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Speaking so as to arouse joy and enthusiasm

One of the responsibilities of the faithful is that they always maintain high level of joy, contentment and enthusiasm among the believers through their words. Sincere believers experience this pleasure and joy deep within themselves at all times, but they also know that Satan tries to urge the faithful into a state of despair and destroy their will and enthusiasm. Therefore, the faithful support one another against Satan's schemes and, by encouraging one another, render Satan's wiles ineffective.

In addition, even if there were no temptations at all from Satan, Muslims never regard the joy and enthusiasm they feel as adequate; they strive to strengthen both themselves and one another, by continually enhancing these positive sentiments. As is pointed out in the words of the Qur'an, "spur on the believers," (Surat an-Nisa': 84), in order to receive the great rewards in the afterlife, they exert the maximum effort in encouraging one another to pious behavior, in order to earn the approval of Allah. In another verse, "… so race each other to the good." (Surat al-Baqara: 148) Allah announces to the faithful that they have entered a competition in good.

In the life of this world, the lifespan allotted by Allah to humankind is quite short. Furthermore, no-one can know on what day and at what time they will meet their death. For this reason, proceeding slowly or procrastinating in one's efforts to earn Allah's approval, maintaining the excuse that, "Anyway, I have long years ahead of me," is clearly very wrong. On the contrary, we should behave enthusiastically all the time, be ardent and eager, saying, "I may meet my death at any moment." With that regard, the support the faithful render unto one another is very important. By reason of the news given in the Qur'an, they remind one another of the proximity of death, the afterlife and the Day of Judgment and that those who are the most acceptable to Allah are "the forerunners in doing good deeds" (Surat al-Waqi`a:10). Another verse says: Race each other to forgiveness from your Lord and to a Garden, whose breadth is like that of heaven and earth combined, made ready for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers. That is Allah's favor which He gives to those He wills. Allah's favor is indeed immense.(Surat al-Hadid: 21)

As we are told in the following verse of the Qur'an, "So when you have finished, work on" (Surat al-Inshirah: 7), they encourage one another to engage in good works which will earn the approval of Allah, and when they have no task at hand, to seek to find one. No matter what difficulties or troubles they may encounter, they remind one another that Allah is always at their side and will help them without a doubt. Even under the most trying conditions, they note that they need to keep their hope alive, that they must be patient with a firm resolve, and that there will be a greater reward in the afterlife for living according to the morality spelled out in the Qur'an with zeal and determination.

In awareness the verse of the Qur'an, "Do not give up and do not be downhearted. You shall be uppermost if you are believers," (Surah Al 'Imran: 139) the faithful maintain that their faith will always guide them to the straight path, and, ultimately, to success. They encourage one another to greater enthusiasm with reminders of what Allah has promised in the afterlife.

Saying what is best

Say to My servants that they should only say the best. Satan wants to stir up trouble between them. Satan is an outright enemy to man. (Surat al-Isra, 53)

In the Qur'an, Allah commands people to say what is best to one another. People can banter without thinking, or they can make the effort to speak in the finest way. Of the two approaches, the one which would be expected to be acceptable in Allah's sight, and which will earn the approval of Allah, is the second; that is, to do one's utmost and speak in the most conscientious manner.

We can explain this with an example. One may turn a blind eye to the superior behavior of another, and not mention it, or he may admit that it was indeed excellent behavior, but reluctantly and half-heartedly. Or, he may do exactly the opposite and tell the person just how superior was his morality and how exemplary was his behavior, sincerely and from the heart. At first glance, the difference between these two manners may not mean much. However, upon closer inspection, with the regards to the rewards they garner in Allah's sight, there is a great difference. Therefore, in order to speak in the way of the Muslims, Muslims should highlight the good qualities of the other, without in any way giving in to their pride and allowing themselves to be taken over by envy. Trying to ignore the matter, even in part, and growing arrogant, is behavior which reflects the type morality of those who are far removed from the lessons of the Qur'an. The faithful are those who notice such deviance, likely to be whispered from their lower selves, and speak in the best manner they think will be approved by Allah.

Before uttering a word, Muslims consult their conscience and try to say only what is best. They take care not to say a single word which will discomfort the other person, or cause doubt or concern in their heart. On the contrary, they will try to speak in such a way as to put their heart at ease, to console, and thus enthuse them. They speak for the purpose of encouraging others, and ensuring that they are strengthened in faith by bringing them closer to Allah.

