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PostSubject: Speech Without Words   Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:19 pm

Speech Without Words
Farhia Yahya



Imam al-Awzaa’ee 1 once said, “No-one has ever been afflicted in his Deen with an affliction worse than a loose tongue.” 2

From the signs that Allaah loves a person is that He delivers him from sin and afflictions in his Deen, He protects him from whatever will harm his Hereafter and certainly, He protects him from engaging in that which does not concern him.

The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “From the best of one’s Islam is his abandoning that which does not concern him.” 3

Sometimes we find ourselves engaged in discussions that bring little benefit to us, other times we see ourselves hurriedly forming opinions or establishing our argument when in reality there is little need. We are neither scholars that our opinion should be followed nor are we leaders to impose such attitude. Sadly, many are those who lose all control over their tongues and inevitably find themselves plunged into issues and matters that do not concern them, whereby they waste time and yet increase their hisaab (reckoning)
for Yawm al-Hisaab.
(may Allah protect us from this)

Mu’adh ibn Jabal (radhiallaahu `anhu) asked the Messenger (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam), “Will we be held responsible for what we say?” Whereupon he (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “… And is there anything that topples people on to their faces into the Hellfire other than the harvests of their tongue?” 4


There is a well-kept concept in Islam called ‘hifdh al-lisaan’ – guarding the tongue. Books have been written on the subject by scholars throughout time and in fact, qawaa’id (principles) have been formed on it. To protect your tongue means to protect yourself. How many times have we regretted speaking too quickly about something, how often have we wished to take back even just one word?

A poet once said,

Conceal your inability as much as you can with silence
In silence there is indeed a respite
And if you’re unable (of answering), then make silence your answer
Perhaps the answer to a statement is in the silence 5



Without doubt, refraining from speaking when one ardently wishes to, is an extremely difficult matter. Some will even say impossible! But I ask, is piety ever an easy asset to claim? To be silent when it’s called for, means overpowering the Shaytaan as Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (radhiallaahu `anhu) said, “I advice you with the taqwa of Allah for it is the head of all matters and upon you is Jihad for it is the asceticism of Islam, and upon you is the remembrance of Allah and recitation of the Qur’aan for it is your soul amongst the people of heaven and your mention amongst the people of the world, and upon you is to observe silence except in the truth for you will then overpower the Shaytaan.” 6

Al-Mu’allaa ibn Ziyaad said: Mu’arriq al-‘Ijlee 7 said, “There’s a matter that I have been seeking for 20 years, and I will never stop seeking it.” He said, “And what is that O Abu Mu’tamir?” He said, “Silence over that which does not concern me.”

And it is related that Sufyaan al-Thawri said, “That I should cast a spear at a man is more beloved to me than that I should cast him with my tongue because the spear may miss target, but a word never does.”

As is well-known, excessive speech leads to the hardening of the heart whilst observing general silence and speaking little honours the believer and increases him/her in virtue. If you see hardness in your heart, weakness in your body and a prevention in your provision, then know that you have indulged yourself in speaking much, especially in that which does not concern you! A wise man once said, “There is much goodness in silence and this goodness has been assembled in seven points 8:

1. That silence is ‘ibadah (worship) without any adherence
2. It’s an adornment without any jewels
3. An imposing charm and authority without any governance
4. A fortress without any walls
5. It means to be free from apologising to anyone
6. No recording of al-Kiraam al-Kaatibeen (angels)
7. And a concealment of one’s faults


And it is often said - silence is a beauty for the scholar and concealment for the ignorant one – i.e. one’s ignorance may be concealed by silence, until knowledge is gained whereby they gain the capacity and full right to speak well.


And truthful was the poet when he said,

Knowledge is beauty and silence is salvation
If you speak, then do not be excessive
If I ever regretted my silence just once
Then I have indeed regretted my speech a lot more


Excessive speech is abhorred to such an extent that people would shun a
scholar and refuse to narrate from a person if he indulged in that. Ibn Hibbaan relates in his book Rawdhatul-uqalaa’ that ‘a group from the people of knowledge abandoned the narrations of those who were excessive in speaking about that which did not concern them: It is narrated from Umayah ibn Khalid from Sa’eed that he said to Hakam, ‘What’s wrong with you that you don’t narrate from Zaadhaan?’ He said, ‘He is excessive in his speech!’

The stories of the righteous predecessors who observed silence and were renowned for that are certainly many, but sufficient for us is al-Rabee’ ibn Kaytham – a scholar from the major Tabi’een (rahimahumullah). Ibrahim al-Taymi says, “A companion of his who accompanied him for 20 years informed me that they had never heard him (al-Rabee’) err in his speech.”

He was known for his speaking little, even in the face of calamities and fitnah. Musa ibn Sa’eed narrates that when Husayn ibn ‘Ali (radhiallaahu `anhu) was killed, a man from the companions of al-Rabee’ said: “If al-Rabee’ was ever to speak, he will surely speak today!” So he went and entered in on al-rabee’ and informed him, whereupon al-Rabee’ looked to the sky and said,

قُلِ اللَّهُمَّ فَاطِرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ عَالِمَ الْغَيْبِ
وَالشَّهَادَةِ أَنتَ تَحْكُمُ بَيْنَ عِبَادِكَ فِي مَا كَانُوا فِيهِ
يَخْتَلِفُونَ


“O Allâh! Creator of the heavens and the earth! All-Knower of the Ghayb (unseen) and the seen. You will judge between Your slaves about that wherein they used to differ.” [al-Zumar: 46]

‘Ajeeb.

May Allaah protect us and give us the strength to refrain from excessive speech and speaking about that which does not concern us.
Ameen


References

1 Abu `Amr `Abdur-Rahman ibn `Amr al-Awzaa’ee, Imam and scholar of Fiqh in Shaam.

2 Rawdhatul-‘Uqalaa’ by Ibn Hibbaan

3 Reported by al-Tirmidhi, hasan Hadeeth

4 Reported by al-Tirmidhi, hasan sahih Hadeeth

5 Rawdhatul-‘Uqalaa’ pg. 39

6 Nuzhat al-Fudhalaa’ [1/248]

7 Abu Mu’tamir Mu’arriq ibn Mushmarij al-Basri al-‘Ijlee, from the Tabi’in of Basra

8 Tanbeeh al-Ghaafileen by Imam Abul-Layth al-Samarqandi
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