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Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (8)
Hadith & Sunnah
Amin Ahsan Islahi
(Tr. by:Nikhat Sattar)

Instructions to be Careful when Talking 

1.  It is narrated from Bilal ibn Harith Muzni that the Prophet (sws) said that sometimes a person mentions something pleasing to God and he does not know how far this speech will travel. But God destines His pleasure for him until the Day of Judgement when he shall meet Him. Similarly, when a person says something that angers God, he is unaware of the extent it will go to, but because of this, God destines His displeasure for him until the Day of Judgement when he will meet Him.  

Explanation: A person says many things and does not know their significance. If he utters the right thing at the right time, he is unaware of what he could merit from it and what might be its significance to of God. But God ensures His pleasure for him until the Day of Judgement. Similarly, there is the other side to this as well. If one utters something which could be disliked by God, it is not known how far its impact will be felt and he could be bringing God’s wrath upon himself. Hence, it is very important to pay attention to what one says. May God enable everyone to be careful. This also tells us that the tongue has great power. A person might just utter a sentence and think that it was in jest, whereas it could ruin his chances in the afterlife. I think that this fact could not have been explained in a better way than the manner in which it is clarified in this Hadith.  

2.  Abu Salih Samman informed that Abu Hurayrah (rta) said that at times, a person says something and gives it no importance whereas it results in his landing in Hell. And sometimes, a person may say something and does not give it any importance, but God raises his status in Heaven because of his statement.  

Explanation: This is the same as the previous example. Only the words of the narrative have been changed. It seems as if Abu Hurayrah (rta) has stated it in his own words. This narrative has been abolished whereas the previous one is valid.  


Unacceptability of Something said without the Name of God


1.  It is narrated from ‘Umar (rta) that two men came from the east and talked in such an eloquent and pleasing manner that everyone complimented them. At this, the Prophet (sws) said that there is magic in speech, or, that some speech is magic.  

Explanation: Iran and Iraq are to the east of Arabia. The two men must have belonged to these regions. They were both great orators and had much impact upon their audience. Doubtless, oration is a great skill and it has such a quality that it casts a spell upon the listeners. 


2.  Information reached Imam Malik that Jesus (sws) used to warn people not to talk much without mentioning God; otherwise their hearts would become hardened. Hardened hearts are very far from God, but they did not know. People should also not observe sins of others as if from a master’s perspective. Instead, they should keep an eye on their own sins as if they were slaves. Every person is put under a challenge and also receives forgiveness. So, if people are in trouble, others should be merciful towards them and they should thank God when they receive deliverance.  

Explanation: Although this statement from Jesus (sws) is not found in the Gospels, it is true that talking excessively hardens the heart. My teacher, Imam Hamid al-Din Farahi would also say that making too many speeches blackens the heart of a person. I have found that people who talk a lot are often hard hearted. 


3.  Information reached Imam Malik that ‘A’ishah (rta) would send her messenger to some of her relatives, saying: “Would you not allow the two angel scribes on your right and left shoulders to take some rest?”  

Explanation: It seems that these relatives of ‘A’ishah (rta) would be engaged in talking late into the night. At last, the mother of the faithful would be forced to send a warning to stop this nonsense. They should let the two angels rest for a while.

The same is true for our society too, in that real life begins after 9 pm. Ladies, daughters and princes begin to play with their toys at night or go to the market because this is the time for them to go out. Such people go to bed after 12 midnight or after 1 am. Consequently, there is no possibility of their being awake for fajr prayers. They have no time for God in this sensual life.



Instruction about Backbiting 

1.  Muttalib ibn ‘Abdullah Makhzumi Informed that a man questioned the Prophet (sws) about backbiting. The Prophet (sws) said that it was that which, if you said to a person, he would be offended. He asked: what if the statement was true? The Prophet (sws) said that in the case of it being false, it would be an accusation. 

Explanation: This means that if it is the truth, it is backbiting. The word backbiting means that one is talking behind another’s back. Thus, backbiting is that which is spoken behind a person’s back and would offend him if he heard it. This is unacceptable. One should possess the moral courage to speak directly to a person. If this is not possible, backbiting is akin to eating the dead person’s flesh. There is, however, one exception. Leaders appear before the public, presenting their lives as examples. When they ask to be followed, their error of ways should be exposed to people. This is in the service of faith. People should be informed that such and such a person is useless and is taking them for a ride. Giving such information does not fall within the definition of backbiting. Such examples are found in the practice and talk of the Prophet (sws).  