Not speaking from the lower-self and from personal desires

Another superior moral characteristic reflected in the speech of the faithful is that they avoid speaking on behalf of their selves and their desires. Believers know that the lower self continually seeks to incite them to behavior of which Allah will not approve. For this reason, they speak not in the way their lower-selves suggest, but in the way inspired by their consciences. In the Qur'an, the behavior of the Prophet Yusuf (as) is offered as an example of this aspect of the morality of the faithful. When he was falsely accused, and as a result imprisoned for years in a dark dungeon, the Prophet Yusuf (as) refrained from defending himself, but admitted that the lower-self would always lead people into evil:

I do not say my self was free from blame. The [lower] self indeed commands to evil acts–except f or those my Lord has mercy on. My Lord, He is Forgiving, Merciful. (Surah Yusuf, 53)

Speaking from one's desires is that which is done without taking into consideration the approval of Allah, and instead thinking selfishly only of one's own wishes. In communities which do not live by the values of the Qur'an, people speak without thinking at all; they act on the spur of the moment and out of the feelings that arise from within them. For example, when a person makes a mistake, another may succumb quickly to rage, and speaking out of this rage, uses a course, critical and inconsiderate language, whereas one who hopes for the approval of Allah ought to use a way of speaking which deals with the mistake with forgiveness, which explains the mistake to the other person, and shows the way to correct it. In that case, the faithful straight away employ their consciences and say only whatever is most appropriate in accordance with the morality explained in the Qur'an.

Speaking in a measured, courteous and respectful manner

Another example of the fine morality of the faithful is that they speak in a way that is both measured and respectful. This way of speaking is not dependent on the age, knowledge, intelligence or wealth of the person they are addressing, because they live according to the morality of the Qur'an in order that they may gain the approval of Allah. They are aware that if they were to consider everyone they speak with as individuals having an independent power of their own or superior in some way, and approached everyone differently, they would not be fulfilling the requirements of the morality of the Qur'an. They know that they will be questioned as to each person they encountered, as part of the test which Allah has created for them in the life of this world, and they act in the knowledge that they are representatives of Islamic morality. They try to respond to everyone with the most respectful and the kindest words; they approach a vendor they meet in the street, an apprentice working at a grocer, co-workers at their place of work, and their spouses and children, all with exactly the same respect. In the Qur'an, this approach practiced by the faithful is emphasized in the following verse:

When you are greeted with a greeting, return the greeting or improve on it. Allah takes account of everything. (Surat an-Nisa, 86)

In addition, they respond to in the same measured way to those who are angry or disrespectful towards them. They speak in the knowledge that remaining firm in their morals in such instances is the type of behavior which will earn them a superior place in Allah's sight. In a verse of the Qur'an, Allah explains the superiority of this behavior with these words:

Wealth and sons are the embellishment of the life of the world. But, in your Lord's sight, right actions which are lasting bring a better reward and are a better basis for hope. (Surat al-Kahf, 46)

Speaking in a humble manner

Humility is another important factor in the speech of the faithful. Attention to this matter is drawn to this aspect of their morality in the Qur'an in this verse: "The servants of the All-Merciful are those who walk modestly on the earth and, who, when the ignorant speak to them, say, 'Peace'." (Surat al-Furqan: 63) The faithful are humble through their knowledge that no matter what qualities they may possess, all are favors from Allah and that He can take them back whenever He wishes.

Allah notifies the faithful of this with the words of the following verse, "Do not strut arrogantly about the earth. You will certainly never split the earth apart nor will you ever rival the mountains in height. (Surat al-Isra': 37) Human beings are truly powerless in the light of the boundless might of Allah. Allah's knowledge encompasses everything; He is the Creator and the Possessor of every thing. For this reason, the believers act with cognizance of the degradation they will suffer when confronted by Allah on the Day of Judgment, if they become proud of something that does not truly belong to them. Even in that in which they are outstanding, they humble themselves, acknowledge their deficiencies and speak in recognition of their powerlessness.

Even if those they talk to are lacking in the same own qualities, Muslims never become arrogant and boastful, because, in the following verse, Allah has informed them that He does not love vain people, Do not avert your face from people out of haughtiness and do not strut about arrogantly on the earth. Allah does not love anyone who is vain or boastful. (Surah Luqman: 18)

When speaking on a subject, Muslims do not talk in a condescending manner; that is, they talk with an awareness that the matter in question also applies to themselves. As is pointed out in the verse, "No indeed! Truly man is unbridled seeing himself as self-sufficient" (Surat al-'Alaq: 6-7) believers act in the knowledge that, if they admire themselves vainly, their better qualities may be in detriment and they may fall into great error. When speaking on a subject they know well, they do not become conceited and try to bring attention to themselves. On the contrary, they adopt a manner of speaking that reflects a recognition that it is only Allah Who grants the power of speech, and it is only Allah Who possesses the knowledge of all things.

