The Evils of the Tongue 5

The Evils of the Tongue 5


Chapter Four:

Some Seemingly Harmless Uses of the Tongue That Have Disastrous Consequences


It is commonplace to find many Muslims involved in misusing the tongue, without even recognizing its inherently evil consequences. To this effect, the Messenger (peace be upon him) also said:

“The servant says something that he thinks is harmless, and for which he will be plunged into the depths of the Fire for seventy autumns (years).” [Al-Tirmidhi]

Among such seemingly harmless use of the tongue that Muslims should be aware of, are begging, praising people, singing, jesting, and disputes.

1.Begging. Although it is quite usual for people to wantonly beg, in order to fulfill some worldly need, in Islam it is something reprehensible. In many Aa-Hadeeth the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) strongly discouraged begging. For example, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“If the beggar knows what is in it for him, he would not beg.” [At-Tabaraanee]

He (peace be upon him) also said:

“A person will continue to beg until he meets Allah, the Almighty, and upon his face will not be even a shred of flesh.” [Bukhari, Muslim & An-Nisaai]

He (peace be upon him) said:

“I swear upon three (things): Wealth would never decrease because of Sadaqah (charity), so give Sadaqah (charity), no person forgives (another)for an oppression done to him except that Allah will increase through it his honor and glory, and no servant opens a door to begging except that Allah opens upon him a door to poverty.” [Abu Ya`laa, Ahamd & Al-Bazaar]

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“The upper hand is better than the lower the upper hand refers to giving while the lower is the one that begs.” [Bukhari, Muslim & others]

Begging is only permissible in extreme circumstances. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Begging is not beneficial except in three instances: the person who is in extreme poverty, or he who has outrageous debts or he who is responsible to pay the blood money of a close relative or friend and if he does not, then that person would be killed...” [Baihaqee and Abu Dawood]

He (peace be upon him) further states:

“Whoever asks without being poor, is as if he is eating burning coals.” [At-Tabaraanee & Ibn Khuzimah]

Instead of begging, people are encouraged in Islam to work honestly and hard to fulfill their worldly needs. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“No person consumes better food than that which he earns with his own hand...” [Al-Bukhari]

In another Hadeeth he (peace be upon him) asserts thus:

“Whoever requests for what he can do without, will have something on his face (for it) on the Day of Judgment.” [Ahmad, Al-Bazaar, At-Tabaraanee]


2. Praising People: While it is not prohibited to express appreciation for someone or his works, to do so excessively, or flatteringly is disallowed. Seven (7) evils are attached to praising people. Four (4) are attached to the person who praises another and three (3) are attached to the one who is being praised. As for the person who is praising:

(a) One could be excessive in praising, and as such, say untrue things, thus becoming involved in lying.

(b) One could be praising a person to win his favor, thus doing it for show. Although in so doing, he outwardly manifests his love for the person, inwardly he does not believe everything he says. His showing off, therefore, amounts to nothing less than hypocrisy.

(c) He says things that he is not certain about and about, which he is in no position to truly assess.

(d) Through praises, he could make the praised one feel encouraged, although he might be an oppressor. This is Haraam in Islam. The oppression of the oppressor must be stopped, instead of being fostered. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Help your bother, if he is oppressor or the oppressed.” It was said: “How would you help him if he is the oppressor?” He (peace be upon him) said: “Restrain him from oppression and that would be helping him.” [Ahmad, Bukhari & Tirmidhi]

As for the person who is being praised:

(a) Praise can cause pride within him. This quality is destructive, if it affects a person.

(b) The praised person could, thereafter, do things in order to acquire praises, instead of doing them to please Allah Alone.

(c) If he is praised, he might become satisfied with his efforts, and thereafter, reduce his desire to do good work.

If the praise is free from these evils, in both cases mentioned, then there is no harm in praising if it is truthfully acknowledging someone’s good efforts. This is commendable, particularly if it encourages someone to continue doing good. And Allah knows best. It is necessary that the one who is being praised be very careful not to allow pride, self-admiration and complacency to overcome him. He must also remember that he knows himself more than the person who is praising him, and if his secrets and hidden faults are exposed to the one who is praising him, that person would desist from praising him.

When people used to praise ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, he used to say:

“O Allah! Forgive me for what they do not know, and do not take me to account for what they say, and make me better than they think of me.”

