The Value and the Power of Words In Islam, By Imam Murtada Gusau
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Alhamdu Lillah. Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise him and seek his help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil within ourselves and from our wrongdoings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide; and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.
I bear witness what there is no (true) god except Allah – alone without a partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAW) is His ‘Abd (servant) and messenger.
“O You who Believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do no die except as Muslims”. (Al-Imran, 3:102)
“O people! Revere your Lord who has created you from a single soul, created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them many men and women. Revere Allah, through whom you demand things from one another; and (cherish the ties of) the wombs, indeed, Allah is ever-watchful over you”. (An-Nisaa’, 4:1)
“O you who believe! Revere Allah and say fair words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and his messenger have certainly achieved a great victory.” (Al- Ahzaab, 33:70-71)
Indeed, the best speech is Allah’s (SWT) book and the best guidance is Muhammad’s (SAW) guidance. The worst affairs (of religion) are those innovated (by people), for every such innovation is an act of misguidance leading to the fire. To proceed:
My dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,
Our khutbah (Friday Sermon) today is about the value and the power of words. No matter who we are, no matter where we live, or what we do in our daily lives, we all depend on the proper use of words, to convey our thoughts and feelings to one another…Certainly the more articulate and wise we are in the use of words, the more effective we can be in our society.
Whatever we choose to do as a career, we can certainly do it better by mastering the skill of good communication. But we must understand the power of words, and we must harness that power, in order to serve our wider responsibilities, and to serve Allah. Never be careless about words. Words are vital instruments. Words are the means by which we can study our past and leave a legacy for the future. It is the means chosen by Allah to reveal His message and to preserve it for future generations, for all time to come.
Words can be weapons. Words can wound, humiliate and inflict pain far greater than physical violence. Words can be used to inflame passions, to arouse anger, to declare war, to bring about failure and to destroy. But just as potent as they are as weapons, words can also heal wounds and make peace. They can be soothing to those in grief, they can offer hope to those in despair. Indeed, well-chosen words have a power and a beauty that can project well beyond one lifetime. Think of the great works of literature that still enrich our lives today, centuries after they were written.
Islam is pre-eminently a faith founded on the power of words. It is very significant that the Prophetic mission of Rasulullah Sallal Lahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam, began with just one word, “IQRA’!’’”READ!”
The development and growth of Islam is due to the persuasive power of the word of Allah, as it touched the hearts and minds of those seeking enlightenment, throughout the ages.
The first verses to be revealed to Prophet Muhammad, declared the power of the Divine Word:
“Iqra’bismi rabbi kallathee khalaq
Khalaqal insana min ‘alaq
Iqra’ warab bukal akram
Allathee ‘al-lama bil qalam.
Al-lamal insaana maa lam ya’lam…
“Read, in the name of your Rabb (Lord, Cherisher and Sustainer) who created!
Read, and your Rabb (Lord, Cherisher and Sustainer) is most Gracious,
He who taught Man the use of the Pen;
Taught Man that which he did not know.”
Throughout the literature of Qur’an and Hadith, the Believers are urged to use words wisely in their relations with all people. Sura An-Nahl, sets this out eloquently in verse 125,
“And invite to the path of your Rabb (Lord, Cherisher and Sustainer), using wisdom and beautiful preaching.”
Wisdom and beautiful preaching, rather than words of anger or abuse, is what the Noble Qur’an prescribes. This is the only way we can hope to win the hearts and minds of others, to the way of Islam.
