In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
NOTE: This info is a great reminder during Ramadan, but lets take it further and implement these points all year round inshallah.
Many ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have warned us against letting the tongue be free, yet we still find amongst us many struggling to leave back-biting, slander, swearing, cursing, lying and all those traits which are not befitting for the character of a Muslim.
Here are some tips to control your tongue and gain the most of your fasting, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (ie. Allah will not accept his fasting.)” [Bukhari]
1. Leave that which does not concern you
The first tip to master is to leave that which does not concern you. Don’t enquire about something that is not necessary like what someone else may have said or done wrong.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “From the excellence of a man’s Islam is leaving that which does not concern him.” [Bukhari]
2. Remember ‘Silence is golden’
Before you speak, start by asking yourself a few questions: 1. Will this benefit or harm? 2. Is it necessary? Often it takes this mere moment of reflection to identify whether your speaking is necessary or useless. And as the proverb goes: ‘If talk is silver then silence is gold’.
[You can write this and hang it up on your desktop at work!]
3. Conceal faults of others
Covering the faults of others is part of the virtue of safeguarding the honour of Muslims.
Once the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked: “O Messenger of Allah, which of the Muslims is best?” And he said, “He who the Muslims are safe from his tongue and his hand.” [Riyadh as-Saliheen]
We’re quick to disclose others’ faults and conceal our own, yet we should remind ourselves of the time when we would wish our faults would be concealed. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever conceals (the fault of) a Muslim, Allah will conceal his fault on the day of Judgment.” [Muslim]
Our society is filled with many rumours that create disunity as well as animosity so always presume good of others and be part of the solution.
4. Eliminate unproductive ‘chit-chat’We are all culprits of talking rubbish at times, yet as Muslims we know that Allah is always listening to us. Ask yourself what topics often come up in your conversation? Are they about matters which would be pleasing to Allah? or are they just about worldly matters and boastfulness?
We have to ensure it is not always the latter, instead discuss topics that are beneficial, it may be social awareness, about a hadith you have learned, about Muslims who need help. Often I plan mentally in advance what I may say to someone new I am meeting, or consider topic areas of interest we may discuss at gatherings.
5. A slip of the tongue?
Our societies are fragmented and our families sadly ‘not on talking terms’ (See How to Rebuild Kinship Ties this Ramadan) because someone said something without thinking or in a heated moment. We know from the narration of the Prophet (peace be upon him) it is prohibited to stop taking to one who has displeased us for more than 3 days; yet some Muslims go years on end without talking to relatives/family members despite the curse incurred as a result of cutting off such relationships. Often it occurs on the basis of what can be a ‘slip of the tongue’ – so take it upon yourself to say sorry if you wronged someone or forgive them if it was a slip of the tongue.
6. Don’t spend your ‘Free Minutes’ on TalkTalk
Our social culture and major mobile corporation networks tell us that conversing is ‘free’ so we should take advantage of it – but every minute comes at a big price to your deen, dunya and akhirah. Check what your going to say is beneficial and the time spent- otherwise you just fall into the trap of talking without any meaningful purpose.
Cut out your talking time after iftaar and whilst your fasting and don’t let a minute be wasted. Instead, use those minutes to see how your family are, call to speak to those who you have not been in touch with for a while and get in touch with others to invite them to good. Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’la] says in Surah Al-Asr: ‘Verily by time, man is in loss, except for those who believe and do righteous deeds, and recommend one another to the truth, and recommend one another to patience’ [103: 1-4]
7. Evaluate how much time you’ve spent talking
Here’s an experiment to try for one day: Equipped with a timer, keep a tab on how many hours/minutes you speak each day, ideally per topic you cover as well. Then at the end of the day, evaluate your results looking at total time spent talking, how many hours/minutes spent on productive talk vs. unproductive talk, etc. The results can be revealing.
8. Sponsored Silence
We all know a friend or two who has the ‘gift of the gab’ as they say, or you might be thinking “that’s me!” – try a sponsored silence day this ramadan! Where you don’t talk to anyone from dawn to sunset (Facebook barred too!). You can raise for a cause and learn a new trick (how not to talk..) which can help you to reflect on exactly how useful silence is. Indeed the prophetic teachings tell us that we should remain silent especially if we do not have anything good to say: “Anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day, should speak good words or be silent” [An-Nawawi].
9. Check before you send!
With the advent of technology, our conversations have evolved such that we ‘speak’ to people via email conversation, skype, teleconferences, mobile, video messaging, facebook, twitter etc. The speed of it all makes us sometimes hit the send button before we evaluate what we have to say.
Here’s a quick tip to avoid this:
1. For e-mails, save the message in draft and read after one hour before you send it.
2. For Instant Messaging, switch to something else (a small 10 minute task for example) then switch back and see if you still want to hit the send button. Always check before you send!
10. Replace the bad with good
One way to atone for any slandering/lying/backbiting is identifying who you spoke about wrongly, and either seek their forgiveness this Ramadan (or if this will cause more animosity), mention them well and praise them in the same circles of people you use to slander/lie/back-bite them in.
11. Mention the Name of Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’la)
Make it your habit to make mention of Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’la) in your conversations. Without this there is little protection from falling into the traps of shaytan and us losing control of our tongues. Every word we say will be held to account, and as Ibn Qayyum Al Jawziyyah says: “Every gulp of air that goes out in a cause other than the cause of Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’la) will turn to sorrow and regret on the Day of Judgement.” Don’t let your speech be the source of regret in the Hereafter and as the hadith says: “Make your tongue moist with remembrance of Allah”.
12. Seek protection from the Hellfire
As mentioned at the beginning of this series, our tongues are the cause of our destruction or our salvation, so protect yourself from saying that which is wrong. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Do you know the thing which most commonly brings people into Paradise? It is fear of Allah and good character. Do you know what most commonly brings people into Hell? It is the two hollow things: the mouth and the private parts.” [Bukhari]