The Consequences of the Tongue

The Consequences of the Tongue

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;

All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-ā’lamīn. There is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger.

Allāh Subhānahu wa Ta’ala Says:

 “O You who believe! If a Fāsiq (liar – evil person) comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful for what you have done.” [Al-Hujurat, 49:6]

“O You who have believed! Avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allāh; indeed, Allāh is accepting of repentance and Merciful.” [Al-Hujurat, 49:12]

“And why, when you heard it, did you not say: ‘It is not for us to speak of this. Exalted are You, [O Allāh]; this is a great slander?'” [Al-Nur, 24:16]

“Fitnah is worse than killing…” [Al-Baqarah 2:191]

Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) once asked his Companions:  “Do you know what is backbiting?” They said, “Allāh and His Messenger know best.” He (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “To mention about your brother that which he hates.” They said, “If that we see about our brother is true?” He (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “If there is in him what you say about him then that is backbiting, and if you say of him that which is not true then you have slandered him.”   [Sahīh al-Muslim (4/6265), Sunan Abu Dawūd (3/4856) and al-Muwatta (56/10)]

The Heart the port where all actions stem

The most important part of the body is the heart as has been mentioned by Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)  in his saying, “Indeed there is a piece of flesh in your body that, if it be sound, then the whole body will be sound and if it be corrupt then the whole body will be corrupt. Indeed it is the heart.” [Sahih al-Bukhari [1/49]; Sahih al-Muslim [1599]]

The heart is thus the port where all actions stem, whether good or evil. If the heart is good then the actions will be good and if the heart is corrupt then the actions will be bad. The heart is the place where Allāh scans, as Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) says, “Allāh does not look at your bodies or your faces but he scans your heart and actions.” [Sahih al-Muslim [4/6221]]

As for the heart, Allāh has commanded us to love Him and His Messenger, to love the righteous people, to love that which Allāh loves and to hate all which Allāh hates. The tongue acts accordingly, because the tongue expresses what is in the heart.

The Tongue Expresses what is in the Heart

If a person is good, it reflects in their saying. Allāh has made it very easy for the tongue to move and it is not difficult to realize that a person’s tongue moves much more as if compared to the limbs. So if a person is not careful about what he says, even a single saying of his can invalidate his actions. It is for this reason that the whole body warns the tongue saying, “Fear Allāh concerning us, for we are (dependant) upon you. If you are upright then we will be upright and if you are corrupt then we will be corrupt.” [Sunan at-Tirmidzi (1912), Mishkāt (4838) and Riyādhus-Sālihīn (2/1521)]

And at the same time, the tongue is a great blessing from Allāh. If we look at the animals, which are unable to speak, we realize the importance of this great tool of communication.

The gratitude that we should show for this great blessing should include, using it for the obedience to Allāh, for reading the Qur’ān, for seeking Knowledge, to enjoin good and forbidding evil. The prohibitions of the tongue are that you do not lie, abuse, use foul language, backbite and slander.

Allāh says: “Indeed successful are the Believers, those who offer their Solat (prayers) with Khushū’ (fear of Allāh) and those who refrain from Al-Laghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk, falsehood, and all that Allah has forbidden)” [Surah al-Mu’minūn, 23: 1-3]

Allāh mentions that refraining from evil vain talk is a sign of the successful believers. Allāh also mentions refraining from vain talk after he mentions al-Khushū’. Talking too much would harden the heart. It is not possible to reach the level of Khushū’ (fear of Allāh) unless one refrains from evil vain talk.

Imām an-Nawawi (rahimahullah) mentions “Know it is incumbent upon all to guard their tongues from most speech, except a word that has some benefit in it….” [Kitābul-Adhkār]

And for those who take heed there is a constant reminder in the verse, “Not a word is said except that there is a watcher by him ready to record it.” – [Surah Qaf, 50:18]

Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever believes in Allāh and the Last Day should speak good or keep silent.”

Imam ash-Shafie (rahimahullāh) said. “If you wish to speak then it is upon you to think before you speak. If you think there is good in it then speak and if not then do not speak.”

The earlier mentioned Qur’anic verses; Hadīths of our Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and advices by the scholars of Islam are a guide for those searching for salvation against vain talk. So before we talk, should we not ask ourselves?

  1.  Will this saying of mine pleases Allāh?
  2.  Will this saying of mine bring me closer to Allāh?
  3.  Does this saying earn with it obedience to Allāh?

If yes, then speak, otherwise one should keep quiet.

