Nowadays, our gatherings are filled with unrestrained conversations that seem to cover every area. If one were to judge these, they could only come to the conclusion that the vast majority of these conversations are comprised of useless or even harmful talk. This is certainly not why Allah has gifted us with tongues and this definitely not how gifts are appreciated. Allah says that which translates as: “No good is there in much of their private conversation, except for those who enjoin charity or that which is right or conciliation between people. And whoever does that seeking the means to the approval of Allah – then We are going to give them a great reward.” (An-Nisaa': 114).
Islam has given great emphasis to speech and on the way that words are delivered, as this reflects our thoughts and mentality, as well as how morality, or its opposite, is spread through society. A person must ask himself before saying anything: ‘Is there any need for me to talk?' If there is a need, then it is fine to talk. Otherwise, silence is better because refraining from unnecessary speech is a form of worship, which has a great reward. Abdullaah Ibn Mas'ood , RA, said: “I swear by the One besides Whom there is nothing worthy of worship: one's need to imprison their tongue is greater than anything else.” Ibn ‘Abbaas , RA also said: “Achieving the following five matters is more beneficial than owning the best types of horses:
• Not involving yourselves in conversations that do not concern you, as there is no guarantee that you would not sin therein.
• Not talking about things that do concern you, until you find the proper time; as a person may talk about a matter that does concern them but at the wrong time and therefore produce a bad consequence.
• Not arguing with a wise or a foolish person, as the wise person would desert you and the foolish person would humiliate you.
• Mentioning your brother, in his absence, with things with which you would wish him to mention you with in your absence – and forgiving him for that which you would wish him to forgive you for.
• Performing the actions of one who is certain that he would be rewarded for the good and punished for the bad that he does”.
A Muslim cannot achieve these five things unless he strictly controls his tongue, silences it whenever he wishes and curtails any unnecessary activity on its part. As for those who are driven by their tongues, they are being piloted to their destruction. Loose talk causes one to become heedless. It is a fact that the majority of those who take the lead in vain talk during sinful gatherings talk so much that one who listens to them comes to realise that they themselves are not aware of what they are saying and that there is no thought-process behind their words. This is exactly the reason why Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam advised Abu Dharr RA , saying: “Stay silent for long periods, as this keeps Satan away from you and helps you in the practice of your religion.” He sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam also said: “No servants of Allah's belief will be correct until his heart is corrected, and his heart will never be corrected until his tongue is” The first phase of achieving this correctness is for a person to give up that which does not concern them and not to involve themselves in things that they were not asked about, as Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said: “A sign of one's good practice of Islam, is having given up that which does not concern them” Shunning frivolities and idle talk is the gate to success. Allah says that which translates as: “Certainly will the believers have succeeded. They who are during their prayer humbly submissive. And they who turn away from ill speech.” (Al-Mu'minoon: 1-3).
Islam has dispraised frivolities and idle talk as they are immaterial and evil. In fact, the more a person stays away from them, the higher their rank becomes with Allah. Conversely, the more a person indulges in them, the more their punishment will be with Allah, this is why Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said: “A servant (of Allah) will utter a word for no other reason but to make people laugh, and it would cause him to go down into Hell as far as the distance between the Heavens and the earth; and a person will slip with his tongue more often than he will stumble off his feet”. Allah SWT took a pledge from the children of Israel not to say but that which is good, as He said that which translates as: “And [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], ‘Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words]…” (Al-Baqarah: 83).
Kind words are effectual with friends and enemies alike. As for friends, they will maintain the good relationship and prolong the friendship – and prevent the traps of Satan as Allah SWT says that which translates as: “And tell My servants to say that which is best. Indeed, Satan induces [dissension] among them. Indeed Satan is ever, to mankind, a clear enemy.” (Al-Israa': 53).
As for enemies, it will put out the fire of their enmity and prevent any further evil to take place, or at least reduce it, as Allah says that which translates as: “And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon, the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” (Fussilat: 34).
Another benefit of kind and upright words, are that they get people accustomed to polite and pleasant ways of expressing themselves. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said: “One cannot endear people to themselves by means of wealth, but can do so with a smiling face and good conduct” Sayyadina Anas bin Maalik , RA , reported that a man came to Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam and asked: “Teach me something that would result in me entering Paradise”: Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam replied: “Feed the people, spread the greetings of salaam, keep good ties with your kith and kin and pray at night while the people are sleeping and you will enter Jannah peacefully” If these are the ranks that those who possess good conduct and proper manners possess, then what a great loss it is for those who are harsh, argumentative, shameless and unrelenting. Nothing will stop such people and no reminder will benefit them; such people will always harm others whenever an opportunity arises to satisfy their habit of fighting and arguing. If one is tested by having to deal with such a character, then they must try to avoid their evil, and deal gently with them.
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said: “The most evil of people in rank on the day of judgement, are those who people avoid due to their evil”. That is why Allah SWT regards good conduct as the foremost of the desired characteristics of His slaves, which protects them from evil. He says that which translates as: “And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth without arrogance, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words] of peace.” (Al-Furqaan: 63) and He also says that which translates as: “And when they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say, ‘For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. Peace will be upon you; we seek not the ignorant.'” (Al-Qasas: 55).