In the verse "Worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him. Be good to your parents and relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to neighbors who are related to you and neighbors who are not related to you, and to companions and travelers and your slaves. Allah does not love anyone vain or boastful." (Surat an-Nisa': 36), Allah reminds people to behave well and not to be boastful towards those they speak to. Allah has instructed us to show humility to our parents, our close friends and casual acquaintances, orphans and the needy. Behaving humbly towards those one regards well but arrogantly towards those one looks down upon, is not in accordance with the morality of the Qur'an. People are responsible for adhering to this in all instances. Muslims also know that speaking boastfully when faced with an egotistical person, offering the excuse, "Never mind, he's arrogant as well," is not correct either. The Muslim way of speaking requires speaking in the knowledge that everywhere and at all times Allah is witness to every word, and this sense of moral obligation can only be developed by following the teachings of the Qur'an.

Speaking with tolerance and forgiveness

In a verse of the Qur'an, Allah tells us that a well-spoken, tolerant and forgiving manner of speech is expected of the faithful: "Correct and courteous words accompanied by forgiveness are better than giving charity followed by insulting words. Allah is Rich Beyond Need, All-Forbearing." (Surat al-Baqara: 263) To live according to this moral code, as defined in the Qur'an, requires a sincere faith and fear of Allah, because, to demonstrate a superior morality, one of the most difficult responsibilities is in forgiving somebody against whom one has a valid complaint.

To forgive someone who has committed an injustice against us, and to, though we may be in the right, adopt a gentle manner of speaking, is only possible through the reformation of the soul and conscience gained by the fear of Allah. In areas of the world where the morality of the Qur'an is not observed, people are only tolerant towards others when they expect a benefit in return; only for such a reason would they forgive others with calm, measured and tolerant speech. However, this is only on the surface—on the inside, instead of tolerance, they harbor hatred and anger. When they have obtained the benefit they had been hoping for, and there is a conflict of interest, or when they reach the limits of their patience, then they let out that hatred and anger.

In some cases, after resorting to a malevolent, intolerant and aggressive way of speaking, people say they have forgiven the other party using words like, "Let me be big hearted." However, first giving way to the provocations of the lower self, then expressing anger, and only afterwards forgiving the other person, so as to place him under a debt of gratitude, is not genuine tolerance. What is important is to be able to adopt this superior morality. Our Prophet (saas) pointed out the importance of this to the faithful with these words: "The strong man is not the good wrestler; the strong man is only he who controls himself when he is angry." (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

For this reason, the faithful, even in circumstances where they are most in the right, remain modest, tolerant and forgiving, in accordance with the morality of the Qur'an, because they know that what is most acceptable is that they show firm patience when they find themselves in conflict with their own lower-selves. They know that to gain Allah's approval they need to maintain good morals, not from time to time, but in all times, without interruption, and through to the end of their lives. In addition, just as they appear gentle, principled and compassionate on the outside, so, too, do the faithful have the same compassion within themselves. If they adopt a forgiving manner of speech, it is because the forgiveness is genuine. There is nothing in their hearts of hatred or anger. When they are in a situation of conflict with their own selves, they know that it is their responsibility to Allah not to deviate from the morality of the Qur'an by resorting to a belligerent manner of speech. For this reason, they remain firm in their morality with those they meet and speak in a tolerant, compassionate and forgiving way, in order to gain the approval of Allah. In this verse, Allah advises the faithful:

Practise forgiveness, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant. (Surat al-A'raf, 199)

Consulting

Another characteristic of the speech of those distant from the Qur'an is that they always seek the last word and to come out right in the end. Rather than understanding and benefiting from what the other has to say, they look to express their own ideas and force them to be accepted. In fact, no matter what one's level of knowledge, there may be things to be learned from the other. Even if the other is less knowledgeable, it is always possible for him or her to offer a different perspective on a subject, evaluate it more objectively and come up with helpful insights.

