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The Muslim Way of Speaking - Harun Yahya
THE MUSLIM WAY OF SPEAKING

Who speaks anything better than the one who summons to Allah, acts righteously,
and says, "I am among those who submit to Allah"?(Surah Fussilat: 33)

   


Showing concern in speech for the lawful and the unlawful

One of the most definite aspects of the Muslim way of speaking is the scrupulous observance of the boundaries between the lawful and the unlawful as prescribed in the Qur'an. With the verse, "Those who repent, those who worship, those who praise, those who fast, those who bow, those who prostrate, those who command the right, those who forbid the wrong, those who preserve the limits of Allah: give good news to the believers." (Surat at-Tawba: 112), Allah commands adherence to these limits.

Just as believers seek to avoid that which Allah has prohibited, and carry out that which He has commanded, they must also observe the same bounds in their speech throughout their lives. They must not defend in word or support any behavior which Allah has commanded them to renounce. They should also speak in praise of behavior which Allah approves of. For example, believers know that Allah disapproves of and has forbidden depriving others of their rights, making an unfair profit by the fraudulent weighing of goods, lying and bearing false witness, and for that reason do not tolerate such things. They cannot offer tacit support by remaining silent when confronted with one who defends sinful behavior.

They do not hold back from saying what is true and right; on the contrary, they take great pleasure in explaining the morality related in the Qur'an to others. He never gives way to such thoughts as "If I oppose their ideas, will they take action against me?" or "I wonder what they think of me?," thus remaining silent, because, as we are informed in the verse, "It is a Book sent down to you-so let there be no constriction in your breast because of it-so that you can give warning by it and as a reminder to the believers." (Surat al-A'raf: 2) it is incumbent upon believers to admonish others based on the Qur'an. For this reason, they explain to others their errant thinking and expound to them instead what is correct, using evidence from the Qur'an. By explaining that certain behavior is disliked and prohibited by Allah, they invite others to observe the limits set by Him. On realizing that those with whom they are talking will not heed the advice, realizing instead that they are blaspheming the Qur'an, they obey Allah's commands by abandoning such people. Allah relates in the Qur'an as such:

When you see people engrossed in mockery of Our Signs, turn from them until they start to talk of other things. And if Satan should ever cause you to forget, once you remember, do not stay sitting with the wrongdoers. (Surat al-An'am: 68)

In another verse, we are told that when the faithful come face to face with people speaking ignorantly, they are honorable and respectful, and pass on saying salaam (peace):

The servants of the All-Merciful are those who walk lightly on the earth and, who, when the ignorant speak to them, say, "Peace." (Surat al-Furqan: 63)

Avoiding the style of speech influenced by Satan and taking refuge from Satan in Allah

In the Qur'an, we are told that Satan swore an oath to deceive people from the way of Allah. Because Satan rebelled against Him, Allah expelled him out of Paradise and cursed him. Satan's aim is to incite humans to rebel, as he himself has. Allah allowed Satan until the end of time to pursue his aim, but advised him that he would be unable to influence the true believers.

To divert people from the true path, Satan tries various wiles and blandishments, but, as we are told in the verse, "As for those who guard against evil, when they are bothered by visitors from Satan, they remember and immediately see clearly." (Surat al-A'raf: 201), Satan cannot influence those who hold Allah dear in their hearts. When they sense a provocation directed towards them by Satan, believers take refuge in Allah, and recognize that it is nothing other than a ploy of Satan's.

Those who are weak of faith are easily deceived by Satan's ruses. Though, in the verse we are told, "... Satan's scheming is always feeble." (Surat an-Nisa': 76), those who fail to believe as they should think that Satan's deceptions are true.

People who are entirely heedless of the existence of Allah, and of the morality set forth in the Qur'an, act in their lives instead under the guidance of Satan. They think, behave and speak the way Satan desires them to. Satan's crooked logic rules every decision they take and every word they utter. Satan's purpose is, by exploiting those who follow him, to drive others into general moral degradation, and set his own perverse morality in their hearts. By making use of their mouths as if they were his own, he aims to have his inspiration reach other people.

