Etiquettes of Speech
The Prophet, peace be upon him, has stressed upon his followers the need to keep their tongues under control and avoid gainless and rotten conversation. It was better to keep quiet if one had nothing good or useful to say. Apart from fundamental duties like Prayers, Fasting, Alms, and Hajj, the etiquette of speech is among the important prophetic teachings and on which depends the salvation of man.
1] It is related by ‘Abdullah bin al-’Aas that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Whoever held his tongue attained salvation.” – Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Darimi, and Baihaqi
2] Mu’ad relates that, one day, he said to the Prophet, peace be upon him, “Tell me of something on account of which I may gain admission to Heaven and stay away from Hell.” “You asked me a great thing,” replied the Prophet. “But, (in spite of its gravity and magnitude), it is easy for whom God makes it easy. Now, listen. First of all, worship God and associate no one with Him, and offer Prayers correctly, and pay Alms, and Fast, and perform Hajj (if able).” The Prophet, then, asked: “May I, also, tell you about the doors of goodness?” Seeing the keenness of Mu’ad, the Prophet went on to say: “Fasting is a shield (to protect against sins, and against the Fire of Hell), and charity puts out the sins, (and the fire that results from them), in the same way as water extinguishes the fire, and the same is the case with Prayer of the middle part of the night (Tahajjud).” The Prophet, after it, recited the following verse from Chapter Sajdah regarding the superiority of Tahajjud and Sadaqah (Charity): Who forsake their beds (in the night) to cry unto their Lord, in fear and hope, and spend of what We have bestowed upon them. (Ch. 32, V. 16). The Prophet added: “May I (also) tell you of the head of the matter (Faith), and its pillar and highest peak?” “Do please”, replied Mu’ad. The Prophet, thereupon, said: “The head or upper end of Faith is Islam, and its pillar is Prayers, and the highest peak is Jihad (Striving in the way of Allah).” He, further, asked: “May I tell you of the thing upon which it all rests, i.e., without which these things are of no value?” “Do, please,” Mu’ad replied. The Prophet, then, held his tongue (between his fingers), and said: “Check it. (Keep the tongue under control and do not let it function freely and without restraint).” Upon it, Mu’ad enquired: “Will we, also, be called to account for what we say?” “People will be cast head foremost (or nose foremost?) into Hell mainly owing to the indiscretions of their tongues.”
– Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah
3] Narrates Sufyan ibn ‘Abdullah Thaqafi that, once, he asked the Prophet, peace be upon him: “Which is the most dangerous among the things in respect of which you have the fear concerning me (that I will be guilty of them)?” The Prophet, thereupon, held his tongue and said, “The greatest danger is from it.” – Tirmidhi
4] Narrates ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Amir that “(once), I presented myself before the Prophet, peace be upon him, and said: “Tell me, what is the secret of salvation (What am I to do about it)?” The Prophet replied, “Keep your tongue under control, and let there be room enough for you in your house, and shed tears over your sins before the Almighty.” – Tirmidhi
5] Sahl bin Sa’ad relates that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Whoever undertakes to guard his tongue and his private parts, I take for him the responsibility of Paradise.” – Bukhari
Apart from the tongue, it is the private parts, among the limbs of a man, whose protection against improper use is of highest importance. Hence, in this Tradition, the Prophet has stated that he could give the assurance of Paradise, on behalf of God, to anyone who promised not to use his tongue improperly as well as to keep his sexual desires within the limits of the Divine law.