My Respected people, Fellow Nigerians,
Who can forget the moment when Sayyidina ‘Umar first heard the words of Al-Qur’an? He had just been told that his sister had joined the Muslims, so in an angry rage he went over to her house, with his sword in hand. Then, just as he passed her open window, he heard the words of Allah being recited. These words carried such beauty and persuasive power that it stopped an angry and aggressive man in his tracks. As he stood and listened, it slowly melted his heart and aroused such deep desire within him to identify and accept the Author of those beautiful verses (Words). When he heard that these were the revealed words of Allah, he immediately went out to find Rasulullah (Messenger of Allah), and to announce his acceptance of Islam.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us also, like Sayyidina ‘Umar, allow the beautiful words of Allah to tame our hearts and the desires within us, and to transform us into the noble ambassadors of Allah, which is our Divine destiny.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam, Fellow Nigerians,
Last four years I heard a Khubah (Sermon) in South Africa, where a Sudanese brother used the term, Heart-to-heart missile as the topic of his sermon. He was describing the power of sincere advice. When we find ourselves deeply moved by inspiring words, these words can touch our hearts in a special sort of way that changes our lives dramatically. It feels like being struck by a missile.. in this case, a heart-to heart missile. When this happens, we instinctively want to share the good news with our loved ones. And when they are affected in the same way, then they also, are hit by a heart-to heart missile.
We’ve heard of cruise missiles, scud missiles and patriot missiles, air-to-air and surface to air missiles. Sometimes they hit their targets, sometimes they don’t. A sincere word, loving advice, the heart-to-heart missile never misses its target. In order to benefit, we must ensure that our hearts are pure, and soft, and receptive to guidance, and then we can be targets for heart-to-heart missiles. And the more we purify our hearts, and allow ourselves to be influenced by good advice, the more Allah smiles on us, and give us the honour to fulfill His Divine plan.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Dear Nigerians,
When we open our hearts to the influence of the Noble Qur’an, the Word of Allah will grow within us and make us strong. And when we strengthen our Faith, Iman, we can more effectively fight on the information battlefield.
Today we hear terms like info-warrior, and the battle for hearts and minds. Yes indeed there is a war of ideas, there is an information jihad out there, and we must do our best to present the message of Islam truthfully, sincerely, powerfully and effectively.
History teaches us that no power on earth can resist an idea whose time has come. In the 7th Century, Islam was the idea whose time had come. Islam saved mankind. Neither the Romans nor the Persians could stop it. Today, at the dawn of the 21st century, Communism lies dead and buried, and Islam remains the only real challenge to Secular Materialism. Today, Islam is the idea whose time has come.
In many ways, the war of ideas, the battle for hearts and minds, is much more important than any military conflict. Military campaigns are won and lost, territories change hands over and again, but ideas endure. And in the realm of ideas, Islam will always triumph. Truth ultimately prevails over falsehood. This is borne out in the words of Al-Qur’an:
“Truth has come, and falsehood has perished; falsehood by its nature, is bound to perish.”
But Dear Brothers and sisters, although the ultimate victory of Islam is guaranteed by Allah, you and I must still work hard, to earn the good pleasure of our Rabb (Lord, Cherisher and Sustainer). Our place in al-Jannah (Paradise) is by no means guaranteed. You and I will be judged by our words and deeds, by our intentions, actions and inactions.
In the information jihad, the most powerful weapons are not guns, bombs and missiles, but wise words and good actions.
It is not enough for us to know Islam well. We Muslims must also become effective and influential communicators. We must master communications technology and psychology. Those of us who are gifted communicators, like our teachers, broadcasters, writers, poets and artists, must transmit the message of Islam in a beautiful, powerful and effective manner.
Our dear Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) was a communicator without equal. When he spoke, it was with absolute sincerity. His thoughts, and words and deeds were of the same substance. There was no contradiction in his personality. Armed with the message of truth from Allah, he was an information-warrior, and a military leader, a strategist and a statesman of exceptional brilliance. He commanded implicit obedience from his devoted followers, and even his enemies regarded him with deep admiration and respect.
One English writer who admired him greatly was Thomas Carlyle, who wrote these words 80 years ago in his book, (On Heroes and Hero Worship, and the Heroic in History, London, 1918).
