Muslim's Character

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  • Muslim's Character

  • CHAPTER 11


    The Manners of Conversation

    The tongue and the language are great gifts of Allah. These gifts that Allah has given him makes him superior to all other creatures: "The Most Gracious Allah has taught the Quran; He has created man; He has taught him speech." ( Ar-Rahman.:.1-4) The greater the gift, the higher would be its re-payment. Being grateful for it is as necessary as being ungrateful is reprehensible. Islam has explained how people can derive benefit from this unparallel blessing, and how the speech that I flows from their tongues throughout the day be used for goodness and truth. People who are never tired of talking are not few in number. If you examine their talks you will find that most of these consist of senseless, absurd and trash things, whereas Allah has not given men their tongues for this purpose, nor these capabilities were given for such a purpose: "In most of their secret talks there is no good; but if one exhorts to a deed of charity or justice or conciliation between men, (secrecy is permissible); to him who does this, seeking the good pleasure of Allah, We shall soon give a reward of the highest (value) ." (An-Nissa: 114) Islam has given special attention to speech, its style, its etiquette and rules, because the talk that comes out from a man's mouth discloses his intellectual level and moral nature, because the etiquette of speech in a group reveals its general standard, and shows the standard of decency in their environment.

    Take an Account of Yourself

    Before addressing others take a glance at yourself, and ask yourself whether this is an occasion which demands speaking. If the answer is in the affirmative, then speak, otherwise silence is much better. To avoid talking unnecessarily on appropriate occasions is a worship of great rewards. ' Abdullah bin Masood says:  "By the Being other than whom there is no God, on this earth there is none more deserving of long imprisonment than the tongue." (Tibrani) Abdullah Ibn Abbas says: "Five things are more valuable than the ,horses with the black-striped legs:
    1. Do not indulge in senseless talk, because it is useless and absurd, and I am uncomfortable from the fear of your committing a sin.
    2. Talk purposefully when there is an occasion for it, for there are many people who talk without an occasion. This is a drawback.
    3. Do not indulge in hot discussion with an intelligent man or with a fool. If he is intelligent, he will be angry with you and will hate you, and if he is a fool and uneducated, he will try to harm you.
    4. In the absence of your brother speak of him in the same words in which you would like him to speak of you in your absence, and consider him innocent of the thing which you would like him to consider you innocent of.
    5. Act like a man who thinks that he will be rewarded for a good deed and will be punished on committing a crime."
    (lbn Abi-al-duniya) A Muslim can develop these attributes in himself only when he keeps his tongue in control, and is able to keep silent wherever necessary. He should be able  to hold the reins of his tongue in his hand; wherever necessary he should speak, and wherever it is not necessary he should keep quiet. Those who are ruled by their tongue, they are pushed back, and in the fields of life they receive insults and disrepute.

    Safety lies in Silence

    One loses sense in talking absurdities and aimlessly. Those who want to impress others in meetings by their talk, they speak so glibly and endlessly that the words come out from their mouth like rainwater. Although they try to convince others that they are very wise, intelligent and farsighted, but sometimes the impression created by their long-winding speeches is quite the contrary, and from their talks people feel that there is no relation between what they want the people to believe about them and what actually they are. When a man wants to contemplate over his position and wants to organize his religious thoughts, he runs away from the atmosphere of noise and uproar and takes shelter in a quiet place. And therefore if Islam recommends silence and considers it a means of civilized training, then it is not at all surprising. The Prophet had, among other things, advised Hazrat Abu Zar in this way: “Adopt silence. This is a way of causing Satan to run away, it is a support to you in the matter of your religion." (Ahmed) Undoubtedly the tongue is a rope in the hands of Satan. He turns it anywhere he likes. When a man is unable to control his affairs, his mouth becomes a passage for all the negative talk which contaminates the heart and covers it with the sheet of negligence. The prophet has said: The faith of a man cannot be straight unless his heart is straight, and his heart cannot be straight unless his tongue becomes straight." (Ahmed) The first stage of this straightness and correctness is that man should wash his hands off all the irrelevant matters and he should not interfere in those things about which he is not answerable. "It is the excellence of a man's faith that he gives up meaningless work," (Tirmizi)

