Instructions to be Careful when Talking
1. It is narrated from Bilal ibn Harith
Muzni that the Prophet (sws) said that sometimes a person
mentions something pleasing to God and he does not know how
far this speech will travel. But God destines His pleasure for
him until the Day of Judgement when he shall meet Him.
Similarly, when a person says something that angers God, he is
unaware of the extent it will go to, but because of this, God
destines His displeasure for him until the Day of Judgement
when he will meet Him.
person says many things and does not know their significance.
If he utters the right thing at the right time, he is unaware
of what he could merit from it and what might be its
significance to of God. But God ensures His pleasure for him
until the Day of Judgement. Similarly, there is the other side
to this as well. If one utters something which could be
disliked by God, it is not known how far its impact will be
felt and he could be bringing God’s wrath upon himself. Hence,
it is very important to pay attention to what one says. May
God enable everyone to be careful. This also tells us that the
tongue has great power. A person might just utter a sentence
and think that it was in jest, whereas it could ruin his
chances in the afterlife. I think that this fact could not
have been explained in a better way than the manner in which
it is clarified in this Hadith.
2. Abu Salih
Samman informed that Abu Hurayrah (rta) said that at times, a
person says something and gives it no importance whereas it
results in his landing in Hell. And sometimes, a person may
say something and does not give it any importance, but God
raises his status in Heaven because of his statement.
This is the same as the previous example. Only the words of
the narrative have been changed. It seems as if Abu Hurayrah (rta)
has stated it in his own words. This narrative has been
abolished whereas the previous one is valid.
Unacceptability of Something said without
the Name of God
1. It is narrated from ‘Umar (rta) that
two men came from the east and talked in such an eloquent and
pleasing manner that everyone complimented them. At this, the
Prophet (sws) said that there is magic in speech, or, that
some speech is magic.
Explanation: Iran and Iraq are to the east of Arabia. The
two men must have belonged to these regions. They were both
great orators and had much impact upon their audience.
Doubtless, oration is a great skill and it has such a quality
that it casts a spell upon the listeners.
2. Information reached Imam Malik that
Jesus (sws) used to warn people not to talk much without
mentioning God; otherwise their hearts would become hardened.
Hardened hearts are very far from God, but they did not know.
People should also not observe sins of others as if from a
master’s perspective. Instead, they should keep an eye on
their own sins as if they were slaves. Every person is put
under a challenge and also receives forgiveness. So, if people
are in trouble, others should be merciful towards them and
they should thank God when they receive deliverance.
Although this statement from Jesus (sws) is not found in the
Gospels, it is true that talking excessively hardens the
heart. My teacher, Imam Hamid al-Din Farahi would also say
that making too many speeches blackens the heart of a person.
I have found that people who talk a lot are often hard
3. Information reached Imam Malik that
‘A’ishah (rta) would send her messenger to some of her
relatives, saying: “Would you not allow the two angel scribes
on your right and left shoulders to take some rest?”
seems that these relatives of ‘A’ishah (rta) would be engaged
in talking late into the night. At last, the mother of the
faithful would be forced to send a warning to stop this
nonsense. They should let the two angels rest for a while.
The same is true for
our society too, in that real life begins after 9 pm. Ladies,
daughters and princes begin to play with their toys at night
or go to the market because this is the time for them to go
out. Such people go to bed after 12 midnight or after 1 am.
Consequently, there is no possibility of their being awake for
fajr prayers. They have no time for God in this sensual life.
Instruction about Backbiting
1. Muttalib ibn ‘Abdullah Makhzumi
Informed that a man questioned the Prophet (sws) about
backbiting. The Prophet (sws) said that it was that which, if
you said to a person, he would be offended. He asked: what if
the statement was true? The Prophet (sws) said that in the
case of it being false, it would be an accusation.
Explanation: This means that if it is the truth, it is
backbiting. The word backbiting means that one is talking
behind another’s back. Thus, backbiting is that which is
spoken behind a person’s back and would offend him if he heard
it. This is unacceptable. One should possess the moral courage
to speak directly to a person. If this is not possible,
backbiting is akin to eating the dead person’s flesh. There
is, however, one exception. Leaders appear before the public,
presenting their lives as examples. When they ask to be
followed, their error of ways should be exposed to people.
