Etiquette of Speech
Etiquette of Speech
(1) Some people do not speak clearly. They speak ambiguously and with formality. They consider the use of indications to be respectful. The listener sometimes does not get the message clearly and sometimes he understands wrongly. This causes much inconvenience. Therefore, speak up and speak clearly, without ambiguity.
(2) Speak from in front of a person, not from behind. Speaking from behind
a person is perplexing.
(3) When renewing a request to a person, then mention it fully inspite of it having been stated before. Do not express yourself incompletely ambiguously relying on an earlier explanation. It is possible that the explanation has been partly forgotten, hence the listener may misunderstand, the request if it is renewed without clarity.
(4) Some people sitting at the back in a gathering clear their throat or cough in order to attract attention to themselves. If there is a real need to say something, go to the front and explain. However, this should not be done unnecessarily. It is improper to disturb a person involved in some work. Wait for the person to complete his task then address him.
(5) Until such time that one topic has not been completed do not introduce another. While someone is speaking do not interrupt with another subject.
(6) On making an enquiry reply in full, without ambiguity, when you are questioned. Do not reply with confusing statements which necessity repeated questioning.
(7) While eating do not mention such things which nauseates or disgusts others. The disposition of some persons is delicate and cannot tolerate to hear the mention of disgusting things while eating.
(8) In the presence of a sick person or his housefolk do not make statements which causes them grief and to lose hope in life. Make encouraging statements to alleviate the pain and sorrow, Insha'Allah.
(9) If you have to speak privately about a person who happens to be present, do not indicate this to another by means of the sign of the hand or eye. Do not let him realize that you are at all discussing him. This will apply if the discussion regarding him is permissible. If the discussion is not lawful, then discussing him will be sinful.
(10) On hearing news of someone's illness, death, etc., do not publicize it, until you have confirmed the truth of the news.
(11) Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"Do not speak much besides Thikrullaah.
Verily, abundant speech hardens the heart and the one with a
hard heart is furthest from Allah."
This applies to futile speech even though the talk may be lawful.
Imaam Maalik (rahmatullah alayh) narrates that Hadhrat Isaa (alayhis salaam) said:
"Do not speak in abundance for your heart will be hardened." In other words, fear and humility will be eliminated from the he Experience confirms this fact.
(12) Hadhrat Ali (radhiallahu anhu) said that one should speak to people what they are able to understand. Do not discuss with them things which are beyond their intellectual capacities.
Hadhrat Ali (RA) added:
"Do you wish them to refute Allah and His Rasool?"
Some people will not hesitate to reject such Deeni narrations which they are unable to comprehend.
Hadhrat Ibn Mas'ood (radhiallahu anhu) said:
"When you mention to people such things which are beyond
their intellectual capacities, then such talks will most certainly
become a cause for the corruption of some people.”
(13) Do not unnecessarily adopt the speech styles and slang of those are ignorant of the Deen.
(14) Be moderate in speech. Do not expand the discussion so much that people become tired and perplexed nor abbreviate the talk to such an extent, that the aim and object of the discussion are not understood.
(15) A female should exercise care when speaking. She should not allow her voice to be heard by men unnecessarily.
In like manner a man should not express himself sentimentally in the presence of females. It is obligatory that a man abstains from reciting poetry and expressing himself melodiously in front of females. (i.e. such female; for whom the Shar'i law of Hijaab applies).
(16) Do not mumble when speaking. Speak with clarity.
(17) Be to the point. Do not beat about the bush when speaking.
(18) Think before speaking. Sometimes a wrong statement uttered witout thinking leads one to Jahannum. One will obtain salvation from this calamity by inculcating the habit of thinking before speaking.
(19) Do not insult anyone. Do not say to anyone:
'Faasiq, kaafir, mal'oon (cursed), the enemy of Allah.'
(20) Do not be two-tongued, expressing views in the presence of a person calculated to please him, but when in the company of one holding another view, then speaking to please him.
(21) Never engage in gossip, slander and scandalising.
However, it will be permissible to speak contrary to fact and reality in order to restore peace and good relationship between antagonists or enemies.
(22) Do not flatter anyone.
(23) Do not become embroiled with anyone in obstinate debate and argument. When you realize that the person is not prepared to accept the truth, maintain silence. Do not become intransigent and bigoted. Bigotry is exceptionally evil.
