While reminding about this unparalleled gift, the Qur’an guides us to be conscious of our speech, mindful of its style and tone and follow the proper etiquettes of expressing oneself. The words that come out of the mouth speak volumes about one’s personality and his/her attitude towards the feelings of fellow human beings. It defines the moral standard of a person. Speaking effectively is crucial to maintain relationships with the people around and spread peace, happiness and prosperity in the world.
The Holy Qur’an, being the ultimate source of guidance to mankind in all aspects of life has elaborately shed light on the etiquettes of speaking. Furthermore, the words and deeds of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) show the path of eloquent speech, kind words and effective communication.
Words are very powerful. A kind word is a great panacea for several problems. Kind words can be so impactful that they have the power to lift spirits, bring smiles on faces, motivate and even change hearts. The Qur’an speaks about the covenant made with the children of Israel wherein they are asked to abide by several important commandments and one of them being the command to speak kind words. “And speak kindly to people.” (Qur’an, 2:83) The Qur’an also asserts that a kind word is better than charity that is boastful. “A kind word with forgiveness is better than charity followed by injury.” (Qur’an, 2:263)
Islam emphasises on the important duty of an individual of providing provisions to the poor, needy relatives and stranded travellers. However, when a person does not have the means to provide he/she is required to at least speak to them kindly. A kind word surely brings up hope. The Qur’an says, “But if you must turn aside from them in pursuit of an act of kindness you hope to receive from your Lord, then at least speak to them kindly.” (Qur’an, 17:28)
Once a person came to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and asked him “O Messenger of Allah, tell me something that will guarantee Paradise for me.” The Messenger of Allah, (pbuh) said, “Speak kind words, offer peace, and feed the hungry.”
While mentioning the traits of people who are worthy of paradise, the Qur’an, along with other attributes, talks about being truthful in words. “…..those who are steadfast, truthful, obedient, spend (in the way of God) and implore the forgiveness of God before daybreak.” (Qur’an, 3:17)
‘Abdullah (r) reported Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as saying: “It is obligatory for you to tell the truth, for truth leads to virtue and virtue leads to Paradise, and the man who continues to speak the truth and endeavours to tell the truth is eventually recorded as truthful with Allah…”
The Almighty has appointed Messengers at all times for the guidance of mankind. Time and again, they used to encounter a tyrant ruler of their lands and would be entrusted with the obligation of conveying the divine message to them. One such despotic ruler was the Pharaoh of Egypt and Prophets Musa (a) and Haroon(a) were sent to his palace to preach monotheism to him. Nevertheless, the Almighty commanded them to speak softly to the greatest oppressor of the time saying; “And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear Allah.” (Qur’an 20:44)
A’isha (r) reported Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as saying: “Gentleness is not to be found in anything but that it adds to its beauty and it is not withdrawn from anything but it makes it defective.”
The Qur’an directs the believer to always be accurate and just while speaking. One should be aware of what he/she says and analyze the effects of their words. A believer is asked to say the right words and the Almighty promises to take care of the deeds of the ones who speak properly and accurately. “Believers, fear God and speak accurately. God will set your deeds right for you and will forgive you your sins. Whoever obeys God and His Messenger has achieved a great triumph.” (Qur’an 33:70-71)
Human beings have a special place in their hearts for their kin. This love may sometimes lead towards being biased to the relatives while settling some disputes and compel a person to speak unjustly. The Qur’an elevates the thought process of humans and prompts him to utter only words of justice in all situations. “When you speak, be just, even though it concern a near of kin.” (Qur’an 6:152)
The Qur’an compares a good word to a beneficial tree and a bad one to a useless tree that benefits none. “Do you not see how God compares a good word to a good tree? Its roots are firm and its branches reach to the sky. It yields its fruits at all times by its Lord’s leave. Thus does God set parables for people so that they may reflect. And an evil word is like a corrupt tree, torn up onto the face of the earth. It cannot have a stable position.” (Qur’an, 14: 24-26) God commands the believers to say words that are the best in nature. “And tell My servants to say that which is best.” (Qur’an 17:53)
Refrain from Vain Talks
Being productive is a virtue of a believer. A believer cannot squander his valuable time in unproductive matters. One of the main reasons for the decrease in productivity is indulging in vain talks. With the advent of smartphones and social media the time spent on vain talks has increased manifold. The Qur’an guides mankind towards shunning all kinds of vain talks.
“The believers have indeed attained true success: those who, in their Prayers, humble themselves; who avoid whatever is vain and frivolous;” (Qur’an, 23:1-3)
“And when they (believers) hear idle talk they turn aside from it and say: We shall have our deeds and you shall have your deeds; peace be on you, we do not desire the ignorant.” (Qur’an, 28:55)
“And they who do not bear witness to what is false, and when they pass by what is vain, they pass by nobly.” (Qur’an, 25:72)
People who indulge in vain talks often talk senselessly. They have a lack of coordination between their thoughts and tongue which may land them in danger most of the time.
Islam gives utmost importance to shun baseless debates and arguments. While instructing believers to carry out the noble task of calling people towards the way of God it lays down the importance of wise speech and best arguments. “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best.” (Qur’an, 16:125)
The life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has presented an exemplary model of excellent communication skills. He listened more. When he spoke he communicated his thoughts in a nutshell. He captured the hearts of the young and old alike.
Moreover The Qur’an teaches a beautiful supplication to attain excellent communication skills and clarity of speech. He (Musa) said “Lord! Open my chest for me. And ease my task for me. And loosen the knot from my tongue. So that they may understand my speech.” (Qur’an, 20:25-28)
If a person gains control over his tongue it is as if he has traveled a long way in the path of guidance and salvation. We are accountable for the words that come out of us. The Qur’an says, “He does not utter a statement except that there is an observer by him ready to record it.” (Quran 50:18)
Being able to speak is indeed a great blessing from the Almighty. A believer needs to be grateful for this wonderful blessing by using its power to spread peace and prosperity in this world and gain enormous rewards through it in the hereafter.