Protection of tongue - Avoid social diseases

05 October 2011
by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi (translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)


Allah (SWT) had sent Prophets and Messengers from time to time for our guidance. Their mission has always been to reform society, purify it from corrupt practices and set it on a course which Allah (SWT) has defined for it. Man’s status as Allah’s vicegerent on earth requires him to follow a certain code of conduct to deserve this title. The last in the chain of Messengers, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has given us golden principles and comprehensive rules to live by, which are a key to our over all success in both the worlds. These rules pertain to both, the realm of worship and the domain of social life. No one was, is, and will ever be as aware of human psychology as was the greatest benefactor of humanity, the last of Allah’s Messengers (SAW). The core values, which he (SAW) taught us form the very foundations of a balanced, moderate and healthy social order; a social order which promotes and establishes love, brotherhood, peace, tolerance, mutual respect, understanding and good will.  He (SAW) has also warned us of those practices which corrode and weaken those foundations endangering the whole edifice of society. Today, I invite your attention to certain social ills, which are rampant in our society and we not only have become insensitive towards them, but also practice them day and night without thinking that by doing so we are disobeying Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (SAW).

One among those ills is ‘backbiting’. It means that you say something about someone in his/her absence which he/she wouldn’t like if said in his/her presence. It doesn’t matter if the mentioned shortcoming or flaw is true or false. If it is true then it is back biting, if false then it is an accusation, which also is a grave sin.

Abu Hureyrah (RA) narrates that Allah’s Messenger asked: “Do you know what is backbiting?” The companions submitted: “Allah and His Messenger know best.” Thereupon he (SAW) said: “Backbiting is talking about your [Muslim] brother in a manner which he dislikes.” One companion submitted: “What if my [Muslim] brother is as I say.” Prophet (SAW) replied: “If he is actually as you say, then that is backbiting; but if that is not in him, then it is slandering.” [Muslim]

According to Quays (RehmA) Amr-bin-Al’Aas (RA) along with his friends was passing by a dead swollen donkey, which was stinking in a state of decomposition. He (RA) said:

“For you it is better to eat its flesh than the flesh of your dead brother.” He was reminding his friends of Aayah 12 of Surah Al-Hujurat:

“Believers, avoid making too many assumptions – some assumptions are sinful – and do not spy on one another, or speak ill of people behind their backs: would any one of you like to eat the flesh of your dead brother? No, you would hate it. So be mindful of Allah: Allah is ever relenting, most merciful.”

Abu Said Khudri (RA) said: “Save yourself from backbiting because it is worst than adultery. Adultery can be forgiven by Allah (SWT) through earnest repentance, but backbiting can’t be forgiven unless the person against whom the sin is committed forgives you.

Another social evil is tale-bearing, slandering, or rumor mongering. The purpose is to create mischief and destroy mutual peace and social harmony.  It is as grave a sin as back biting. Allah (SWT) says in Aayah 10-13 of Surah Al-Qalam:

“[Prophet] do not yield to any contemptible swearer, to any backbiter, slander-monger, or hinderer of good, to any one who is sinful, aggressive, coarse, and on top of all that, an imposter.”

Aayah 16-18 of Surah Qaaf says:

“We created man – We know what his soul whispers to him: We are closer to him than his jugular vein – with two receptors set to record, one on his right side and one on his left: he does not utter a single word without an ever-present watcher.…”

Ibn-e-Abbas (RA) narrates that Prophet (SAW) passing by two graves said:

“Both of them [the persons in these graves) are being tortured for great sins. One of them did not use to save himself from being soiled with his urine, and the other one used to go about with calumnies [making false and malicious accusation against one another] among people to [rupture relations] and cause hostilities, e.g., one goes to a person and tells him that so and so says about him such and such evil things.” [Bukhari & Muslim] This tradition is also mentioned by Imaam Bukhari (Rehmatullah Alaih) in his book ‘Kitaab-ul-Mufrad’ on the authority of Jaabir bin Abdullah (Razi Allah). Shah Wali-ulLah Muhaddis Delhvi said that one was punished for a physical ailment, while the other was punished for a social sickness.

Ibn-e-Masud (RA) relates that Allah’s Messenger said: “Shall I tell you what falsehood and slandering is? It is calumny [a false and malicious accusation] which is committed among the people.” [Muslim]

Once Prophet (SAW) said: “Shouldn’t I tell you, who are the worst people”? Then he added: “Those go out slandering and spoil relationships between friends.”

There is yet another illness which afflicts our society. It is called “Nifaaq”, which is duplicity or hypocrisy. It means contradiction between the heart and the tongue. The Holy Qur’an and the traditions of Prophet (SAW) have condemned such a practice in severe words. Allah (SWT) says in Aayah 145 in Surah Nisa:

“The hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of Hell, and you will find no one to help them.”

Hypocrisy can be in belief and also in action. Hypocrisy in belief means claiming belief in Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (SAW) by tongue, but hiding disbelief in the heart. Hypocrisy in action means that the heart and the tongue agree with each other in belief, but actions contradict that proclaimed belief. Traditions of our beloved Prophet (SAW) have cited kinds of duplicity and hypocrisy.

Abu Hureyrah (RA) narrates that Prophet (SAW) said: “Among people, you will find the worst person, who has a double-face. He appears to some people with one face and to others with another face.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

Muhammad bin Zaid said: “Some people told Abdullah bin Umar, who was my grandfather: “We visit our rulers and tell them things contrary to what we say when we leave them.” “Abdullah bin Umar replied: “In the days of Allah’s Messenger (SAW), we counted this act as an act of hypocrisy.” [Bukhari]

Prophet (SAW) said that the hypocrite has three characteristics. 1) He lies when he talks. 2) He doesn’t fulfill his promise, and 3) he betrays the trust he is entrusted with. In another tradition, there is an additional characteristic, which is that a hypocrite uses foul and abusive language while he argues or picks up a fight. According to yet another tradition, such a person will be tormented by having two tongues of fire on the Day of Judgment. [Abu Dawood]

One of the social ills is ‘accusation’, which means to accuse an innocent person. This is also known as character assassination usually done due to animosity, hatred, malice and envy. People in general believe the accuser, but he is bound to be embarrassed and ashamed when his false accusation is exposed. Islam teaches us not to trust in the hearsay and spreading of it is strictly forbidden. See what Allah (SWT) says in Aayah 6 of Surah Al-Hujurat:

“Believers, if a troublemaker brings you news, check it first, in case you wrong others unwittingly and later regret what you have done.”

Brothers and sisters: These are few of the diseases our society is afflicted with. These ailments cause discord, disunity, mistrust, conflicts and create distances between two brothers and two sisters. Please be very careful, watch out, be vigilant and save yourself from becoming a victim of Shaitan’s snare. Please alert members of your household and your children and advise them to keep away from these vices.

May Allah enable us to realize the importance of the gift of life and the countless blessings we have been bestowed with and utilize our time prudently and wisely and the way it pleases Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (SAW). Aameen!