(24) Abstain from statements in which there is neither Deeni benefit nor worldly benefit.
(25) Do not curse or speak ill of time (the age). Time is blameless. By implication the criticism is directed to Allah Ta'ala, Nauthubillaah!
(26) Do not praise those who are not upholders of the Deen. (Abstention from praising them should not be construed to mean permissibility to hold them in contempt. It is not permissible to despise them nor to adopt a holier than thou attitude.)
(27) It is haraam to speak ill (gheebat) of even children, insane persons and non-Muslims.
(28) To deliberately listen to gheebat being spoken is as if one has made gheebat.
(29) Juniors should not call their seniors by their names. They should adopt a name or title of respect and honour.
(30) When meeting someone casually, e.g. along the road or by chance, do not engage in a topic which you will not be able to complete in the short while you are with him. If by the time of separating, the topic has not been concluded, you will either waste your time to complete the story or you will depart with the story unfinished. This leaves the listener in suspense and doubt.
(31) If a person mistakes you for another, then immediately rectify him and state your identity.
(32) In the presence of others do not use such terms, which are considered uncultural. Express yourself in a cultured way, e.g. say 'the call of nature', etc.
(33) Where the company consists of three persons, two should not speak by whispering to each other, nor should they ask the third one to leave, nor should they speak in a language, which the third person does not understand. This causes distress to him.
(34) While two persons are speaking, a third one should not interrupt nor should he present his views unless asked to do so.
(35) When someone is about to relate an incident to you, then even if you are aware of it do not silence him by saying that you know about it. With the intention of pleasing him listen to his talk.
(36) When someone speaks ill of your seniors, do not inform them thereof. Informing them will cause grief to them.
(37) Do not camouflage your error, giving it an interpretation to avoid the error being known. Acknowledge the error and offer an apology. Even acknowledging one's errors fifty times does not appear as bad as offering devious interpretation once.
(38) Do not indulge in story-telling unnecessarily. Do not waste the time of a busy person by prolonging the conversation with small talk.
(39) Do not answer unnecessary objections. When you discern that the objector's motive is only to object, not to learn or understand the truth maintain silence or tell him:
"Go! You have understood it so."
(40) On obtaining the answer for your question, do not maintain silence. If you have understood the answer, declare it in some way. If you have not understood, then ask for clarification.
(41) Most people suffer from the malady of stating their case incompletely. This causes great perplexity. State your case fully.
(42) Even on entering your own home, announce your arrival. Enter with consent. One does not know in which condition the womenfolk in the home may be or maybe a na-mahram female is present. (Na-mahram female is a woman for whom hijaab is incumbent.) Entering without permission is uncouth and uncultural.
(43) Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that among the rights of a Mu'min is that he be addressed with respect and affection. The prevalent custom among the Arabs (during the early times) was to address people by their family name. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) himself called Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiallahu anhu) by the title, 'Ateeq', Hadhrat Umar; (radhiallahu anhu) by the title, 'Farooq', Hadhrat Humzah (radhiallahu anhu) by the title 'Asadullaah' and Hadhrat Khalid Bin Waleed (radhiallahu anhu) by the title, 'Saifullaah'.
(44) When meeting a person for the first time introduce yourself sufficiently. Provide your name and place of residence (town or country).
(45) Speak the truth, but not harshly and unculturally. Declare the truth respectfully and in soft words. Do not speak in such terms calculated to hurt the feelings of others.
(46) Do not speak regarding a matter which you have not confirmed.
(47) Do not speak sarcastically.
(48) Do not crack such jokes which are hurting to others nor speak in a way which embarrasses people.
(49) Do not call people by detestable nicknames. Nicknames which are hurting or which proclaim some defect in a person, fall within the category of gheebat (gheebat means to mention such a truth about a person which he dislikes. Thus gheebat is a true statement about a person, which he detests, or which hurts him. If the statement is false, it will be known as buhtaan (slander). About gheebat Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said "Gheebat is worse than fornication." The evil and sin of buhtaan are worse.)
(50) Do not speak mockingly of anyone.
(51) Do not speak on the basis of mere suspicion. While you are entitled to safeguard yourself on the basis of suspicion, it is not permissible to blame someone or accuse on the basis of suspicion.