    Avoidance of Nonsense is a Condition of Success

    To avoid irrelevant and nonsensical things is a condition for success and is a proof of perfection. Quran has mentioned it in between two essential duties (Faraiz) of Muslims, which gives an idea of its importance : "Successful indeed are the believers who are humble in their prayers, and who shun vain conversation, and who are payers of zakat." (AI-Muminoon .. 1-4) If all the men of the world count their efforts which they make in indulging in vain conversation and acts, they will come to realize that a very large part of the long winding tales and stories, widely circulated news, narratives, speeches and broadcasts comprises of vain, meaningless and useless things, which are eagerly watch ed, and heard, but no benefit is derived from them, Islam has expressed its disapproval of the meaningless talks and things, because the superficial and useless things have no value in its eyes, It dislikes that man should not busy himself in matters for which he has been created and instead he should waste his life in involving himself in other irrelevant matters. The more distant a Muslim will be from an absurd and irrelevant thing, the more high will be his rank before Allah Anas bin Malik says that when a man died another man passed a remark about him in the presence of the Prophet that he would go to Paradise. The Prophet stopped him and said: "Do not you know ? It is likely that he might I have indulged in meaningless conversation or might have been miserly in spending his wealth, although this does not effect any reduction."  (Tirmizi) A vain talker, on account of the weak co-ordination between his thought and his tongue, blurts out whatever comes on his tongue. Sometimes he says something which places him in danger, and he ruins his future. It is said that the more one talks, the more one commits mistakes. An Arabic poet has said: "The youth dies by the fault of his tongue whereas from the faltering of the feet death does not occur." In the tradition it is stated: "A man says something so that those present may laugh, although on account of it he is thrown to the most distant region between the earth and the sky. The faltering of the feet cause much less harm than the faltering of the tongue." (Baihaqui)

    Heart-Warming Speech is a Missionary's Wherewithal

    When a man has to speak, he should say something good and worthwhile. He should accustom his tongue  to indulge in good, decent and respectable conversation, because the best manifestation of the thoughts and feelings of tile heart and mind is the classical literature, with which Allah has blessed the followers of all the religions. Quran has clearly mentioned that the covenant which Hazrat Moosa had taken from Bani Israil also included the condition that they should indulge in good and worthwhile conversation: And (recall) when We took a covenant from the Children of Israil, (saying).. .. Worship none save Allah, be good to parents and kindred and orphans and those in need.. and speak aright and kindly to people, and establish salat and pay Zakat." “ Baqarah .. 82) Clean and decent conversation impresses both friends and foes, and its sweet fruits can be readily enjoyed. It guards love between friends. It strengthens their friendship and makes it durable and defeats all the tricks of the devil for weakening their relations and for sowing the seeds of discord between them: "Say (0 Prophet!) to my slaves to speak which is kindlier. Verily, the devil sows discord among them. Verily, the devil is for man an open enemy." “ Bani Israil.. 53” The devil is hiding in ambush against man. He tries to sow the seeds of discord, enmity and jealousy among them. He wants that the ordinary disputes be converted into big bloody battles, and that no spanner should be thrown in his works by means of good, decent and kindly talk. If you would talk gracefully with your enemies, their enmity would disappear, and their tempers will be cooled, or at least a distinct difference can be witnessed in their hostile attitude. "The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then surely, he, between whom and you there was enmity(will become) as though he was a bosom friend." (Ha-Meem-Sajda: 34) To make Muslims in all conditions well-behaved and of good manners, the Prophet has said: "You will not be able to rule over the people through your wealth, but through good appearance and good manners you can win their hearts." -(AI-Bazzar). In the eyes of Islam not to give a gift to somebody while behaving in a decent way and with good manners is better than giving it in an indecent manner, and by giving him pain. "A kind word with forgiveness is better than charity followed by injury. Allah is Free of All Wants and Most Forbearing." (Baqarah: 263) Decent conversation is such a habit that it is counted among the virtues and good attributes, and one who adopts this habit becomes worthy of pleasing Allah and for him is writ eternal bliss, Anas narrates that one man asked the Prophet teach him such act as would enable him to enter the Paradise. The Prophet replied:  "Feed the poor, practice salutation (salaam) in the night when people are enjoying sleep, offer prayers, you will enter Paradise with peace." (AI-Bazzar) Allah has commanded us to adopt decent and serious manners of speaking when we may discuss matters with the followers of other religions. It should not have intensity nor heat and anger. However those who are , aggressive against us, it is necessary to put a stop to their aggression “ And argue not with the People of the Book unless it be in r away) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong." “Ankabut.. 46) Great men always take care in all conditions that no extra and useless word comes out of their mouth, and they do not adopt an attitude of pride and foolishness with every specie of creatures. Malik has reported that Yahya bin Saeed has told him that Hazrat Issa (Christ) one day passed by a pig, and he addressed it: "Pass on peacefully." He was asked: "You talk to a pig in this manner !" He replied: "I am afraid my tongue may not be habituated to rude talk."

