Islam is a universal way of life and civilization

Evils of The Tongue

Out of the several ways people harm each other, the harms of the tongue are the most widespread. Harming others by one’s tongue is a heinous act that can only be committed by evil people or those who have given in to the evil whispers of Satan. Verbal abuse is one of the worst aspects of marital life for those that are the victims of it and the ones that do the verbal abuse are quite frankly the worst. Allah says:

وَإِنَّ مِنْهُمْ لَفَرِيقًا يَلْوُونَ أَلْسِنَتَهُم بِالْكِتَابِ لِتَحْسَبُوهُ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَقُولُونَ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ وَيَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ

“And indeed, among them surely (is) a group – they distort their tongues in (reciting) the Book so that you may think it (is) from the Book and not it (is) from the Book. And they say, “It (is) from Allah.” But not it (is) from Allah. And they say about Allah the lie while they know.” (Surah Al-Imran, 3:78)

Verbal abuse takes many forms even if the person doing it does not realize that he is hurting the other person. Sadly in the case of wife and husband, it is always direct insulting in the form of criticizing. One of the worse ways to verbally abuse and hurt another person is to ignore all of that person’s goodness and efforts and simply compare them to some other accomplished person. Allah says:

إِذْ تَلَقَّوْنَهُ بِأَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَتَقُولُونَ بِأَفْوَاهِكُم مَّا لَيْسَ لَكُم بِهِ عِلْمٌ وَتَحْسَبُونَهُ هَيِّنًا وَهُوَ عِندَ اللَّهِ عَظِيمٌ

“When you received it with your tongues and you said with your mouths whatnot for you of it any knowledge, and you thought it (was) insignificant, while it (was) near Allah great.” (Surah An-Nur 24:15)

This is most common among husbands who verbally abuse their wives for petty reasons. One of the saddest realities of this horrific practice is that it is not limited or small in scale. Rather everyone and especially Muslim households today suffer this curse. What most people fail to realize is that Verbal Abuse hurts deeply, even if it does not hurt as much as physical abuse. Allah says:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَٰذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَٰذَا حَرَامٌ لِّتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ لَا يُفْلِحُونَ

“And (do) not say for that which assert your tongues, the lie, “This (is) lawful and this (is) forbidden,” so that you invent about Allah the lie. Indeed, those who invent about Allah the lie, they will not succeed.” (Surah An-Nahl 16:116)

Things that are futile or harmful should be avoided so as not to use precious energy nor pollute one’s soul with useless clutter. One should avoid delving into matters of no benefit, arguing needlessly to the point of hatred, talking too much and too fast, in a rude and uncouth manner. These exaggerated styles of speech paint a person as loud, annoying, and undignified.

Some of the evils of the tongue that we have been warned against in the Quran and Sunnah are as follows:

  1. The evil tongue is the tongue given to boasting
  2. The evil tongue is the tongue given to cursing
  3. The evil tongue is the hasty or angry tongue
  4. The evil tongue is the censorious tongue
  5. The evil tongue is the slanderous tongue
  6. The evil tongue is the murmuring tongue
  7. The evil tongue is the flattering tongue
  8. The evil tongue is the swearing tongue
  9. The evil tongue is the unclean tongue
  10. The evil tongue is the scoffing tongue
  11. The seducing tongue is evil
  12. The railing tongue is evil
  13. The evil tongue is the vain tongue
  14. The evil tongue is the cruel tongue
  15. The evil tongue is the lying tongue
  16. The evil tongue is the silent tongue
  17. The evil tongue is the unjust tongue
  18. The evil tongue is the earthly tongue
  19. Avoid sexualized speech or dirty talk
  20. Avoid arguing, even if you are in the right
  21. Avoid listening to any of the negative speech
  22. Avoid talking about their quarrels or relations
  23. Avoid breaking confidences with your tongue
  24. Avoid lending your ear to arguments, backbiting
  25. Avoid false things that your tongues may put forth

