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Tie the Tongue Series

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Blinded by the Log — (Tie the Tongue Series -Part 1)

 

Associating and interacting with people is a basic need of human nature. When meeting and interacting with people, the chosen method of communication is normally that of speech. However, what is the topic that we choose to discuss? Some may discuss the news and political landscape, others may discuss the latest sport results, while mothers may discuss children issues, recipes or even the latest fashions and trends.

 

Whatever the topic may be, in many instances the conversation eventually drifts to a person being discussed. Thereafter, depending on the nature of the personality, his praises may either be sung or his ‘laundry may be hung out to dry’ with all and sundry free to spectate and participate in the backbiting ‘feast’.

 

The severity of the sin of ghībah lies in a few aspects; the backbiter will not be forgiven unless he secures the forgiveness of the one who was the victim of his ghībah (backbiting). If he fails to secure his forgiveness in this world, he will be made to recompense him by giving him his good deeds or bearing his evil deeds in the Hereafter. Another aspect is that all those who happily spectate, even though they do not actively participate, are party to the sin. Also, most people who indulge in ghībah do not regard their action as a sin.

 

Often, when the person backbiting is told that he is indulging in ghībah (backbiting), he replies, “But the person really does have these faults!” In this regard, it is imperative for us to understand that ghībah is for us to say something about another person or even indicate or gesture (e.g. a gesture showing that he is fat, short, etc.) that is true, but is such that if he knew about it, he would not like it. In the case where the statement made is not true, then the statement was not ghībah but was rather buhtān (slander) which is even worse!

 

Tying one’s tongue and abstaining from ghībah is vital at all times — but more so in the month of Ramadhān as ghībah has the potential to rob one of all the benefits and rewards of his fast. Hence, Abū Hurairah (radhiyallāhu ‘anhu) reports that Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) once said,

 

“Fasting is a shield, provided that one does not tear it.” Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) was then asked, “How does one tear the shield?” Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) replied, “By lying or indulging in ghībah (backbiting).”

(Tabrāni — Majma‘uz Zawāid #5012)

 

Hence, the next time ghībah takes place, let us either put a stop to it, or if we are unable to do that, excuse ourselves and leave so that we do not become implicated. Furthermore, if we ever feel the impulse to indulge in ghībah, then let us ponder over this statement of Abū Hurairah (radhiyallāhu ‘anhu):

 

“You take note of the speck in the eye of your brother, yet forget the log in your own eye!”(Kitābus Samt wa ādābul Lisān #195)

 

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Pleasant in Speech—(Tie the Tongue Series - Part 2)

 

Did you ever see a wealthy person emerge from the business-class lounge empty handed? Similarly, did you ever see a wealthy person decline when offered a free gift with a purchase? The answer is that most wealthy people, as well-off as they may be, will take something when leaving the business-class lounge (even if it’s just Voss water) and will never decline the chance to get something for nothing. The reason for this is simple — one will benefit at a 0% or minimum cost.

 

This very same mindset should be applied in our Deen. We should try to identify the areas where we can easily benefit and gain as the effort and cost is minimal. In this regard, one of the most ‘profitable’ avenues is that of pleasing people.

 

‘Abdullāh bin ‘Abbās (radhiyallāhu ‘anhumā) narrates that Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) said, “Indeed (among) the most beloved of actions to Allāh Ta‘ala after fulfilling the farāidh (obligatory acts of Deen) is bringing happiness to a Muslim.” (Tabrāni — Majma‘uz Zawāid #13718)

 

Among the easy methods that we can adopt to please people is for us to speak to them in a kind and pleasant manner. Often, a person’s heart can be won with just a kind word, or to the contrary, a person’s day may be spoilt and ruined with a harsh word. Furthermore, over and above the reward for pleasing a Muslim is the effect that speaking kindly and pleasantly has on the person. It is for this reason that when Nabi Mūsā (‘alaihis salām) and Nabi Hārūn (‘alaihis salām) went to speak to Fir‘aun and give him da’wah, then despite him being a tyrant and cold-blooded killer, Allāh Ta‘ala instructed them to speak to him kindly as harsh speech would not affect him in a positive manner.

