Kifah MustaphaOur Tongues and a World of Choices
The tongue is one of the most important organs of our body for it relates to our responsible status toward God called “Takleef” in Arabic. The most important function of our tongue is to utter words, but the choices we make in such words decide who we are and what we want and even where we will be in the Hereafter!
Muaz, son of Jabal (RAA), came to the Prophet (PBUH) to ask about an act or a deed that will gain him entrance to Heaven and distance him away from Hell. The Prophet (PBUH) answered in many areas of good deeds such as faith, prayer, fasting etc., but at the end he said, “Should I tell you of the control for all that?” Muaz said, “Yes!” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Halt (the effects of) this" (while holding his tongue with his fingers) "on you!”  Muaz said,“O Prophet of Allah! Are we responsible for what we say?” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “May your mom cry for you[1]!”[2] O Muaz, what else throws people into fire on their faces or their noses but the harvest of their tongues.
For such a prominent role of the tongue, the Prophet (PBUH) said that all other organs of the body make a call everyday to the tongue asking it to fear God through them. They say, “Fear Allah in us for we are by you (what you say,) if you are straight we will be straight and if you are crooked we will be crooked.”[3]
Allah (SW) reminded us about the fact that all our words and actions are recorded by special Angels assigned for just that task.  {Behold! The receiving- [angels] receive [each one’s every word and deed in life] - one on the right and one on the left- seated, [giving heed]. Not a word does one utter, but that with one is a ready observer}50:17/18. That is why if we were to talk, the prophet (PBUH) advised us: “Whoever believes in God and the Day of Judgment, let him speak of good or be quiet.”[4]
People need to think before speaking for they might utter words of harm which can never be removed. Such words can cause harm to oneself or to others. How many times were wives divorced, or family members quit visitations to other family members, or friends stop speaking to each other, and many more examples because of words that were spoken without thinking? Some of these words will cause the person liability on the Day of Judgment! The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The person will speak a word (causing) the anger of God believing that it is of no big deal but would drop him in Hell for seventy (years) autumns.”
Some Illnesses of the Tongue
Lying is by far the most evil act of the tongue. It deceives people, introduces you as a fake person, causes others to lose trust in you and ultimately will lead you to Hell! When the Prophet (PBUH) spoke about the character of a hypocrite he mentioned three things relating to lying. He said, “The signs of (verifying) hypocrites are three: if he speaks, he lies; if he promises, he breaks his promise; and if he is trusted, he betrays.”[5]
Lying comes in levels. The worst type of lying is to lie about God or His messenger. Allah (SW) promised severe punishment to those who change His words and deceive people about revelation. Allah (SW) said: {So woe to those who write the Scripture with their own hands and then say: This is from God [They do so] to obtain thereby a small price. So woe to them for what their hands have written! And woe to them for what they earn [from it]!} 2:79. The prophet (PBUH) said: “Whoever lied intentionally on my behalf, let him (be assured) a guaranteed place in Hell.”[6]
Regular lies are considered major sins in Islam that people need to repent from and seek God's forgiveness. Allah (SW) considers lying as an abhorrent act, He said: {O you who believe! Why do you say what you do not do? It is greatly abhorrent [in the sight of] God that you say what you do not do} 61:2. The Prophet (PBUH) said that lying would lead people to Hell! He said, “Beware of lying! For lying leads to wickedness and wickedness leads to Fire! And the person would lie and keep lying until he is documented by God as a liar!”[7]
Backbiting is an attack on people that causes harm. A Muslim should not harm others or attack them physically or verbally.  The matters of people are something of privacy and sacredness that should be protected from our tongue’s backbiting. The same way that we would not want to be the subject of people’s conversations in backbiting us, we must not do that to others.  That is why God compared it to eating the flesh of your brother! Allah (SW) said: {Nor shall you backbite one another. Would any of you backbite like to eat his dead brother’s flesh? You would, most surely, abhor it. So fear God. Indeed, God is all-relenting, mercy giving} 49:12. The prophet (PBUH) said, “Backbiting is worse than adultery.”  People said, “How is it that backbiting is worse than adultery?” He said, “A person might fornicate but repents and Allah would accept his repentance, but one backbiting would be held until the other person forgives him.”[8]
Foul Words
Words of bad language speak of who we are! It hurts the ears and conscience of decent people. We are now living in a time where bad language is presented as the norm in TV shows, movies, sport arenas, etc. Moreover, we are seeing a language of foul words growing in texting and social media with no sense of such language being wrong or evil! Recently, I pointed out to someone that using bad language in social media is wrong, even typing it or abbreviating it, so why would someone make this choice?  The person's reply was that “everyone does it!” Only people of righteousness would hold on to values based on the morals in Islam and avoid the temptation to fall into such low ends of language just because it is practiced out there!
