Kind words, gentle but true. Softness of speech. That is the language of Islam. Leave no wounds, with your hands or your words. Be an agent of hope, and rely upon Allah in all things, and He will love you for it.


Sunday, Ramadan 7, 1440 AH (May 12, 2019)

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

All praise is due to Allah for granting us this time which our hearts, words and limbs have awaited with much anticipation. Endless praises and gratitude are due to Allah for His abundant favours that continue to increase, and we hope to attain His reward on the Day of Recompense. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah alone, without any partner. He has granted immense reward to those who fast in every generation. I further bear witness that our Prophet Muhammad is Allah’s worshipping servant and messenger. He was the best individual who fasted and prayed, and will be granted the loftiest rank in the hereafter, and those who follow his path will attain the greatest of rewards. O Allah, grant Your commendation, protection, and blessings to Your Messenger as well as to his outstanding family and children, his esteemed Companions, and all who continue to follow their path until the Day of Recompense.

Respected brothers and sisters! Some wise men say:

“A bad wound heals, but a bad word doesn’t.” – Persian proverb.

This is so true. I have experienced martial arts injuries, cuts from falling off a bike, and even a few broken bones, but I never think of them. The scars have faded, and the old wounds have no emotional significance. But the cruel words people have spoken to me remain like barbs in my flesh. I may have forgiven the people who uttered the words, but the memories linger.

I remember a Walimah I attended years ago. Someone had spilled food on the floor near a buffet table and people were stepping on it. In Islam, it’s considered disrespectful to Allah and extravagance to step on food, as food is a blessing. I knelt down to pick up the food and my friend got angry and said that the restaurant had people to do that, and that I was embarrassing myself and acting like a “pseudo holy man.” It makes me laugh now, but at the time it really stung, and as you can see, the words are still there in my head, almost twenty years after.

Whoever it was who said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” was foolishly optimistic. Words persist. They root themselves in our brains and wait, ready to spring out in an argument years later. That’s why it was the teaching of the Qur’an to say the truth and in a soft words. Allah the Most High says:

“And [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], “Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] and establish prayer and give zakah.” Then you turned away, except a few of you, and you were refusing.” [Al-Baqarah: 83]

And He the Almighty says:

“And say to My servants (i.e. the true believers of Islamic Monotheism) that they should (only) say those words that are the best. (Because) Shaitan (Satan) verily, sows disagreements among them. Surely, Shaitan (Satan) is to man a plain enemy.” [Isra’i: 53]

And He says:

“And argue not with the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), unless it be in (a way) that is better (with good words and in good manner, inviting them to Islamic Monotheism with His Verses), except with such of them as do wrong, and say (to them): “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you; our Ilah (God) and your Ilah (God) is One (i.e. Allah), and to Him we have submitted (as Muslims).” [Ankabut: 46]

Dear brothers and sisters! Please, let’s think twice before we speak, especially when we are angry, and then consider again, and again. When we are provoked and inclined to say something hurtful, let us bite the words off. Breathe deeply, praise Allah, seek refuge from Shaitan. Go for a walk, go to the Masjid or the gym. Don’t say those mean words, don’t send that angry email.

Let me repeat the saying of Allah the Almighty:

“Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] and establish prayer and give zakah.” [Al-Baqarah :83]

Look past the hurt that the person has given you, and see the soul within them, struggling as we all do, battling with disappointment and insecurity. When you speak, let your words be kind, and see what happens. You might be surprised.

It’s a lifelong struggle. I am still working on it.

The Arabic word that is translated in Al-Baqarah:83 as “good” (words) is “husnan.” It means nice, sweet or beautiful. It means we should speak words that caress the other person’s heart and bring relief to their soul. Words that make people happy, that inspire and raise hope. Be an agent of hope in this world, not an agent of despair.

But the word “husnan” has many other meanings as well. The same word is used in the following expressions: husn an-niyyah (good will), husn az-dhan (good thoughts or assumptions about someone), husn al-khuluq (high ethics), husn al-qabul (accepting someone, welcoming)…

Someone might say, “I’m right and I won’t back down.” That’s fine. You don’t have to give up truth to be kind. The Qur’an says:

“…and speak to them words of appropriate kindness.” [An-Nisa’ :8]

“Appropriate kindness”, what an interesting phrase! The Arabic word is “ma’rufan.” It means speak the truth, but kindly, without arrogance or anger.

Picture wildflowers growing on a great mountain. The mountain is a symbol of truth and strength, while the flowers represent sweetness and gentleness. When you combine them, you get the model of Islamic speech.

Similarly, Allah the Most High says:

“O you who have believed, fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice.” [Al-Ahzab :70]

The greatest speaker of truth was the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him). And how did he speak? The Qur’an praises the Prophet’s attitude because he was gentle, smiling and soft with his Sahabah, and with strangers. His sweetness was a gift from Allah:

“So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].” [Al-Imran, :159]

Kind words, gentle but true. Softness of speech. That is the language of Islam. Leave no wounds, with your hands or your words. Be an agent of hope, and rely upon Allah in all things, and He will love you for it.

The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah the Almighty. Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet, his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.

We ask Allah the Most High to strengthen us in Ramadan, accept our fasts, and reward us with His forgiveness and the highest place in Paradise. Ameen.

Written by your brother, Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, from Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusaumurtada@gmail.com or +2348038289761.