The speech of those who are heedless of Allah possesses a particular Satanic aspect. As if they were Satan's spokespersons, some people employ a manner of speaking that is deceptive, leading others astray from Allah and the morality of the Qur'an, and instead living according to the morality that destines one for Hell. While this manner may be deceptively attractive at times, its aim is to present something satanic and evil as reasonable and logical. In such cases, these people invariably rely on words founded on errant logic. Through their words they aim to make those around them forget the truth of fate, the afterlife, the Day of Judgment and Allah's promised punishment. They use a furtive manner of speaking to deceive others about the life of the world. They advance false and deceptive claims to dull the listener's conscience into submission. In the matter of faith in Allah, and living according to the morality spelled out in the Qur'an, they secretly endeavor to stealthily induce doubt and misgivings in people's hearts. The methods they use are often very cunning; most often, they try to implant thoughts of wrongdoing into people's subconsciouses, and influence them to the point that they become habituated to such ideas. For this reason, those who act as Satan's spokespersons, or those speaking under his influence, do not usually defend Satanic behavior openly. Instead, they try to deceive others without them recognizing it. They approach indirectly through devious approaches; by the most secretive means, they try to plant doubt in the other. The Qur'an tells us of these various methods and tactics used by Satan:

He [Satan] said, "By Your misguidance of me, I will lie in ambush for them on your straight path. Then I will come at them, from in front of them and behind them, from their right and from their left. You will not find most of them thankful." (Surat al- A'raf: 16-17)

"I will lead them astray and fill them with false hopes. I will command them and they will cut off cattle's ears. I will command them and they will change Allah's creation." Anyone who takes Satan as his protector in place of Allah has clearly lost everything. He makes promises to them and fills them with false hopes. But what Satan promises them is nothing but delusion. (Surat an-Nisa': 119-120)

As is stated in these verses, Satan's basic aim is to divert people from the way of Allah. Those who adhere to Satan, and act on his behalf, employ the same tactics as he. They aim to prevent others from interpreting the events according to the guidance of the Qur'an. By emphasizing the negative instead of the positive, they try to make people forget to see that there is good in that which is fated, as in all things. They strive to provoke people into pessimism, hopelessness and dismay. For instance, when news arrives of a sudden accident or death, they will immediately try to impart in the other person a manner of speech which is an affront to our Lord.

When faced with such news, those who know that both life and death are subject to Allah speak in a manner that shows submission, and a heartfelt devotion to Allah; they say, "Allah's decision is always for the best."

Similarly, once those who are distant from faith learn that they have been seized by a deadly illness, they may, under Satan's influence, refer to their hopelessness and discontent. By manipulating those under his influence, Satan aims stealthily to plant in people's minds the idea that sorrow and a lack of trust in Allah are reasonable, while those who speak in aMuslim way are ever optimistic and respectful of Allah, even at the most trying times. No matter how serious the disease they may have contracted, they speak with the trust and submission brought about by the knowledge that Allah's might is without bounds. The faithfuls' speaking with such hopefulness invites those around them to behave with similar trust in Allah, as well as to speak with the same hopefulness.

Those who have faith in Allah recognize when a statement is made under Satan's influence, and, whatever the situation, they point to it without fear of reprisal, never consenting to it. They know that the punishment in the afterlife for those who act as Satan's spokespersons will be similar to that slated for Satan himself. Because of this, they do not fall into Satan's trap; they immediately take refuge in Allah, and by speaking in conformity with the Qur'an, they ultimately render Satan's efforts ineffective.

Enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong

With their speech, believers try both to live according to the morality expounded in the Qur'an, as best as they can, as well as encourage others to live a moral life. That is because, in the Qur'an, they are advised that they are responsible for calling others to behave well, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong:

Let there be a community among you who call to the good, and enjoin the right, and forbid the wrong. They are the ones who have success. (Surah Al 'Imran: 104)

As this verse commands, Muslims must try to direct both one another and other people towards the morality which Allah approves. In the Qur'an, the faithful are instructed to speak "the finest of words." Because of this, the faithful speak using their intelligence and their conscience in the best possible way, and try to find the words which will be most useful for the people they are talking to. Knowing that others' lack of knowledge or ignorance comes from their distance from the Qur'an, they approach them by a way of speaking filled with compassion and mercy. They do not forget that, before they themselves learned the morality of the Qur'an, they were prone to incorrect behavior or that they had been able to arrive at moral perfection only because of Allah's compassion.

