for the one who practices malicious gossip).
Keep in mind that the punishment of the sins caused by the tongue can be entering Hell. Thus, holding one's tongue means saving it from lying. A believer never lies or betrays. Abu Umama narrated:
((The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: "The believer may acquire all sorts of characteristics except treachery and lying."))
Lying and betrayal contradict faith. Two contradictory things never meet in one person, and so do betrayal and lying; they never meet with faith. This can be noticed in the following Hadith:
((The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: "The believer may acquire all sorts of characteristics except treachery and lying."))
Whoever lies or betrays is not a believer.
Dear businessmen (among our brother), forgive all the mistakes of your employees except lying and betrayal.
Some of the good manners are honesty, truthfulness and chastity. Whoever has these manners is always honest when he speaks, trustworthy when he is entrusted and chaste when he is seduced. Prophet Muhammad's wife Um Salama said:
((Ja'far bin Abi Talib said (to the king of Habasha, when he asked them about islam): "O King, we were an uncivilized people, worshipping idols, eating corpses, committing abominations, breaking family ties, treating neighbours badly, and our strong devoured our weak. Thus we were until Allah sent us an apostle whose lineage, truth, trustworthiness, and clemency we know. He summoned us to acknowledge Allah's unity and to worship him.))I've said earlier, that there are more than twenty harms which are caused by the tongue, and they are all deadly. A man once told Al-Hasan Al-Basri, "I was told that you backbite me", to which Al-Hasan Al-Basri replied, "Who are you to backbite you? If I were to backbite someone, it would be my mother and father, because they deserve to be given my rewards more than you." This indicates that the backbiter loses some of his rewards, because they will be given on the Day of Resurrection to the person who he backbites. I remind you once again that backbiting is worse than adultery. Verily, you can never be a pious person unless you hold your tongue from backbiting and malicious gossip, and as you know the Noble Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
((O people, Satan has despaired of being worshipped in your land till the end of time but he has hope in your doing (wrong) acts that you think insignificant.))Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:
((Indeed a man may utter a statement that he does not see any harm in, but for which he will fall seventy autumns in the Fire.))
((I said to the Prophet (?): " Safiyyah (May Allah be pleased with her) is a woman (and moved my hand in a certain way)." (She means to say that she was a woman with a short stature). He said, "You have indeed uttered a word which would pollute the sea if it were mixed in it."))
((Accusing a chaste woman of adultery tears down deeds of one hundred years.))
Some literatures said, "One of the virtuous morals is describing something to sh3er as it is." It is good to have this moral; describing something as it is unless doing this can cause harm to someone or be scandalous to him. In this case, you should keep silent. For instance, if someone asks you, "Have you committed adultery?", you should answer him saying, "What is this question? This is not your business." If you say the truth, you will reveal what Allah conceals. Therefore, it is preferable to keep silent when saying something that hurts other people and affects their positions negatively.
As you know, man has the free will, so his actions, limbs and desires are neutral, and "verily, tongue is one of the great favors bestowed by Allah on man, and His amazing and fine things. Although it is small in size, its sin and obedience have a great consequence." The amazing fact about it is that it is a small organ but its harmful effect is very dangerous.
When 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-Azeez became Ameer-ul-Mu'mineen (the Leader of the Muslims), he refused to inherit the leadership like his predecessor and asked the Muslims to select a leader for the country. They chose him. And delegations from all parts of the Muslim world came to pledge allegiance to 'Umar. When it was time for the Hijaaz (the western part of Arabia) delegation to speak, a very young man came forward but 'Umar told him, "Let an older person speak." Hearing that, the young man said, "A person is nothing but his two smallest organs, his heart and his tongue. If Allaah gave someone a heart that is good at understanding and a tongue that is good at speaking, he deserves and should be allowed to speak. But if matters are judged according to age then there are sh3er in the Ummah who deserve to be in your place today." Umar liked what he heard and was surprised to learn that the young man was eleven years of age.
I repeat again, the tongue is small in size, but it could have destructive consequences. Also, uttering one word may cause the divorce between the spouses. Sometimes the body language can cause the divorce of a woman. For instance, someone may ask a woman about his wife, so if she makes a gesture indicating that his wife is morally deviated, the husband will divorce her:
((Accusing a chaste woman of adultery tears down deeds of one hundred years.))Furthermore, "It is that the faith could be distinguished from disbelief only through the witness of tongue,". A person is known to be a believer or a disbeliever by his words and actions, because faith is what lies in the heart, expressed by the tongue and embodied in the deeds. On the other hand, kufr has many types: the spoken kufr (words which are uttered), the theological kufr and the practical one. Hence, there are words which are considered kufr.