Those who know that everyone they listen to was created by Allah, consider that there may be some hidden good in the other party's speech from which they can derive benefit and seek to uncover it. Even with regard to a subject they know very well, they are aware that it is still possible that they might have formed an idea inadequately or incorrectly. Abiding by the following verse of the Qur'an, "Over everyone with knowledge is one [more] knowing" (Surah Yusuf: 76), they recognize that no matter how well informed they may be about that subject, someone else may be even better informed and able to form more accurate conclusions, and thus keep themselves open to the other's comments and advice. Moreover, in such instances, even before anyone else were to say anything, they consult on the matter with those whose intelligence, conscience and sincerity they trust; in other words, they exchange ideas with others. Carrying out affairs through consultation is one of the important characteristics of the faithful. A verse of the Qur'an offers the following:

Those who respond to their Lord and establish prayer, and manage their affairs by mutual consultation and give of what We have provided for them. (Surat ash-Shura, 38)

In addition, there is no place for dogmatism in the speech of the faithful. What is important is not to convince the other party of the rightness of their own ideas, but to be able to discover what is most correct. In this matter their common reference is the Qur'an. That is because, when speaking they take the Qur'an as their guide and are dependent on it for every decision. In a verse of the Qur'an, our attention is drawn to this characteristic of the faithful:

Those who, when they are reminded of the Signs of their Lord, do not turn their backs, deaf and blind to them. (Surat al-Furqan, 73)

Saying "It is as Allah wills, there is no strength but in Allah"

The true possessor of all the blessings which a person witnesses in the life of this world is Allah. However, there are some who may fall into error by believing that they are the real owners of the blessings which Allah has granted them. With these blessings in their possession, they may forget their powerlessness in the sight of our Lord, and become arrogant though Allah has the power to take back everything He has given them whenever He wills. Because of this, it is necessary for all to recognize that every blessing is the gift of Allah, and to thank our Lord for our enjoyment of them. In order for people to understand this matter, Allah gives the following example in the Qur'an:

Make an example for them of two men. To one of them We gave two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded them with date-palms, putting between them some cultivated land. Both gardens yielded their crops and did not suffer any loss, and We made a river flow right through the middle of them. He was a man of wealth and property and he said to his companion, debating with him, "I have more wealth than you and more people under me." He entered his garden and wronged himself by saying, "I do not think that this will ever end. I do not think the Hour will ever come. But if I should be sent back to my Lord, I will definitely get something better in return." (Surat al-Kahf, 32-36)

Of the two people referred to here in the Qur'an, the one who was more powerful in terms of wealth forgot that it was Allah Who gave him his property and riches, falsely believing that they were his own and becoming boastful. He believed that the gardens, which yielded their crops because Allah made them fertile, would never be destroyed or suffer any damage at all. In one way, it could be thought that his well protected orchard, through which a river passed and which had every promise of fertility, was of a beauty and magnificence which could never be harmed. But, it must be remembered that all things are subservient to Allah. Like everything in the universe, this garden was under Allah's control; every seed would grow only with Allah's permission, every branch sprouted because Allah ordered it. The river watered the roots of the date palms because Allah willed it. The garden remained thriving and fruitful on Allah's instruction; all could be destroyed just by Allah pronouncing "Be."

In the Qur'an we are told that the man, who had forgotten that the provider of the blessings he possessed was Allah, was reminded that he should praise and exalt Allah's power and glory, on entering his orchard, and say, "It is as Allah wills [masha'llah], there is no strength but in Allah":

His companion, with whom he was debating, said to him, "Do you then disbelieve in Him Who created you from dust, then from a drop of sperm, and then formed you as a man? He is, however, Allah, my Lord, and I will not associate anyone with my Lord. Why, when you entered your garden, did you not say, 'It is as Allah wills, there is no strength but in Allah?' Though you see me with less wealth and children than you possess, it may well be that my Lord will give me something better than your garden and send down on it a fireball from the sky so that morning finds it a shifting heap of dust, or morning finds its water drained into the earth so that you cannot get at it." The fruits of his labor were completely destroyed and he woke up wringing his hands in grief, rueing everything that he had spent on it. It was a ruin with all its trellises fallen in. He said, "Oh, if only I had not associated anyone with my Lord!" There was no group to come to his aid, besides Allah, and he was not given any help. In that situation the only protection is from Allah, the Real. He gives the best reward and the best outcome. (Surat al-Kahf, 37-44)

As can be understood from these verses, by bringing about a natural disaster, Allah destroyed both the garden and the crops of this man, who was so proud of what was in his possession, to remind him that there is no other power than His. The owner of the garden, who had had everything he possessed destroyed, finally understood that he had no friend or helper other than Allah, and took refuge in Allah saying, "if only I had not associated anyone with my Lord!"