“…These Arabs, the man Muhammad and that one century. It is as if a spark had fallen, one spark on a world of what seemed black unnoticeable sand, but lo, the sand proves explosive powder, blazes heaven high from Delhi to Grenada: I said: the great Man was always as lightning out of heaven; the rest of the men waited on him like fuel, and then they too would flame…How one man single-handedly could weld warring tribes and wandering Bedouins into a most powerful and civilized nation in less than twenty years…”
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam, Fellow Nigerians,
Let us pray to Allah, Subhanahu Wata’ala, to help us become like the fuel that flamed with the light of Islam, many centuries ago, when Muslims led the world from darkness into light. Despite the material prosperity we see around us today, we do indeed live in an age of spiritual darkness. Modern man has a spiritual hunger that only Islam can satisfy. Dear Muslims, let us not fail in our duty, to hold up the light of Islam, in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions. May Allah guide us all in the correct used of words, in our exams, in our speech, in our work, our homes and in our relations with one another. May Allah guide us all, to use the right word, in the right place, at the right time. Ameen!
All praise is for Allah Who has honoured man and has created him in the best of forms. Praise is for Allah Who has endowed man with the ability to speak with his tongue as one of His greatest bounties. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, the only God Who has no partner. In the Divine Book, Allah says:
“See you not how Allah sets forth a parable? A goodly word like a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the heavens (i.e. very high). It brings forth its fruits at all times, by the leave of its Lord, Allah sets forth parables for mankind in order that they may receive admonition (remember).”(Ibrahim, 14:24-25)
I also bear witness that our Master Muhammad, servant of Allah is His beloved Messenger and the noblest of all mankind. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his family, his companions, and all those who follow them in righteousness till the Day of Judgment.
O Believers, O Fellow Nigerians,
I remind myself first and all of you to be God-fearing and pious. I also urge all of us to obey Him, the Exalted, Who says:
“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him), he has indeed attained the highest achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and will be admitted to Paradise.” (Al-Ahzaab, 33:70-71)
Allah, the Exalted, has endowed us with words we utter in order to communicate with each other, express our feelings, and reveal our intentions. The tongue is a great endowment of Allah which may be used to praise and thank him for which one earns reward. Allah, the Exalted says:
“Have We not made for him two eyes, and a tongue and two lips?” (Al-Balad, 90:8-9)
Nevertheless, some words may earn us the greatest reward and others may lead us to the worst punishment and a great failure. The tongue has either power of good or bad. Allah has ordained Muslim not to belittle the value of his words, and not to utter words of no use or have no control over his speech or his ability to foresee the repercussions of his saying. Allah, the Exalted, says:
“Not a word does he (or she) utter but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it).” (Qaf, 50:18)
Allah has praised the believers who refrain from vain pursuits (curiosity), gossip, abusing and insulting people and backbiting. In his divine revelation, Allah says:
“And those who avoid and turn away from vain, dirty, false, evil talks.” (Al-Mu’minuun, 23:3)
On the other hand, utterances such as the two Shahada which are the proclamation of Islam, remembering Allah, and greeting someone have their valuable impact and benefits.
O servants of Allah, O Fellow Nigerians,
Allah has warned us of the bad effect of useless talk or that which does not concern us, because we exert both physical and mental energy to no avail and we waste our time. Indeed, scientific research has shown that talking too much, abusing people and gossiping require energy that might affect both our physical and mental health. Malik bin Dinar said:
“If you see that your heart hardens, your body becomes weak, and you have little (provision), then know that you have talked about that which does not concern you.”
O Believers, O Fellow Nigerians,
We are responsible for every word we say especially when it may harm others either through gossip and backbiting or telling lies. Indeed, by uttering just one word “divorce” a man can destroy a coherent family; another careless word may infringe upon relations, between friends, partners or loved ones. Marriage, divorce, financial transactions and contracts all require verbal or written wordings.
Each and every word we utter is recorded and one day we will stand accountable for this record.
It has been narrated that Mu’aaz ibn Jabal (may Allah have mercy on him), companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him), once asked the Messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, to tell him about an act that will cause him to enter Jannah (paradise) and be protected from the fire. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Guard your tongue”. Mu’aaz ibn Jabal asked,” Shall we be questioned about our utterances?” the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:”Most people will be thrown into Hell-face-down because of the transgressions of their tongues.”
Another hadith highlights the same issue:
“Every morning all the limbs of a person plead with his tongue:” Fear Allah for our sake, for our fate is tied to yours. If you follow the straight path so shall we. And if you go astray so shall we”.