Silence is the key to avoid the harms of the tongue:Imam Al-Ghazali said, "The tongue is the most disobedient organ upon man. There is no trouble to be exerted to release and move it." This organ can cause indescribable harmful effects. Furthermore, the evil consequences of the tongue which are caused by defaming sh3er' reputation, backbiting and malicious gossip are limitless. Therefore, you can see how the society falls apart because the city, the neighborhood, the family and the relatives are torn apart as a result of words that have been said. Imam Al-Ghazali went on saying, "The people have indulged in avoiding its evils and vices, and its traps and snares. It is the strongest tool Satan uses in tempting man. If the tongue is released with nothing to rein it or bind its freedom, Satan then takes it to all fields of evil, and drives it to the verge of a bank that is about to collapse, until it leads him to perdition. Of a surety, nothing draws the people prone on their faces into the fire of Hell other than the evil of their tongues. None is saved from the evil of the tongue except he, who reins it with the rein of religious law: he releases it only in what benefits him in the world and the hereafter, and stops it from anything whose evil consequence is feared."
Dear brother, man by nature likes to maliciously gossip about sh3er' scandals. He finds it interesting. For instance, when people are told that a woman betrayed her husband they say, "…really? Did she betray her husband? With who?...etc" Hence, by nature man inclines to talk about people's scandals, whereas, in Shari'ah he is ordered to keep silent and hold his tongue. Don't let the Shaytan lead you to Hellfire. Imam Al-Ghazali said, "The dangers and harms of tongue are many and there is no rescue, from them except silent."
Abdullah bin Umar said:
((The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, "Whoever is silent, is sa-ved."))You will never regret because of keeping silent the same way you do because of your words. To regret keeping silent is easier than regretting the words you utter, You will be call to account for every word you say,
(We shall record what they have said)
There are rules of righteous speech:Dear brother, scholars have studied this subject and have set rules for speech which are appropriate to the believer. One of these rules is: Talking should be for a good purpose. The talk of people resembles the job of a barber; he does not cut hair in every move he makes with his scissors. Similarly, most of our speech is insignificant, nonsense and useless, and it is a waste of time. Thus, we should speak only when there is a need to do so and refrain from talking about trivial things and details:
Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
((The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: "It is from the excellence of (a believer's) Islam that he should shun that which is of no concern to him".))The Prophet, peace be upon him also said:
((Blessed is he who is preoccupied with his defects rather than those of other people.))
The reason of your talk can be either to bring about something useful or to avoid harm. Therefore, it is preferable to keep silent if the talk is just meaningless babble, because silence is the sing of having wisdom, prudence and dignity. In some cases silence is more eloquent than words. There should be a purpose of talking, other than just talking, because talking is the means, not the end.
The second rule: Your words should fit the situation they are uttered in. Sometimes, your speech is full of boring details, or it is too concise. In certain situations, you should abstain from talking about something, or you should say something that is significant. Choosing your words wisely is highly important while talking. Whoever whose words meet his need has been granted such a blessing of choosing the proper words by Allah.
Beware of talking a lot, lest people forget most of your talk. Also, choosing the suitable words is one of the blessings granted to the believer; his choice of words is precise. Our master Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, came upon a group of people who had lit a fire, he greeted them by saying, "Assalamu Alaikum you people of the light." He chose the word light on purpose (so that he did not refer to them as "people of fire (Hell)"). Thus, the more exalted believer is the more precise his words are.
Some etiquettes of talking:
1- Avoid over-praising and over-dispraising:One of the etiquettes of talking is avoiding over-parsing and over-dispraising people. The following is a moral rule concerning this etiquette:
((Never take somone too close, as one day they might be your worst enemy, and never keep somone too far away as one day they might be your best friend.))What will happen if you over-praise or over-dispraise someone?
For example, when a young man wants to marry a young woman, her family over-praise him saying, "He is so kind, pious, righteous and intelligent. He is of a noble lineage." However, if a conflict arises between this young man and his fiancée, he turns into a bad man, ignorant, non-prayer, hypocrite, etc. Being severe in judging other people is a sign of lacking prudence, so you should always be moderate in judging other people.