One of the lessons which needs to be drawn from this story provided in the Qur'an is that people should never at any time believe that their possessions are their own, and that they should speak in such a way as to exalt the glory of Allah, as saying, "It is as Allah wills, there is no strength but in Allah."

Speaking well with one's parents

Another matter to which attention is directed in the Qur'an concerns the manner in which one's father and mother must be addressed. In the following verse of the Qur'an, Allah instructs people to behave well towards their parents: "We have instructed man concerning his parents. Bearing him caused his mother great debility and the period of his weaning was two years: 'Give thanks to Me and to your parents. I am your final destination.'" (Surah Luqman: 14) Our Prophet (saas) also pointed out the importance of this subject to the faithful with these words, "Accord your parents benevolent treatment." (Muslim)

Truly, a parent's influence on a child is very profound. The mother must endure much hardship carrying the child for nine months in her stomach, and then afterwards, must make many personal sacrifices to ensure it is raised correctly. The father must expend great effort to enable it to reach adulthood. For one to ignore these sacrifices and efforts, made on his or her behalf, is ingratitude and contrary to the morality expected of a believer. Allah calls upon the believers to behave properly towards their parents, and to avoid arrogance behavior towards them: "… Be good to your parents and relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to neighbors who are related to you and neighbors who are not related to you, and to companions and travelers and your slaves. Allah does not love anyone vain or boastful." (Surat an-Nisa': 36)

With regards to this matter, Allah also explains how dutifully a person should behave as follows:

Your Lord has decreed that you should worship none but Him, and that you should show kindness to your parents. Whether one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say "Ugh!" to them out of irritation and do not be harsh with them but speak to them with gentleness and generosity. Take them under your wing, out of mercy, with due humility and say: "Lord, show mercy to them as they did in looking after me when I was small." (Surat al-Isra, 23-24)

Muslims should adopt a well-mannered and respectful way of speaking towards their parents, even to the extent of not resorting to rude grunts like "Ugh!" as an answer. They should be humble and empathetic towards them, and should always use the best language towards them. They labored to raise them and bring them up, and they should show them the same patience and compassion when they reach their old age. They should also be forgiving of their parents' faults and approach their needs with kindness. No matter the situation, they should never behave angrily or impatiently towards them.

Even if one's parents rebel against Allah, as according to the Qur'an, though Muslims should not obey them in matters of religion, they should nevertheless do their best to get along well with them. The Qur'an explains the sort of behavior the faithful are required to undertake as follows:

But if they try to make you associate something with Me about which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. Keep company with them correctly and courteously in this world but follow the Way of him who turns to Me. Then you will return to Me and I will inform you about the things you did. (Surah Luqman, 15)

We have instructed man to honor his parents, but if they endeavor to make you associate with Me something about which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. It is to Me you will return and I will inform you about the things you did. (Surat al-'Ankabut, 8)

In the Qur'an, attention is also directed to the superiority of this behavior, by giving the example of the Prophet Yusuf's (as) well-mannered and respectful comportment towards his parents. When the Prophet Yusuf (as) became the ruler of Egypt, he continued to behave modestly towards his parents:

Then when they entered into Yusuf's presence, he drew his parents close to him and said, "Enter Egypt safe and sound, if Allah wills." He raised his parents up onto the throne… (Surah Yusuf, 99-100)

The Prophet Ibrahim's (as) way of speaking to his father, though he had wanted him to worship idols, is another excellent example for believers. Despite his father's belligerence, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) maintained superior morality:

Mention Ibrahim in the Book. He was a true man and a Prophet. Remember when he said to his father, "Father, why do you worship what can neither hear nor see and is not of any use to you at all? Father, knowledge which never reached you has come to me, so follow me and I will guide you to the right path. Father, do not worship Satan. Satan was disobedient to the All-Merciful. Father, I am afraid that a punishment from the All-Merciful will afflict you, and turn you into a comrade of Satan." He said, "Do you forsake my gods, Ibrahim? If you do not stop, I will stone you. Keep away from me for a good long time." He said, "Peace be upon you. I will ask my Lord to forgive you. He has always honored me. I will separate myself from you and all you call upon besides Allah and I will call upon my Lord. It may well be that, in calling on my Lord, I will not be disappointed." (Surah Maryam, 41-48)

Not talking behind others' backs or gossiping

Instead of telling others about their faults and defects to their faces, people of low morality talk instead behind their backs. These people have no desire of leading others in a better way, or of helping them to correct their ways. They plunge into gossip for mundane purposes, such as to pass the time, to degrade the reputation of those they dislike, to belittle and mock them, or to glorify themselves at the expense of others. This vile behavior is so widespread amongst certain groups of people that they have made gossip a form of entertainment, or even a normal way of life by which they are even found to earn a living.

