Abu Hurairah, radiyallahu 'anhu, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, said:
"Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day either speak good or be silent. Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day honour his neighbour. Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day honour his guest."
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
What we can learn here is that either we say something beneficial and good or else we should keep silent.
There are many Islamic guidelines which help us to say good things and to refrain from saying bad things, or things which displeases Allah subhana wa ta'ala. When we talk to others, whether it is relatives, friends, neighbours, etc., we should select the best terms/words and say them in a nice way. We should ensure that what we say is clear and easily understood. If we are not careful and we do not choose the right words, what we say may be misinterpreted and may lead to conflicts.
As a listener, we have to listen positively and interpret what we hear in a good way. We should not 'over interpret' what we hear; we should not try to 'read between the lines'. Thus, as a speaker we say things in a positive manner and as a listener we interpret things in a positive manner. By doing so Islam encourages us to minimise disputes and conflicts.
If we find ourselves in the middle of a dispute between two people, e.g. between friends, we should not take sides. We should try to help and reconcile the differences; try to resolve the problems and end the dispute.
If we are being consulted by someone and asked for our advice, we should try our best to give good advice. What we say should help the person and not add to his confusion or doubt. If we do not have enough knowledge and we cannot provide proper advice, then we should keep silent.
Even if we have information which, as a result, may add to the person's confusion, we should keep it to ourselves.
We should keep away as best as we can from unnecessary or non-beneficial talk. People can talk or chat for hours but a lot of what is said is unimportant or trivial and does not benefit anyone. It wastes our time and this continuous talking may even lead us into areas where we might say something which displeases Allah subhana wa ta'ala.
When it comes to saying good things, there are many examples available: dzikrullah (remembrance of Allah), reciting the Qur'an, du'a, giving advice, etc. These are all things which are pleasing to Allah.
When we meet people who are sick, sad, feeling down, in a low frame of mind, etc., we should say things that will make these people feel better, have patience in facing their calamity, be positive, be strong, etc. This is known as al-muasah - to say good things of encouragement to help those facing problems; to not make them panic. The scholars have defined sabr (patience) as 'to refrain from panicking' - to refrain from being out of control - and to refrain the tongue from complaining.
Complaining, e.g. simply saying that the weather is hot, will lead us to impatience; it can affect our attitude and hence our work. If we want to lament we should lament only with Allah. If we do it with Allah it is munajah - it will turn into ibadah. If we do it with others it will be complaining (tashakki) - we will be violating the ibadah itself, which is sabr. So we should learn to minimise and ultimately eliminate the act of complaining.
We should refrain from saying bad things or things which may be untrue. When we hear some news, we shouldn't simply repeat it or spread it without first verifying if the news is true. This could lead to us spreading lies or rumours. We must refrain from:
- spreading rumours, especially those that will cause harm to the community.
- slandering, back-biting, etc.
- sarcasm and making fun of others - this is one of the most common social ills today. It is a sin to make fun of others.
Sometimes we may encounter a situation which involves fitnah or al-fitan. We have to be careful of what we say. There are people who will take advantage of the situation and they may say things which may worsen the situation. When there is fitnah, people are in a panic and might believe anything. That's why we have to be careful of what we say because it may add to the people's fears and problems. What we should do is to help by saying positive things that will give the people hope; to uplift them and motivate them to face the problems; and not to make it worse.
Prophet Muhammad saw said, " Beware of ghibah for the sin of ghibah is bigger than the sin of adultery (zina). Verily those who commit adultery, when he repents, Allah will accept his repentance. And verily those who do ghibah (back-stabbing/ says bad things about someone behind his back), his sin WILL NOT BE FORGIVEN BEFORE THE PERSON TO WHOM HE DOES GHIBAH FORGIVES HIM."(from Ibnu Abi al-Dunya and Ibnu Hibban. Taken from the magazine Solusi, issue 18, page 37)
So, are we clear now? Thinking of practicing any? Think wisely.