In addition, while explaining the religion, they never speak in a way that is forceful. As is outlined in this verse of the Qur'an, "So remind them! You are only a reminder. You are not in control of them." (Surat al-Ghashiyya:21-22), the responsibility of the Muslims is only to give advice with the most beautiful language and speak in the knowledge that the only One Who ultimately offers guidance is Allah. They attempt to speak in "the kindest way," as they are told to do in another verse of the Qur'an: "Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition, and argue with them in the kindest way." (Surat an-Nahl: 125)

As they are told in another verse "… warn them and speak to them with words that take effect." (Surat an-Nisa': 63), Muslims call on the consciences of those who have fallen into error, but do so in a straightforward manner, using unambiguous and effective words. They never speak out of conceit or feelings of superiority. They use a manner of speaking which is measured, always respectful, and approach those they advise with points that are both positive and constructive. They hold conversations which will attract these people to their intelligence and sincerity. By warning others to abandon the state of error in which they find themselves and telling them about the afterlife, the Day of Judgment and Allah's hearing every word spoken and seeing every act in order to direct them towards a better way of behaving, they invite them to heed Allah.

As well, though the faithful may be truly sincere in their efforts, the opposite party may not be able to understand what has been explained, or may simply not wish to accept it. Nevertheless, the faithful never fall into hopelessness or despair. Their duty is to carry out the task of communicating Allah's message, described by Allah as a form of worship, in the best way possible; the responsibility for following or not following the advice given is solely upon those spoken to. The believers never forget that guidance is from Allah, as we are told in the following verse of the Qur'an: "You cannot guide those you would like to but Allah guides those He wills. He has best knowledge of the guided." (Surat al-Qasas: 56)

Speaking with wisdom

Speaking with wisdom represents the ability to speak in the most appropriate, the most beneficial and most effective manner possible. But speaking with wisdom is not bound by any specific rules. It depends on the time, place, the person addressed, and the circumstances. Moreover, the ability to speak with wisdom has no relation whatsoever with people's degree of intelligence, or how cultured they may be, their level of education or technical expertise. Some, who fail to apprehend this truth, then take part in courses or training with the aim of attaining wisdom and public speaking skills. Some believe this trait can be obtained merely by employing certain techniques; for this reason, they expend much effort to comply, as best as possible, to the various advice found in books about the rules of rhetoric or the art of diction.

They believe that if their speaking is extended or excessively elaborate, or that they use fashionable or foreign turns of phrase, which they believe carry intellectual appeal, their speech will be more attractive and effective. However, these characteristics do not endow anyone with the ability to speak with wisdom, because wisdom is a faculty which can only be acquired through faith, the sincerity which results from awareness of Allah and wholehearted submission to Allah.

As Allah says of the angels, in the Qur'an, "They said, 'Glory be to You! We have no knowledge except what You have taught us. You are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise'." (Surat al-Baqara: 32), Allah has boundless wisdom, and He grants ability to whomever He wills. A person has no knowledge except what is taught by Allah.

When speaking with someone, those endowed with wisdom do not seek to endear the other to themselves. Knowing that it is Allah Who grants the power of speech, they take refuge in Him, and employ their speech in order only to gain His approval. At all times, they are aware that, while they are speaking, they are in the presence, not only of other people, but of Allah, and that their words will be effective only by His will. To this purpose, that their language take effect and be supported with wisdom, they pray to Allah. As a consequence of their sincerity, their conscience assists them to choose those words which are best and the most appropriate. As such, all who listen to their consciences may easily discern that which needs emphasis, what needs to be indicated, or what must be said.

