Backbiting, slandering, gossiping, maligning, insulting, swearing…are just a few of the many sins of the tongue. Our Creator, and Sustainer, the One who Knows the past, present and future knew that these sins would exist, and would be easy for us to fall into. Hence, with His great Wisdom, He gave us counsel, in the form of a reminder.
One of the purpose of the Qur’an is to serve as a reminder. Hence, it contains encouragements, admonishments, warnings, threats and motivations. One amazing Surah that contains a combination of these, and which possesses something distinct, is Surah Hujurat, Surah number 49. Surah Hujarat contains filters to assist us in purifying ourselves, particularly our tongues.
Without further ado, let’s have a look at the filters of Surah Hujurat:
This filter is found in Ayah 6, which reads,
“O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.”
All too easily we act hastily, giving verdicts, and making accusations before we verify the information that comes to us.
“And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah. And if it returns, then make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” (Verse 9)
- فأصلحوا – To make settlement
“The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive mercy.” (Verse 10)
Three filters may be derived from the following ayah,
“O you who have believed, 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.” (Verse 11)
- لا يسخر – Do not ridicule
To ridicule is a form of arrogance, for the Prophet said, “”He who has, in his heart, an ant’s weight of arrogance will not enter Jannah.” Someone said: “A man likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?” Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Allah is Beautiful, He loves beauty. Arrogance means ridiculing and rejecting the Truth and despising people.” [Muslim]
To ridicule and make mockery is not the characteristics taught by Islam. It was not found in our Messenger, nor in the salaf. Rather it was a trait found in the hypocrites. Hence we should be weary of possessing such an attribute.
- ولا تلمزوا – Do not insult
Insulting is not limited to derogative statements, or passing rude comments. It includes all forms of maligning, including actions other than speech.
However, our topic for today is passing speech through the filters of Surah Hujurat, hence we will limit our discussion to this matter.
The command to refrain from insulting includes cursing, swearing etc…
On this account the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The believer is not a slanderer, one who curses a great deal, one who indulges in obscenity or who in engages in foul talk.” (Tirmidhi classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi)
To further illustrate the severity of insulting a believer, the messenger said, “Fighting a believer is Kufr and defaming him is evildoing.” (An-Nisa’i, Saheeh)
- ولا تنابزوا – Do call each other with offensive names
Offensive names are a form of insulting, and hurtful to the person. Before you address someone with a name or nickname, think about it, would you like to be called by such a name?
Our Prophet truly was a mercy for mankind. Aishah narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) would change offensive names. (Tirmidhi, Saheeh)This was his concern, and level of kindness!
Another three may be derived from verse 12,
“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 Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.”
- اجتنبو كثيرا من الظن – Avoid negative assumptions
Assume the best in other, give them the benefit of the doubt. Make excuses for others, perhaps Allah will make excuses for you and forgive you.
Spying includes eavesdropping on people who do not want to be heard. It is sufficient for us to know, that the Prophet said, “the eavesdropper will not enter paradise.” (Bukhari)
- ولا يغتب بعضكم بعضا – Don’t backbite
The Prophet defined backbiting for us when he asked, “Do you know what is backbiting? They (the Companions) said: Allah and His Messenger know best. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Backbiting implies your talking about your brother in a manner which he does not like. It was said to him: What is your opinion about this that if I actually find (that failing) in my brother which I made a mention of? He said: If (that failing) is actually found (in him) what you assert, you in fact backbit him, and if that is not in him it is a slander. (Muslim)
Whether you can say it to the person’s face or not, if what you intend to say is true, and it is not nice to say, then better to withhold your tongue, for it is backbiting. Backbiting is a severe sin as described in the ayah, for none of us would like to be carnivorous of his brother/sister. Yet how often do we gladly partake of such a meal?!
Perhaps the following hadith will make us renounce this horrible crime.
It was narrated that Anas ibn Malik said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “When my Lord took me up into heaven, I passed by some people who had nails of copper with which they were scratching their faces and chests. I said: ‘Who are these, O Jibreel?’ He said: ‘These are the ones who used to eat the flesh of the people and impugn their honour.’” [Abu Dawood]
My brothers and sisters, is the temporary joy of conversation worth the punishment of the hereafter and the loss of deeds? Is the charm of gossip better than the everlasting bliss of the mercy of Allah and His paradise?
Hold on to this simple principle, that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand (by taking action); if he cannot, then with his tongue (by speaking out); and if he cannot, then with his heart (by hating it and feeling it is wrong), and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim].
If you find yourself present in a gathering where any of the above-mentioned sins occur, then advise your fellow brothers and sisters against it. Do you not wish that they are saved from the punishment? Prevent them from using their tongues in the displeasure of Allah, and if they refuse your advice, then leave their company. And if they heed your advice then be friends for the sake of Allah, advising each other to good.
May Allah make it easy for us.