 

Hence, even if we are forced to tell a person something which he may not like (e.g. if we have to correct a person who is committing a sin), we should ponder over the approach that will be most effective. If we shout and yell at him, we may silence him and vent our anger, but at the same time, we may have lost the person as he will feel hurt and insulted. Very often, the very same message can be delivered in a pleasant and palatable manner.

 

There was once a king who had a dream in which he saw that all his teeth were broken. When he summoned a dream interpreter, the interpreter told him that the dream meant that all his children and family would die before him. Intensely annoyed at this interpretation, the king commanded that he be executed. Thereafter, the king summoned another dream interpreter. This interpreter said, “Sire! The dream means that you will enjoy a long life and even outlive your family!” Hearing this, the king was extremely happy and showered gifts on the interpreter, even though his interpretation was essentially the same.

 

When trying to please people, whether through speech or any other method, then it is vital to bear in mind that we cannot please people at the cost of displeasing Allāh Ta‘ala as our allegiance to Allāh Ta‘ala is always first. Hence, even if someone who is near and dear asks us to lie, make any statement or behave in any manner that will displease Allāh Ta‘ala, we will not compromise our Deeni standards by obliging them. Similarly, kind and pleasant speech is only meant for those who Deen has allowed us to communicate with. Hence, if we answer the phone and hear the voice of a non-mahram on the other side, we should cut out the pleasantries and get straight to the point as courtesy, in such a case, could potentially cause fitnah.

 

Finally, the importance of kind, pleasant speech can be understood by the fact that speaking unkindly and harshly to people is so severe a sin that even if a person has abundant nafl deeds to his account, he will still be made to undergo punishment (unless he secures the forgiveness of the one who was hurt). In this regard, let us consider the following narration:

 

A Sahābi (radhiyallāhu ‘anhu) once spoke of a certain woman to Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam), mentioning the abundant nafl salāh, charity and fasting that she would carry out. He thereafter mentioned that this woman had the bad habit of speaking to her neighbours in a hurtful manner. Hearing this, Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) said, “She will be punished.” Thereafter, another woman was mentioned, and the fact that her nafl deeds were very few was also mentioned. However, she had the habit of giving pieces of cheese in charity (i.e. her charity was very little), and she would not hurt her neighbours with her tongue. Hearing this, Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) said, “She will go to Jannah (without punishment).” (Musnad Ahmad #9675)

 

 

May Allāh Ta‘ala assist us all to speak kindly to people and abstain from hurting people in any way. Ameen

 

 

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Truth or Lie ?—(Tie the Tongue Series - Part 3)

 

“LIAR!” — From all the accusations that could be leveled against a person, this is definitely among the worst. This word is not a mere accusation — it is a sword that slices through one’s integrity, honesty and truthfulness, leaving them no more. Once a person is branded a liar, people are reluctant to trust him and view him with suspicion. In short — he loses all honour and respect.

 

Lying is a very dangerous habit as it has a ‘snowball’ effect. If a person makes a snowball and rolls it down a hill, then as the snowball progresses downward, it gathers more snow, growing in size, until it becomes too big to control. Similarly, when a person speaks a lie, he sparks off a chain reaction. In order to cover-up for the first lie, he will be forced to speak a second lie, and then a third, and so on, until he is eventually caught and the entire chain of lies is revealed.

 

However, this evil trait has absolutely no place in Islām and the lives of Muslims.

 

On one occasion, Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) was asked, “Can a believer be a coward?” Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) replied, “Yes.” Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) was next asked, “Can a believer be a miser?” Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) replied, “Yes.” Finally, Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) was asked, “Can a believer be a liar?” To this, Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) replied, “No.” (Muwatta Imām Mālik pg. 732)

 

Throughout Islam and even before Nubuwwah (prophethood), Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) was renowned for his qualities of truthfulness and honesty. It was for this reason that many people chose to keep their valuable belongings with him in trust. The Sahābah (radhiyallāhu ‘anhum), being the ardent followers and companions of Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam), maintained the highest level of truthfulness in their lives, and thus Muslims were a people who were once known for their honesty and truthfulness.

