Words have long been recognised for the power they hold. We see poets and songwriters, journalists and orators, preachers and teachers, each using words proficiently to their own ends – be it good or bad.
Many of us are familiar with the words and terms ‘Kalimah‘ and ‘Kalām’ which indicate meanings such as ‘word’ or ‘speech’. But what is fascinating about the Arabic Language is that it can expose realities that we often forget are there – the true nature of things – by virtue of their meaning. The root meaning in Arabic of the word means ‘to injure’. Likewise in related languages such as Hebrew the same root כָּלָם means ‘to be humiliated’
So much of the hurt and heartache we cause others is through the deployment of words, yet we use them freely and unthinkingly.
The Qur’an, and prophetic traditions (Hadith) are replete with warnings about guarding our tongues, which deliver speech and words. The people of guidance emphasise the importance of honoring others and causing them no harm.
The severity is encapsulated in the following tradition recorded in both Bukhari and Muslim:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A man might speak a word without thinking about its implications, but because of it, he will plunge into the Hellfire further than the distance between the east and west.
The notion of causing harm to people with words is further expressed in this beautiful tradition which encapsulates the morality and ethics of the deen:
Narrated by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A Muslim is the one who avoids harming Muslims with his tongue and hands.
We ask Allah to help us guard our tongues and speak only good words in our dealings with hid creation.