On the authority of Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him), the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak good things or keep silent. Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should be courteous and generous to his neighbour. Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should be courteous and generous to his [travelling] visitor.” (Recorded in al-Bukhari and Muslim)
This was hadith was narrated Abu Huraira, who narrated more hadith than any other companion. His brief biography was provided at the beginning of hadith 10, you can find it here.
“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak good things or keep silent.”
We can see here that the Prophet (s) began this reminder with the explicit mention of belief in Allah (swt) and the coming of the Last Day. This should be a reminder to us of the motivating factor behind all our actions. We will be called to account by Allah (swt) on the Last Day. Everything we do will come before us on that day so we should call ourselves to account before we are called to account, and we are reminded to be careful about what we say.
The Prophet (s) instructed us to ‘speak good things’ or remain silent. What does it mean to ‘speak good things’? There are numerous types of speech that fall into this category, including reciting Qur’an, remembering Allah, making supplications, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, giving dawah, enjoining family relations, making peace between two people etc.
Speaking good words also implies refraining from bad speech. As we discussed in the hadith concerning the perfection of Islam, it should be remembered that saying something about someone that they would not like to hear, even if it is to say that they are short or fat etc, is considered backbiting in Islam and is a punishable sin. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
“And do not backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it [so hate backbiting]. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” (Surah al-Hujuraat:12)
The Prophet (s) once stated that nothing caused people to enter Hellfire like the actions of their tongue. So we need to weigh our statements before we make them. If they contain good then we can say them, but if they contain bad then we should refrain from speaking the words and that will be recorded as a good deed for us InshaAllah.
It’s interesting to note that complete and correct practice of the religion of Islam, entails meeting the rights of Allah through worship and obedience, and the rights of other human beings through acts such as refraining from backbiting and honouring them as neighbours and guests. Both these things need to be perfected before we can perfect our Islam.
If we find that we do not to have the characteristic of speaking good words or remaining silent, then we should realise that we are not as close to Allah (swt) as we should be, and that there is room for improvement in our practice of our religion. Let’s try and weigh up our words before we utter them. Will we find them in the scale of good deeds on the Day of Judgement or the scale of bad deeds?
If you feel you have uttered bad words ask Allah (swt) to forgive you and to help you refrain from doing so in the future. Add to your scale of good deeds by making it your habit to make dhikr of Allah on a daily basis as you go about your activities. The Messenger of Allah (s) said,
“There are two statements that are light for the tongue to remember, heavy in the scales and are dear to the Merciful: Subhan Allahi wa bihamdihi, Subhan Allahil Adheem [Glory be to Allah and His is the praise, (and) Allah, the Greatest is free from imperfection]’.” (Recorded in al-Bukhari and Muslim).