In our time, and in several countries around the world, a great number of newspapers and magazines are published, and television shows produced for the sole purpose of spreading gossip. Publications and broadcasts of this type aim to justify this form of deviance, otherwise known as gossip, and present is as socially acceptable.

In fact, these people are contradicting themselves, because, though they enjoy gossiping about others, when they find themselves in the same situation, they then realize how despicable this behavior is. But, in spite of this, they do not stop gossiping, so long as they themselves are not exposed. When they meet one whom they had been critisizing just a few minutes earlier, as if nothing had happened, they continue their phony friendship, speaking with them insincerely. Moreover, this behavior contributes to a vicious circle; two people get together and gossip about a third, then one of these people gossips with the third person about the other, and later the other two people come together and gossip about the absentee. Nobody points out to anyone else that gossip is wrong, on the contrary, they maintain that it is harmless, that it adds color to life and provides entertainment to themselves.

Allah notifies people through the Qur'an of the incorrectness of this behavior; in a verse of the Qur'an, Allah tells us that the gossip of people behind one another's backs is just as repugnant as "a person eating his brother's dead flesh":

You who believe! Avoid most suspicion. Indeed some suspicion is a crime. And do not spy and do not backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat his brother's dead flesh? No, you would hate it. And heed Allah. Allah is Ever-Returning, Most Merciful. (Surat al-Hujurat, 12)

In another verse, Allah explains in following manner the recompense received in the afterlife by those claiming that gossip is entertaining and try to excuse it as acceptable:

Woe to every faultfinding backbiter. (Surat al-Humaza, 1)

No indeed! He will be flung into the Shatterer. And what will convey to you what the Shatterer is? The kindled Fire of Allah reaching right into the heart. It is sealed in above them in towering columns. (Surat al-Humaza, 4-9)

This way of speaking by those who are far from the morality of the Qur'an is not to be found amongst the faithful. The faithful, knowing that Allah listens in on every conversation everywhere, studiously refrain from uttering a word which they know He will find spiteful, because a word uttered in another's absence is of no use either to that person or to the one who speaks it. Though in this manner other persons' defects may be analyzed or revealed, because they do not know about it, it is impossible for them to make any alteration in their behavior. So long as these defects are not explained to the related persons, and they do not recognize them for themselves, there is no possibility of them correcting them. Because of this, the faithful pass on to each other all their opinions, positive or negative, about one another, without reluctance. They know that true friendship and sincerity are dependent upon it, and that explaining faults to a person they like is not doing him or her harm but good. Their aim is to lead one another to a better, finer and purer morality. This is a requirement of Allah as set out in the Qur'an: of "enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong."

Avoiding suspicion and slander

Another important matter which Muslims take care to avoid is making statements on subjects about which they are not informed and based merely on conjecture. In the verse of the Qur'an, "Do not pursue what you have no knowledge of. Hearing, sight and hearts will all be questioned." (Surat al-Isra': 36), Allah points out that this will become a heavy burden in His presence. In another verse, Allah says that the vast majority of people on earth "follow nothing but conjecture" and warns the faithful as follows:

If you obeyed most of those on earth, they would misguide you from Allah's Way. They follow nothing but conjecture. They are only guessing. (Surat al-An'am, 116)

Many have made speaking founded on conjecture and guesswork a common habit. It has become so acceptable that, sometimes, people accept mere theories as fact and conform their lives accordingly. For example, they may have surmised something negatively about a person who had become rich in a short time and formed a poor opinion of him, saying "Who knows by what method he acquired this money?" and "It's obvious he couldn't have acquired this wealth merely on his salary." It may be, however, that the situation is very different from what they were led to believe. The person may have become wealthy through an inheritance or some business transaction. When confronted with a situation that awakens one's curiosity, and which one cannot understand or which confuses him, one should never make guesses without information or evidence, because such unsupported speculations are of no use in determining the truth. In this verse of the Qur'an, "Conjecture is of no avail whatever against the truth." (Surat an-Najm: 29) Allah points out that people will not gain further access to the truth by conjecture and guesswork.