Guarding your tongue from all Hāram

The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “Guard your tongue, stay in your homes and weep over your sins.” [Related by Ibn Mubarak in az-Zuhd (no.134), Musnad Ahmad bin Hambal (5/259), Sunan at-Tirmidzi (2531) and authenticated by al-Albānī in as-Sahīhah (no.890)]

Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Most of the sins of the children of Adam are from the tongue.”[At-Tabarānī (3/87/1-2); authenticated by al-Hāfidh al-Mundhiri in al-Targhīb (4/8)]

Mughira bin Shu’ba (radiallāhu’ anhu) reported that Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Allāh has forbidden for you:(1) to be undutiful to your mothers, (2) to bury your daughters alive, (3) not to pay the rights of the poor and others (i.e. charity) and (4) to beg of men. And Allāh has hated for you: (1) Qil and Qal (sinful and useless talk, like backbiting or that one talks too much about others), (2) to ask too many questions (in disputed religious matters, etc.), (3) to waste your wealth (by extravagance with lack of wisdom and thinking).” [Sahih al-Bukhari [3:591]

Abu Mūsa al-Asha’arī (radiallāhu’anhu) said: “O Messenger of Allāh, which of the Muslims are better?” The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Those who do not harm the Muslims with their tongues and hands.” [Sahīh al-Bukhari (1/10) and Sahīh al-Muslim (1/64)]

Sahal ibn Sa’ad (radiallāhu’anhu) reported that Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever guards what is between his jaws and legs. I shall guarantee him paradise.” [Sahīh al-Bukhari (8/481); a similar narration can be found in Muwatta of Imam Malik (56/11) and Sunan at-Tirmidzi]

Mu ‘adz bin Jabal (radiallāhu`anhu) reported, who said: “I inquired from the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to inform me of an act which will cause me to enter Jannah and keep me far from Hell.”

Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) replied: “You have asked me about a matter of great importance, but it is easy for one for whom Allāh makes it easy.” Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) added, ” Worship Allāh, associate nothing with Him in worship, offer as-Salah (the prayer), pay the Zakat, observe Saum (fasting) during Ramadhan and perform Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House of Allāh, if you can afford it.”

Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) further said, “Shall I not guide you to the Gates of Goodness? Fasting is a screen (from Hell), charity extinguishes (i.e., removes) the sins as water extinguishes fire, and standing in prayers by a slave of Allāh during the last third part of the night (qiyamulail).” Then Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) recited: “Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Rabb in fear and hope, and they spend (in charity in Allāh’s Cause) out of what We have bestowed on them. No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.” (Surah Sajdah, 32:17, 18). Then Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) added, “Shall I tell you of the root of the matter, its pillar and its highest point?” I replied: “Yes! Certainly, O Messenger of Allāh.” Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The root of this matter (foundation) is Islam, its pillar (mainstay is) as-Salah (the prayer) and its highest point is Jihad (fighting in the Cause of Allāh).”

Then Rasulullah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked, “Shall I tell you of that which holds all these things?” I said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allāh.” So Rasulullah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) took hold of his tongue and said, “Exercise restraint on it.” I then enquired, “O Messenger of Allāh, will we be held responsible for what we say with it?” Thereupon, the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “Mu’adz, will anything else besides (irresponsible) talk cause the people to be thrown in the Hell-Fire upon their faces?”  [Sunan at-Tirmidzi and Riyādhus-Sālihīn (2/1522)]

Most of the people who will enter the fire, will do so due to their tongues So a Muslim must beware and learn to imprison the tongue from vain talk, for Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Every saying of the children of Adam is cursed, except for the enjoining good and forbidding the evil or for the remembrance of Allāh.” [Sunan at-Tirmidzi]

Besides describing Articles of Islam, this Hadith mentions the dangers which lie in the careless use of the tongue. All good actions can go waste if one does not guard his speech. One should, therefore, guard his tongue against that which Allāh has made prohibited, (but keep your tongue wet with the remembrance of Allāh (zikrullah).

In another hadith of ‘Abdullah bin Bishar, (radiallāhu`anhu) who reported that one of the Companions asked Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam): “O Messenger of Allāh! There are many injunctions of Islam upon me, so tell me something to which I may hold fast.” Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) replied: “Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allāh.” [At-Tirmidzi]

The companion was not suggesting that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) should exempt him from his religious obligations; rather, he needed something that would help him perform them all. Therefore, he guided him to what would assist him to perform them and cause him to be keen to adhere to them, thus facilitating their performance. The person who frequently mentions Allāh will love Him and whatever pleases Him, and nothing would then be dearer to him than endeavoring to please his Lord.