 

Truthfulness, in every facet of our lives (be it speech, actions or even our thinking), is something to strive for and is a quality that leads a person to Jannah.

 

Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) mentioned, “Indeed truthfulness leads to piety, and piety leads to Jannah. And a person continues to be truthful until he is recorded as a ‘Siddīq’.” (Sahīh Bukhārī #6094)

 

The quality of truthfulness is one that is even cherished and prized by the disbelievers. Hence, when a Muslim is dishonest and deceitful, whether in the business place before an associate or at home before the domestic worker, he tarnishes the entire image of Islam. The disbelievers, instead of labeling the individual a liar, will often say, “Muslims” are dishonest people.

 

May Allāh Ta‘ala assist us all in the endeavor to acquire truthfulness, in all facets of our lives, to the highest level — Āmīn.

 

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|| Safety in Silence || —(Tie the Tongue Series  Part-4)

 

The blessed speech of Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) is a miracle, with his every statement brimming with wisdom and meaning. From the treasure of hadīth, just one example of the profound speech of Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) is when he said, “He who is silent is safe.” (Sunan Tirmidhī #2501)

 

If we ponder, we will realize that the majority of our quarrels, arguments, fall-outs with friends and problems in general were linked to the misuse of the tongue. Often, a statement is made in innocence and no harm is meant, yet the words are received badly, causing great offence and pain. We thus realize that ‘I did not mean to hurt’ is not enough. Rather, we should ask ourselves ‘did I mean not to hurt’?

 

Some harms of the tongue have already been discussed and the essence to avoiding all these harms is one — tying the tongue.

 

Hasan (radhiyallāhu ‘anhu) has mentioned that people would say, “The tongue of a wise person is behind his heart. When he intends to speak, he first turns to his heart. If the statement is to his benefit, he utters it, and if it is to his detriment, he abstains from saying it. On the contrary, the heart of a fool is on his tongue and hence he cannot consult his tongue before speaking. He thus utters whatever comes into his mind.” (Kitābus Samt wa Ādābil Lisān #424)

 

The people of the past truly understood the importance of gaining control of the tongue and thus disciplined themselves until their tongues were subjugated. In this regard, Artāt bin Munzir (rahimahullāh) once recounted the incident of a man who controlled his tongue for forty years by keeping a stone in his mouth. The result of this exercise was that he was unable to eat, drink or speak without first removing the stone. Hence, he was unable to blurt out whatever crossed his mind on the spur of the moment. He would only remove the stone for the purpose of eating, drinking and when he needed to sleep. We can well imagine the safety from the harms of careless speech that this man enjoyed! (Kitābus Samt wa Ādābil Lisān #437)

 

Every night, before retiring to bed, we should set aside a few minutes to engage in introspection. Let us ponder over our speech for the day and see if it has improved from the previous day. If we hurt any person, we should seek their forgiveness and make amends. The effort to restrain the tongue is an ongoing one that will only end when we are lowered into our graves. At no point in time can we become complacent and turn a blind eye, as the tongue is quick to strike.

 

‘Abdullāh bin Mas‘ood (radhiyallāhu ‘anhu) was once on the mountain of Safā, reciting the talbiyah, when he said:

 

يَا لِسَانُ قُلْ خَيْرًا تَغْنَمْ ، أَوْ أَنْصِتْ تَسْلَمْ ، مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تَنْدَمْ

 

"O tongue! Speak that which is good and you will benefit, or remain silent and you will be safe. (Do this) before you regret."

 

Hearing this, those present asked ‘Abdullāh bin Mas‘ood (radhiyallāhu ‘anhu), “Is this your statement or did you hear it (from someone else)?” He replied, “I heard Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alaihī wasallam) say, “Indeed most of the sins of the son of Ādam (‘alaihis salām) are due to his tongue.” (Kitābus Samt wa Ādābil Lisān #18)

 

 

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