Many ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have warned us against letting the tongue be free, yet we still find amongst us many struggling to leave back-biting, slander, swearing, cursing, lying and all those traits which are not befitting for the character of a Muslim.
This Ramadan is an opportune time for you to restrain your tongue just as you restrain your body from food and drink and its desires.
Here are some tips to control your tongue and gain the most of your fasting, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (ie. Allah will not accept his fasting.)” [Bukhari]
1. Leave that which does not concern you
The first tip to master is to leave that which does not concern you. Don’t enquire about something that is not necessary like what someone else may have said or done wrong.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “From the excellence of a man’s Islam is leaving that which does not concern him.” [Bukhari]
2. Remember ‘Silence is golden’
Before you speak, start by asking yourself a few questions: 1. Will this benefit or harm? 2. Is it necessary? Often it takes this mere moment of reflection to identify whether your speaking is necessary or useless. And as the proverb goes: ‘If talk is silver then silence is gold’.
[You can write this and hang it up on your desktop at work!]
3. Conceal faults of others
Covering the faults of others is part of the virtue of safeguarding the honour of Muslims.
Once the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked: “O Messenger of Allah, which of the Muslims is best?” And he said, “He who the Muslims are safe from his tongue and his hand.” [Riyadh as-Saliheen]
We’re quick to disclose others’ faults and conceal our own, yet we should remind ourselves of the time when we would wish our faults would be concealed. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever conceals (the fault of) a Muslim, Allah will conceal his fault on the day of Judgment.” [Muslim]
Our society is filled with many rumours that create disunity as well as animosity so always presume good of others and be part of the solution.
3. Eliminate unproductive ‘chit-chat’
We are all culprits of talking rubbish at times, yet as Muslims we know that Allah is always listening to us. Ask yourself what topics often come up in your conversation? Are they about matters which would be pleasing to Allah? or are they just about worldly matters and boastfulness?
We have to ensure it is not always the latter, instead discuss topics that are beneficial, it may be social awareness, about a hadith you have learned, about Muslims who need help. Often I plan mentally in advance what I may say to someone new I am meeting, or consider topic areas of interest we may discuss at gatherings.
4. A slip of the tongue?
Our societies are fragmented and our families sadly ‘not on talking terms’ (See How to Rebuild Kinship Ties this Ramadan) because someone said something without thinking or in a heated moment. We know from the narration of the Prophet (peace be upon him) it is prohibited to stop talking to one who has displeased us for more than 3 days; yet some Muslims go years on end without talking to relatives/family members despite the curse incurred as a result of cutting off such relationships. Often it occurs on the basis of what can be a ‘slip of the tongue’ – so take it upon yourself to say sorry if you wronged someone or forgive them if it was a slip of the tongue.
5. Don’t spend your ‘Free Minutes’ on Talk Talk
Our social culture and major mobile corporation networks tell us that conversing is ‘free’ so we should take advantage of it – but every minute comes at a big price to your deen, dunya and akhirah. Check what your going to say is beneficial and the time spent- otherwise you just fall into the trap of talking without any meaningful purpose.
Cut out your talking time after iftaar and whilst your fasting and don’t let a minute be wasted. Instead, use those minutes to see how your family are, call to speak to those who you have not been in touch with for a while and get in touch with others to invite them to good. Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’la] says in Surah Al-Asr: ‘Verily by time, man is in loss, except for those who believe and do righteous deeds, and recommend one another to the truth, and recommend one another to patience’ [103: 1-4]