Learning to Talk

Peace, one and all…


In a very famous hadith, the Messenger of God (alayhi al-salatu wa al-salam) is reported to have made the following profound statement:

‘Fear Allah wherever you may be; follow up a bad deed with a good one, and it will erase it; and treat people with good character’ (recorded by Tirmidhi, Ahmad and Darami).

When I first heard this hadith, I was struck by its eloquent and profound simplicity.  The words of a prophet indeed.

It is, perhaps, a truism to say that, as a Muslim, I should carry the Prophet’s words and example with me wherever I go, but of late, I’ve found myself thinking about these words more and more often.

In particular, I find it comes to mind when I’m surfing the Islamosphere.  When doing this, I’m immediately struck by two things.  Firstly, the dramatic rise in the number, volume and intensity of Muslim/Islamic blogs, etc.  This is a good thing, and insha Allah, a hopeful sign of progress to come. 

However, my second observation is that many of our debating practices are found wanting, when judged by the Prophet’s (alayhi al-salatu wa al-salam) standards.  As is obvious to all, we are living in important and dramatic times: 9-11, 7-7, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Muslims in Britain, Islamophobia, etc, etc, etc.  These issues have rightly grabbed the attention of all concerned Muslims (and non-Muslims).  In many ways, the Muslim community is under pressure, as it attempts to find its feet in the 21st century world.  We have an important role to play in that world.  The real question before us, though, is: how are we going to meet these challenges?  That is, how can we utilise the rich, profound, and deeply humane tradition that is Islam, in addressing these issues? 

I don’t have the answers to such grand, and urgent questions.  I don’t even have all the right questions.  I do know one thing, though.  We have to answer these questions with Islam.  That is, we have to reach down inside ourselves and our faith and use its potential to the full.  I’m not offering any slogans, nor am I offering a pie-in-the-sky utopia.  Rather, I’m talking about the nuts and bolts of such an approach, built with Islam, from the ground up.

Here, in this specific context, we need to learn how to talk to one another, without falling into the same old tired rhetoric of nifaq (hypocrisy) and kufr (accusations of apostasy).  This starts from the ground up in the way that we talk to others.  Insha Allah, in the next few reflective posts, I aim to explore Islamic ideas of ethical approaches to dialogue.

The first step is to listen to the words of revelation, and the teachings of our Prophet (alayhi al-salatu wa al-salam).  So, I’ll end this first post with the following advice from our beloved Master (alayhi al-salatu wa al-salam):

 ‘Whoever guards his tongue, Allah will conceal his faults.  Whoever restrains his anger, Allah will withhold His punishment from him on the Day of Judgement.  And whoever apologises to Allah [beseeching His forgiveness], Allah will accept that apology’ (recorded by Baihaqi)

Ma’as salama,
Abdur Rahman

14 thoughts on “Learning to Talk

  1. An excellent post, Dear Bhai, and a problem I have often thought about as well. Pehaps time is the answer, and each voice on the blogosphere, such as yours, helping to add to the kindness, courtesy and goodness of the world. May Allah bless you and increase your love and wisdom.

    Ya Haqq!

  2. Salaams Irving bhai,

    Perhaps time and speech is the answer. I worry though when I see all the efforts of eager young men and women becoming entangled in these destructive things.

    Perhaps it comes from buying in to something, and then needing to defend it. The only things you need account for are your own actions.

    Ma’as salama,
    Abdur Rahman

  3. Salaams Br. Abdur Rahman,

    Excellent message and thought-provoking observations!
    With all the ever-increasing resources in the Islamosphere, the print media in English, and the scholars, this young generation is Alhamdulillah, very fortunate. On the flip side, they have to deal with a lot more distractions of this materialistic world.
    The only solution is to constantly guide and remove the present misconceptions about Islam through the real knowledge of Deen.
    Alhamdulillah, your enlightening series is what is the need of the hour now. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, had to advised us to acquire, learn, practice and pass on this beneficial knowledge.
    May Allah guide us all. Ameen

    Jazaak Allah Khair,

  4. mashallah that was one of the best post i have read in a long time. jazak allahu kahaiarn for sharing it with us. thank yiou so much for the reminder as well.

    guarding our tongues and concealing others faults is omething we all need to work on. i always get scared that i may fall into this catagory. like you said with all the islamic blogs out here. i have found it rare to gain benefit from some because of the amount of extremely personal info on them. they may quaite a hadeeth here or there but its more to justify their personal preferences.
    keep up the good work.
    was salam
    umm luqmaan

  5. Salaams SF & Umm Luqman,

    I hope that you and yours are all well, by the grace and mercy of Allah.

    All that is right and true comes from Allah, Lord of all the Worlds. Only the mistakes are mine.

    Abdur Rahman

  6. Very well said! In fact I fell into that trap
    myself. I felt victimised and angrered.

    I finally could recover myself. In my opinion, we should be aware of the troubles and atrocities, but at the same time that should not be our primary concern. We should be concerned, but not paranoid. Positive attitude.

    One more thing you mention is very important. Many among us has the tendency to call whoever disagrees with him, however small the matter may be, as heretic.

    I am glad to find your blog. Hope to see more.

  7. Salaams Manas

    Thank you for the kind compliment. May Allah bless you and all that you do.

    When we speak from our fear and our anger all we do is hurt one another. But, for me at any rate, progress comes when we realise that I’m not an angel and you’re not a devil.

    Ma’as salama,
    Abdur Rahman bhai

    PS – what’s your research in?

  8. I am blogging anonymously. So I won’t write here (even though elsewhere due to carelessness of a friend it is already out.)

    Just assume somewhere in India.

  9. Salaam

    A very good idea, Brother Abdur Rahman. I will be looking forward to reading your posts on this issue. I am also dismayed by the lack of basic manners apparent in the behaviour of some Muslims during their discussions.

    Jazakumullahu Khairan.

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