Moral Teachings of Islam 29 – Responsibility Of Words

Jamal Badawi


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The name of God the benevolent the Merciful, the creator and Sustainer of the universe, peace and blessings upon his servant Muhammad forever. I mean, I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except the one true God. And I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger and slave servant of God. I greet you, our viewers of the Islamic focused program with our usual greeting, a greeting that has been used by all of the profits from Abraham through to Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon them all. Assalamu Aleikum, which means peace be unto you.

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Today we have our 29th program in our series dealing with the moral teachings of Islam. We'll be looking at the question of responsibility or adequate of speech. I'm your host, Hamad Rashid, and I have joining me as usual on the program, Dr. Jamal Badawi of St. Mary's University, brother Jamal Assalamualaikum.

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I want to perhaps we could start today's program with an examination of what the Quran has to say about the use or the abuse of the faculty of speech.

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When to start with as a basic rule, the ability to speak up in terms of human communication

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is regarded in the Quran as one of the greatest bounties or blessing of God. Indeed, in chapter 55, it talks about God how he created men or mankind's genetics and, and taught him the power of expression or the power of speech or intelligent speech and understanding. So in itself, it's a great bounty of God that make humans distinct from other levels of creatures.

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The main problem, however, is whether this power of speech or expression is used effectively, and whether it is also abused by the individual. In the Quran, we find that

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the individual responsibility has been very much emphasized. And part of that responsibility also is the responsibility for the kind of words we attach, whether it's goodly words useful, meaningful or not.

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The Quran makes a contrast. For example, in chapter 14,

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in verse 24 hours on God gives a parable, there are a similitude of the kinds of words that come from people's

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It says that, didn't you see how God has made a parable of the Good Lord, like a tree,

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whose roots are firmly established in the ground, and whose roots are whose branches expand and reach for heavens?

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The opposite is presented also. And he said the parable or similitude, of an evil word, is like an evil tree, which is torn up by the roots from the surface of the earth that doesn't have any foundation. See the contrast between the type of words that may be said. So the the main problem with appears is not in the power of speech itself,

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or ability to produce words or communicate messages, but rather, as to whether the person properly use that faculty given by God in accordance with his responsibility or abuse it.

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Now are there any specific measures that are prescribed by Islam in order to prevent an individual from

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using speech in an abusive kind of way? Or there are a number of steps or recommendation that one can derive from reading the Quran. To start with, we find there is always a recommendation that a person should avoid vain talk, idle talk that is not beneficial and doesn't have a good reason. In other words, it doesn't say don't talk, but it says when there is no need, there is no good reason for a person to speak up. It's better actually, not to say anything. For example, the Quran describing the believers

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Say one Latina woman in LA. That's in chapter 23. That one of the characteristics of true believers is that they are the ones who avoid them talk. What is Mr. rubella we might recommend chapter 25, that if they pass by futility or vain talk, they pass by with honorable avoidance.

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Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him emphasize the same principle also, in one of his sayings, as narrated in both Bukhari and Muslim collection, he says that he who believes in God and in the hereafter should say, either a good thing or keep quiet. In other words, if there's something goodly to be said, yes, if not, the person did not speak.

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But of course, when we talk about

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speaking, like I indicated, and it doesn't mean any restriction, so long as there's a good purpose behind it. Indeed, the Quran in various verses indicate the kind of words that one really should say, for example, in the second chapter of the Quran in verse 83,

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it says, speak first to the people.

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So, once you get this adjective to speech, you add this quality of furnace, then this will be welcome type of thing that should be said in chapter 33. In the Quran, it says, wakulla colon Salida. And say, words which are intended towards

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truth and right.

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In one beautiful saying of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him as narrated in collection by Ahmed.

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He says that, no belief or the face of a believer will not be right, until his heart is right. And no heart will be right. Until his words are also his or her words are right. So the the, the reflection of faith is purity of the heart, reflection of purity of the heart, is also reflected, or shown in the kind of words uttered by the individual. And another thing he said, I'll tell him about Osaka, a goodly word is like a charity, if you don't have enough to pay charity, at least a goodly word is regarded as equivalent to, to charity.

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Thirdly, another aspect that one can also see quite clearly in the Quran, that one has to be particularly careful about uttering words, which may put him in trouble in this life and or in the hereafter.

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An example of this

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would be the case where a person speaks something improper to another person, and that's such as I was enmity and conflict.

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beautifully. This was expressed in chapter 17. And the Quran

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could never do it here is an inner shaitan and zaventem that say on Mohammed to my servants,

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that they should say what is best and what is decent, because Satan, try to arouse enmity and hatred between them. So once a person makes the wrong word, the Satan keep whispering to both sides and that keeps escalating the kind of conflict.