SOME MALFOOZAAT (SAYINGS, STATEMENTS, ADVICES AND ADMONITION) OF HAKIMUL UMMAT HADHRAT MAULANA ASHRAF ALI THAANVI (rahmatullah alayh) REGARDING SPEECH:
(1) Some people do not speak clearly. They regard formality and ceremonial expressions and speaking in ambiguous terms as respect and honour. Sometimes the listener does not fully understand the purport of what is being said. This causes immediate perplexity. Therefore, proclaim your case very clearly.
(2) On enquiring from a newcomer of his time of departure, he (the newcomer) replied: "When you command.” Hadhrat Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) then educated him in the following manner:
"What can I understand of your condition from a meaningless answer? What do I know of the time at your disposal. In your reply you should have expressed your intention If you indeed subscribe to this degree of respect, obedience and submission, then after having informed of your intention you should say: 'This is my intention, but I leave it to your order.' Do not reply in a manner which is perplexing."
(3) Hadhrat Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) enquired about the whereabouts of a worker from a student (who was studying at the Madrasah of Hadhrat Thaanvi). The student said that the worker was sleeping. Afterwards it was established that the worker was awake in his room. The student was admonished in the following manner:
"Firstly, it is wrong to make a categoric statement on the basis of an assumption. If you were speaking on the basis of an assumption, you should have mentioned this. You should have said: 'Perhaps he is asleep.' This is the most that may be said. However, the actual and proper reply should have been: 'I do not know. I shall go and find out.' Then, after having investigated, the correct information should be furnished.
Secondly, I consider it a merciless act to unnecessarily awaken a sleeping person. Thus, under this impression that he is sleeping and because I loathe disturbing a resting person, I would have tolerated some harm or loss in some work (which had to be executed by the worker). But, when later it transpired that he was not sleeping, it would have caused me unpleasantness. At the same time I would be angry with the informer. All this annoyance is the consequence of speaking without investigation. Always bear this in mind."
(4) On the arrival of a man, Hadhrat asked: "What has brought you? Do you wish to say something?" In reply, the man said: 'I have come only to meet you.'
After the Maghrib Fardh (before even performing the Sunnats) he requested a Ta'weez. Hadhrat Thaanvi commented:
"There is a time and a place for everything. This is not the time for Ta'weez. When you had arrived, I specifically asked you if you have any need. You said that you merely came for mulaaqaat (to greet).
Now, what is the meaning of this request at this time? You had immediately to make your request when I had asked. People consider such an attitude (as was adopted by the man) as respect, but I regard it as being highly disrespectful. It (your attitude) implies that others are your servants. Service may thus be taken from them at whim and fancy. You yourself reflect a bit. I have many duties to attend to now.
The Sunnats and the Nafl Salaat have yet to be performed. I have to address some Thaakireen and Shaaghileen (those who are engaged in Thikrullaah and spiritual devotional exercises). I have to hear to their requests. I have to see to the feeding of the guests. Alas! In our time respect and culture have totally been effaced from this world. You can come again some other time for a Ta'weez. Remember! Wherever you go, first state your purpose, especially when you are
asked. In fact, on the arrival of a person I immediately enquire the purpose of the visit so that he may say whatever he wishes to. This saves him from inconvenience and it saves me from inconvenience.
"I generally ask for the purpose of the visit because most people who come have some need or the other. Some are bashful and are unable to express themselves freely in a gathering. They are not able to reveal a private matter in the gathering. On asking them, they will indicate that they wish to say something in private. When I find the opportunity I call them in privacy and give them audience. But when a person does not open his mouth, how can I understand? I do not possess knowledge of the ghaib (unseen things)."
(5) One student, while Hadhrat was involved in Ta'leem (teaching those present) and before the termination of the talk, commenced to explain a dream which he had seen. Hadhrat Thaanvi said:
"What is this act? Before one topic has ended, you interrupt with another. The talk of an intelligent man has a beginning and an ending. Don't interrupt a discussion with another topic. An intelligent man will not speak while another is involved in discussion. Your
interruption implies that the aim is to explain a dream. Ta'leem (teaching) and Talqeen (instruction) are futile to you. In other words, my lengthy talk is worthless. In future never repeat this mistake. Now get up and leave. The meaning (of your dream) will be explained at some other time. Presently you have dishonoured Ta'leem."
(6) Hadhrat Thaanvi said:
"I detest stories and narrations. People squander my time with futile talks. Sometimes, out of politeness, I say nothing. One should involve in useful things."
