The Sins of the Tongue

Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have Mercy on him) said:

“The sins of the tongue are many. They have a certain taste in the heart, and they spring forth from a person’s nature. There is no way to be saved from their danger except to remain silent.

Abu ad-Darda’ (may Allah be Pleased with him) said: “Use your ears more than your mouth, as you were given two ears and one mouth so that you’d listen more than you talk,”

Makhlad bin al-Husayn said: “For fifty years, I haven’t spoken a single word that I regret.”

As for the sins of the tongue, they are:

Speaking about what does not concern you:

Know that he who values his time will not waste it in what doesn’t benefit him, and this is a realization that mandates the imprisonment of the tongue from what is of no concern to him. This is because the one who leaves off the remembrance of Allah and instead busies himself with what doesn’t concern him is like the one who is able to buy a gem, and instead buys some mud, and this is the loss of a lifetime.

It was said to Luqman (peace be upon him): “How did you become so wise?” He replied: “I do not ask for what I don’t need, and I don’t speak about what doesn’t concern me.”

Talking about falsehood:

This is when a conversation revolves around talk of sins, such as talking about bars and places where the sinners gather.

The types of falsehood are many, and Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Indeed, the slave can speak a single word that will cause him to be thrown into the Fire as far as the distance between the East and the West.”(1)

Similar to this is when one argues and debates insistently with a person in order to expose his shortcomings, and this is all done out of the desire to be noticed.

So, the person should forbid what is evil with his tongue and clarify what is right. If this is not accepted from him, he should avoid arguing. This is if the issue has to do with religion.  If it is a worldly matter, there is no reason to argue over it. The way to succeed in this is to swallow your pride, which is what drives you to make yourself look good. And what is worse than arguing is fighting and disputing, and we mean here disputing without knowledge.  However, whoever has the right to argue should avoid doing so, as it agitates the heart, inflames anger, creates envy, and results in people attacking each other’s honor.

Talking with excessive eloquence:

This is when one speaks in too much rhetoric. This does not include the eloquence of a khatib, or that one gives a reminder without being too detailed or hard-to-understand in his speech, because the whole point of such speeches is to move and motivate the hearts with the simplest words possible.

Indecent, inappropriate talk:

Know that indecent talk is when one describes something inappropriate in a clear, direct manner, and this occurs often in songs.


There is no harm in joking here and there, and it is not forbidden if it is in truth, as the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) used to joke and not say except what was true. His joking always abided by the following conditions: it was in what was true, it was with women, children, and weak men who needed to be cultured, and it was done rarely.

Belittling and mocking:

This is when you point out the faults and shortcomings in a person in order to laugh at him. This can occur either directly with a word or action, or indirectly by pointing, and both are forbidden in the Shari’ah.

Revealing secrets, breaking promises, and lying in word and oath:

All of this is forbidden, except the lying during warfare and other exceptional circumstances.


This is when you mention something about your brother in his absence that he wouldn’t want you to mention.

For example, it is when you speak about a physical shortcoming, such as his being bleary-eyed, one-eyed, cross-eyed, bald, too tall, too short, etc.

It is also when you speak about a shortcoming in his lineage, such as saying that one’s father is a bedouin, he’s from this country or that, a sinner, low-class, etc.

It is also when you speak about his character, such as by saying that he has bad manners, is stingy, arrogant, etc.

It is also when you speak about his clothing, such as by saying that his coat is too long, his sleeves are too wide, he wears dirty clothes, etc.

The proof for all of this is that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was asked about backbiting, and he said: “It is when you mention something about your brother that he doesn’t like.” They asked: “What if he actually is as we say?” He replied: “If he is as you say, you have backbitten him. If he is not as you say, you have slandered him.” (2)

And know that anything that can even be understood to be belittlement counts as

backbiting, whether this is in the form of a word, a wink, a point of the finger, or a written word, as the pen is one of your two tongues.

And the most disgusting form of backbiting is the backbiting of the fake religious people, such as when someone is mentioned, and they say ‘thank God for saving us from entering upon the ruler,’ or that they say ‘we seek refuge with Allah from having no haya’, or ‘may Allah spare us,’ as they combine between belittling this person and praising themselves. One of them might even say ‘This poor person has been tested with many sins. May Allah Forgive him and us,’ thereby hiding his true intent by making this supplication.

And know that the one who listens to backbiting is an accomplice to it, and he doesn’t disassociate himself from this crime until he speaks against it. If he fears for himself from speaking against it, he must at least hate it in his heart, and he should get up or change the subject if he can.


In the agreed upon hadith of Hudhayfah (may Allah be pleased with him), the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “No tale-carrier will enter Paradise.”(3)

Know that tale-carrying normally involves one person and another, such as when you tell someone ‘This person said that about you.’ However, it is not limited to this. Rather, it includes exposing anything that should not be exposed, whether this involves words or actions. Even if you see someone burying his own money and mention it to others, this counts as tale-carrying. Everyone to whom such a tale is relayed – such as by one saying to him ‘This person said that about you, or did this against you,’ etc. – should do six things:

First, he should not believe what the person is saying, because the tale-carrier is a sinner, and his testimony is rejected. Second, he should advise him and forbid him from this act. Third, he should hate him for Allah’s Sake, as he is hated with Allah. Fourth, he should not assume the worst about his absent brother. Fifth, he should not be driven to spy or pry into the matter because of what was said, as Allah Said:

{“…and do not spy…”}(4)

Sixth, he should not go and do what he forbade the tale-carrier from doing by telling others about his tale-carrying.

Having two tongues

This is when one speaks with two tongues between two enemies, transmitting the words of one to the other, tells one side what he wants to hear or promises to help him, or praises one in his face and belittles him in the presence of another.

In the agreed upon hadith of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “The worst of people is the two-faced one who comes to this person with one face and that person with another.”(5)

Praising people

There are problems with this related to both the praiser and the praised.

As for the sin of the one doing the praising, he might say that which is not true and cannot be confirmed, such as saying that a person is cautious and abstinent from the worldly pleasures. Also, he might go overboard in praising the person to the point of lying. He might also praise one that in fact deserves to be censured.

As for the one being praised, he might become arrogant or impressed with himself, and these are both deadly traits to acquire.

The Religion

This is when one makes severe mistakes when speaking about the concepts that are related to the Religion, especially that which concerns Allah, the Exalted.”(6)

So, the student of knowledge should save his tongue, preserve his time, busy himself with the truth, and not waste his time in petty matters, letting his life pass by without having accomplished anything.

And the guided one is he whom Allah has Guided.

Taken from Sheikh Muhammed Sa’id Raslan’s Manners of the Knowledge seeker


(1)    Bukhari (6477) and Muslim (2988)

(2)    Muslim (2589), Abu Dawud (4874), and at-Tirmidhi (1934)

(3)    ‘As-Silsilah as-Sahihah’ (1034) and ‘Sahih al-Jami’’ (7672)

(4)     al-Hujurat; 12

(5)    Al-Bukhari (3493, 6058, and 7179), Muslim (2526), Abu Dawud (4872), at-Tirmidhi (2025), Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in ‘at-Tamhid’ (18/261), and Ibn ‘Asakir in ‘Mu’jam ash-Shuyukh’ (2/1008)

(6)    ‘Mukhtasar Minhaj al-Qasidin’ (p. 166-179)

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