Audit Your Tongue

Raheem Abdusalam

I was listening to a programme on radio when the anchorman threw a question on air for listeners to answer. The question went thus “sweet most and bitter most in flesh.” A man called and answered, saying “The Tongue.” I immediately asked my mother that why is it so? She said, “don't you know that man uses mouth to beautify things as well uses it to deteriorate things with the aid of the tongue. Tongue has helped many people to become reputable personnel and made others become inutile person. Also people of the world detest truths and it has to come from the mouth.” I then reflected on the what Imam An-Nawawī said regarding the tongue: “Whoever wishes to speak should reflect before saying anything. If any benefit is found, then let him speak. Otherwise, let him remain silent,” to understand the power of the tongue.

Thus, among the blessings of the Lord upon man is that He made him a thoughtful and sane being and created a tongue for him. He made him able to utter sounds and clarify what he wants through the words which he speaks. He has only to speak to let people know his opinion and what he wants. Indeed, man should appreciate this blessing. In other words, he should use his tongue in useful ways; not to speak but goodness. For example, if man is in a gathering and want to speak with people, or any discussion comes up then he should first think what he wants to say and choose which words to use. If he can offer useful counsel to people or offer advice, he should speak in such a way to make others want to listen.

In the global age, the amelioration of technology which has served as a weapon that inflicts much more harm than anyone previously ever dreamt of. Whether it’s a nuke or a cluster bomb, the effects of modern assault is a phenomenon that every person of conscious looks at with regret. The tongue is no different; by means of mass media and satellite, the power of speech has the ability to strike havoc upon entire communities through deception, propaganda, and instigation. Just as nuclear technology can be harnessed for immense good, the power of the tongue can also be amplified for positive things.

In a society where politicians, talk show hosts, entertainers, gossipers and propagandists never seem to stop talking, they should remember that the tongue is like a loaded weapon, the safety latch should always be on. Sages throughout time have warned us about the dangers of misfiring the tongue, something that almost everyone has been guilty of.

Consequently, the great Arabian Teacher said: “The greatest struggle is a word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler.” This statement should not fool anyone to think that the effect of prohibiting someone from doing wrong is confined only to the next world. One of the ways that ‘wrong’ is made ‘right’ is through the tongue. Therefore, the perception that something is wrong must be correct and based upon knowledge, rather than suspicion or false accusation. It is very essential to have right knowledge of what is taking place around you. If you do not know what is taking place, you cannot even attempt to correct it, perhaps there is need. However, awareness is not the end goal. It is a means to an end, towards action, rather than a goal in itself. The awareness and action for ‘wrong’ will manifest itself on the tongue when a person is in a position to do so. In turn, that oral struggle will manifest into action when the opportunity presents itself.

In short, the tongue has so enormous power because of its ability to lead to action, whether it is the individual speaking, or others who are listening. It is because of this power that the safety on this weapon should remain on, but it is also because of this power that those who are in a position to do so should aim at it, and shoot. Esteem readers what are you using your tongue to project?

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