(Tie the Tongue Series – Introduction)
Contrary to popular belief, the tongue is not the strongest muscle in the body. However, it may very well be the muscle structure with the greatest endurance. After all, when can you ever remember your tongue becoming tired? As much as we may eat, swallow or speak, our tongues seem absolutely tireless. Hence, due to its exceptional endurance, exercising this organ causes no strain, and we thus tend to use it without thinking and more than we should. This is a major problem as the seemingly-small tongue actually has the ability to cause serious consequences.
Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Indeed the servant of Allah makes a statement which pleases Allah Ta‘ala, and the servant does not attach any importance to what he said, yet Allah Ta‘ala elevates his rank due to this statement. And indeed the servant of Allah makes a statement that angers Allah Ta‘ala, and the servant does not attach any importance to what he said, yet he falls into Jahannum on account of the statement.” (Saheeh Bukhaari #6478)
From the abovementioned narration, the profound power of the tongue is evident – it can either elevate one’s rank or cause him to fall into Jahannum. However, as mentioned in the hadeeth, the person uttering the statement is often unaware of the might of his tongue and consequence of what he uttered. In this regard, it is imperative for us all to ‘tie’ our tongues and think before we speak. We should first ponder over whether the statement we wish to utter is necessary. If it does deserve mention, then we should next ponder over the consequences of this statement – the consequences in both this world and the next.
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) once offered a woman, who was not careful in her speech, some food. When offered, the woman declined and explained that she was fasting, to this, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) responded, “You did not fast.” The woman understood that her speech was damaging her fast and thus attempted to control her tongue and partially succeeded. On another day thereafter, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) offered her food. When she replied that she was fasting, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “You almost fasted but did not manage.” The woman thereafter managed to gain control of her tongue. When Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) offered her food on the third occasion and she replied that she was fasting, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “You have fasted.” (Kitaabus Samt wa Aadaabul Lisaan #172)
In this hadeeth, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) explained that on account of a person being careless in their speech, they lose the reward and benefit of their fast, thus gaining nothing but hunger.
“The pen is mightier than the sword” is a well known proverb. However, what should perhaps be added is “and the tongue is the mightiest of all!” How many life-long friendships came to a screeching halt on account of a careless statement? How many marriages broke down because of an insensitive, hurtful remark casually uttered? A wound to the flesh may heal, but the wounds inflicted by the tongue often fester and worsen until they ultimately cause irrecoverable damage and loss.
For this reason, we have chosen to discuss a few topics relating to the tongue during this month of Ramadhaan. May Allah Ta‘ala make the articles that will soon follow beneficial to one and all, assisting us in our endeavor to ‘tie’ the tongue, both during and after Ramadhaan – aameen.