In contrast to verbose or elaborate speeches, as with those among whom the morality of the Qur'an is not adhered to, they who speak with wisdom have an effect on the heart of their listeners. At no time does one who is sincere speak with the purpose of earning praise. However, because the real aim of those who are far removed from the morality set forth in the Qur'an is to make others be like them, they utterly lack in sincerity. Without this sincerity, of course, nor either can there be wisdom in their speech. In it we would only be able to refer to its technical aspects.

Merely to make a show of their profound knowledge of a subject, some speakers at times make unnecessary pronouncements which are of no use whatsoever to their listeners. They belabor their audiences with two or three hour-long speeches on highly mundane subjects, which could have otherwise been explained in a few sentences. By contrast, people of faith explain in the most clear, comprehensible, concise and effective manner so as to be of benefit to the listener.

Their purpose is neither to make themselves lauded nor to assume superiority over others. Their intention is solely to be of use to the listener, so as to earn the approval of Allah. Because their intention is pure, their efforts, Allah willing, will be ultimately successful.

The Qur'an draws our attention to the importance of wisdom, and to the fact that it is a great blessing: "He gives wisdom to whoever He wills and he who has been given wisdom has been given great good…" (Surat al-Baqara: 269) Indeed, those endowed with wisdom may, with Allah's permission, live according to the religion in the best way and, by explaining to others the morality found in the Qur'an in the manner which is the most comprehensible and effective, bring upon them a number of benefits. Those addressed by such wise people may, through their wise words, be able to see the truth behind the events they observe, and may be encouraged to reform their behavior, matters which until then they had not been able to properly understand. Realizing how great a blessing wisdom is, the faithful, in their prayers, ask Allah to grant them "wisdom and discernment in speech." The Qur'an gives the example of the Prophet Ibrahim's (as) prayer:

My Lord, give me right judgment and unite me with the righteous; and make me highly esteemed among the later peoples. (Surat ash-Shu'ara': 83-84)

These verses call attention to the fact that Allah grants wisdom to whomever He wills, and that wisdom is a characteristic trait of Allah's messengers. For instance, from the verse, "[We] … gave him wisdom and decisive speech." (Surah Sad, 20), we understand that Allah granted specific wisdom and influential speech to the Prophet Dawud (as). The following verse informs us that wisdom was imparted to the Prophet Ibrahim (as):

Or do they in fact envy other people for the bounty Allah has granted them? We gave the family of Ibrahim the Book and wisdom, and We gave them an immense kingdom. (Surat an-Nisa': 54)

As well, there is no relation between the ability to speak wisely and a person's age. Allah will endow those with wisdom in proportion to their sincerity and faith, at whatever age He wills. The best examples of this, as stated in the Qur'an, are those of the Prophets Yahya (as) and Musa (as).

In the verse, "'Yahya, take hold of the Book with vigor.' We gave him judgment while still a child," (Surah Maryam: 12), we are told that the Prophet Yahya (as) was given wisdom in childhood. On the other hand, the verse, "And when he reached his full strength and maturity, We gave him judgment and knowledge. That is how We recompense good-doers." (Surat al-Qasas: 14) tells us that the Prophet Musa (as) received such blessing in his later years.

Several examples are provided in the Qur'an of the wise manner of speech of the Prophets. One such example is that of a man who believed himself to be great, merely due to wealth and property, and initiated an argument about Allah. Faced with the wisdom of the answer of the Prophet Ibrahim (as), he then recognized his own insincerity:

What about the one who argued with Ibrahim about his Lord, on the basis that Allah had given him sovereignty? Ibrahim said, "My Lord is He Who gives life and causes to die." He said, "I too give life and cause to die." Ibrahim said, "Allah makes the sun come from the East. Make it come from the West." And the one who was an unbeliever was dumbfounded. Allah does not guide wrongdoing people. (Surat al-Baqara: 258)

Speaking in a sincere manner

One of the manners of speech which is the most effective is that which is sincere, because, as with words that are wise, sincere speech attains the heart and conscience of the listener directly. It is in a human beings' nature to be prone to the effects of sincerity. Sincere speech aids people to see the truth of an idea which they had till then not believed in, which they would not have tolerated, and which, therefore, they would have opposed and refused to evaluate objectively. It encourages the listener to also think sincerely, as well as to judge and speak sincerely. Compared to one who speaks sincerely, the insincerity of one who makes flowery speeches with much affectation is immediately recognizable. Indeed, often, people see that speaking insincerely only works against the person.