2- Refrain from the promises and the threats you cannot fulfill:Also, one of the etiquettes of talking is controlling your tongue from the promises and the threats which you cannot fulfill. A friend of mine had a little child, and he was a bit noisy. Thus, his grandmother told him, "If you keep quiet, I will take you to a wonderful place in the evening (she did not mean what she said.). The child kept quiet, and when it was evening, his grandmother did not fulfill her promise, so he said to her, "You are a liar!" he said these words although he was just a little child.
If you promised someone to do something to him or threatened to punish him, but you were not able to fulfill your promise or threat, people will no more respect you. Never say words which you cannot turn into actions. Furthermore, it is important to choose the right words depending on the situation you are in. For example, you should use lenient language while practising invitation, and you should use harsh language while practising intimidation:
(O Prophet (Muhammad PBUH)! Strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be harsh against them)There are few verses in Arabic poetry which are used as an example of the inappropriate use of the words in a certain situation. The poet who wrote them wanted to flirt with his beloved whose name is Salam, so he said:
Salma were made from sugar canes,
not the bones of the camels
and if you bring an onion close to her,
her musk would overcome
the smell of the onions
It sounds more like a cooking recipe rather than poetry. What kind of flirting is this?!
You can tell how eloquent a man is by his accuracy in choosing the words he utters.
3- Avoid raising your voice while speaking:Avoid raising your voice while talking to sh3er. You may raise your tone uttering bad words, which is unacceptable, because this hurts the listener.
4- Avoid using bad words or obscene language:As a believer, man should avoid using bad words. You might have befriended a believer for thirty years, and you have never heard him saying dirty or harsh words. Some people say that there should be no shyness while discussing religious matters, but I confirm that Islam is all modesty and modesty is a part of faith. This can be deduced from Allah's Words:
(And those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts), * Except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then, they are free from blame, * But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors)Allah refers to all kinds of sexual deviation by "beyond that",, because the Quran is full of modesty, and so are the words of the Prophet, peace be upon him.. Many people use vulgar and insignificant words, so you should not go down to the level of the language they use. Rather, you should imitate the language of the scholars.
As7adeth about the harms of the tongue:Dear brother, Abdullah bin Amr narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:
((Whoever is silent, is saved.))Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
((The Messenger of Allah said, "He who believes in Allah and the Last Day let him not harm his neighbour; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day let him show hospitality to his guest; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day let him speak good or remain silent".))It is about remaining silent when the talk is but nonsense.
Abu Umamah Al-Bahili, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
((The Messenger of Allah (?) said, "I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a home in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners."))Kidding people sometimes cause them a shock, and a joke may cause someone a heart attack. ! I hope that none of you kid other people.
Sufyan bin 'Abdullah Ath-Thaqafi said:
((I said: "O Messenger of Allah! Inform me about a matter that I may hold fast to." He said: 'Say: My Lord is Allah, then be steadfast.' I said: "O Messenger of Allah! What do you fear most for me?" So he took hold of his tongue and said: 'This.'"))It is said that most of the mistakes people make are by their tongues. The majority of people do not steal, drink, kill or commit adultery. The minority of them are the ones who commit such grave sins. However, the common mistake that is widely spread among the individuals of the society is the one made by the tongue.
Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
((I asked the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him,: "Who is the most excellent among the Muslims?" He said, "One from whose tongue and hands the other Muslims are secure."))
Sha'bi reported that the scribe of al-Mughira b. Shu'ba said:
((Mu'awiya wrote to Mughira: Write for me something which you heard from Allah's Messenger ; and he wrote: I heard Allah's Messenger (PBUH) as saying. Verily Allah disapproves three things for you: irrelevant talk, wasting of wealth and persistent questioning.))It was narrated that Mu'adh bin Jabal said:
(("I was with the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, on a journey. One morning I drew close to him when we were on the move and said: 'O Messenger of Allah, tell me of an action that will gain me admittance to Paradise and keep me far away from Hell.' He said: 'You have asked for something great, but it is easy for the one for whom Allah makes it easy. Worship Allah and do not associate anything in worship with Him, establish prayer, pay charity, fast Ramadan, and perform Hajj to the House.' Then he said: 'Shall I not tell you of the means of goodness? Fasting is a shield, and charity extinguishes sin as water extinguishes fire, and a man's prayer in the middle of the night.' Then he reauthord: "Their sides forsake their beds" until he reached: "As a reward for what they used to do."[32:16-17] Then he said: 'Shall I not tell you of the head of the matter, and its pillar and pinnacle? (It is) Jihad.' Then he said: 'Shall I not tell you of the basis of all that?' I said: 'Yes.' He took hold of his tongue then said: 'Restrain this.' I said: 'O Prophet of Allah, will we be brought to account for what we say?' He said: 'May your mother not found you, O Mu'adh! Are people thrown onto their faces in Hell for anything other than the harvest of their tongues?"))