The following Hadeeth warns us about the danger of excessive praise. Abu Bakrah said:

“A man was mentioned before the Prophet (peace be upon him) and another man praised him greatly. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘May Allah ‘s Mercy be upon you! You have cut the neck of your friend.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) repeated this many times and said: ‘If it is necessary for any of you to praise someone, then he should say: ‘I think! That he is so and-so’, if he really thinks that he is such. Allah is the One Who will take his account (as He knows his reality), and none can sanctify anyone before Allah.’ ” [Bukhari Vol. 8 #87]


3. Singing. Among the greatest of trials pertaining to the misuse of the tongue, which has afflicted the present-day Muslims, is that of singing. This is because it decorates ugly and obscene speech and make them acceptable to the ears and hearts of men. Furthermore, the way in which the evil is presented through songs raises it to a point where it not only becomes acceptable, but also loved. These same words, if spoken in regular conversation, would be totally rejected and hated. This is highlighted when adults and miners would, together, hum songs that contain lewd words, vulgarity, and obscene descriptions of both men and women.

Even worse, is the fact that words connoting Shirk are sometimes used in songs. The songs beautify them in such a way that they not only appear acceptable, but also become loved.

Another aspect of singing that is looked upon innocently, is that while many parents are very careful to monitor the company their children keep, yet they are not sufficiently keen to recognize the harmful effects of songs that their children listen to, which, in some cases, are more dangerous than the bad company from which they prohibit them. Destructive ideas, evil beliefs, rotten thought patterns have become norms, because songs were the medium through which they were spread. In addition to this, the chastity of women has now become something of the past, because vivid descriptions of women are sung, making it acceptable. Thus, what was taboo to talk about or looked on as evil by the society has now become so commonplace that not to be involved in it is looked upon as antiquated and thus looked down upon.

Songs are undoubtedly one of the most successful instruments that Satan has used to harness adults, adolescence, and even children to become involved in evil, immorality, recklessness, and disrespect for Allah’s laws, as well as man’s innovative laws. Allah, the Most High, said:

“And of mankind is he who purchases idle speech (singing) to mislead (men) from Allah’s path without knowledge...” [Luqman 31: 6]

Ibn Katheer, in his Tafseer (exegesis) of the Qur’aan, explains that idle speech refers to singing. This is based upon an explanation of this verse by the companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) -Ibn Mas‘oud.

In present day, musical instruments accompany singing. In fact, a song is not considered a song unless accompanied with musical instruments. In Islam, musical instruments are prohibited. Therefore, songs that are accompanied by musical instruments would be even more Haraam. And Allah knows best.


4. Jesting and Joking. What is hated about jesting is continuous indulgence and excessiveness, as well as making up stories, lying and propagating half-truths (distorting something or making ‘mountains of molehills’), in order to make others laugh. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Woe to the person who speak! lies to make people laugh, woe to him, woe to him.” [Ahmad, Abu Dawood & others]

However, if one controls himself by jesting only with truth, causing no hurt to anyone, and neither is he excessive with it, then there is no sin in jesting, nor would there be any harm. And Allah knows best. Life is a trust from Allah and should therefore be treated seriously. This, however, does not negate truthful jesting. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself engaged in jesting. However, he established the limits. Thus, he (peace be upon him) said:

“Indeed I jest but I only speak what is true.” [At-Tabaraanee].

Muslims should not indulge in things that would cause them to destroy themselves, Therefore, they should refrain from over indulgence in jesting. The following Hadeeth of the Messenger (peace be upon him) should assist us with this. He (peace be upon him) said:

“If you know what I know, you will laugh less and weep much.” [Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Baihiqee & others]

Continuous indulgence in joking can be regarded as play and amusement. As for being excessive in jesting, this brings about excessive laughter, which can kill the heart. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“...And do not laugh excessively, because excessive laughter hills the heart.” [Ahmad, Tirmidhi & others]

It should be noted that this admonishment of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is contrary to the popular belief that “laughter is good for the heart.”


5. Disputes and Arguments. To engage in disputes and useless arguments are prohibited based upon the statement of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)

No people went astray after being upon guidance except after they engaged in arguments.” [Ahmad, Tirmidhi & Ibn Majah]

Bilaal ibn Sa’eed said: “If you see a man who is insistent, argumentative, and egotistic, then such a person’s loss is complete.”