The faithful speak in the knowledge of this fact because it is pointed out in the Qur'an. When they are confronted with a puzzling situation, they do not form any opinions not based on knowledge or documentation. They either ask the person concerned, or obtain verifiable information about the subject through proper investigation, and draw conclusions on the basis of the information they have obtained.

One of the examples given on this matter in the Qur'an concerns people who speculated about the conduct of the wife of our Prophet (saas) without any information. By saying that, when they hear any conjecture about a believer, the faithful should say, "This is obviously a lie," or "We have no business speaking about this. Glory be to You! This is a terrible slander," Allah announces the need to warn one another against conjecture:

There is a group of you who propagated the lie. Do not suppose it to be bad for you; rather it is good for you. Every one of them will incur the evil he has earned and the one who took it on himself to amplify it will receive a terrible punishment. Why, when you heard it, did you not, as men and women of the believers, instinctively think good thoughts and say, "This is obviously a lie?" Why did they not produce four witnesses to it? Since they did not bring four witnesses, in Allah's sight, they are liars. Were it not for Allah's favor to you and His mercy, both in this world and the Hereafter, a terrible punishment would have afflicted you for your plunging headlong into it. You were bandying it about on your tongues, your mouths uttering something about which you had no knowledge. You considered it to be a trivial matter, but, in Allah's sight, it is immense. Why, when you heard it, did you not say, "We have no business speaking about this. Glory be to You! This is a terrible slander!?" Allah warns you never to repeat the like of it again if you are believers. Allah makes the Signs clear to you and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (Surat an-Nur, 11-18)

Some people may regard speaking on the basis of conjecture as trivial and harmless, but, in these verses, Allah points out that in His sight, it is an "immense" crime.

On this subject, another example given in the Qur'an concerns the account of Maryam (as). According to what we are told in the Qur'an, Maryam (as) was wrongly accused because she had become pregnant with 'Isa (as) without having been touched by a man, but rather because Allah said, "Be" and it was.

She brought him to her people, carrying him. They said, "Maryam! You have done an unthinkable thing! Sister of Harun, your father was not an evil man nor was your mother an unchaste woman!" (Surah Maryam, 27-28)

And on account of their disbelief, and their utterance of a monstrous slander against Maryam. (Surat an-Nisa, 156)

In fact, as we are told in the Qur'an in the verse, "Maryam, Allah has chosen you and purified you. He has chosen you over all other women." (Surah Al 'Imran: 42) Allah had chosen her over many others and she was known to be a person devoted to Allah.

Allah explains the baselessness of the slander of the people in the verse, "And Maryam, the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity—We breathed Our Spirit into her and she confirmed the Words of her Lord and His Book and was one of the obedient." (Surat at-Tahrim: 12) and made Maryam (as), with her chastity, an example to the faithful.

Not speaking in a mocking manner

No matter where you go in the world, or who you talk to, if you ask, "Do you want to be mocked?" it is very probable that the answer you would receive from everybody, would be "Certainly not." Nevertheless, these people who do not at all enjoy being mocked, regard mockery as a source of great entertainment, but when the brunt is born by somebody else. Wide acceptance of this manner of speaking amongst people deceives them and makes them regard mockery as acceptable. They claim that such behavior has no ill intent, and is even enjoyed by the person mocked. When the same thing happens to them though they do not think the same. When a person mocks them they feel anger, answering that he or she is trying deliberately to make them angry and to belittle them. But, because it is often employed as a way of assuming superiority over others, they do not hesitate to treat others in this humiliating way whenever they find the chance. When they mock a person's defects and weaknesses, they enjoy presuming their own superiority.

Because they have suppressed the voice of their consciences, over time, these people become increasingly cruel and abusive. In addition to adopting a snobby attitude, speech and lifestyle, they take pleasure in making fun of physical birth defects or human frailties in general. The small size of a person's nose, his lack of hair, his accent, his poor eyesight, his weight, his intellectual level, another's style of dress, her occupation, her workplace, the district she lives in, her home furnishings and her car, can all become the object of this derision. They even mock people who sneeze, stutter, get something stuck in their throats or stumble and fall. People with a derisive character think that, by exposing these faults they are belittling others, and thus affirming their own qualities. And, they emphasize their mockery by repeating them for days, months or even years.

