Characteristics to be Adopted: Controlling the Tongue – Imam Zaid Shakir – New Islamic Directions
Characteristics to be Adopted: Controlling the Tongue by Imam Zaid Shakir
… Ibrahim al-Nakha’i, on of the teachers of Imam Abu Hanifa, may Allah have mercy on them both, mentioned: “The people ruined before you were done in by three characteristics: too much talking, too much eating, and too much sleeping.” …
A. Silence (الصمت) is to refrain from speaking falsely; not truthfully.
الصمت إمساك عن قول الباطل دون الحق – الكفوي الكليات
Silence (الصمت) differs from not speaking (السكوت) in three ways:
1. Not speaking is to leave off speech despite being capable of it. Capability is not a consideration in defining silence.
2. Silence (الصمت) also involves a relative period of time. If someone were to close his lips for a brief moment he would be described as not speaking (ساكىت). He would only be described as silent (صامت) if the period of his being closed-mouthed endured for an extended period of time.
3. Not speaking (السكوت) involves a failure to speak, whether one refrains from uttering truth or falsehood; whereas silence (الصمت) involves refraining from speaking falsehood.
Protecting the Tongue (حفظ اللسان) is protecting the tongue from lying, slander, tale-carrying, false speech and other things that have been forbidden in the Divine Law.
A.1. Imam al-Marwardi mentions four conditions for protecting the tongue from slipping into sin:
1. There has to be an issue that calls for the speech; either to secure a benefit or to repulse harm.
2. To speak in a manner appropriate for the subject and to speak at the proper time.
3. To limit the speech to exactly what is needed.
4. To carefully choose ones words.
A.2. Some Etiquettes Related to the Tongue
1. Not to engage in exaggerated praise.
2. Not to allow fear or hope to push one to make promises or threats one will not be able to fulfill.
3. That ones actions are consistent with ones speech.
4. That ones tone is consistent with the topic one is addressing.
5. That one does not raise ones voice to a repulsive level.
6. That one avoids direct mention of indecent subjects. Rather, one should use allegorical speech when discussing such matters.
7. One should avoid the slang of lowlife, riffraff elements. Rather the jargon of scholars and literary figures should be employed when appropriate.
A.3. Texts From the Hadith Concerning Silence and Holding Ones Tongue
The Prophet, peace upon him, said, “From a person’s Islam being good is his leaving what does not concern him.” *Note: This includes leaving speech that does not concern him.
The Prophet, peace upon him, mentioned, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day let him speak well or remain silent.”
The Prophet, peace upon him, was asked, “Which Muslim is best?” He responded, “One who the other Muslims are safe; from his tongue and his hand.”
Ibn Mas’ud mentioned that he asked the Prophet, peace upon him, “Which action is best?” He replied, “Prayer performed on time.” He asked, “Then which, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “That people are safe from your tongue.”
Mundhari, al-Targhib, 3:523
The Prophet, peace upon him, said, “All of the speech of the Child of Adam will be held against him, it will not be in his favor; except commanding good, forbidding wrong, or the remembrance of Allah.”
The Prophet, peace upon him, mentioned, “Do not speak excessively in other than the remembrance of Allah, for verily excessive speech in other than the remembrance of Allah hardens the heart, and the heart most distanced from Allah is the hard heart.”
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