    The Answer to the Uneducated is Silence

    Some people remain ill-mannered. hot-tempered and lewd-talkers for the whole of their lives. Their faith and belief are not at all disturbed by these evils, nor does their morality admonish them on their attitude. They have no hesitation in telling others things which are disagreeable to them. Whenever they find a suitable field to let off their steam, their tongues run away with  vulgar and obscene talks like rein less steeds. No cries  stop them nor does any voice inhibit them. The attitude of a gentleman with such people should, be that he should not engage himself in any discussion with them, because any provocation would lead to great  disturbance, and it is necessary to seal this source or  trouble. For this reason Islam has commanded to ignore the foolish and unwise people. Once one of these illiterate persons stood at the door of the Prophet's house with a view to entering it. The kind Prophet treated him very decently and managed to persuade him to go away. There was no other go besides this, for tolerance and forbearance is the cloth by which the uneducated and the fool can be gagged. Had the Prophet allowed him to do whatever he intended to do, then he would have had to hear all the drivel and the rubbish talk from which his ears thus remained safe. Hazrat Ayesha says that one man sought the Prophet's permission to enter the house, and the Prophet remarked: "What a bad man is he of his family !" When he came in, the Prophet talked to him pleasantly and softly. After he went away, she asked him 'O Messenger of Allah! You heard this man talking in this way, yet there was no sign of perturbation on your face, on the contrary you talked to him pleasantly ?” The Prophet replied: "O Ayesha ! when did you hear me talking vulgarly? On  the Day of Judgment before Allah the worst man would be the one for avoiding whose vulgar talk people stopped meeting him," (Bukhari) This policy is such that its truth is borne out by our daily experiences, for how can a man like that could tarnish his good manners by hobnobbing with a bad mannered person? If he starts teaching manners to every uneducated and foolish person, then his life will become a bundle of troubles, For this reason, the holy Quran, while listing the qualities of Allah's slaves, has first mentioned this tolerance of theirs: "And the slaves of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say.. 'Salam." {Peace)",  (AI-Furqan.. 63) Man swallows his anger once, twice, but later on he bursts. But a well-behaved Muslim is expected by Islam to tolerate more troubles and adversities, so that consequently the evil should not be able to stand firmly on its ground. Sa'eed bin Musayyeb says: "When the Prophet was sitting with his companions one person used insulting words against Hazrat Abu Bakr, causing him pain, but Abu Bakr was silent, For the second time also he used the bitter words against him, and still Abu Bakr was silent. When for the third time he hurt him with his tongue, Abu Bakr tried to answer him, The Messenger of Allah got up. Abu Bakr asked him: 'Are you displeased with me, O Messenger of Allah ?' The Prophet replied: 'No, but from the heaven an angel had come down and he was denying that man's talk, and when you started to answer that man, the angel went away and the devil sat down. And I cannot sit where the devil is sitting" (Abu Daud) To pay respect to the foolish and unintelligent people does not mean that their low and superficial acts should also be accepted. In these two conditions there is a very great difference. The first thing means that man should have control over his self in the presence of folly and unintelligence,  and he should not give them a chance to show their true I nature which is the bearer of anger and wrath, and be  provoked to take revenge. While the second aspect has quite the contrary sense. In that condition it amounts to allow the self to submit to folly, meanness and disrepute, and to accept those low things which no wise and decent man would be ready to accept. The holy Quran has treated the subject of respect to ! the unintelligent people and the hatred of their low and mean acts in this manner : “ Allah does not like that evil should be noised t abroad in public speech, except where injustice ha; been done; for Allah is He Who hears and knows all things. Whether you express a good deed or conceal it or cover evil with pardon, verily Allah does blot out  (sins) and has power (in the judgment of values)"  ( An-Nissa.. 148-149)