Narratives related to concerns about Negative impacts of Speech 

1.  It is narrated from ‘Ata ibn Yasar that the Prophet (sws) said that he who has been protected by God from the evil of two things will enter Heaven. A man asked what these were. The Prophet (sws) remained silent. He then repeated what he had said before. The man again asked: “Would the Prophet not tell them?” The Prophet (sws) again remained silent and repeated his earlier statement. The man asked: “Would the Prophet not tell them?” The Prophet (sws) repeated his statement. When the man began to repeat his question, another sitting next to him stopped him. Then the Prophet (sws) said that he who has been protected by God from the evil of two things will enter Heaven. One would be that which is between his two jaws and the other which is between his two legs; that which is between his two jaws and the other which is between his two legs; that which is between his two jaws and the other which is between his two legs.

Explanation: This is a very significant narrative. It explains the manner in which the Prophet (sws) taught his people and it states an extremely wise principle. It was not the Prophet’s style to pour everything into the ears of people without obtaining their full attention. He would first ascertain their attention and assess how many of them were eager to learn, and then say something. It was not the way which we now adopt, with people not really wishing to listen and we keep pouring words down their throats. My teacher, Imam Hamid al-Din Farahi’s style was such that he would never offer any information himself. He would only speak when the one who wanted to ask would probe and take him to the stage where in depth questioning could take him.

The Prophet (sws) was referring to the tongue and genitals by the two things between the jaws and legs and gave glad tidings of Heaven to he who could control these. It is a fact that many major problems in society arise because of the wrong use of these two things.


2.  Zayd ibn Aslam narrated from his father that once, when ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (rta) went to Abu Bakr (rta), he found that he was pulling his tongue out. ‘Umar (rta) asked him not to do so. At this, Abu Bakr (rta) said that he did not know where this thing [his tongue] had led him to.

Explanation: ‘Umar (rta), on seeing Abu Bakr (rta), realized that he was pulling on his tongue because he must have committed a mistake. That is why he said that God would forgive him. So he should stop punishing his tongue. Abu Bakr’s answer was that he was not aware of the pits in which he may have fallen because of the errors committed by his tongue. There is a narrative above about how a statement by a person may win some unlimited reward and another could make him liable to extreme punishment.      



Narratives about whispering among Two People,

Leaving the Third One


1.  It is narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn Dinar that he and ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (rta) were close to the house of Khalid ibn Utbah (rta) which was located in the market. A man who wanted to talk to them in private came over. There was no one with ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (rta) except ‘Abdullah ibn Dinar and the person who wished to speak with him. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (rta) called another person so that the number of persons became four and then he asked ‘Abdullah ibn Dinar and the person he had called to wait. He had heard the Prophet (sws) say that two persons should not whisper to each other while ignoring a third person who was present.  

Explanation: There is no doubt that if three people are present and two begin whispering leaving the third alone, misunderstandings can be created within the heart of the latter. He might think that the two are conspiring against him and that is why he has been excluded. There must be something which they did not wish to inform him of. Therefore it must be related either to himself or one of his friends. A civilized person will never tolerate such an attitude and will leave immediately. It is possible that he may also curse them.

Today, many people do this in order to show off their status, provided the person they are whispering to is of a high stature. Such a person whispers into the ear of the celebrity in order to show that he has a special position. Some people are seen to be whispering into the ears of ministers and secretaries in assemblies and they look towards the camera to ensure that they are being filmed. This is not only contemptible, but also against etiquette and prudence. Misunderstandings and hatred are created between people as a result of such an attitude. This narrative is excellent advice.


2.  It is narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (rta) that the Prophet (sws) said that when three people are present, two should not speak amongst each other while ignoring the third.

Explanation: This is the same narrative. The previous one was related to an incident and here ‘Umar (rta) has related a Hadith. The same has also been quoted in Bukhari and Muslim.


(Translated by Nikhat Sattar)


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