This is in the service of faith. People should be informed
that such and such a person is useless and is taking them for
a ride. Giving such information does not fall within the
definition of backbiting. Such examples are found in the
practice and talk of the Prophet (sws).
Narratives related to concerns about
Negative impacts of Speech
1. It is narrated from ‘Ata ibn Yasar that
the Prophet (sws) said that he who has been protected by God
from the evil of two things will enter Heaven. A man asked
what these were. The Prophet (sws) remained silent. He then
repeated what he had said before. The man again asked: “Would
the Prophet not tell them?” The Prophet (sws) again remained
silent and repeated his earlier statement. The man asked:
“Would the Prophet not tell them?” The Prophet (sws) repeated
his statement. When the man began to repeat his question,
another sitting next to him stopped him. Then the Prophet (sws)
said that he who has been protected by God from the evil of
two things will enter Heaven. One would be that which is
between his two jaws and the other which is between his two
legs; that which is between his two
jaws and the other which is between his two legs;
that which is between his two jaws and the other which is
between his two legs.
This is a very significant narrative. It explains the manner
in which the Prophet (sws) taught his people and it states an
extremely wise principle. It was not the Prophet’s style to
pour everything into the ears of people without obtaining
their full attention. He would first ascertain their attention
and assess how many of them were eager to learn, and then say
something. It was not the way which we now adopt, with people
not really wishing to listen and we keep pouring words down
their throats. My teacher, Imam Hamid al-Din Farahi’s style
was such that he would never offer any information himself. He
would only speak when the one who wanted to ask would probe
and take him to the stage where in depth questioning could
The Prophet (sws) was
referring to the tongue and genitals by the two things between
the jaws and legs and gave glad
tidings of Heaven to he who could control these. It is a fact
that many major problems in society arise because of the wrong
use of these two things.
2. Zayd ibn Aslam narrated from his father
that once, when ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (rta) went to Abu Bakr (rta),
he found that he was pulling his tongue out. ‘Umar (rta) asked
him not to do so. At this, Abu Bakr (rta) said that he did not
know where this thing [his tongue] had led him to.
‘Umar (rta), on seeing Abu Bakr (rta), realized that he was
pulling on his tongue because he must have committed a
mistake. That is why he said that God would forgive him. So he
should stop punishing his tongue. Abu Bakr’s answer was that
he was not aware of the pits in which he may have fallen
because of the errors committed by his tongue. There is a
narrative above about how a statement by a person may win some
unlimited reward and another could make him liable to extreme
Narratives about whispering among Two
Leaving the Third One
1. It is narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn Dinar
that he and ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (rta) were close to the house
of Khalid ibn Utbah (rta) which was located in the market. A
man who wanted to talk to them in private came over. There was
no one with ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (rta) except ‘Abdullah ibn
Dinar and the person who wished to speak with him. ‘Abdullah
ibn ‘Umar (rta) called another person so that the number of
persons became four and then he asked ‘Abdullah ibn Dinar and
the person he had called to wait. He had heard the Prophet (sws)
say that two persons should not whisper to each other while
ignoring a third person who was present.
There is no doubt that if three people are present and two
begin whispering leaving the third alone, misunderstandings
can be created within the heart of the latter. He might think
that the two are conspiring against him and that is why he has
been excluded. There must be something which they did not wish
to inform him of. Therefore it must be related either to
himself or one of his friends. A civilized person will never
tolerate such an attitude and will leave immediately. It is
possible that he may also curse them.
Today, many people do
this in order to show off their status, provided the person
they are whispering to is of a high stature. Such a person
whispers into the ear of the celebrity in order to show that
he has a special position. Some people are seen to be
whispering into the ears of ministers and secretaries in
assemblies and they look towards the camera to ensure that
they are being filmed. This is not only contemptible, but also
against etiquette and prudence. Misunderstandings and hatred
are created between people as a result of such an attitude.
This narrative is excellent advice.
2. It is narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar
(rta) that the Prophet (sws) said that when three people are
present, two should not speak amongst each other while
ignoring the third.
This is the same narrative. The previous one was related to an
incident and here ‘Umar (rta) has related a Hadith. The same
has also been quoted in Bukhari and Muslim.
(Translated by Nikhat Sattar)