(7) A man came to Hadhrat Thaanvi with some salt for the purpose of reciting on it. (This is a valid and permissible act. As a result of the blessing of the recitation of the Qur'aanic words, the substance on which the recital is directed acquires healing properties). However, the man did not explain his case fully and clearly. Hadhrat, therefore, commented:
"When you have stated your case fully, then only will I recite."
Directing his attention to the gathering, Hadhrat said:
"It comes in the Hadith that once a man entered in the presence of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) without having obtained permission. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) ordered him to leave. At the same time Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)
instructed one person to teach him the correct etiquette of seeking permission before entering. This establishes that practical instruction is Sunnat. People with dense minds cannot remember without practical demonstration."
(8) Once Hadhrat commented:
"I become highly perplexed with vexing talks. I wish statements to be clear, without ambiguity. I state a matter with clarity and I expect others to do likewise. But, most people lack the habit of speaking clearly."
(9) A newcomer on arrival, after making musafahah (shaking hands) presented another person's letter, saying that a certain man had sent this letter. Hadhrat said:
"You should firstly introduce yourself. I have not recognized you. You should give priority first to yourself, then be concerned about others (in such matters)."
The newcomer replied: "I am a student studying in a certain Madrasah" (he mentioned the name of the Madrasah). Saying this much, he remained silent. After a brief pause, Hadhrat said:
"By saying this much, you consider it sufficient introduction."
The newcomer again remained silent. Once again hadhrat asked:
"You have no name nor hometown?"
The student again remained silent. Hadhrat then commented:
"I have no remedy for this. Even after I have complained, he has not introduced himself. If my asking and questioning seem futile and unintelligent to you, then get up and sit over there (at a distance). It is futile for you to sit near to me."
(10) A newcomer remained silent after Hadhrat enquired about his hometown and the purpose of his visit. Hadhrat commented:
"Brother! Say whatever you wish to. At least introduce yourself so that I may know the purpose of your long journey and the reason why you have spent so much time and money. What is your purpose? How can another person know what is in your mind without you speaking?
There is no llm-e-ghaib (knowledge of the unseen) here by which the purpose of your leaving and undertaking this journey may be known.After all, you must be having some purpose and motive. State it clearly. What intricacy is involved in stating your aim".
Even after this admonition, the newcomer maintained silence, not saying anything. Hadhrat said:
"No one considers these acts (of perplexity) of those who come here. They do not see what these people are doing. But, they complain when I admonish them. This is just as a person silently pricking another with a needle. When the injured person exclaims in pain and agony, all hear it while no one sees the cause of the exclamation and screaming. People have heard the name of Islaah (self-reformation) but they are totally ignorant of the meaning and reality of Islaah. A
man becomes a true man only after great difficulty and striving."
(11) A man, on presenting a letter attempted to engage in a verbal discussion. Hadhrat said:
"Why this confusion? A letter as well as a verbal discussion! Either you should have stated your whole case verbally or in writing. If for some reason you wished to do both, then the correct method is to first state the matter verbally and then only mention the letter. Now by simultaneously combining both, I am perplexed for I do not know if the subject in the letter is the same or different from what is said verbally. Such acts bring about unnecessary perplexity and concern. But, they do not discern this although athers are inconvenienced. I do not understand whether the whole world is filled with people of bad understanding or such persons have been ordained as my share after they have been picked out from the rest (of mankind). What was the
wisdom in presenting the letter and simultaneously commencing a verbal discussion?"
The man expressed his profound apologies after acknowledging his error.
(12) Admonishing a man who made a statement without having investigated the matter, Hadhrat said:
"How could you have made this statement without having made an investigation? It appears as if you are suffering from the malady of speaking much, hence without investigating the incident you commenced blabbing. When this is the condition of such cultured people (as yourself), then what complaint can one have of others?"
(13) In reply to a question by one Molvi Saheb, Hadhrat said:
"Inspite of having acquired so much education you do not know the etiquette and way of questioning. You have learnt the Kitaabs merely in parrot fashion. If you had studied the Kitaabs with understanding, you would not have posed your question in such an uncultured manner. I have been severely disturbed by this manner of your questioning. After all, what constrains you people to be so careless? You speak without thinking. Whatever comes on your tongue, you proclaim it. When this is your condition, then what can we say about the poor laity?"