One of the more important characteristics of those who speak sincerely is that they take refuge in Allah, with no attempt to elaborate their speech in some peculiar way. Sincere speech reflects the honest feelings of a person. If there is a defect or some corruption in that person, then admitting to it honestly is also a sign of sincere speech. Those who speak sincerely present themselves as they are; they do not attempt to present themselves as good if they are bad, or if they are good to conceal the fact, or to give a different impression of what they are to those around them.

Even if they have not been introduced to those they speak to, their sincere manner of speaking makes the introduction on their behalf. Their tone of voice, their emphases, the words they select, the structure of their logic, their honest and objective approach to events, their natural manner of speaking purified from artificiality, their avoidance of seeking to please people, and their determined refusal to avoid telling the truth provide proof of their sincerity to their audience.

Speaking sincerely is a great comfort, both to the speakers, and to the listeners; the speakers experience the peace of saying what comes from their heart, without worry, because they are devoted to Allah, while the listeners experience the confidence of trusting sincere, well-intentioned and honest people, and acting upon their truthfulness. Whatever happens, they know these people are concealing no ill-will, and are certain of the honesty of their advice or criticism.

Speaking the truth

Another characteristic prevalent in the speech of the faithful is their telling the truth no matter what the circumstances. We are told in the Qur'an that avoiding speaking the truth, simply from fear of others, is not acceptable. For this reason, while speaking, the faithful listen to the voice of their conscience. They always speak with the best and most effective words, but, at the same time, do not neglect speaking the truth for fear of disappointing or angering someone, or to win him or her over. They do not fail to speak the truth from concern that the response will have negative repercussions for themselves or their friends. Neither do they tell lies to gain advantage for themselves or their friends and relatives, because Allah instructs all to tell the truth in this verse of the Qur'an: "You who believe! Heed Allah and speak words which hit the mark" (Surat al-Ahzab: 70) and "… avoid false words." (Surat al-Hajj: 30)

Lying is frequent where the morality of the Qur'an is not followed. Some believe that lying is not harmful. Some say that, while certain lies are wrong, others are permissible. They consider that small lies, in order to avoid suffering some greater loss, whether in the moral or material sense, are a necessity of life. They try to ease their consciences by putting forward suggestions such as, "I tell lies but I do nobody any harm," or "By lying I'm actually doing good." By reason of these excuses, they tell dozens of lies throughout the day, though they claim that they are not lies. For example, they may tell someone who calls them on the phone, "I'm very busy. I can't talk to you at the moment," while, in fact, at the time they weren't busy doing anything at all. Or, they lose a file at the office but, when asked, say they know nothing about it, or try to put the blame on someone else. When they meet their bosses, though they think exactly the opposite, they say things like, "You think very correctly," or "You conducted business very well," being truly two-faced. They tell a friend who asks for a loan, "I'm in trouble at the moment, I have no money myself," when in truth they have quite enough. When one of their relatives asks for help, they find an excuse saying, "I'm very ill, I can't come at the moment," when in actuality they are not ill at all. It is possible to offer a great number of such examples, because people who have descended into this sort of morality have practically made lying a way of life.