Sufyan bin 'Abdullah Ath-Thaqafi said:
((I said: "O Messenger of Allah! Inform me about a matter that I may hold fast to." He said: 'Say: My Lord is Allah, then be steadfast.' I said: "O Messenger of Allah! What do you fear most for me?" So he took hold of his tongue and said: 'This.'"))'Uqbah bin 'Amir narrated:
(("I said: 'O Messenger of Allah! What is the means to salvation?' He said: 'That you control your tongue, suffice yourself your house, and cry over your sins."))
Umm-ul-Muminin Umm Habibah, may Allah be pleased with her narrated from the Noble Prophet, peace be upon him,:
((Except for commanding the right and forbidding the wrong and remembering Allah, no utterance of Adam's son goes to his favour.))
If someone maliciously gossiped at his presence, the noble scholar Shaikh Badr Ad-dean Al-Husny, may Allah have mercy on him, would say, "Keep silent; you have darkened my heart."
Ibn Mas'ud, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
((The Messenger of Allah said, "None of my Companions should convey to me anything regarding another because I desire to meet everyone of you with a clean heart."))
He, peace be upon him, never confronted someone about his faults. Instead if he wanted to teach his friends he would talk about their mistakes in general:
((Why do some people do -this and that))-)Sahl bin Sa'd, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
((The Messenger of Allah (?) said, "Whosoever gives me a guarantee to safeguard what is between his jaws and what is between his legs, I shall guarantee him Jannah."))
The tongue and the private parts are two dangerous blights, so if you control your tongue and your private parts according to Allah's Method, the Prophet, peace be upon him, shall guarantee you Jannah.
Some sayings of the salaf:The following are some of the sayings of the Noble Companions:
- "The more you speak the more mistakes you make". In every gathering, whoever speaks a lot, makes many mistakes, while he who keeps silent preserves his dignity.
- "Do not argue with a patient or an idiot, because the patient defeats you with his words, whereas the idiot hurts you."
- Arguing is considered craziness
One of the dignified followers, Al-Ahnaf Ibn Qays, was embarrassed when he was asked in an assembly, "What do you think of Yazeed?" He answered: "I fear Allah if I lie, and fear you all if I tell the truth". Although his answer was a hint, it was more eloquent than saying explicit words.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, guided us to give general statement whenever we are embarrassed:
((Al-Ma'arid (is ample scope to avoid lying) is a safe way to avoid a lie.))During the Hijrah, the Prophet, peace b upon him, and Abu Bakr were stopped by someone. He asked them, "Where are you from?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, answered him, "We are from water (meaning that man was created from water (semen, etc.) )". The man then asked pointing to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, "Who is he?" Abu Bakr answered, "He is a guide who shows me the way". Abu Bakr did not lie; the Prophet, peace be upon him, is defiantly our guide, he guided us to Allah the Exalted. This is a good way of telling the truth with no need to lie.
Dear brother, keeping silent and holding one's tongue have many virtues: keeping silent is the sing of having perfect faith and excellent Islam. It is the tool which saves your honor, money, body and soul. Also, it marks the good conducts and the pure soul. Keeping silent grants someone the love of Allah, and then the love of people. Moreover, keeping silent paves the way to have a good society where a righteous generation is raised up. Above all, keeping silent leads a person to Paradise and saves him from Hellfire.
((The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said to one of the Companions, "You possess two qualities that Allah and his Messenger love. These are keeping silent and good conduct."))
Hence, malicious gossip about people's faults, judging them and disclosing their secrets are not the morals of the true Muslim.
Dear brother, I ask Allah to save us from the harms of our tongues.