Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Harvest of Tongues...and Its Many Dangers

As of late, in simply observing people, and in a late night discussion with a dear friend of mine about the harms of backbiting, talebearing, and disclosing secrets, the harvest of tongues and the harms of speaking have been very much on my heart and mind. We should guard are tongues from talking about others in any way they would not like, regardless of what our intention in doing so is. Much hurt and harm can otherwise occur, to our own souls, others, and to relationships.

An excerpt from a talk by Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui published in The Muslim Voice a few years back seems fitting and worth re-reading:

"When Mu‘adh asked Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) “will we be held accountable even for the words we utter here and there?”, Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) replied, “Oh Mu’adh may your mother mourn you! (i.e. something bad is coming, if you don’t understand this…you’re dead!) – What else, but the harvest of the tongue causes most people to be dragged on their faces into the Fire of Hell!”, and Allah tells us, “every word uttered is recorded by the angels”. Yet what is the ni‘mah we use most? – It is the tongue, and one ‘aalim said that if we used our other senses as much as we use our tongue, they would collapse with fatigue! However, in this natural order that Allah has created, He has indicated things to some of the believers who have some hikmah (wisdom) left, such that one ‘aalim said, Allah created the tongue and He created two gates before you get to the tongue (teeth and lips), remember Allah does not create in vain, every creation has wisdoms in it. Abu Dardah (RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu) is related to have said “do justice to your ears, for you were given two ears and one tongue in order that you listen/hear more than you speak”. A wise man once said, “my tongue is like a scorpion, if I let it go, it will begin by biting me”. Every word we utter is most likely a poisonous bite that we’ll have to reckon with on the Day of Judgment. Yet the desire to speak is so intense because the nafs inside is at a lower state. One great ‘aalim was asked by a serious student of great akhlaaq “when shall I speak?”, he answered, “when you have the urge to speak, keep quiet and when you have the urge to keep quiet, you may speak”. Rasool Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with his exalted state of khuluq used to have prolonged intervals of silence, and when he spoke, he spoke gems, diamonds, and pearls. He (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “whosoever has imaan (faith) in Allah and the Day of Judgment let him speak a word of khayr or remain silent” – what is khayr? It is that which helps us in our journey to Allah and the purpose for which we were created, it is not relative to our nafs nor to relativist morals, anything that does not help us fulfill the purpose for which we were created, is logically not beneficial. The tongue, my dear brothers and sisters is the most used key by Shaytaan to enter the qalb and occupy it – backbiting, sewing the seeds of hatred, ridiculing, making fun of people, lying, conspiring with words, and these days we actually have ‘talk’ shows where people get paid tonnes of money to lie and ridicule others and it’s called civilized entertainment. By Allah! - We will be asked for every word we utter! And those whom Allah exalted in knowledge and practice of that knowledge, kept their tongues jailed. Thus said one of them (Rahimahullah), “there is nothing worthier of long sentences of jail than the tongue”, but remember, the nafs in that lower state feeds the desire to speak and to speak that which is not beneficial to the ultimate purpose for which we were created."

Ghiba (Backbiting and slander) is a major sin and is a very common ailment in our society. It means to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike, whether about his body, religion, everyday life, self, disposition, property, son, father, wife, servant, turban, garment, gait…

Allah clearly mentions in the Qur’an:

‘Woe to whoever disparages others behind their back or to their face

(Koran 104:1)

Some useful reads:

What does it mean, "Leave that which does not concern you?" If I am interested in something, doesn't it "concern me?"

Slander, backbiting, holding one’s tongue and leaving that which does not concern one...

Lying to Keep a Promise

Fulfilling the Rights of Others

I am Unable to Guard My Tongue from Backbiting. What Shall I Do?



  1. Anonymous12:54 AM

    Thank you for the reminder.


  2. Masha' Allah, this is a marvelous post with many excellent reminders.

    I think it is important to also emphasize that one who hears ghiba, namima, or other things categorized as being from "maharim al-lisan" [prohibitions of the tongue], is responsible to speak up against it, or disengage with the speaker as the situation requires.