Ibn Abi Lailaa said:

“I would not argue with anyone, because I would either cause him to lie, or I would anger him, because arguing is one form of objection to another person’s speech with intent to show defect in it, either in the word he uses or the meaning he implies or with the intention he intends. So, to stop an argument, stop the objections, so that every word you hear, if it is true, then acknowledge it and if it is vain or lying speech, or there is no connection with the Deen, then leave it alone by keeping silent.”

The above statement of Ibn Abi Lailaa does not contradict the command to “enjoin good and forbid evil” since it is difficult to command good and forbid evil while being involved in an argument.

Allah, the Sublime said:

“...And if the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply with mild words of gentleness...” [Al-Furqoon 25: 63]



Chapter Five:

General Evils of the Tongue


Speaking about Things that there is no Need with Which to Concern Oneself. Know that the most precious wealth of an ‘abd (servant of Allah) is his time. Thus, whenever he expends it on that which does not concern him, then he is wasting his most valuable asset. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Part of someone’s being a good Muslim is leaving alone that which does not concern him.” [At-Tirmidhi]

One of the reasons that pushes someone to get involved in speaking about things which does not concern him, is his desire to know that which there is no need to know or being satisfied with talking about things that have no benefit.

The cure for this is to be aware that every second of one’s life is part of his most precious wealth, and that his tongue is a net with which he should hunt for good deeds. Being neglectful of this important fact will only lead to great losses in the Hereafter.


Excessive Speech

Another way in which the tongue is misused is by excessive speech. This involves engaging in speech that there is no need to concern oneself with, as well as being excessive in expressing oneself by speaking more than is necessary.

Therefore, in cases where there is need for someone to express oneself, he should stick to the minimum words necessary to express his ideas. To exceed that can be regarded as being excessive. This is a negative attitude although the one who is involved in it would accrue no sins. However, the time spent in repeating what he said could have been spent in saying something good, which would give him a reward in the Hereafter.

‘Ataa said: “Those that were before you (the Salaf), used to detest excessive speech. And they considered anything as excessive speech except speaking about the Book of Allah, the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), commanding good and forbidding evil, and speaking about what a man needs to speak because of a need he has to fulfill in his daily life.”


Engaging in Vain Talk

Even worst than the above categories, is indulgence in vain talk, since it involves sin. Acts of disobedience, such as men discussing the affairs of women, sitting around with men who are drinking alcohol and mixing with bad company, are common examples of vain talk or deeds. Ibn Mas’oud said:

“The man with the most mistakes on the Day of Judgment is the one who engages most in vain speech.

Allah, the Most High said:

“Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their prayers with solemnty and full submissiveness. And those who turn away from Al-Laghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk, falsehood)...” [Al-Muminoon 23:1-3]

He, the Sublime also said:

“And it has already been revealed to you in the Book (the Qur’aan) that when you hear the verses of Allah being denied and mocked at, then sit not with them, until they engage in a talk other than that...” [An-Nisaa 4:140]

And in another aayah it also states:

“(The pious) in Paradise (Jannah) will ask one another about the Mujrimeen (the guilty ones): “What caused you to enter Hell?” They will say: “We were not of those who used to offer prayers, nor did we feed the poor, and we used to talk falsehood (all that which Allah hated) with vain talkers, and we used to belie the Day of Judgment.” [Al-Muddathir: 40-46]


A Shameless, Vulgar and Indecent Tongue

This is not only offensive, but also prohibited. It originates from being malicious, vile, wicked, and reproachful. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“A believer is not a shameless person, nor one who curses, nor an obscene person nor is he indecent.” [At-Tirmidhi and Al-Baihaqie].



The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“I command you with three things and I prohibit you from three (things)- I command you to worship Allah and not to associate anything in worship with Him, to hold fast to the rope of Allah all together and not to divide, and to obey whoever Allah causes to be in charge of your affairs.[1] And I prohibit you from gossiping and idle-talk, excessive questioning and from wasting money.” [Authentic from the Hiliyah of Abi Na’eem].


It is Prohibited for a Woman to Describe another Woman to her Husband.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“...and she describes her to her husband as if he were looking at her.” [Bukhari]

This type of description has many dangers; among them is that love for the other woman might enter the husband’s heart, and so he starts wishing that he was with the other woman that is described to him, instead.