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We find also the same thing emphasized in the saying of Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, in one of the saying, narrated by and by hupy. He says that the slip of the tongue, this is more or less free translation, the slip of the tongue is worse than the slip of the foot. Now what you could slip, physically, but you can stand up, but the slip of the tongue could have serious consequences in this life and in the Hereafter. These are some of the basic

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recommendations made in the Quran, to fulfill this responsibility of proper use of speech. Now, it's this responsibility for Muslim to speak decently limited only to conversations with other Muslims, or is it more universal? And that doesn't apply to speech with non Muslims as well? No, you said That's right. It is it is more universal than that, in fact, so long as there is no particular reason for aggression or hostility, there is not aggression or hostility shown by people who do not necessarily believe in Islam themselves, they should be accorded the same kind of curtsy. I give you the documentation from the Quran itself. For example, we find in

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in chapter 29, in the Quran, verse 46. It says, argue not are discussed not with the people of the book, particularly the Jews and Christians accept in the best and most decent manner except for those who inflict injury. And notice this and it says and say that

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say to them, we believe in what has been revealed to us. That's the Quran and what has come down to you, and our God and your God is one, and unto whom we all bow, and surrender. So the basic role is exactly the same kind of treatment, so long as there is no reason there's not aggression or hostility,

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demonstrated the same kind of treatment. Now, what about the situation where

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there are people who adopt a hostile attitude? What does Islam instruct? Or how does it How would you respond? How do you respond? Was it how you would deal with somebody who is

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was hostile and aggressive? One, there's one basic rule

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that the Quran provided for us and this that is, it is quite possible to reduce the extent of enmity and antagonism, not by replying to evil by evil, but by trying to win the hearts of the person who committed that song. And many times it works like magic. Indeed, the Quran alludes to this one beautiful verse,

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appearing in for chapter 41, verse 34, it says, well at the stove, it has

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its ability as an either levy vena cava. In other words,

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it says, Good, or goodly, word or response are goodness and evil cannot be equated.

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It says, by way of instruction,

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repel even with what is better. In other words, don't repel even with even repent, even with kindness, whenever you can do that. And then it says, it may be that there is one between you and him there is great enmity, turned out to be your most intimate friend. And that happens, I think, in the experience of many of the viewers, they must have gone through that stage, somebody who might show aggression, antagonism and undue unfairness to you. But through kindness, a person may, if he has any sensitivity, degree of sensitivity, maybe allies that maybe you're not as bad as he might have thought, he might start being ashamed of himself, being too biased against you. So it works. It

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does work. And I know it happens in many situations I'm familiar with. The same meaning has been expressed by Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. He says that you cannot land the soundness of the American you cannot really embrace all people with your property or money, who may not have as much money to really

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be charitable to people to win them. But he says, you can embrace all of them with two things with the cheerfulness of the face, and the decency of contacts. This is one way of winning people, which works much better than just material kind of things to win their, their, their love or affection.

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However, I must say also that, if it happens, like you said that the nature of the discussion or argument is such that it is time to reply, or to discuss, it is better to avoid the situation altogether. There are directives in that example in chapters 25 and four and verse 663, describing the true servant of God,

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what is the name of the heaven and what is the Hata Bahama genuine Aqaba sentiment that the walk in humility on earth, and when the ignorant ignorant hears is the duck translation, the original Arabic Ja Rule could mean ignorance and could also mean people who cannot control their, you know, aggression or emotions.

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When those people are ignorant or arrogant, attack them they say, peace. The same has been confirmed in other verses in the Quran, for example, in chapter 28, that whenever those true believers Listen, or hear any event or improper things in decent things, they say, peace be with you, we do not seek or we are not seeking those who are ignorant. So even in a situation like that, it's better to get out of it in an aggressive

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way. Now, what

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should one infer from that, that it's better to accept

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humiliation or perhaps not to have any response when confronted with hostility? What not necessarily, because, as you might recall, you see all the various various moral virtues in Islam, they connect with each other without conflict. And you might recall, in one of the programs we discussed also dignity in addition to humility, humility is a virtue but dignity also is a moral virtue and doesn't ask people to be humiliated. He asked them to have humility, and humbleness and these are not exactly the same thing.

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But many times like

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said you might

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feel that a person is very angry or ignorant or arrogant, whatever the case may be.