As for Muslims, they speak in the knowledge that Allah sees them, in all instances and all times, and hears every word they say, and that they will be called upon to account for themselves on the Day of Judgment. Because they fear Allah, they avoid telling lies, or using even the slightest evasion, as well as concealing information, and slander, gossip and bad language of all types. They take refuge in Allah from saying a word they think He will not approve of, and speak with honesty at all times. They are aware that lies and slander cause a person to suffer loss in the afterlife, as we are told in the verse, "Who could do greater wrong than someone who invents lies against Allah or denies His Signs? The wrongdoers are certainly not successful." (Surat al-An'am: 21)

In those communities in which they carried out their missions, the Prophets were known for their true word, as can be understood from the ways in which they were addressed by the people around them. The Qur'an tells us of one who had been unjustly thrown into prison, because of a false accusation, and who had come to the Prophet Yusuf (as) saying: "O truthful Yusuf …" (Surah Yusuf: 46)

The true words of Muslims are noticeable in a number of ways; they never perjure themselves. Allah warns believers to avoid such transgressions in the following verse of the Qur'an: "They have made their oaths into a cloak and barred the Way of Allah. What they have done is truly evil." (Surat al-Munafiqun: 2) In fact, false oaths are one of the most frequently used methods to deceive one another by those who are removed from the morality expounded in the Qur'an. Even when they clearly know that each other has no fear of Allah, and that their oaths are used as a means of deception, they still believe each other's words. This behavior, however, is strongly condemned by our Prophet (saas), who said, "Those who purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah's Covenant and their oaths, they shall have no portion in the Hereafter." (Bukhari and Muslim)

In other verses, also pertaining to speaking the truth, Allah points out that making a promise one cannot keep is unacceptable; "You who believe! Why do you say what you do not do? It is deeply abhorrent to Allah that you should say what you do not do." (Surat as-Saff: 2-3)

For that reason, the faithful do not make promises they cannot keep. They know these may burden them with great responsibility in the presence of Allah. Among those distant from the morality of the Qur'an, however, these acts are quite common. This sort of people may resort to such ploys to gain an unfair advantage, to lead those around them in the direction they wish, or to cover up their own shortcomings. As for the faithful, when they give their word they do not break it. They know that if they do not keep their word they will have committed an error, not only against others, but against Allah. Because they fear Allah, they try to remain true to their word, no matter how difficult it may be to do so. Our attention is drawn to this feature of believers in the Qur'an:

Those who fulfill Allah's contract and do not break their agreement. (Surat ar-Ra'd: 20)

Another characteristic exemplifying the true words of the faithful is their truthfulness in bearing witness. The Qur'an refers to this trait of the faithful like this:

Those who do not bear false witness … (Surat al-Furqan: 72)

Those who stand by their testimony. (Surat al-Ma'arij: 33)

Although its consequences may result in harm, both to themselves and those around them, believers bear witness to what they hear or see without hesitation. That is because they know that Allah commands them to uphold justice as true witnessses. One pertinent verse reads:

You who believe! Be upholders of justice, bearing witness for Allah alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives. Whether they are rich or poor, Allah is well able to look after them. Do not follow your own desires and deviate from the truth. If you twist or turn away, Allah is aware of what you do. (Surat an-Nisa': 135)

Knowing that our Prophet (saas) admonished the faithful on this matter the following way: "I warn you against making a false statement and giving a false testimony." (Bukhari and Muslim), they never protect one who is guilty and always adhere to what truth requires. They tell the truth with impartiality, even in the case of those whom they do not approve of, bearing witness against them in the fairest manner. As we are told in the verse, "You who believe! Show integrity for the sake of Allah, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to heedfulness. Heed Allah. Allah is aware of what you do," (Surat al- Ma'ida: 8) they fear Allah and take refuge in Him.

These true words of the faithful are evident also in their summoning others to the truth. On the other hand, those who have not adopted the morality of the Qur'an seek to cast doubt on the existence of Allah and the afterlife through statements made without any evidence whatsoever. The Qur'an draws our attention to the invalidity of their statements as such:

Among people there is one who argues about Allah without knowledge, and follows every rebellious Satan. (Surat al-Hajj: 3)

These people encourage one another to become excessively fond the life of this world, to not heed Allah, and to live instead according to a corrupt morality and be neglectful of the afterlife. One of the most frequently encountered examples of this case is their offering the suggestion, "I will bear the burden of your sin" when encouraging one another to behave in ways they know to be wrong. Allah, however, explains in this verse, "No burden-bearer can bear another's burden. Then you will return to your Lord and He will inform you of what you did. He knows what the heart contains," (Surat az-Zumar: 7) that such a thing is not possible in His sight. Therefore, those who come to others with such a suggestion are lying.