The Prohibition to use the Word ‘if’ Relative to Qadr (Allah’s Decree).

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“The strong believer is better and more loved by Allah than a weak believer, but in each of them is good; aspire after what is going to benefit you and seek Allah’s help and do not despair, and if anything afflicts you, then do not say: ‘If I had done so and so, but say Allah’s decree and what He wills, He will do, because ‘if’ opens the works of Shaitaan.” [Bukhari]

This is after the incident has occurred. However, in discussing an issue about the future, there is no harm in the use of the word ‘if’ in discussing various approaches. And Allah knows best.


It is Prohibited for a Person to say “such and such” is in Jannah or in Jahannam or that he is a Kaafir.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“There were two men who were living as brothers; one of them was sinful, while the other strove very much to perform his devotion to Allah. The striver (of good) would continuously see the other in sin, and so he would continuously advise him to leave it. The sinner retorted: ‘Leave me, by my Lord – are you sent as a watcher over me?’ worshipper said: ‘By Allah, Allah will not forgive you, or (he said) Allah will not make you enter Jannah. After their souls were taken, they were brought together before Allah, so He said to the striver: ‘Did you have knowledge of Me, or are you able to do what is in My Hand?’ Allah said to the sinner ‘Go to Jannah by my Mercy’ and said to the other ‘Take him to the fire (of Jahannam).’ ” [Abu Dawood and Ahmad]

If a person calls a Muslim ‘O Kaafir (unbeliever)’, then kufr will befall one of them. If what he said was true, then it is as he related. However, if it is not true, then the kufr would be his lot. [Hadeeth -Bukhari and Muslim]


The Prohibition of Defaming one’s Kin.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Two types of people from among men have disbelief (kufr) in them, the defamer of his kin (close family relatives), and the woman who wails and lament over the dead.” [Muslim]

It is clear from the above hadeeth, that it is also prohibited for women to wail over the dead.


It is Prohibited to Boast.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Allah has revealed to me that you all should be humble, so that no person would oppress another, and neither should there be anyone displaying pride, or boast to another person.” [Muslim]


The Prohibition to Speak while the Imaam is giving the Khutbah on Friday (Jumu‘ah).

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Whoever says ‘shut up’ to his brother while the Imaam is addressing the people (in the Khutbah) on the Day of Juma’ah has done an evil act. “ [Al-Bukhari]

In this Hadeeth the person who is telling the other to be quiet is actually involved in “commanding good and forbidding evil”. However, the gravity of speaking during the Khutbah, while the Imaam is speaking, is so great, that even this noble act cannot be done.

Abu Ad-Dardaa said:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was on the Minbar, addressing the people, and he (peace be upon him) recited a particular aayah. Ubay Ibn Ka’b was sitting next to me, so I asked him: ‘When was that aayah revealed?’ He refused to speak to me, until the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came down from the minbar, and then he said to me: ‘You have nothing from the Friday Prayer but your vain speech.’ When the Prophet (peace be upon him) had finished, I went to him and informed him of what has happened, and he (peace be upon him) said: ‘Ubay has spoken the truth, if you hear the Imaam speaking, be quiet until he is finished.’ ” [Ahmad & At-Tabaraanie]


Prohibition to give Respectable Titles to Hypocrites and Innovators.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Do not address a hypocrite by using respectable titles (like sir, master etc.), for even if he is in such a position, you would have aroused the anger of your Lord, Master of Honor and Glory.” [Abu Dawood]


Blasphemy, Insult, Ridicule and Abuse.

a) It is prohibited to insult, abuse or blaspheme Allah, His Messenger, His Deen, and/or His Book. These are all aspects of kufr (disbelief).

Allah, the Most High said:

“If you ask them (about this) they declare: ‘We were only talking idly and joking.’ Say ‘Was it at Allah, and His Aayaat (signs, revelation, etc.,) and His Messenger that you were mocking? Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after you had believed...” [At-Taubah 9: 65-66]

In the Tafseer of Ibn Katheer the following narration is related as the reason for revelation of this aayah. Ibn ‘Umar, Muhammad Ibn K’ab, Zayd Ibn Aslam and Qatadaah have all contributed to the establishment of the following Hadeeth. In the course of the campaign of Tabuk, a man came up and declared:

“We have seen no people with greater appetites, more lying or more cowardly in battle, than the Prophet of Allah, and his companions.”