Moreover, it keeps one busy from engaging in falsehood, like backbiting, slandering, and idle talk, as when a person does not engage himself in acts of obedience, his soul [desires] will engage him in falsehood. Moreover, it helps prevents a person from being neglectful

And “The world and all that it contains is cursed, except for the remembrance of Allāh and what supports it, and a scholar and a student.” [Sunan Ibn Majah (no.4112) and authenticated by Sheikh al-Albani in Sahīhul-Jaami’ (no.3414)]

Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu’ anhu) reports on the authority of the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) that, “From the good Islām of a man, is that he leaves that which does not benefit him.”[Musnad Ahmed bin Hambal (4/132), Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Sunan Ibn Majah, al-Baihaqi in Shu’ab al-Imān]

Imām Ahmad (rahimahullāh )mentioned in his Musnad on the authority of Anas (radiallāhu`anhu) who relates that Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said’ The imān of Allāh’s servant will not be upright until his heart is upright and his heart will not be upright until his tongue is upright.” [Also mentioned in al-Mundhiri (3/234) and al-Iraqī in al-Ihya (8/1539)]

A word of Allāh’s displeasure you will fall into Jahannam.

Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu’ anhu ) said that he heard the Messenger said: “Indeed a servant (worshipper of Allāh) may say a word which he doesn’t realize and it will make him fall into the fire further than the East and the West.”

Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu’ anhu) also reported that the Prophet (Sallallāhu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Indeed a servant may say a word from which Allāh’s pleasure is gained and the servant does not realize it, Allāh will raise him up levels. Indeed a servant may say a word from which Allāh’s displeasure is gained and he does not realize it, Allāh will put him in Jahannam due to it.” [Sahīh al-Bukhari (8/485), Al-Muwatta (56/6) and in Sahīhul-Jāmi’ of al-Albāni]

Fujani (radiallāhu’ anhu) reported, who said he had inquired Rasūlullāh: “O Messenger of Allāh tell me something that I may be firm upon?” He (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) answered, “Say, My Lord is Allāh and then be upright concerning it.” He asked, “What is the thing that you fear for most.” The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) took hold of his tongue and said, “This!” [Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Sunan an-Nasāie, Sunan Ibn Majah and Sunan at-Tirmidzi]

Backbiting (Ghībah)

Allāh says: “O you who have believed! Avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allāh; indeed, Allāh is accepting of repentance and Merciful.” [Al-Hujurat, 49:12]

The Messenger of Allāh once asked his Companions, “Do you know what is backbiting?” They said, “Allāh and His Messenger know best.” He (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “To mention about your brother that which he hates.” They said, “If that we see about our brother is true?” He (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “If there is in him what you say about him then that is backbiting, and if you say of him that which is not true then you have slandered him.” [Sahīh al-Muslim (4/6265), Sunan Abu Dawūd (3/4856) and al-Muwatta (56/10)]

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) vigorously opposed all aspects of backbiting, even when it appeared in his own family. Once a woman visited Aaishah (radiallāhu’ anha) and when the woman got up to leave, Aaishah made a sign with her hand indicating to Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) that the woman was short of stature. Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) immediately chastised her, saying “You have backbitten!” and in another narration, “You have said a saying that if mixed with the sea it would change its color.” [Ibn Jarīr in Tafsīr al-Qur’ān al-Adzīm, vol.4, p.328 (30) and Sunan Abu Dawūd (3/4857)]

Abu Bakra (radiallāhu’ anhu ) narrated that the Messenger of Allāh  (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, in his khutbah on the Day of Nahr: “Indeed the blood, property and honor are sacred to you, like the sacredness of this day (‘Arafat), like the sacredness of this place, like the sacredness of this month; Have I conveyed the message?”[Sahīh al-Bukhari (1/105) and Sahīh al-Muslim (2/2803) and part of a lengthy narration]

By Allāh Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) has conveyed the message, so guard the right of the Believers!