On the other hand, the mistake of some people who are the subject of mockery is to reply with similar derisiveness. In ignorant societies derision becomes so widespread that it can be likened to a civil war of egos, while in truth it is a form of behavior which Allah has warned people to avoid:

You who believe! People should not ridicule others who may be better than themselves; nor should any women ridicule other women who may be better than themselves. And do not find fault with one another or insult each other with derogatory nicknames. How evil it is to have a name for evil conduct after coming to faith! Those people who do not turn from it are wrongdoers. (Surat al-Hujurat, 11)

Being aware of this instruction from Allah, the faithful are never mocking in their speech with one another; to those who do so towards them they nevertheless behave modestly and answer according to the morality of the Qur'an, because they know that one can only attain true superiority by living according to the morality of the Qur'an. Answering those who heed the negative prodding of their lower selves, and act ignorantly with a similar low level of behavior is the easy option. However, what is more correct is to ignore the incitements of the lower-self and listen rather to the voice of one's conscience. Muslims are those who speak with the guidance of their consciences.

There is nothing entertaining about mocking common human frailties like sneezing, coughing or falling, or talking about physical birth defects, or referring to people by unflattering nicknames. Proceeding from this standpoint, the faithful take no pleasure in any hurtful, belittling words or other derisive forms of humor. Just as they do not themselves descend to this kind of baseness, they do not permit anyone else to be mocked when they are present. They act in the knowledge that it was Allah Who allotted frailties, and that He has the power to inflict the same frailties on those guilty of the mockery. Allah announces this truth in this verse:

Messengers before you were also mocked, but those who jeered were engulfed by what they mocked. (Surat al-An'am, 10)

Avoiding speaking out of covetousness and envy

In the verse, "... people are prone to selfish greed. If you do good and guard against evil, Allah is aware of what you do." (Surat an-Nisa': 128), Allah points out that selfish greed and jealousy is to be found in the soul of everyone, but that it is a tendency which must be avoided. In another verse, Allah explains what it is a person who feels jealousy needs to do to avoid wrongdoing and the types of wickedness which ensue from jealousy:

Say: "I seek refuge with the Lord of Daybreak, from the evil of what He has created and from the evil of the darkness when it gathers and from the evil of women who blow on knots and from the evil of an envier when he envies." (Surat al-Falaq, 1-5)

That Allah warns people against the evil of those who are inclined to this misguided sentiment is important in understanding the kind of base morality into which envy can lead people. Problems caused through envy are frequently encountered in society; the source of arguments and conflicts which lead to serious injuries and even murder is often found to be jealousy.

Muslims know that envy is a feeling which Allah disapproves of, and for this reason they try to cleanse their selves of this vice. The faithful are aware that Allah is the bestower of all blessings and all beautiful things. They therefore know that coveting such blessings or things of beauty given by Allah is tantamount to disapproving of Allah's decision, because, according to His own wisdom, Allah saw good to grant these things to a particular person. Moreover, all of such things are part of the test which that person undergoes in the life of this world; they also comprise part of the test of other people who cherish these things. Either a person will lapse into jealousy because of these blessings or, by suppressing this tendency, arrive at the morality by which he or she will be pleased that others possess such blessings. In fact, the Qur'an announces that this very state of affairs has been especially created to test people, in the following verse: "In this way We try some of them by means of others so that they say, 'Are these the people among us to whom Allah has shown His favor?' Does not Allah know best those who are thankful?" (Surat al-An'am, 53)

In addition it should not be forgotten that all the blessings for which some have become jealous in the life of this world will no longer be attainable beyond their death. To covet something which will eventually vanish, thereby engaging in behavior of which Allah will not approve, is a grave error. Acting in this knowledge, the faithful take refuge in Allah from jealousy when they see something particularly beautiful belonging to others around them. As they carefully guard themselves from jealousy, so too do they also avoid arousing doubt and anxiety in others. They appreciate the good qualities of those they talk to, and employ a style of speech imbued with praise and expressions of admiration. As for those who, in such circumstances, are overtaken with envy, rather than speaking in a way to show their appreciation of the other person, they overlook their good qualities and try to emphasize instead the flaws and deficiencies of the person.

Muslims are people who can control the desires and passions of the lower-self as described in the verse of the Qur'an. As with other forms of deviation, they respond to the envy within themselves as stipulated in the verses of the Qur'an. In the eyes of Allah, determining the foremost among the faithful is not established on criteria like beauty, wealth, education or culture. The most pious is he or she who is the most respected and the best loved amongst the faithful and in the sight of Allah. Believers' knowledge that which ought truly be coveted is piety (that is, consciousness of Allah) prevents them from feeling envy of any thing of this world..

 

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