Aws ibn Maalik rose and said: “It is rather you who are the liar, you are a Munafiq pretending to be a Muslim. I shall tell the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) about you.”

Aws went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to inform him but he found that revelation had already preceded him. (When the news reached) the man, he mounted his camel, sought the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) and said: “...But we were only joking trying to pass the time while traveling.” Ibn ‘Umar said: “He was clinging to the saddle belt of the Prophet’s camel as it ran, his feet and legs being battered by the rough ground, and repeating: ‘but we were only joking...’ and the Prophet insisting, without turning his face to him said: ‘Joking! Joking with Allah? With His Revelation and With His Prophet?’

b) It is prohibited to abuse or blaspheme the Sahabahs (the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“May Allah curse the one who abuse or blaspheme my companions.”[At-Tabaranee, Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadee]

He (peace be upon him) also said:

“Do not insult/blaspheme my companions, for by the One in Whose Hand is my soul, if one of you spend the like of the mountain of Uhud in gold (in Allah’s way) you would not equal their support, or not even half of their support.” [Bkhari & Muslim]

It is painful to hear people, who claim that they are Muslims, abuse the noblest of men of this ummah, like Abu Bakr, and ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them), or even other Sahabahs, like Mu‘aawiyah (may Allah be pleased with him).

c) It is prohibited for a Muslim to abuse or blaspheme another Muslim, The Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

“Abusing/blaspheming of the Muslim is evil and immoral whilst fighting him is kufr (disbelief).” [Bukhari & Muslim]

He (peace be upon him) further states: “The Muslim is he from whom other Muslims are safe from his hand and his tongue.” [Muslim]

d) It is prohibited to abuse/blaspheme the dead. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

“Do not abuse/blaspheme the dead.” [Bukhari]

e) It is prohibited to insult/blaspheme what the unbelievers worship other than Allah. Allah, the Most High said:

“And insult not those whom they (the disbelievers) worship besides Allah lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge.” [Al-An’aan: 108]

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Do not cause harm to the Muslim because of insult or abuse to a kafir (disbeliver).” [Al-Haakim & Al-Baihaqee]

f) The Prohibition to abuse the wind.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Do not abuse/blaspheme the wind because it circulates from Allah, it brings mercy and punishment. However, ask Allah for its good, and seek refuge with Allah from its evil.” [Al-Haakim & Ibn Majah]

g) The prohibition to blaspheme the rooster (cock fowl).

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Do not abuse/blaspheme the rooster, because it awakens (people) for prayer.’’ [Abu Dawood]

h) The prohibition to blaspheme time (As-Dahr)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Do not abuse/blaspheme time...” [Muslim]

i) Do not blaspheme fever.

The Messenger (peace be upon him) entered upon Umm As-Saaib and said to her:

“What is the matter with you, O Umm Saaib that you are trembling’“ She said “Fever, (there is) no blessing of Allah in it”. He (peace be upon him) said “Do not blaspheme fever, because it wipes out the sins of the children of Adam, as the bellows extract the dirt from iron.” [Muslim]


[1] It should be noted that who “Allah causes to be in charge of your, affairs” are the scholars, as Allah, the Most High, describes in the following Aayah:

“When there comes to them some matter touching (public) safety or fear, they make it known (among the people). If only they had referred it to the Messenger or to those charged with authority among them, the proper investigators would have understood it from them (directly)... “ [An-Nisaa 4: 83]




May Allah, the Most High assist us to purify our tongues, and avoid its evil consequences. According to Ibn ‘Umar, the thing that needs the most purification by any person, is his tongue. Let us guard our tongues from these evils, lest our works be destroyed. Remember the statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to Mu‘aadh, may Allah be pleased with him:

“...then he (peace be upon him) said “Shall I not tell you of what control all that?” I said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah,” and he took hold of his tongue and said: “Restrain this.” I said “O Prophet of Allah, will what we say be held against us?” He (peace be upon him) said: “May your mother be bereaved for you, O Mu‘adh! Is there anything that topples people on their faces - or he said on their noses - into the Hell fire, other than the harvest of their tongues.” [At-Tirmidhi]

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