Tame your tongue

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Tame your tongue

The birds are singing in the morning and freshness is pervasive. Spring has sprung. Many women will begin to eye their stuffy homes with mop and scrub brush in hand. Warm and toasty woolen blankets will begin to look unbearable, and will be washed and packed away. Spring cleaning lightens everyone’s mood and revitalizes our environments.

Cleaning my house and spiritual cleaning have always been both allegorical and closely intertwined. So spring cleaning tends to draw me inward looking for the musty and dusty, the heavy and the unbearable.

One of the signs of a believer is that she doesn’t partake in idle talk, and certainly not sinful talk. A believer has a wholesome tongue. Allah the Most High reminds us, {He does not utter a single word without a watcher by him, pen in hand.} (50:18) And the Prophet ﷺ has warned us that, “Anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day, should speak good words or be silent.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī)

Let us spring clean our tongues with dhikr Allah. Let us wash away our hurtful words with the beautiful words of the Quran. Sacred months peek at us just around the corner, let us walk toward them free of the darkness and filth of an out-of-control tongue. There is no excuse for an unbridled tongue (or fingers) – not exhaustion, not poor circumstances, not even anger.

In the season of spring cleaning, then, let us look at the types of tongues we should be scrubbing and buffing.

Tongues in need of soap:

Lying tongue
Manipulating tongue
Hasty tongue
Divisive tongue
Argumentative tongue
Boasting tongue
Self-deprecating tongue
Slandering tongue
Gossiping tongue
Meddling tongue
Betraying tongue
Belittling tongue
Cynical tongue
Know-it-all tongue
Harsh tongue
Tactless tongue
Rude tongue
Judgmental tongue
Cursing tongue
Complaining tongue
Retaliating tongue
Accusing tongue
Discouraging tongue
Doubting tongue
Indiscreet tongue
Yelling and shouting tongue

To name a few.

For good measure, let us remember that our fingers affect our heart, just as our tongue does, when they are the instruments of our speech. Don’t work hard to control your tongue and then allow your fingers to fall into ugly and un-Islamic discussions and statements.

Five steps to spring cleaning our speech:

1. Tawba (repentance) from previous comments.
2. Seeking forgiveness from people (not for slander – in this case you make right what you said by saying good things to the people in front of whom you slandered the person in question).
3. Push the pause button. Before you speak, count to ten, send peace and blessings on the Prophet ﷺ, or make wuḍūʾ, breathe, then speak with taqwā.
4. Practice silence in a quiet atmosphere, and in a talkative atmosphere. Listen carefully to people, and speak less often rather than more often
5. Fill your mouth and fingers with words and phrases of the remembrance of Allah, either in reminding yourself or in reaching out to others.

May this spring be the season of budding beauty within our hearts and souls. Prepare the way for this beauty with a good spring cleanup.

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