Taqleel-e-Kalaam (Reducing Speech)

Man's conversation apparently falls into three categories.

  1. Beneficial. lit such speech is some worldly or Deeni benefit.
  2. Harmful. In such speech is some worldly or Deeni harm.
  3. Neither beneficial nor harmful. The Hadith describes this third category of speech as laa-ya'ni (futile, useless). On closer examination it will be realized that this third class of speech belongs also to the second category, viz., harmful talk. If SUBHAANALLAAH was uttered once during a time which was squandered in futile talk, then half the pan in the Scale of Aml (deeds) would be filled. If some advantageous or righteous act was done during the time spent in futile conversation, it would have become an expiation for sin and a medium of salvation in the Aakhirat, If not this, then at least such time idly spent could have been expended in some worldly benefit. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said:

"A sign of one's Islam being healthy is one's shunning of futile acts and futile talks."

In lhyaa-ul Uloom it is mentioned that a reckoning will be taken (in Aakhirat) of laa-ya'ni (futile) speech. There is therefore no certainty that . one will be saved from something which will be submitted to reckoning. The Mujaahidah of reducing conversation is more difficult than the Mujaahidah of reducing food and reducing sleep. In eating, preparation to a certain extent is involved, moreover, there is a limit to food consumption. lndigestion due to excessive eating will in itself compel one to reduce eating. Similarly, there is a limit to sleeping. On the contrary, conversation requires no effort and no difficulty is experienced in maintaining the tongue in operation. Man resorts to pleasures so as to experience delight and joy. Besides conversation, all other pleasures (Huzooz) decrease in enjoyment with greater indulgence. Eating with a filled stomach does not bring about any enjoyment in the food. Excessive sleep too is not enjoyable. But, the enjoyment derived from speaking is limitless, In fact, pleasure increases the more one speaks. Hence, Taqleel-e-Kalaam (reducing conversation) is the most difficult. Inspite of this difficulty, freedom in it (i.e. in speech) has not been granted because of the evils involved in abundant speech. One becomes greatly involved in sin because of speaking much. Reducing speech has therefore been stipulated as a Rukn (fundamental) of Mujaahidah.

Reducing speech does not mean reduction in such talk which is necessary. But, it means shunning nonsensical or futile conversation even if such talk happens to be lawful. If this habit is inculcated then abstention from haraam talks such as falsehood, scandalizing, slandering, etc. will be automatic. Abstaining from unlawful discussion comes within the scope of true Mujaahidah - Mujaahidah which is compulsory. If one becomes accustomed to refrain from idle (although it may be lawful) talk which falls within the scope of secondary Mujaahidah then to a far greater degree will one practise true Mujaahidah (i.e., compulsory striving against haraam talk, It is not permissible to shun talk which is necessary since this will result in problems or cause inconvenience and difficulty to the audience.

Explanation of "Necessary"

"Necessary" here means such a need which if refrained from will result in harm. Therefore, if by refraining from a certain conversation the result is some worldly or Deeni harm, then such talk will be necessary. Example of necessary talk is the conversation that a trader has with customers in order to promote his sales. As long as his talk is in the interests of his trade it will be regarded as necessary. Refraining from such talk will result in worldly loss, hence the Shariat gives permission for such discussion. Such necessary conversation has absolutely no detrimental effect of the heart. The heart does not darken the slightest by such necessary talk. The illustrious Auliyaa have experienced that even a full day spent in necessary talk will not adversely affect the heart. An auctioneer can spend the entire day in selling by means of talking, but such talking will not darken the heart one iota because such talk is regarded as necessary. On the other hand, a single statement spoken un-necessarily will darken the heart.

The Shariat's prescription of reducing speech does not mean sealing the mouth, but it envisages that the tongue be kept occupied with the Tilaawat (recitation) of the Qur'aan Majeed or in Zikr (remembrance) of Allah Ta'ala. In this way the Mujaahidah of speech reduction will be most beneficial. By means of this Mujaahidah of speech reduction will be most beneficial. By means of this Mujaahidah the tongue remains detached from sin; the habit of nonsensical discussion is reduced (or eliminated), and along with it limitless thawaab (spiritual reward) is obtained. By constantly engaging the tongue in Zikr such benefit is acquired, which is unobtainable by maintaining silence.

The Remedy

Prior to speaking, ponder for a few moments. Endeavor to understand whether Allah Ta'ala Who is the Hearer and the See; will be pleased or displeased with what you are about to speak. If this method of contemplation is adopted before speaking, then, Inshaa 'Allah, sinful talk will not emerge from your lips. If after adopting such contemplation, the nafs urges one to indulge in sinful or nonsensical talk, then confront it with courage and suppress the urge. If any unbecoming talk was spoken then compensate immediately for it by making taubah (repenting). If the talk involved abuse to anyone, mockery of anyone, scandalizing or gossiping about anyone, then after taubah obtain the pardon of the person concemed as well. If for some reason it is difficult to obtain the necessary pardon (e.g. the person concerned may. be away or may have died) then make Istighfaar (seeking Allah’s Forgiveness) for the person concerned as well as for oneself. Such forgiveness could be asked in the following way:

"O Allah forgive us and forgive him."

Hadhrat Shaikh Fareeduddin Attaar (Rahmatullah Alayh) explains most beautifully, perfectly and comprehensively the benefits of maintaining silence. He says:

"In my mind does not enter any topic nobler than silence. Silence contains so many benefits that they cannot be explained. Silence makes breasts the treasure house pearls of wisdom. I learnt this hidden secret from the oyster's shell."

The drop of water enclosed in the oyster's shell is transformed into a pearl. Similarly, man's breast becomes a treasure-house for pearls of wisdom by means of closure of the lips.

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