preserving the tongue
all praise and thanks to almighty allah. the heavens and the earth and all between them abound with your praises, and all that you will abounds with your praises. o possessor of praise and majesty, the truest thing a slave has said (of you) and we are all your slaves. o allah, none can prevent what you have willed to bestow and none can bestow what you have willed to prevent, and no wealth or majesty can benefit anyone, as from you is all wealth and majesty.
peace and blessings be upon prophet muhammad, his family, his wives, his companions and followers until the day of judgment.
“if speech is silver, silence is gold” is a great advice by luqman the wise (peace be upon him) to his son. it is a magnificent wise saying, if people apply it they will benefit a lot from it.
don’t you see how small the tongue is, yet it has such a great effect. none can evade the negative results of a loose tongue except who bind it with religious teachings.
hence, preserving the tongue is considered a great islamic morality and muslims are highly encouraged to watch out what they utter.
the meaning of preserving the tongue:
the meaning of preserving the tongue is to utter only goodness and abandon badness, namely to avoid any foul or abusive language, insult, backbiting, cursing and gossip.
everyone is responsible for what he utters or speaks. it is written down in his deed record and he will be accountable for it on the day of judgment. almighty allah says: “in no way does he utter a saying except that close to him is a (guardian) constantly ready.” (qaf: 18)
the status of preserving the tongue:
the status of preserving the tongue is reflected in the many hadiths that clarify and intensify the importance of the tongue and the word it utters.
* the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "the faith of a man cannot be straight unless his heart is straight, and his heart cannot be straight unless his tongue becomes straight." (musnad imam ahmad)
* abu sa'id al-khudri (may allah be pleased with him) said: the prophet (pbuh) said, "when the son of adam gets up in the morning, all the limbs humble themselves before the tongue and say: fear allah for our sake because we are with you: (i.e., we will be rewarded or punished as a result of what you do) if you are straight, we will be straight; and if you are crooked, we will become crooked.'' (at-tirmidhi)
* abu 'abdur-rahman bilal bin al-harith al-muzani (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "a man speaks a good word without knowing its worth, allah records for him his good pleasure till the day he will meet him; and a man utters an evil word without realizing its importance, allah records for him his displeasure till the day he will meet him.'' (imam malik and at-tirmidhi)
whoever wants to survive the evils of the tongue, he has to adhere to the following:
1- to speak in a way that benefits himself or others, or to drive away a harm from himself or others.
2- to choose the right time to speak as according to the old saying: “for each situation, there is a certain speech”.
3- to speak the words which fulfill the aim without exaggerated abbreviation or boring verboseness.
4- to choose words before saying them, as the uttered words are a reflection of the mind and manners.
5- not to exaggerate in giving praise or dispraise as praising someone excessively is considered toadyism and hypocrisy, on the other hand dispraising someone excessively is a kind of satisfying one’s thirst for revenge, getting even or venting to one’s anger.
6- not to utter any foul or abusive language, in other words, not to utter anything but goodness.
7- to keep the tongue busy with zikr (remembrance of almighty allah by mentioning his names, attributes and constant supplication). muslims should say only good positive speech.
division of speech:
divisions of speech prove that silence is a priceless grace. they are four as follows:
1- the first kind is pure harm:
it is lying, false testimony or perjury, gossip and backbiting. those are dispraised talking that we should totally avoid.
2- the second kind is pure benefit:
it is the promotion of virtue and prevention of evil, preaching and reminding of allah and the last day. the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “whoever believes in allah and the last day, let him say that which is good or observe silence.” (hadith sahih)
3- the third kind is neither harmful nor beneficial:
this kind is just curiosity, a waste of time and forfeiture.
4- the fourth kind is a mix of harm and benefit:
this kind is dangerous as it combines goodness and badness such as hypocrisy, gossip, praise and curiosity in a way that is hard to differentiate or tell which is good and which is bad.
fruits of preserving the tongue:
1- winning the satisfaction and blessings of almighty allah, as the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "a man speaks a good word without knowing its worth, allah records for him his good pleasure till the day he will meet him; and a man utters an evil word without realizing its importance, allah records for him his displeasure till the day he will meet him.'' (imam malik and at-tirmidhi)
2- preserving the tongue leads to paradise. the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “whoever can guarantee (the chastity of) what is between his two jaw-bones and what is between his two legs (i.e. his tongue and his private parts), i guarantee jannah (paradise) for him.” [bukhari] he (pbuh) also said: “who protects his tongue from unlawful utterances and his private parts from illegal sexual intercourse; i shall guarantee him entrance into paradise.” (bukhari and muslim)
3- becoming the best of muslims is another fruit of preserving the tongue. abu mousa al-ash’aree said, “i asked the messenger of allah: who is the best muslim? the messenger of allah replied, “he is the one from whom muslims are safe from the evil of his tongue and hands.” (muslim)
4- the salvation from the torture in hell. the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “he who observes silence will be saved.” (at-tirmidhi)
5- relief from all concerns, troubles and problems.
acts that help preserve the tongue:
1- seeking allah’s help from the evil of the tongue. the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "o allah, i seek refuge in you from the evil of my hearing, of my sight, of my tongue, of my heart, and of my private parts" (tirmidhi, abu dawud, nisa'i, hakim; al-`iraqi confirms its authenticity)
2- remembering the rewards of preserving the tongue in the present life and the hereafter.
3- remembering the negative consequences of not preserving the tongue, namely talking a foul abusive language, uttering bad words, gossip, backbiting and slandering. they decrease good deeds and overweigh the balance of bad deeds. when muslims remember this and bear it in mind, their determination will be stronger and firmer to preserve their tongues.
4- staying silent or saying goodness.
5- solving and eliminating all the reasons that lead to the evil of the tongue such as anger, animosity, envy, arrogance, conceit, bragging and boasting.
by this, we have come to an end of this series about the best of islamic qualities. we ask allah to make such effort in the balance of our good deeds. we ask allah to make it a deed in our favor not against us. may allah accept this work for the benefit of us all! may allah help us apply what we preach! indeed, religion is advice, as the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) said.