- Word’s importance in Islam
- Tongue restrain is a sign of one’s faith
- Word’s responsibility is a legal and ethical duty
- Word’s serious impact on individuals and communities
The divine graces on man are great, innumerous and countless. Allah, the Almighty, says, “Should you try to count Allah’s blessings, you could never compute them!” (the Quran, 16: 18). Tongue is one of the best blessings, as Allah, the Almighty, says, “Have We not given him two eyes, and a tongue, and a pair of lips” (the Quran, 90: 8-9).
Allah also beautifully perfects man’s tongue with the ability to speak. Allah, the Almighty, says, “The Most Gracious has imparted the Qur’an [unto man]; He has created man and has distinguished him with the ability to clearly express his feelings and thoughts” (the Quran, 55: 1-4).
One’s word is one’s title and means to approach others and administer life affairs. The kind of concern and significance that Islam pays to the word is unprecedented, even at times of amusement. A word may bring about the success of a nation and the misery of others. A word may protect and preserve lives and honors and may shed blood and dishonor.
The divine command is definite in imposing tongue restrain and prudence to safeguard people’s honors and avoid idle talks. Allah, the Almighty, says, “Not even a word can he utter but there is an ever-vigilant watcher with him” (the Quran, 50: 18). Man’s parts are all subject to tongue. If the tongue is straight, they are straight, but if it is deviated, they are deviated
Abu Sa‘eed al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “When a child of Adam wakes up in the morning, all of his body parts bow to the tongue. They say, ‘Fear Allah regarding us; we are only part of you; if you are straight we are straight and if you deviate, we are deviated” (al-Tirmidhi).
The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) explained to Mu‘adh Ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) that one’s tongue may take one to paradise or hellfire. Mu‘adh said, I accompanied the Prophet on a journey. One day I was near him… the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) asked, “Shall I not inform you about what governs all of that?’ I said, ‘Of course, O Messenger of Allah!’ Therefore, he (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) grabbed his tongue and said ‘Restrain this.’ I said: ‘O Prophet of Allah! Will we be taken to account for what we say?’ He said: ‘May your mother grieve your loss O Mu‘adh! Are the people tossed into the Fire upon their faces, or upon their noses, except because of what their tongues have wrought’
A word is a trust; a person must carefully utter his words in due observation and fear of Allah. One’s word may admit you to the highest rank of paradise and can bring you down to the lowest abyss of hell. Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: “A person may say a word that pleases Allah so much that He will raise high this person’s status in the hereafter, even though the person might have thought the word he said was insignificant. Similarly, a person may say a word that displeases Allah so much that He will send this person to the hellfire, even though the person again might have though the word he said was no issue” (Al-Bukhari).
Since the good word is indicative of one’s faith; the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or remain silent.”
Allah orders us to speak the truth with all people without distinction, to tell the right reformative and constructive talks and to avoid all kinds of disruptive and destructive speeches. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: “And speak to people good [words]” (the Quran 2: 83). Another Quranic verse commands the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him): “Tell My servants that they should speak in the most kindly manner [unto those who do not share their beliefs]:” (the Quran 17: 53).
Allah also says, “O you who believe, be aware of Allah and speak only the truth; He will direct your works, and forgive your sins. Indeed, whoever obeys Allah and His messenger has triumphed a great triumph” (the Quran, 33: 70-71).
Success and forgiveness are made contingent upon the good word and truthful speech. Islam is keenly concerned with verifying information and vindicating the truth of all statements, especially the widely circumnutated ones. Actually, it is absurdity to believe all claims and statements. Allah, the Almighty, says, “O you who believe, if a wicked person comes to you with any news, then you shall investigate it. Lest you harm a people out of ignorance, then you will become regretful over what you have done” (the Quran, 49: 6).
Evidently, restraining one’s tongue is an indication of perfect faith and good Islam. It is also a means to Paradise. Allah describes the believers as “those who abstain from vain talk… Such are the inheritors; they will inherit Paradise, wherein they abide forever” (the Quran, 3, 10-11). Sahl Ibn Sa‘d (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet said, “Whoever can guarantee (the purity of) what is between his two jaw-bones (i.e. tongue) and what is between his two legs (i.e. private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him” (al-Bukhari).