The prophet (PBUH) said when describing the Muslim: “A Muslim is not the one who (speaks) curses, inflicts (false accusations) and uses foul and bad words.” [9]  Also the prophet (PBUH) said, “People who curse will never be people of intercession at the Day of Judgment.”[10]
False Statements
Among the worst things your tongue can do is to witness in a session like a court with a false statement, especially when you are under oath by God! People could be accused or jailed or punished because of such false statements, and this will indeed drag the liars into Hell on the Day of Judgment. The prophet (PBUH) said, “The false statement of a witness is equivalent to (shirk) associating someone else with God in worship.”[11]
When asked about the worst of the major sins he (PBUH) replied, “Associating in worship someone else with Allah, being ungrateful to your parents, and the false witnessing statement.”[12]
A false oath in the name of Allah is given a name by the Prophet (PBUH) as (Al Yameen Al Ghamoos) meaning the "dipping oath" because it will dip you into Hell!
Humiliating Words
Humiliating words are a sign of a disease in the hearts of people as being arrogant and ignorant. When people humiliate others they assume they are superior to them and have the right to look down on others. The prophet (PBUH) said, “It is enough of evil from a Muslim to humiliate his Muslim brother.”[13]
Unfortunately, many people regularly practice using humiliating words even to their own family members. Sometimes parents intend to cause humiliation to their children if they fail to live up to their expectations! Spouses use humiliating language against each other! Nations make fun of other nations by using words of humiliation, and this is all Haram!
In conclusion, the Muslim should fear Allah in the choice of words he or she says. Everyone will report to Allah on the Day of Judgment, and even if Hasanat were present they could easily be wiped out because of the poor choices of our words. The Prophet (PBUH) asked his companions, “Who is the bankrupt?” They said, “One with no dirham or belongings!” He said, “The bankrupt from my Ummah would bring prayers, charity and fasting on the Day of Judgment, but he comes with foul words towards this (person) and false accusations towards this (person), and he ate the money of this (person) and hit this (person)! Each one he wronged will be given from his Hasanat, and if his Hasanat were wiped out before he pays what he owes, their sins will be taken from them and thrown over him and he would be thrown into fire.”[14]
Sh. Kifah Mustapha
[1] An Arabic term meaning: how could you not understand it!
[2] Hadith narrated by Imam Tirmizi through Muaz Ibn Jabal
[3] Hadith narrated by Imam Munziri through Abu Said Al Khudari
[4] Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari through Abu Hurayrah
[5] Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari through Abu Hurayrah
[6] Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim through Al Mughira Ibn Shubah
[7] Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim through Abdullah Ibn Masoud
[8] Hadith narrated by Imam Baihaqi through Abu Said Al Khudari
[9] Hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad through Abdullah Ibn Masoud
[10] Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim through Abu Darda’
[11] Hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad through Ayman Ibn Khuraym
[12] Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari through Anas Ibn Malek
[13] Hadith narrated by Abu Daoud through Abu Hurayrah
[14] Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim through Abu Hurayrah