    Avoid Polemic

    The commands that Islam issued to keep the tongue safe from baseless and absurd things is to declare polemical discussion and controversial debating and to shut its doors upon Muslims, irrespective of whether the polemical debating is correct or otherwise. It is so because here such conditions arise that a man tries to score a point and to overcome his opponent. As he wants to defeat his adversary by his talk, he takes the support of even dubious and unreliable things which can strengthen his argument, and he quotes such statements unhesitatingly which help him in his task. In such a gathering people give more Importance to winning than on expressing truth. This is likely to result in rancor and disturbances, in which clarification and satisfaction have no place. Islam hates all these conditions and considers them a danger for the religion and morality. The Prophet has said: "He who has given up controversial discussion in senseless and false matters, for him there will be built a house in the lower section of the Paradise; and he who has corrected his morals, for him there will be built a house in the upper section of the Paradise." (Abu Daud) There are some people whom Allah has gifted the power of tongue and has made them expert in that line. This prompts them to exercise their expertise over all people, educated or uneducated. It becomes a burning desire in their hearts, and they do not rest content with out satisfying this desire. When this group makes others a victim of their power of speech and shows their expertise, they hurt their feelings, and when this quality is required to be employed in expressing the religious realities then all the beauty and grandeur of their speech vanishes. Islam is extremely displeased with non-sense talkers who shout at the top of their voices, and admonish them very severely. The Prophet has said: "Before Allah the most hated are the quarrelsome debaters." (Bukhari) In another tradition it is stated: "After receiving guidance no community went astray and did not deviate from the path it was following, except when debaters turned them away from it." (Tirmizi) On account of the speed of its tongue, this group does not stay within the limits. It goes on talking, feels conceited and struts along. For this group the position of words is of first importance, their meaning takes the second place. As regards the great and clean purpose, many times it is demoted to the last place, and sometimes in this hullabaloo it does not get any place at all. It is narrated that once a deceitful man, wearing beautiful clothes, went in the presence of the Prophet and during conversation raised his voice higher than the voice of the Prophet. When he went away, the Prophet said:  "Allah does not like people of this type. They work their tongue in the way a cow does when it chews the cud. In the same way Allah will twist their faces and mouths on the Doomsday in the fire of hell." (Tibrani) When in the fields of religion, politics and other branches of learning the so called orators and expert writers come forward for indulging in polemics and debates, then the spirit of religion receives a setback. The face of politics, learning and sciences is disfigured. And possibly this helped in hastening the decline of our civilization and culture, in the formation of group of the schools of “Fiqh”, division of the Ummah on the sectarian basis and other diseases of disruption. In other matters of religion and worldly affairs also this controversial debating spread its poison. Controversial debating is worlds away from pure, clean discussion, and sober and pleasant argumentation. A number of companions of the Prophet have  reported that once they were discussing and debating some religious point, when the Prophet arrived; he was terribly angry. He was never seen so angry before. He admonished them and said: "Stay put, O Ummah of Muhammed! Nations before you were destroyed by this only. Give up this debating. The portion of good is very little in it. Give up this discussion and argumentation, for this is not a quality of a Momin. Avoid this polemic and disputation, for the loss sustained by one who indulges in it becomes complete. For your being a sinner it is sufficient that you are a debater. Give up this debating, because on the Day of Resurrection there will be none to intercede for the debater. Wash off your hands of this wicked habit, for in Paradise I will lead only to three kinds of houses, its lower floor, middle floor and the upper floor, which will be for that man who has given up debating truthfully and with good intention. Keep away from this bad habit because after idolatry, the first thing that my Lord has forbidden is this very debating." (Tibrani) Such gatherings of men are arranged where novel and attractive talks drive men towards them. Islam dislikes such gatherings, where people sit and waste their time, and where people always lap up news and defects of others. They have wealth in excess under whose shadow they try to have good time. They have no other work beside this that they seek pleasure in the affairs of other people. "Woe to every (kind of) scandal-monger and backbiter, who piles up wealth and lays it by, thinking that his wealth would make him last for ever! By  no means I He will be sure to be thrown  into that  which breaks to pieces." (Humaza: 1-4) In modern times such gathering in clubs are the order of the day. This is a calamity that has caused the society to be infected with a number of diseases. This calamity is found in abundance in big towns and small cities, even though there is no religious necessity for this thing. It is mentioned in the hadith :  "Avoid sitting on the roads." The people said: "O Messenger of Allah! What would happen to our those gatherings without which there would be no life for us." He said: "If you insist on having gathering, then do due justice to them." People asked: "What is their due, O Messenger of Allah.”  He answered: "To keep your eyes down, to remove harmful things, to give answer to salutation, to command performance of good things and to prevent commitment of evil things." (Muslim)
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