By Dawud Walid
To maximize the blessings of the month of Ramadan, we need to pay extra attention to not just what goes into our mouths but also what comes out of them. Blameworthy speech is one of the easiest things that can ruin the spirit of our fasting. The following article will summarize different aspects of blameworthy speech and how to remedy it.
Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him and his family) said, “Whoever does not give up deceptive speech and action, Allah is in no need of his giving up food and drink.” [Al-Bukhari, An-Nasa’i & At-Tirmidhi] Muhammad bin Idris Ash-Shafi’i (may Allah’s mercy be upon him) said, “Faith is action for Allah, and speech is part of that action.” [Al-Bayhaqi]
LYING AND OMMITTING THE TRUTH
Perhaps the worse aspect of blameworthy speech that Muslims can undertake is to promote obscenity and injustice and to bid people to disobey Al-Qur’an and matters that are universally recognized by scholars as prophetic injunctions; to do such is in fact a sign of hypocrisy. Allah (SWT) says, “The hypocrite men and women are from one another, they enjoin what is wrong and forbid what is right.” [Surah At-Tawbah, ayah 67] “Majority of people’s sins pertain to speech, which relates to disobeying Allah,” said Salman Al-Farsi (may Allah be pleased with him.) [Al-Isfahani]
Telling outright lies in general are also sinful behavior; however, blameworthy speech is also purposeful omission of the truth when giving information or telling stories which will not give people the true picture of situations and circumstances.
Allah (SWT) says, “Oh you who believe, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one's] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.”[Surah Al-Hujurat, ayah 11]
SPREADING SUSPICION, GOSSIPING AND BACKBITING
Allah (SWT) says, “Oh you who have believed, avoid much suspicion. Indeed, some suspicion 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 reverence Allah; indeed, Allah is the Acceptor of repentance, the Merciful Redeemer.” [Surah Al-Hujurat, ayah 12] And Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him and his family) said, “The slandering gossiper will not enter paradise.” [Muslim & ibn Khuzaymah]. Backbiting differs from slander in that backbiting is saying something, which is true about a person behind their back, but that the person does not want exposed. The exception for backbiting is testifying in front of a judge, giving someone advice when approached about a potential business or martial relationship or warning people about lewd or criminal behaviors, which a person openly promotes.
AVOIDING OBSCENE LANGUAGE AND THE PRAISING CORRUPT PEOPLE
Ma’ruf Al-Karkhi (may Allah sanctify his spirit) said, “Protect your tongue from praising [people] just as you protect your tongue from obscenity.” [Al-Isfahani] Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him and his family) said,” When an openly corrupt person is praised, the Lord is angry.” [Abu Ya’la]
Since we have been reminded about what types of speech that we should not be involved in which will corrupt the spirit of our fasting, we should involve ourselves in speech and action that is meritorious in their place.
GLORIFICATION OF ALLAH AND READING Al-QUR’AN
During the fasting hours, our tongues should be moist with the glorification of Allah (SWT). While we are off of work, we should busy ourselves with dhikr and du’a, which will take time away from potentially blameworthy speech. Moreover during this month in which Al-Qur’an was revealed, we should spend more time reading Allah’s word. If we set the goal to read Al-Qur’an completely at least once during Ramadan, we will not have time to be engaged in foolishness such as gossip and vain discussions.
SPEAK DIRECTLY AND TRURTHFULLY
Allah (SWT) says, “Oh you who believe, be regardful for Allah and speak a straight word.” [Surah Al-Ahzab, ayah 70]
AVOID KEEPING COMPANY WITH GOSSIPERS
Allah (SWT) says, “Oh you who believe, be regardful for Allah and be with the truthful people.” [Surah At-Tawbah, ayah 119]
ADVOCATE FOR JUSTICE
One of the more meritorious acts of devotion that we can do is to stand up for justice against tyranny and speak for the rights of the underprivileged. Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him and his family) said, “Whoever sees a wrong, he should change it with his hand. If not, he should resist it with his tongue. And if not, he should resist it in his heart, and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim] He (prayers and peace be upon him) also said, “The best jihad is a word of justice to a tyrannical ruler.” [At-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, At-Tabarani & Al-Bayhaqi] And Imam Zayd bin Ali (peace be upon both of them] said, “The best jihad is to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong.” [Musnad Zayd]
Staying silent when there is nothing noteworthy to add to a discussion is a valuable act that we overlook at times. In this age where everyone has an opinion to share on social media, many of us feel compelled to speak or write about something even when there is no benefit in doing so. Though it is not the shari’ah of Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him and his family) to engage in fasting from speaking, Al-Qur’an does mention in Surah Maryam, ayah 10 of Zakariyyah (peace be upon him) making intentions to fast from speaking for three nights. Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him said) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
May our Ramadan be filled with blessings and speech, which will be rewarded abundantly, and may our Ramadan be free from blameworthy speech and action.