Speech is a great gift of Allah (SWT) for which we should ever remain grateful. It is one of Allah’s many blessings that distinguishes human beings from the other creatures. However, with each blessing comes a responsibility. It is imperative that man uses this splendid ability to talk and communicate with a sense of duty and restraint. Without it, a speech is reduced to a vain, useless talk.
What’s the Damage:
As Muslims, we should always be conscious of the fact that worthless talk is not permissible in Islam. While it is a sheer wastage of time and energy, the much greater harm it inflicts is that it weakens and even kills our imaan. This may sound a little hyperbolic, but the reality is that evil, false, and meaningless talk does damage and degrades our faith. And without a strong faith, we are always at the risk of losing it completely. It is for this reason that the great scholars of Islam have always advised Muslims to be conscious of who they hang out with or what gatherings they frequent. This will be their first step towards protecting themselves from falling into vain conversations. It is but natural that negativity attracts negativity and vice versa. For example, if a person places himself in a setting where evil talk is taking place, he is most likely to get adversely affected by it, sooner or later.
There are numerous places in the Quran where Allah (SWT) reminds the believers of refraining from vain talk. Allah (SWT) commands in Verse 83 of Al-Baqara: “And say to the people what is good…”. At another place in the Quran Allah says: “And do not be curious (to find out faults of others), and do not backbite one another.” (Al-Hujaraat: 12).
Slandering and backbiting are the worst forms of vain talk. In fact, Allah has equated backbiting with eating the flesh of one’s own dead brother. What could be more abominable than this! According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),
“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say something good or keep silent.” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 8, No. 6136). To Abu Musa al-Ashari’s (RA) question, ‘Who is the most excellent among the Muslims?’, the Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said: “One from whose tongue and hands the other Muslims are safe.” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 1, No. 10)
Vain talk is a sign of a diseased heart. It is a result of lack of taqwa or fear of Allah. While it harms others, the harm it does to the vain talker is much more severe and intense. It weakens the talker’s Imaan and keeps weakening it until the heart deadens and loses its connection with God. To avoid such a devastating situation, a Muslim should continue to strengthen his Imaan with the remembrance of Allah and speaking well of others in their presence as well as in their absence. In short, a tongue that is kept busy in the remembrance of Allah will have no time to indulge in vain talk.