Fasting teaches us to have more self-control and self-discipline and this is attained by becoming more aware of Allah’s presence, because if we have this God-fearing manner instilled within us, we are less likely to commit sins. Whilst fasting, we not only have to abstain from food, drink and desires but we also need to control what we hear, say and see, thus it is also a fast for many other organs of the body including the eyes, ears and tongue.
Admittedly, many of us realize in Ramadhan that controlling the tongue is something that we don’t always pay attention to in our daily lives because whilst fasting we also have to refrain from arguing, backbiting (which is definitely not allowed at all), unnecessary worldly talk etc and even joking (if the joking involves teasing someone or making a joke about something involving them) – as while we may think there’s no harm in it, we don’t know if we may have hurt someone’s feelings with our comments!
Prophet (SAW) has warned us regarding the safeguarding of the tongue especially during the state of fasting: ‘ Whoever fails to leave off ruinous speech and acting on it (during Ramadan), Allah does not need him to leave off eating and drinking’. (Bukhari)
This hadith highlights the importance of refraining from harmful and unnecessary talk especially during this month.
The tongue and the gift of speech are just few examples of the many bounties and blessings that Allah (SWT) has bestowed upon us and thus we should utilize these blessings as best as we can with good and purposeful conversation, for both our own benefit and for those in our company. For this reason, Islam dedicates special attention to the etiquette and manner of conversation because whilst these bounties can be utilized positively with goodness and truth, they can also be abused and have detrimental affects both to the person who is speaking and to the listeners.
As individuals, we should always seek to improve ourselves first and foremost before attempting to change others. We should try and adopt a ‘Think Before You Speak’ approach always and question ourselves whether the situation we find ourselves in requires the need for us to speak and furthermore, whether it is the right time and place to say what we would like to say.
Abdullah ibn Abbas (RA) says: ‘Five things are more valuable than the horses with black striped legs:
1) Do not indulge in senseless talk, because it is useless and absurd, and I am uncomfortable from the fear of committing a sin.
2) Talk purposefully when there is an occasion for it, for there are many people who talk without an occasion. This is a drawback.
3) Do not indulge in hot discussion with an intelligent man or fool. If he is intelligent, he will be angry with you and dislike you, and if he is a fool and uneducated, he will try and harm you.
4) In the absence of your brother speak of him in the same words in which you would like to speak of you in your absence, and consider him innocent of the thing that you would like him to consider you innocent of.
5) Act like a man who thinks that he will be rewarded for a good deed and will be punished on committing a crime. ‘ (Ibn Abi al duniya)
In order to inculcate these words of wisdom pertaining to the manner of speech in our daily lives, it is clear that we need to have control over the tongue and try to avoid talking aimlessly and where necessary adopt silence for it is better to keep quiet then speak with negligence and no control over what one is saying.
Prophet (SAW) once advised Abu Dhar (RA) as follows: ‘Adopt Silence. This is a way of causing Shaytan to run away, it is a support to you in this matter of your religion.’ (Ahmed)
In addition, sincere and good speech lead to the softening of the heart and hopefully brings us closer to Allah whilst useless and damaging speech causes the heart to harden and lead us astray. This is what RasulAllah (SAW) conveys in the following hadith: ‘ The faith of a man cannot be straight unless his heart is straight, and is heart cannot be straight unless his tongue becomes straight.’
Good and sincere speech encourage and strengthen love and affection between family and friends and makes one’s company more enjoyable and above all we find that there is Barakah and Mercy when we are in good company, this is why Prophet (Saw) encouraged us to choose our friends carefully and wisely. Furthermore, it lightens the atmosphere when we are in the presence of those who may have differences with us and even they will begin to have respect if we have a good manner of speaking inshAllah. As prophet (SAW) said ‘ You will not be able to rule over the people through your wealth, but through good appearance and good manners you can win their hearts’. (Al Bazzar)
We make du’a that Allah (SWT) helps us to refrain from all ruinations of the tongue both during Ramadan and after inshAllah and forgive us if we have spoken in error during this blessed month. Moreover we ask Allah (swt) to make good and sincere speech beneficial for us always inshAllah both for ourselves and for all those around us. Ameen. This piece of advice is first and foremost for myself but inshAllah we can all benefit from it. Please don’t forget us in your du’a.