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Pleasant in Speech

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(Tie the Tongue Series – Part 2)

Did you ever see a wealthy person emerge from the business-class lounge empty handed? Similarly, did you ever see a wealthy person decline when offered a free gift with a purchase? The answer is that most wealthy people, as well-off as they may be, will take something when leaving the business-class lounge (even if it’s just Voss water) and will never decline the chance to get something for nothing. The reason for this is simple – one will benefit at a 0% or minimum cost.

This very same mindset should be applied in our Deen. We should try to identify the areas where we can easily benefit and gain as the effort and cost is minimal. In this regard, one of the most ‘profitable’ avenues is that of pleasing people. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbaas (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Indeed (among) the most beloved of actions to Allah Ta‘ala after fulfilling the faraaidh (obligatory acts of Deen) is bringing happiness to a Muslim.” (Tabraani – Majma‘uz Zawaaid #13718)

Among the easy methods that we can adopt to please people is for us to speak to them in a kind and pleasant manner. Often, a person’s heart can be won with just a kind word, or to the contrary, a person’s day may be spoilt and ruined with a harsh word. Furthermore, over and above the reward for pleasing a Muslim is the effect that speaking kindly and pleasantly has on the person. It is for this reason that when Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) and Nabi Haaroon (‘alaihis salaam) went to speak to Fir‘aun and give him da’wah, then despite him being a tyrant and cold-blooded killer, Allah Ta‘ala instructed them to speak to him kindly as harsh speech would not affect him in a positive manner.

Hence, even if we are forced to tell a person something which he may not like (e.g. if we have to correct a person who is committing a sin), we should ponder over the approach that will be most effective. If we shout and yell at him, we may silence him and vent our anger, but at the same time, we may have lost the person as he will feel hurt and insulted. Very often, the very same message can be delivered in a pleasant and palatable manner.

There was once a king who had a dream in which he saw that all his teeth were broken. When he summoned a dream interpreter, the interpreter told him that the dream meant that all his children and family would die before him. Intensely annoyed at this interpretation, the king commanded that he be executed. Thereafter, the king summoned another dream interpreter. This interpreter said, “Sire! The dream means that you will enjoy a long life and even outlive your family!” Hearing this, the king was extremely happy and showered gifts on the interpreter, even though his interpretation was essentially the same.

When trying to please people, whether through speech or any other method, then it is vital to bear in mind that we cannot please people at the cost of displeasing Allah Ta‘ala as our allegiance to Allah Ta‘ala is always first. Hence, even if someone who is near and dear asks us to lie, make any statement or behave in any manner that will displease Allah Ta‘ala, we will not compromise our Deeni standards by obliging them. Similarly, kind and pleasant speech is only meant for those who Deen has allowed us to communicate with. Hence, if we answer the phone and hear the voice of a non-mahram on the other side, we should cut out the pleasantries and get straight to the point as courtesy, in such a case, could potentially cause fitnah.

Finally, the importance of kind, pleasant speech can be understood by the fact that speaking unkindly and harshly to people is so severe a sin that even if a person has abundant nafl deeds to his account, he will still be made to undergo punishment (unless he secures the forgiveness of the one who was hurt). In this regard, let us consider the following narration:

A Sahaabi (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) once spoke of a certain woman to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), mentioning the abundant nafl salaah, charity and fasting that she would carry out. He thereafter mentioned that this woman had the bad habit of speaking to her neighbours in a hurtful manner. Hearing this, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “She will be punished.” Thereafter, another woman was mentioned, and the fact that her nafl deeds were very few was also mentioned. However, she had the habit of giving pieces of cheese in charity (i.e. her charity was very little), and she would not hurt her neighbours with her tongue. Hearing this, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “She will go to Jannah (without punishment).” (Musnad Ahmad #9675)

May Allah Ta‘ala assist us all to speak kindly to people and abstain from hurting people in any way.

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