Islam upholds that the faith of a servant of The Almighty – a believer, is not correct until his heart is correct and his heart is not correct until his tongue is correct. Thus Islam teaches us that the heart is indeed tied to our actions, specifically speech. Allah says:

وَأَخِي هَارُونُ هُوَ أَفْصَحُ مِنِّي لِسَانًا فَأَرْسِلْهُ مَعِيَ رِدْءًا يُصَدِّقُنِي إِنِّي أَخَافُ أَن يُكَذِّبُونِ

“And my brother Harun, he (is) more eloquent than me (in) speech, so send him with me (as) a helper, who will confirm Indeed, I fear that they will deny me.” (Surah Al-Qasas 28:34)

One of the main concerns about this evil is that it is hard to identify. When a person hits his wife, the bruises are very real for all to see and assess that this couple is in a damaged relationship. However, Verbal abuse cannot be physically identified, but leaves emotional scars and wounded spirits which is much more dangerous. Allah says:

وَيَجْعَلُونَ لِلَّهِ مَا يَكْرَهُونَ وَتَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُهُمُ الْكَذِبَ أَنَّ لَهُمُ الْحُسْنَىٰ لَا جَرَمَ أَنَّ لَهُمُ النَّارَ وَأَنَّهُم مُّفْرَطُونَ

“And they assign to Allah what they dislike and assert their tongues the lie that for them (is) the best. No doubt that for them (is) the Fire and that they (will) be abandoned.” (Surah An-Nahl, 5:62)

The tongue is the most dangerous part of the body. You can either enter the Jannah of burning in the Hellfire through your tongue. It is said that the tongue is sharper than the blade. One thing to consider and accept is that verbal abuse is done from both sides of the relationship. Wives often are quick to verbally abuse their husbands and not only them but involve all his family in their harsh words.

Allah Almighty says in The Holy Quran:

  • “And a tongue, and a pair of lips?” (Al-Balad, 9)
  • “In the perspicuous Arabic tongue.” ( Ash-Shura, 195)
  • “Not move with it your tongue to hasten with it.” (Qiyamah 75:16)
  • “Move not thy tongue concerning the (Quran) to make haste therewith.” (Qiyama, 16)
  • “And grant [for] me a mention (of) honour among the later (generations).” (Quran 26:84)
  • “Indeed, We have made it easy in your tongue so that they may take heed.” (Dukhan 44:58)
  • “And We bestowed to them of Our Mercy, and We made for them a truthful mention, high.” (Maryam 19:50)

فَإِنَّمَا يَسَّرْنَاهُ بِلِسَانِكَ لِتُبَشِّرَ بِهِ الْمُتَّقِينَ وَتُنذِرَ بِهِ قَوْمًا لُّدًّا

“So, only We (have) made it easy in your tongue, that you may give glad tidings with it (to) the righteous and warn with it a people hostile.” (Surah Maryam, 19:97)

The cure for the evil habit of backbiting is for the perpetrator to know that he is subject to the wrath of Allah The Almighty; his rewards will vanish as a result of backbiting because it goes to the one he transgressed against. He should think about his shortcomings and faults and busy himself in reforming them. Allah says:

إِذْ تَلَقَّوْنَهُ بِأَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَتَقُولُونَ بِأَفْوَاهِكُم مَّا لَيْسَ لَكُم بِهِ عِلْمٌ وَتَحْسَبُونَهُ هَيِّنًا وَهُوَ عِندَ اللَّهِ عَظِيمٌ

“Behold, ye received it on your tongues, and said out of your mouths things of which ye did not know; and ye thought it to be a light matter, while it was most serious in the sight of Allah.” (Surah An-Nur, 24:15)

The tongue is a great blessing from Allah. If we look at the animals, who are unable to speak, we realize the importance of this great tool of communication. We should not do what we would hate others to do against them, and we should spend our time fruitfully engaged in acts of obedience. We should regret acts of backbiting that we may have done before and repent to Allah The Almighty sincerely.