The Molvi Saheb replied:
"Truly, I have erred. Insha'Allah, in future it will not happen. I shall take care. Forgive me."
Hadhrat further commented:
"Alas! Your condition is extremely regrettable. To what extent should I maintain sabr (patience)? If I admonish and draw attention to such errors of speech, I stand criticized. If I maintain silence and do not admonish you, you will become (spiritually and morally) corrupted.
Anyhow, you have promised to exercise care in the future. It is best that you now again pose your question so that I may see if you do not repeat your error."
The Molvi Saheb repeated his question and Hadhrat commented:
"Now it is correct. Look! With slight reflection the question has been corrected. I always maintain that in most cases the cause underlying errors is not bad understanding, but is carelessness. The present case testifies that if the question (which the Molvi Saheb had made at first was the result of bad understanding, then how did he manage to correct it so quickly? On having reflected, he corrected the error."
(14) Admonishing a man on an error, Hadhrat said:
"Why did you not state your case fully? What were you afterall waiting for? You ventured an answer only after being questioned and that too, incomplete."
He replied: "Hadhrat you were busy writing."
Hadhrat commented: "Did I have to discontinue writing on account of your presence. Do I possess knowledge of the unseen by which I may know that a certain person has arrived and he has something to say? Why have you spoken now? Now too I am busy writing. You people resort to meaningless interpretations. Why do you trouble yourselves as well as others? Even now you have not spoken correctly nor replied correctly. Even now you have repeated the same perplexing statement. What harm will I suffer? I have diagnosed your pulses. When your condition is such that you conceal your faults and errors, then what hope is there for your reformation? Afterall, what is the reason underlying the concealment of maladies? I fully understand it. I am involved in this activity for a long time now. Let me inform you of the sickness."
The man said: "Hadhrat, now forgive me. In future I will be more careful. Truly, I have erred."
Hadhrat commented: "You are forgiven, but the malady in you will not be cured by forgiveness. The malady is jaah (the love for fame). This causes concealment of faults. Treat it. If you do not, then remember you will lose whatever you have gained (spiritually and morally). I desire that maladies be cured with ease. But, you people choose difficulty. I have no remedy for that."
(15) Admonishing a newcomer, Hadhrat said:
"Neither can you state your case nor can you understand the next man. Under the circumstances it is futile to converse with you. When you cannot even introduce yourself, speaking futile things, then what hope is there that you will act correctly in future? I do not wish to strike up an association with such a person. Now get up and leave."
Thereupon the newcomer fully introduced himself. Hadhrat then commented:
"From whence did you obtain the understanding so quickly? It is but what I am always saying, viz., people suffer from the disease of carelessness. Now when concern asserted itself, the mind and the heart began operating and executing their functions. Without a whip the horse will not work."
(16) A rural dweller came and said: "Hazratji give me a ta'weez." Hadhrat said: "I have not understood." The man exclaimed loudly: "Give me a ta'weez." Hadhrat replied: "I am not deaf. I have heard you, but I have not understood you." The man remained silent. Hadhrat commented: "Now you sit as if you are dumb. Why do you not state your case fully? Have you taken an oath at home that you will come and trouble me?" He said: "How should I say?“ Hadhrat said:
"Go outside and enquire from someone, then come. Inform (whoever you ask) that I have said this." He left and after enquiring from someone he returned and said:
"Yes, my statement was incomplete."
On this occasion he stated the type of ta'weez he required. Hadhrat commented: "This villager never went to the station and said: 'Give me a ticket.' He never refrained from asking for a ticket to proceed to a specific place. Similarly he never went to the bazaar to purchase something without clearly stating the product he required. It seems that all ignorance has been ordained as my lot. What! Is it death for you to state your full case?"
The man said: "We are village-dwellers. Our understanding is such." Hadhrat commented: "You people are very clever.
Now since your understanding is such, go and return after an hour for the ta'weez. When you come, state clearly your request. Do not rely on what you have already asked (i.e. the type of ta'weez). I will not remember afterwards."
After an hour he returned and expressed himself fully and satisfactorily. He then left with the ta'weez. Hadhrat commented:
"He will never forget this lesson. He will henceforth speak fully even if he goes elsewhere. If I don't adopt this method, ignorance will not be dispelled."