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Discipline Defined

Discipline of Speech

The discipline of speech in Islam is a comprehensive ethical framework that governs how Muslims should communicate. It emphasizes truthfulness, kindness, and moderation, rooted in the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Hadith. Let us take a look at the key principles and guidelines that outline the Islamic discipline of speech:

1. Truthfulness (Sidq)

The Quran repeatedly emphasizes the importance of speaking the truth. For instance, Allah commands the Believers:

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَقُولُوا۟ قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا

O believers! Fear Allah and always say the right thing; [Ahzab 33: 70]

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is reported to have said,
قُلِ اَلْحَقَّ, وَلَوْ كَانَ مُرًّا

Speak the truth even if it is bitter [Ibn Hibban]

2. Avoiding Falsehood and Slander

Lying is strictly prohibited in Islam, except in a few exceptional circumstances (e.g., reconciling between people). Speaking ill of others, particularly in their absence, is considered backbiting (ghibah), which is condemned in the Quran and likened to eating the flesh of ones dead brother.

وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ

nor backbite one another (to say something about another behind ones back that if one hears it, dislikes it). Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Surely you would abhor it. [Al Hujurat 49: 12]

3. Gentle and Respectful Speech

Believers are encouraged to use gentle and respectful language.

وَقُل لِّعِبَادِى يَقُولُوا۟ ٱلَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ

And tell My servants to say that which is best. [Al-Isra 17: 53]

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, "He who believes in Allah and the Last Day must speak good or remain silent." [Bukhari and Muslim]

4. Avoiding Excessive or Idle Talk

Idle chatter and excessive talk are discouraged. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ emphasized silence over futile talk, saying:

من صمت نجا

Whoever is silent, he is saved." [Tirmidhi]

5. Refraining from Hurtful Speech

Islam prohibits insulting or mocking others. Surah Al-Hujurat [49: 11] states, Let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand the people are safe.[Bukhari]

6. Adopting Conciseness and Clarity
Believers are encouraged to be concise and clear in their speech to avoid misunderstandings. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was known for his concise and clear manner of speaking.

7. Encouraging Good and Forbidding Evil
Muslims are encouraged to use their speech to promote good and discourage wrongdoing, as mentioned in the Holy Quraan.

وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى ٱلْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ ٱلْمُنكَرِ ۚ

Let there be a group among you who call others to goodness, encourage what is good, and forbid what is evil, [Al-Imran 3: 104]

Criticism should be given constructively and in a manner that promotes improvement rather than causing harm.

8. Avoiding Gossip and Spreading Rumours

Gossip and spreading unfounded rumours are forbidden. The Quran condemns this behaviour in Surah Al-Hujurat [49: 12]

Believers are advised to verify information before passing it on, as emphasized in Surah Al- Hujurat [49: 6]

9. Encouraging Politeness and Humility

Politeness and humility are virtues in communication. The Quran advises;

وَقُولُوا۟ لِلنَّاسِ حُسْنًا

speak gently to people [Baqarah 2: 83]

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ consistently spoke in a polite and humble manner, never raising his voice inappropriately.

Practical Application

In practice, these principles guide Muslims in various aspects of daily life:

Interpersonal Relations: In family, social, and community interactions, speaking
kindly and truthfully fosters harmony and mutual respect.

Conflict Resolution: Using gentle and truthful speech helps in resolving conflicts and misunderstandings.

Public Discourse: In public and online platforms, maintaining decorum and respect aligns with these principles.

The discipline of speech in Islam is designed to promote ethical communication, foster positive relationships, and maintain societal harmony. By adhering to these guidelines, Muslims aim to embody the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in their interactions.

  The Haaji is particularly guided and warned to safeguard his tongue.
‏من حج، فلم يرفث ولم يفسق، رجع كيوم ولدته أمه‏
Whoever performs Hajj (pilgrimage) and does not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commits sin, nor disputes unjustly (during Hajj), then he returns from Hajj as pure and free from sins as on the day on which his mother gave birth to him. [Bukhari and Muslim]

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