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And if you really start responding for each word or each, you know, name calling, then indeed, you're not accomplishing much, because you might be losing that dignity. In other words, it's more graceful not to engage in this type of, of exchange,

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because it will just increase aggression on the other side. But a person also should try to assess the situation and see which is the best approach to deal with the situation in a more graceful way. Let me just give you one example of a very real situation faced by Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, himself, give the example and then ask permission to see him.

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And while he was waiting, he said,

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a bad word about the Prophet, he said, what the bed relative is he or an evil relative, almost like pressing the Prophet. Now, when he entered to the see the Prophet, even though the Prophet heard him, in fact, saying that he met him was cheerful face, and he talked to him calmly and softly.

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And then after he left, the wife of the Prophet Arusha, told him or messenger of God, did you hear what this man said? He said, such and such?

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He said, Yes. But when did you know me as an obscene person? Did you ever see me

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committing any of this obscenity? In other words, suppose he said that you expect me to respond to obscenity, with obscenity. And in fact, what he really did was simply implementation in his own life, or application of what he preached, what he preached, as we find, for example, in some saying of the Prophet, he said that a believer is not a person who injured others,

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unduly a person who curses others, or a person who's obscene in his way of talking to others. But I agree with you, there may be some situations where you feel that you have been attacked unfairly,

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that you have this human inclination to try and defend yourself or, you know, say some word.

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This is not necessarily bad, so long as it's done also in a proper way, and in a situation where it does not result in negative reaction or increasing the degree of enmity.

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In other words, it shouldn't just be a sort of revenge, but rather, try your best to avoid getting into that exchange. Now have a situation where you have an individual perhaps whose It was not

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hostile, but

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perhaps it might be more correct to describe him as being highly argument if somebody who keeps arguing for their opinion, you know, just for the sake of keeping an argument going, should you should Muslim engaged in a discussion such as this one, this kind of attitude, his arguments for the sake of argument, she called it a is called an Arabic novel. That's the term that appeared in the Quran now.

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or general, to be more accurate level, and that would mean general event talk, but general means just arguing. However, the usage of the term in the Quran is used both for positive and negative

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journal. For example, in the Quran in chapter 16, addressing the Prophet, it says, We're the ideal home builder to argue or discuss with them in the most decent or the best manner. So jargon, or arguments or discussion, which has a good purpose behind it, where both sides are willing to accept the truth and they just open minded and open hearted. That's not forbidden. But the center also is used to refer to what you're talking about the arguments for the sake of argument, people who are just closing their minds, they have no way of communication, they don't think even about what you said, just

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sticking to one position without opening their hearts and minds to discuss other things. In a case like that, this is not recommended for the Muslim. Indeed, Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him as narrated in activity. He says that there will be no people who are misguided after they were already on guidance, except that they start this vain. And since this a few times, type of argumentation in October and he said something similar, I said I would be responsible or in charge of a house in the middle of paradise for those who leave then argument even if they are right. So you could be right and you feel tempted that you want to correct errors and, but when it's not really productive, it

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might just be to leave it to avoid engaging in that

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Now, in the balance of today's program,

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I'd like to ask you another a few questions related to another aspect of the of the topic we've been discussing not as the whole question of backbiting. Is there any mention of backbiting in the in the crowd, there is mentioned a bed because it sparked also of the responsibility of the word, or gods holding us responsible, intuitive judgment for our actions, including also not only what we do, but what we say, yes, it is mentioned and actually, the meat the equivalent Arabic term for backbiting is very bad.

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And we find a derivative that appearing in chapter 49, verse 12. In the Quran, well, it just says when I asked about the Kabbalah addressing the viewer, it says, Don't spy on each other. And it says, Then, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. And then it gives a terrible description, or parable of people who speak against their brothers, in the absence speak ill of them, it says, Does one of you or Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?

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So to talk in the absence of a person, Ill of him, just like eating the flesh of a dead person, which is, of course, a terrible

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picture that's giving us this common attitude I should say, of backbiting other people in their absence.

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This applies even if what you're saying about the individual is true. In other words, you don't have to really, for example, lie or say something untrue, about the person to be regarded as backbiting. Even if that negative thing that you described about the individual is true, it is still false within backlight This is not my own interpretation. Actually, the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was sitting with his companions as narrated in Muslim, and he told them, do you know what his backbiting?

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They said, God and His Messenger know best that they wanted him to answer. He said, backbiting is to mention something about your brother's, which he hits, that he hits you, or he hits for you to say that about him or her.

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So some people asked him, he said, how about if the thing that you're talking about him or mentioning about him is true? You're not really lying. It's true. He's his answer was really exemplary. He said, If

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what you describe or talk about him, the ill that you talk about him is true, then you are committing backbiting. And if what you say about him is untrue, then not only you're doing backbiting, you're even lying, you're making a great deal of injustice and life against that person. So in other words, both of them are wrong.