Believers, however, always summon those around them to the truth and to what is right. They exalt the glory of Allah, remind others that the afterlife is a sure reality, that the Day of Judgment is close at hand, and call on them to heed Allah's laws. In the Qur'an, we are told that Allah's messengers were known, among the communities to which they were sent, for always telling the truth and for speaking in an honest and truthful fashion. As for those who, despite their honesty and truthfulness, still did not believe that which the Prophets had set forth, but instead set themselves against them, when they find themselves face to face with the truth in the after life, will confess to this reality, saying, "The Messengers were telling the truth."

The Trumpet will be blown and at once they will be sliding from their graves towards their Lord. They will say, "Alas for us! Who has raised us from our resting-place? This is what the All-Merciful promised us. The Messengers were telling the truth." (Surah Ya Sin: 51-52)

Speaking sensibly and logically

Another characteristic common to the speech of the faithful is that it is found to be a way of speaking which reflects true wisdom. Contrary to popular belief, not all who are thought wise are actually wise. Allah grants this blessing to those who believe in Him. What people often confuse with wisdom is intelligence, a talent which is never to be compared with the superiority of true wisdom.

Some, though they are far from the morality of the Qur'an, may be very clever; having a talent for thinking quickly, a powerful memory or a keen ability to provide ready answers. However, in their speech we would not encounter the use of words that would reflect real wisdom. The Qur'an tells us that real wisdom, which enables one to distinguish right from wrong, only comes through fear of Allah and faith in Him:

You who believe! If you fear Allah, He will give you a criterion [by which to judge between truth and falsehood] and erase your bad actions from you and forgive you. Allah's favor is indeed immense. (Surat al-Anfal: 29)

This wisdom, which is gained by faith and the fear of Allah, is reflected in all that the faithful say; in their speech, when they make a decision, when they determine a deficiency or a need, when they analyze people's characters, faults or good points, their wisdom is noticeable and recognized by others. Such wise speech is very direct though equally plain and simple; it is unambiguous and comprehensible, that it can be easily understood by anyone, from a young child, or an uncultured person to one with a high intellectual capacity.

Thanks to this wisdom, the faithful can determine truths and important points about a subject which others, with far more knowledge and experience than they possess, fail to recognize. They are able to provide definite answers to a great many problems, for which no solution had been found, even though every method had been employed. They are able to point out a person's errors in the most accurate, the most convincing, and the simplest language possible. They avoid unfounded comments; taking into account the history and circumstances of an event, they assess its possible ramifications. Where views had come to be taken for granted, they offer new and innovative ideas, exhibiting their wisdom. When they do so they impress others upon which they have a genuine effect.

Their speech is not of an ordinary or common variety. Their chain of logic, the evidence they put forward, and the examples they give, are so accurate that the listeners find themselves unable to reject them. They can avoid becoming monotonous by talking about the same subject but varying their speech, by using different sentence structures, different words and offering different comparisons each time. They defy the familiarity of a listener with a subject by using different approaches on every occasion. In addition, they are able to describe something beautiful in the most striking and effective language. They can also express their love or respect for a person in the most beautiful way. In order to do so, they do not need to cast themselves in some special light, or any such effort; in return for their sincere submission to Him, Allah, Who inspired wisdom in these believers, shows them the most correct path and enables them to speak with wisdom.

Giving good tidings

Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their wealth in return for Paradise. They fight in the Way of Allah and they kill and are killed. It is a promise binding on Him in the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur'an and who is truer to his contract than Allah? Rejoice then in the bargain you have made. That is the great victory. (Surat at-Tawba: 111)

In the verse quoted above, Allah reminds the faithful to share good tidings with one another. The faithful's source of joy and good humor is that Allah has set them on the true path which will lead to "the great victory." The faithful are those whose selves and wealth are at the disposal of Allah, and who vow to behave virtuously that they may reach Paradise. This is the smartest bargain one can make in the life of this world, and the one with the best reward.