The word is a legal and ethical trust and duty. It can unify the nation and mobilize determination. It can turn enemies into friends and hate into love. It is also capable of thwarting the plots of devils. Allah, the Almighty, says, “Not equal are the good and the bad response. You shall resort to the one which is better. Thus, the one who used to be your enemy, may become your best friend” (the Quran, 41: 34). Undoubtedly, good words make good friends, refine souls, remove grief and anger and fill hearts with contentment and happiness, especially when backed by truthful smiles. Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Your smiling in the face of your brother is an act of charity” (al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad).
The trust of word ordains the declaration of good and truthful words free from lies, deception, perjury, fraud and misreported and ignorant talks. Allah, the Almighty, says, “And do not say, as to what your tongues falsely describe: “This is lawful and that is forbidden;” that you seek to invent lies about Allah. Those who invent lies about Allah will not succeed” (the Quran, 16: 116).
It is also a trust to prove truthful in advice and consultation. The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) even declares that perfect religion is extending of advice. Tameem al-Dari narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Religion is extending of sincere advice.” We said: “For whom?” He replied, “For Allah, His Book, His Messenger and for leaders and masses of Muslims” (Imam Muslim in his authentic collection).
Abu Hurayrah also narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “One who is sought for consultation is called accountable for his advice” (Abu Dawud). Extending sincere advice and truthful consultation can reform people and promote security, safety and prosperity.
Word is a double-edged sword; when truthfully and honestly said, it leads to construction and building but when falsely coined, it leads to destruction and corruption. Word is not a slight matter in man’s life. One’s transactions of sales, contracts and treaties are all dependent on truthful statements.
It is unhidden that good words yield great positive effects on people relations. Kindness to one’s neighbors is a bridge to Paradise and hurting them is a means to hellfire. Abu Hurayrah said, “the Prophet was asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, a certain woman prays in the night, fasts in the day, acts and gives in charity but injures her neighbors with her tongue.’ The Messenger of Allah said, ‘There is no good in her. She is one of the people of the Fire.’ They said, ‘Another woman prays the prescribed prayers and gives bits of curd as charity and does not injure anyone.’ The Messenger of Allah said, ‘She is one of the people of Paradise” (al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad).
The good word also has a deeply good effect on creating good relations with Muslims and non-Muslims alike, insomuch that Allah commands nice words even with enemies of Allah. Allah, the Almighty, says, “Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has transgressed, and speak to him nicely; so that he might bethink himself or [at least] be filled with apprehension” (the Quran, 20: 43-44).
Considerably, the written words also have deep positive and negative effects. Both written and said words are two forms of trust. Each penman shall respect the duty of his/her pen and avoid all possible errors. Indeed, one’s pen reflects his/her ethics and opinions. A writer shall use his/her pen in advocacy of the truth and calling for virtues. Al-Jahez said, “Pen is one of the two tongues [sword and tongue]. Indeed, the pen is longer in life and more surviving in effect!” The pen is sharper and stronger than a sword is. As such, spreading false news, misreporting facts and defaming people as well as other forms of social slanders are all forms of dishonesty and treachery.
Let writers fear Allah and know for sure that their writings will stand as witnesses for or against them before Allah; the poet, may his soul rest in peace, said:
Writings live long after their writers die
Only write a thing therewith you are pleased to see on the last Day
Let each person realize the responsibility s/he bears for his/her words before Allah, conscience and all the creation as well. One shall care for their words, lest they may disunite hearts, create social disruption in the society, cut off kinsfolk’s ties or spoil relations of peoples.
We badly need good and sincere words for the good effect they have on promoting love and friendship and eliminating disunity and grudge.
Success and forgiveness are made contingent upon the good and truthful word. Allah, the Almighty, says, “O you who believe, be aware of Allah and speak only the truth; He will direct your works, and forgive your sins. Indeed, whoever obeys Allah and His messenger has triumphed a great triumph” (the Quran, 33: 70-71).