Slanderer (Namīmah)

Allāh says: “Woe to every slanderer and backbiter.” [Surah Humazah, 104:1]

Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The gossipmonger will not enter paradise.” [Sahīh al-Bukhari (8/82), Sahīh al-Muslim (1/187) and Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal]

Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) passed by two graves and said: “They are being punished. As regards one of them then he used to go around gossip-mongering and as regards the other then he was not careful while urinating.” [Sahīh al-Bukhari (1/215) and Sahīh al-Muslim (1/575)]

On the authority of Saīd ibn Zayid that Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Indeed the lowest form of usury is to prolong the speech about the honor of a Muslim without justice.” [Sunan Abu Dawūd (3/4858)]

Overcoming the evil habit of backbiting

  • Imām an-Nawawi (rahimahullāh) said that one should remember the punishment of Allāh. And remember that Allāh is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. He is the One, aware of ever saying, at every time. Then if one remembers this, then it is only natural that one will be modest and shy in this aspect. We need to realize that when one of us is hurt, when something wrong is said about the creation, then what about the Creator, who is the All-Seeing and All-Hearing.
  • We should reflect on the Qur’ānic verse which Allāh states: “O you who have believed! Avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allāh; indeed, Allāh is accepting of repentance and Merciful.” [Al-Hujurat, 49:12] And we surely hate even the thought of it.
  • One should fear that his own faults would be revealed, as Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “O you who believe with your tongues, yet iman have not entered your hearts. Do not backbite the Muslims, nor follow their faults. For he who follows others faults then Allāh will declare (disclose) his faults and he whom Allāh reveals his faults, then Allāh disgraces him in his own house.” [Sunan Abu Dawūd (3/4862) and authenticated by Sheikh al-Albāni in Sahīh Jāmi’ Saghīr]
  • One should take the advice of the pious scholars of Islām, among them Umar ibn Khattab (radiallāhu’ anhu) who said: “Be careful from remembering people for it is an illness and be in the remembrance of Allāh for it is a medicine.” Once a man came to al-Hasan al-Basri (rahimahullāh) and said him that he heard that the later had backbitten him. Upon this Hasan al-Basri (rahimahullāh) said, “Who are you that I may give you my rewards?”
  • The most important thing to keep in mind is that there is a great reward to refrain from backbiting, as Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever protects the honor of his brother in his absence, Allāh will protect his face from the Fire on the Day of Judgment.” [Sunan at-Tirmidzi and authenticated by Sheikh al-Albāni in Sahīh Sunan at-Tirmidzi (2/1575)]

Exceptions to Backbiting

There are few exceptions to backbiting that the scholars have classified, among them:

  • Oppression: If one has been harmed or one’s property has been unlawfully taken away by another, and this person goes to the ruler or judge in order to seek justice, this is not backbiting.
  • Changing the Munkar: If one finds a person involved in evil actions or innovations, and one is unable to correct his Munkar. It is allowed to seek the help of a more knowledgeable person, even if it means defining the Munkar of the evil-doer or innovator.
  • Seeking a Fatwa (religious verdict): If there is a dispute between a husband and his wife, and if either of them seeks the advice of a religious scholar, then this situation is exempt from backbiting.
  • Warning a Muslim from evil: If a fellow Muslim is going to do a business with a dishonest person or if a Muslim is unaware that the person to whom he is marrying his daughter to, is an unreligious person; then to advice and guide him is exempt from backbiting.
  • Advising against innovators and sinners: If an innovator is openly involved in spreading his innovative beliefs or a sinner remorselessly declares his sin and is thus being a bad example for others; then warning others against him is allowed. But if he commits a sin secretly and as such harms just himself, to openly declare his sins is still strictly prohibited.

REMEMBER

  • Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Do not nurse a grudge (against a Muslim) and do not outbid him for raising the price and do not nurse aversion (strong dislike) or enmity and do not enter into a transaction when others have entered into that transaction and be as fellow-brothers and servants of Allāh. A Muslim is the brother of another, he neither betrays (nor deceives him), nor humiliates him, nor looks down upon him. Piety is here (and while saying so) he pointed towards his chest three times. All things of a Muslims are inviolable for his brother in faith, his blood, his wealth and his honor.” [Sahīh al-Muslim (4/6219), part of the wording being that of Sunan Abu Dawūd (3/4864)]
  • Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) also said: “No (Muslim) man will desert a man who is a Muslim in a place where his respect may be violated and his honor aspersed without Allāh deserting him in a place where he wishes help; and no (Muslim) man who will help a Muslim in a place where is honor may be aspersed and his respect violated without Allāh helping him in a place where he wishes his help.” [Sunan Abu Dawūd (3/4866) and authenticated by Sheikh al-Albāni in Sahīh Jāmi’ Saghīr]

Wallahu’alam

[Via Mission Islam]

About Md Radzi Ahmad
A retired Malaysian civil servant. Served the Malaysian government for thirty-one years. Posted to London, Rangoon, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bangkok. Born in Kampong Hutan Kandeh, Alor Star, Kedah. Educated at Sultan Abdul Hamid College, Alor Star and University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Currently resides in Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan,Malaysia.Blessed with three children, a son, two daughters, daughter in law and two grandaughters.

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