The believers experience this joy that arises from their faith at every stage and every moment of their lives, because Allah is the friend of the faithful, and He has given them the good news that He will always come to their aid, see all their affairs to a favorable conclusion, and shower blessings upon them, and He has promised them Paradise in the afterlife. The faithful, who know that Allah never breaks His covenant, interpret all that they experience in the life of this world according to this knowledge. For this reason, they are certain that everything which they experience is for their benefit. They can see blessings and the positive aspects of difficulties which they face, and in when speaking of these developments they always do so in a way which is optimistic and encouraging. Within themselves they have the peace and security of their reliance on Allah, as well as their trust in Him. They receive their reward for their extraordinary patience through these difficulties and problems. Thinking of their noble reward in Heaven, as recompense for this patience, they are heartened with the good news. Consequently, whatever happens is good news for the faithful, because everything that takes place is brought about by Allah, and He is the friend and guardian of the faithful. Whatever comes from Allah is both beautiful and blessed. Indeed, it is impressive that the faithful can speak of "excellence" even when faced with an event such as a death:

Say: "Do you await for us but one of two most excellent things [i.e., martyrdom or victory]? ..." (Surat at-Tawba: 52)

The faithful greet death as something good because, for those who have lived their lives sincerely, pledging themselves wholeheartedly to Allah, it is not an end but a new beginning. In the afterlife, Allah will recreate believers in the most beautiful form, and give them blessings of a wonder and variety not to be compared with those of the life of this world. As a result of their living their lives in the type of submission of which Allah approves, He has promised His servants the greatest and most wonderful blessings. For that reason, the joy and contentment of the faithful is unconditional. No matter what difficulties they encounter, their manner of speaking is always such to reflect their gratitude to Allah.

However, it is necessary to add that the ability of the faithful to see the good and positive side of things is not a cop-out. They exercise their wisdom to the best of their ability, in order to be able to see the good in everything they experience, as well as to be able to overcome the difficulties which they encounter.

Where the morality expounded in the Qur'an is not adhered to, it is difficult to encounter a pleasant manner of speaking, even in the best of times. For whatever reasons, some people make a habit of finding the negative in everything and speaking pessimistically. They do not know how to be happy about anything, and try to find things to grumble, complain and moan about. They make a habit of being bearers of bad news and prodding others into discontent. Their spiritual state is somber and they provoke one another into thinking negatively about everything, and lead each other into despair.

Not speaking joyfully is one of the most important characteristics in determining those who are of a hypocritical nature who try to find a place for themselves amongst the faithful. Hypocrites carefully avoid giving good news which will bring joy to the faithful, or speaking of events in a positive and cheerful way. They do not want to even listen to good news in the believers' favor. When such news is given them, either they do not respond to it, or they try to dampen the joy of the faithful and take away their pleasure by finding in it something negative. But, they are never successful through such efforts. On the contrary, the ability to avoid these hypocrites, by seeing them for who they are, is a mercy and another yet more good news for the faithful.

Giving good and happy news, and interpreting every event positively despite the pessimistic provocations of the soul, or of Satan, keeps the faithful enthusiastic and cheerful. Their speaking in this way angers the hypocrites and unbelievers, because it renders void their attempts to harm the faithful. While they themselves sink into despair and hopelessness for the minutest reason, they observe with envy the faithful who are not in the least affected by the turn of events which to them are seen as negative. Because they do not understand that the source of the believers' disposition is faith, they do not discern the source of their strength.

Talk imbued with good news and positivity may enable those whose faith is weak, and who easily fall into despair, to find strength, to see the truth and to fortify their faith. The faithful, who manifest their contentment with Allah and their submission to Him with their cheerful and joyful way of speaking, hope, through this manner of devotion, to earn Allah's contentment and approval. This reward as Allah promises to the believers is described in the Qur'an as follows:

The forerunners-the first of the Muhajirun [i.e., migrants] and the Ansar [i.e., supporters]-and those who have followed them in doing good: Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. He has prepared Gardens for them with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, for ever and ever. That is the great victory. (Surat at-Tawba: 100)

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."