Practical Tips on “Speak good or remain silent”
“Not a word does one utter, except that there is an angel watching, ready to record it.”
(Surah Qaf 50:18)
Abu Al-Musa asked from Prophet (SAW):
“O Messenger of Allah, which of the Muslims is best?
Prophet SAW replied:
“The man whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe from”.
(Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
Abu Hurairah RA narrated from the Prophet SAW:
“Indeed, the person will verbalize a word, while being unaware of (its penalty), and because of it, he will be put into the hell, farther than the distance between the east and the west”.
(Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
For Muslims, the choice of good words is cardinal as directed by Prophet (SAW).
“Whoever can guarantee what is between his jaws (his tongue) and what is between his thighs (his Private part), I will guarantee him Paradise.” [Al-Bukhari]
It is narrated on the authority of Mu‘aadh Ibn Jabal (May Allah pleased with him), that he asked the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him):
“O Messenger of Allah, tell me an act which will take me to Paradise and keep me away from the Hell-Fire.” He (peace be upon him) said: “You have asked me about a major matter, yet it is easy for whom Allah makes it easy. You should worship Allah, associating nothing in worship with Him, establish Salaah, pay Zakaat, and fast Ramadaan, and make pilgrimage to the Ka’bah (Hajj).”
Then he (peace be upon him) said: “Shall I not show you the gates of goodness? Fasting (which) is a shield; charity extinguishes sin as water extinguishes fire, and the praying of a man in the depths of the night.”
Then he (peace be upon him) recited:
“Their sides forsake their beds to invoke their Lord in fear and hope, and they spend (charity in Allah’s cause) out of what We have bestowed…” [32:16]
Then he (peace be upon him) said: “Shall I not tell you of the head of the matter (Islam), its backbone and the peak of its hump?”
I said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.”
He (peace be upon him) said: “The head of the matter is Islam (the two testimonies of Faith); its backbone is the prayer, and the peak of its hump is Jihaad.”
Then he (peace be upon him) said: “Shall not tell you of what controls all that?”
I said: “Yes. O Messenger of Allah.”
So he took hold of his tongue and said “Restrain this.”
I said “O Prophet of Allah, will what we say be held against us?”
He (peace be upon him) said “May your mother be bereaved for you. O Mu‘aadh! Is there anything that topples people on their faces – or he said on their noses – into the Hell fire, other than the harvests of their tongues?”
It is part of a Muslim’s faith to speak the truth and to say things that bring about benefit to others. Allah says: “O you who believe! Fear Allah and speak a word that is right. He will set right for you your deeds and forgive you your sins. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly attained a great achievement.” [ Sûrah al-Ahzâb : 70-71]
Allah informs us in the Qur’ân some of what constitutes good in our speech and benefits other people. He says:[quote]“No good is there in much of their private conversation, except for those who enjoin charity or that which is right, or bring reconciliation between people. And whoever does that seeking Allah’s pleasure, then we shall grant him a great reward.” [ Sûrah al-Nisâ’ : 114][/quote]
Saeed Khudri (RA) reported that Prophet (SAW) said:
When the sons of Adam (As) wakes from his sleep, all of his body parts seek sanctuary from his tongue, saying: ‘Trepidation from Allah with regard to us, for indeed we are part of you. So if you are right, then we will be right and if you are wrong, then we shall be wrong”.
Practical tips that will help you in speaking good:
- Bite your tongue. Give yourself 3 to 10 seconds before responding. Pause before you speak and think of what you’re about to say. Not just one, but consider your options. There are many different ways to say things and your goal here is to find the best way to convey what you want to say in a way that has a positive impact. Think of how the person will be receiving your words.
- Think well of others. Before responding, make sure you’ve given the person speaking, or the person you’re speaking about, the benefit of the doubt. “Will what I say tarnish his/her reputation? Will what I say hurt/offend them? Is it truly important to say what I’m about to say?”
- Always conceal others’ faults. “Whoever conceals (the fault of) a Muslim, Allah will conceal his fault on the day of Judgment.” [Muslim]
- Seek refuge from shaytaan. Say “Audhubillahi min ash-shaytaani rajeem. Bismillahi Rahmani Raheem” before speaking. This helps you to reflect, even in that short moment before you speak, on what you’re about to say. You’re also seeking refuge from Allah so He will guide you to say only that which is good.
- Watch your tone. Often, what you have to say is good and beneficial to the one listening. However, your tone may come across as condescending or harsh. This has got as much to do with practice as it has to do with adab and compassion. Always be kind, in action and in speech.
- Be engaged in dhikr. Once you’ve gotten used to making dhikr, you’ll not want to waste your tongue’s energy in engaging in mindless or idle talk. When you do leave the dhikr however, you’ll only leave it if whatever you say will be of benefit or will make someone pleased, and be pleasing to Allah.