Hussein FadlallahLeaders of Ummah

The responsibility of the tongue

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

His Eminence, the Religious Authority Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, delivered the two Friday prayer sermons at the Imamain Al-Hassanain Mosque, Shawwal, 27th 1430 H. – October, 16th 2009. Several prominent religious scholars, dignitaries and thousands of believers attended the Jumu’a prayer.

The First Sermon

The Responsibility of the Tongue

The tongue reflects the thought

On the issue of Islamic education, Allah confirms, through His Messenger (p.), the importance of the tongue, since man expresses his ideas, as well as his plans and good or evil deeds by means of his tongue. Therefore, He wanted the Muslim to deal with his tongue in an educationed manner, so he would bring up his tongue to say nothing but the good and what benefits people. Moreover, He wanted man’s tongue to be faithful in transmitting the right thought to people; which elevates the cultural, spiritual, and practical level. Allah also wanted the tongue to address Him and ask for its needs and to speak to Him and call on Him, so as to remove the burden of its concerns.

Minding the tongue

The Messenger of Allah (p.), as well as the Imams (a.s.), has talked a lot about the singularity of the tongue and its role in man’s life. In a tradition of the Prophet (p.), he said: “The belief of a Muslim will not be on the straight path unless his heart is on the straight path – what is meant by the heart in the Quran and the tradition is the mind, meaning that the mind should think straight to think about the right; so no faith of a servant would be straight until his mind thinks straight and his heart opens up to the right path –and his heart will not be on the straight path, unless his tongue is – considering that the tongue expresses the innermost feelings of the heart, then if it [the heart] become straight, the tongue would express the mind’s righteousness – so if one could meet Allah clean of the Muslims’ blood and money– he would not kill a Muslim or rob his money – and with a tongue that does not abuse their honor – i.e. he would not backbite or defame them or falsely accuse them – then let him do so.”

In another tradition, the Messenger of Allah says: “When the son of Adam wakes up in the morning, all of his body parts humble themselves before the tongue – this represents a personification and holds a metaphorical expression – and say, ‘fear Allah with regards to our right! – O tongue, fear Allah in what we will meet Him with and in the responsibilities we shoulder – Our well-being depends on you. If you remain upright, so shall we – if you always say what is good, we would remain upright, because we are your followers –If you deviate, so shall we.”

The tongue differentiates between the believer and the hypocrite

On the difference between the believer and the hypocrite, the Messenger of Allah (p.) says: “The tongue of a believer is behind his heart; when he wants to say something, he contemplates it with his heart and then utters it – if a believer had a certain idea, he would think it over; if he came to the conclusion that it conforms to the heart and the best interest, then he would speak it out – Whereas, the tongue of the hypocrite is in front of his heart; when he intends to say anything, he utters it before deliberating it in is heart.”

Imam Ali (a.s.) also used this expression, for he says: “Certainly the tongue of a believer is at the back of his heart, while the heart of the hypocrite is at the back of his tongue; because when a believer intends to say anything, he thinks it over in his mind. If it is good, he discloses it, but if it is bad he lets it remain concealed. While a hypocrite speaks whatever comes to his tongue, without knowing what is in his favor and what goes against him.” The believer contemplates the results and repercussions of his words, whereas the hypocrite does not think about whether his words serve his interests or the people’s interest or not.

The harvest of the tongue

Imam Zein Al-Abideen (a.s.) says: “The right of the tongue is to consider it to be too noble for obscenity, accustom it to good, and not to use it except in situations of needs and benefits and to be kind to people and talk good about them.” When Ma’ath Bin Jabal asked the Messenger of Allah (p.) about what would make heaven his abode and what would save him from Hellfire, he (p.) said: “Shall I tell you the foundation of all that? – The basis that makes one enter heaven and avoid Hellfire – Ma’ath said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” He (p.) said: “Mind your tongue.” Ma’ath said: “Would we be judged based on what we speak?” He (p.) said: “Is there anything that causes people to be dragged on their faces (or noses) into Hellfire other than the harvests of their tongues?!” Those who enter Hellfire and are dragged on their faces suffer from this fate due to the harvests of their tongues, i.e. they speak out what Allah dislikes.

The Messenger of Allah (p.) also says: “The most sinful people on the Day of Judgment are the ones who had dived into falsehood the most,” i.e. those who deliver speeches before people using false words, especially those who assume leadership and presidential positions; they tend to cheat and deceive people and encourage them on falsehood.

The Messenger of Allah says: “Allah will torture the tongue more than any other part of the human body on the Day of Judgment – He would not punish the hand, the eye, the ear, and the leg the way He punishes the tongue – The tongue will submit: ‘O Allah! Why are you giving me more punishment than the other parts of the body? Allah will then say: ‘O tongue! One word came from you – you were in a position where you shouldered a responsibility and people believed your words and obeyed you in what you used to say and order them to do – and traveled all through the east and the west – all over the world – Innumerable disputes and fights raised their heads because of this and caused unfathomable damage to men and land.” Nowadays, this is evident and carried out by the American and European presidents, as well the rulers of the arrogant world who shed innocent blood and create disorder everywhere.

Controlling the tongue

Imam Ali (a.s.) says: “A man should control his tongue because the tongue is obstinate with its master – just as an untamed horse kicks the one who mounts it off its back – By Allah, I do not find that the fear of Allah benefits a man who practices it unless he controls his tongue.” Actually, controlling the tongue is the peak of piety, so he who does not control his tongue is not pious. The Messenger of Allah (p.) says: “No one would know the reality of faith unless he controls his tongue,” since faith represents the straight path whose follower adopts what Allah likes and is satisfied by.

We ought to work to control our tongues, for they are what inflict damage on people and incite seditions and create problems; the thing which we are held responsible for before Allah on the Day of Judgment.

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