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This kind of

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restrictions, and discouraging of backbiting is intended to prevent a number of social ills. This includes, for example, publicizing evil. In other words, for example, in the Quran in chapter 24, verse 19, it says that God does not like the publication or

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spreading of evil news or even things about other people. Of course, there is an exception of that that may come to accept when the person is oppressed, and he has to explain his grievance. But on the whole, it's not a good idea to spread evil in society. Secondly, it is also based on the realization of the weakness of human beings.

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That As humans, we are weak, we may have some shortcomings and weaknesses, and nobody really is entirely free. from several weaknesses not in not only one several weaknesses each one of us have. Now, if I know of a weakness of some person and start talking about it, you're putting him or her in a situation where it's very difficult to correct oneself position where the person may insist on the wrong whereas it might be much more graceful to realize that you are as weak as other people are, and give them a chance, if they have some weakness to try to correct that in a graceful way without putting them into public embarrassment, whenever possible through a personal and intimate, courteous

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advice that could be given to them. Another

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point also that could be added here

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is that to prevent or to try to discourage backbiting and Islam as a moral virtue is related to resistance of some of the human weaknesses in trying to

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have certain motors people who are in the back by they have certain motors, either they do that because of their revenge attitude of revenge against somebody that they didn't like or have dispute with, which is again

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is not a very logical type of motive. They backbite other people because they want to please their friends because they know those friends may not like that person. So they comes to them and say, you know, such and such person did this and that to make them laugh or feel happy, which is again a very mean type of objective.

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It could be even just the sheer idleness and curiosity just to keep talking about the weaknesses of other people. So these are all related to

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social ills, which could be reduced a great deal by avoiding backbiting.

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I think we have time for one more question in today's program. And I'd like to ask you, whether or not there are any exceptions to this obligation not to speak about other people's deficiencies. For example, if you're making comments, which are not necessarily destructive with the other any exemptions, there are certain exemptions, but not arbitrary exemptions, that every person for example, whenever he likes, he says, you know, that's justified for me is, you know, the one should use his conscious quite clearly to make sure whether a case may be really an exception of having to say something about somebody else's weakness. And he never, never we, one of the great Muslim

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scholars will have in the 13th century, give a list of this are example of this cases. One case is what I mentioned early, a person who is oppressed, where injustice has been done to someone. And the only way to ameliorate for this injustice or try to, you know, undo it is to say that somebody was unjust to me, somebody did this and that to me, of course, you'd be talking about weakness or fault of that oppression. But many times you've got to say that. That's why the verse I quoted, for example, in the Quran, for example, in chapter four, verse 148, now you have a lot of jobs to me, not only in the Mongolian God does not like evil, to be publicized, or to broadcast to be noised.

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abroad, except for those on whom injustice has been done. So this is an exception there, because you have to this might be particularly true not only on individual level, but on social, and national, more universal level, even when there is a roller, for example, who is addicted, dictatorial, in his approach was oppressing people murdering or torturing people or

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expropriates expropriating properties or whatever other evils. You cannot say no, no, don't backbiting because this is something that has been done to hurt others to commit injustice to them. And you've got to reveal those faults in order to correct it not just by way of revenge. A second case, clear case also, is when it is necessary to fight even an indecency to expose certain things. But again, that's the absolute minimum, to fight even in order to change in decency, for example, you might say, right, there are some organizations in society that are doing this or that and that's harmful to society, you've got to stop it. So you have to talk about the even things that are going

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on for the purpose, again, of collection. And even then, it's better to do it by advice, first in a private basis. But if it doesn't work, and you have to bring to your case, you have to say that a search case, would be a person who's seeking a verdict and some religious method, you go to some religious scholar, for example, and you want to find what is the rule of faith, or Islam with respect to a particular problem? In which case you might say, all right, somebody did that to me. Is that right or wrong? What should I do? So it might be necessary to give this kind of, of information, and it's better actually to use instead of names of people say, how about if somebody

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did that, to me? Another case would be legitimate advice without the attitude of just talking about other people in somebody's asking for advice before he gives his daughter and manager before having business partnership. These are some of the cases where there are legitimate good reasons, good intention and the minimum of use of negative things. Let's see they are who are giving a sign it's time to wrap up so

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rather because one of them thank you for being our guest today and watching our program invite you back next week. We'll never find the program in our series on the moral teachings of Islam. Thank you for watching. Assalamu alaikum peace beyond