O servants of Allah, O my respected people,
Almighty Allah has created this great universe with one word. Allah says:
“Verily, when He intends a thing, His Command is, “Be!”, and it is” (Yaa-Seen, 36:82)
It takes few words to build, love each other and strengthens unity, those are key words that may earn us the reward of Allah and the pleasure of people, and it takes few words to destroy, to fail, spread animosity, and division, earning us the wrath of Allah and the disrespect of people. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says:
“A servant unthinkingly says something pleasing to Allah Most High for which Allah raise him whole degrees. And a servant unthinkingly says something detested by Allah, Most high, for which he plunges into hell.”
Communication entails a big responsibility requiring every one of us to think and reflect on the far reaching consequences before uttering any word, especially those who are engaged in thoughts that may spread, or may impact people’s life. It has been narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked:
“O Messenger of Allah, which of the Muslims is best?” and he said: “He who the Muslims (and all the Creators of Allah) are safe from his tongue and his hand.”
And lastly my respected people, I wish to use this opportunity and this platform to congratulate our new Nigerian President-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Muhammad Buhari for the victory Allah (SWT) has given him in the concluded presidential election of March 28, 2015. I call on General Muhammad Buhari to fear Allah and remember that only Allah (GOD) gives power to whom He wishes. Allah (SWT) says in the Noble Qur’an:
“Say (O Muhammad SAW): “O Allah! Possessor of the Kingdom, You give the kingdom to whom You will, and You take the kingdom from whom You will, and You endue with honour whom You will, and You humiliate whom You will. In Your Hand is the good. Verily, You are Able to do all things.” (Ali-Imraan, 3:26)
Therefore, our President, know that, Allah, Owner of the Mighty Power, has ordained great responsibilities for those who are in authority. He has also ordained for you rights on those under your responsibility and commanded that those rights be respected. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
“Each one of you is responsible and each will be asked about his (or her) responsibility.”
Fear Allah O our president; fear God O General Buhari with regards to the responsibility that Allah has entrusted you. Fulfill your duties towards your subjects and those whom Allah allowed you to be responsible for, be they Muslims, Non-Muslims, Northerners or Southerners etc. By doing this o our president, you will be among the best leaders on Earth, and this ensures tranquility, peace, unity, development and harmony for our great and beloved Nation, Nigeria.
Our President, Our General, remember also that this victory was the victory for all the Nigerian Masses. You should (must) consider this success as a success for all Nigerians, not only the success or victory for Northerners or Muslims, because you are from the North or because you are a Muslim. All the regions of Nigeria contributed immensely their votes for you. Nigeria also belongs to all of us irrespective of religious and ethnic differences.
President Muhammad Buhari, I believe millions of Christians voted for you in this election, just as I believe also millions of Muslims voted for Goodluck Jonathan. Therefore, know that, National Unity and reconciliation is essential as an agenda for your incoming administration.
To you the winner, May Allah gives you the ability to discharge your responsibilities. And may the new dispensation in leadership make Nigerians Experience a Sea of change by way of making unemployment, poverty, insecurity and corruption history. To those who didn’t win, we commend you for trying; you have also contributed to the development of our great and beloved Country, Nigeria.
My respected people,
I also commended President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for conceding defeat to President-elect General Muhammad Buhari in this March 28, Presidential election, and for this historical feat and this singular gesture.
Let us join hands, let’s dialogue and build a new Nigeria irrespective of our differences. Let’s be law-abiding and peaceful.
Our President, our General, I pray May Allah guide you throughout your tenure and may you keep your campaign promises and put them into actions…
May Allah (SWT) make us all successful towards building a new and prosperous Nigeria, Ameen Yaa Rabb.
Alhamdu Lillahil Lathee bi ni’ matihee tatimmus-Swaalihaat.
May Allah bestow upon us the power to obey Him, and to obey those He has ordained us to obey…
We implore you, O Allah, to make the Glorious Qur’an the light of our heart. We beseech you to help us recite its words and apply its rulings and follow the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Ameen.
This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Jumaada al-Thaany 14, 1436 A.H (April 3, 2015), by Imam Murtada Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’at Mosque Okene, Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached Via 08038289761 and email@example.com.