    In my own experience, amongst friends, I have found it effective to gently steer the conversation away from ghiba without making accusations against the speaker and hurting his/her feelings. Most of my friends, Muslim or not, know well enough not to talk about certain things and they usually realize they have crossed the line without me having to point it out.

    It is imperative that if we are the subject of harmful speech, we should exercise patience, pray to God for help, and if the harmful speech came from friends, we should strive to have compassion and forgive them.

    If we, God forbid, engage in harmful speech ourselves then it is crucial that we do not delay repentance.

    If we have a tendency to talk a lot [and consequently make mistakes by engaging in speaking or listening to the haram], one of the best things I have found to do [rather than biting one's tongue and remaining silent] is to busy the tongue with speech that is healthy rather than destructive--specifically: "zikrullah" [remembrance of God]. One should engage in such zikr that moves the heart and excites reflection in the mind. There are many excellent classical awrad [litanies] that can facilitate this. One need not do anything complicated either: it is often very effective to recite salawat on the Prophet, `alayhi-salatu wa salam, or to recite "la ilaha ill Allah" or even simply: "ya Allahu" again and again until one feels an inclination to be silent.

    Allahu A`lam.

  3. asselamu aleykum
    masha'Allah, a very important and timeless reminder...

  4. Alhamdulillah, reminders are of benefit to believers.

    Br. Mohammad, Jazakum Allahu Khayran for your thoughtful comments. You brought up a good point about the role of the listener. Insha'Allah, I pray we all remember that we should neither speak such things nor listen to them.

    My mother and grandmother always taught us that there is safety in quietude and that the more you speak, the more likely you are to mess up.

    I remembered something with regards to ghiba that Shaykh Nuh taught us. He said that each night we should take into account where we slipped up during the day. If we made ghiba, we should note (write it down!) who or what the topic of conversation was when we made ghiba, and to avoid talking about that person altogether -- good or bad.

    Barak Allahu fi kum.


  5. Anonymous5:00 PM

    Program on the emergence of civilization.

    "14 species of large animals capable of domesitcation in the history of mankind.
    13 from Europe, Asia and northern Africa.
    None from the sub-Saharan African continent. "
    And disfavor.

    They point out Africans’ failed attempts to domesticate the elephant and zebra, the latter being an animal they illustrate that had utmost importance for it's applicability in transformation from a hunting/gathering to agrarian-based civilization.

    The roots of racism are not of this earth.

    Austrailia, aboriginals:::No domesticable animals.

    The North American continent had none. Now 99% of that population is gone.

    AIDS in Africa.

    Organizational Heirarchy
    Heirarchical order, from top to bottom:

    1. MUCK - perhaps have experienced multiple universal contractions (have seen multiple big bangs), creator of the artificial intelligence humans ignorantly refer to as "god"
    2. Perhaps some mid-level alien management
    3. Mafia (evil) aliens - runs day-to-day operations here and perhaps elsewhere (On planets where they approved evil.)

    Terrestrial management:

    4. Chinese/egyptians - this may be separated into the eastern and western worlds
    5. Romans - they answer to the egyptians
    6. Mafia - the real-world interface that constantly turns over generationally so as to reinforce the widely-held notion of mortality
    7. Jews, corporation, women, politician - Evidence exisits to suggest mafia management over all these groups.

    Survival of the favored.

    Movies foreshadowing catastrophy
    1985 James Bond View to a Kill 1989 San Francisco Loma Prieta earthquake.

    Many Muslims are being used like the Germans and Japanese of wwii::being used to hurt others and envoke condemnation upon their people.

    I wish I could find a source to educate many Muslim fundamentalists. Muhammad is alive. He is a man chosen like Jesus Christ and, due to his historical status, will live forever.

    They can affect the weather and Hurricane Katrina was accomplished for many reasons and involves many interests, as anything this historical is::
    1. Take heat off Sheenhan/Iraq, protecting profitable war machine/private war contracts
    2. Gentrification. New Orleans median home price of $84k is among the lowest in major American cities, certainly among desirable cities.