The Quran’s language of mercy
By: Osman Nuri Topbaş
Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş
The wisdom and secrets of the Qur’ān are as deep as an ocean.
However, everybody benefits from it, in as much as their hearts let them. If someone’s heart is as small as the thimble of a tailor, his share from this endless ocean will be as big as his heart.
All Muslims, the high and the low, sit before the same reading desk and read the Qur’ān; however everybody benefits from it to the extent that their hearts allow them to. The meanings of the verses of the Qur’ān reveal themselves to the extent of the closeness of the servant to Allah the Almighty.
Therefore we should ask ourselves whether our interest and curiosity towards the Qur’ān, which is in a way a letter sent from our Creator to us, is beyond comparison with our interest to the letters sent by human beings. How much do we try to read and understand its wisdom?
For example, do we go and ask the wise when we do not understand something from it? In short do we pay sufficient attention to it?
We may get acquainted to the language of mercy in the Qur’ān as soon as we give satisfactory answers to the above mentioned questions.
Let’s think about how much time and effort we spend to learn a foreign language. Especially in modern times, we live in a global world. This is why we attend language courses, spend huge amounts of money and time to learn a foreign language. We even go and live among the native speakers of that language. This has become a big commercial sector of recent time.
Of course learning another language is a wonderful thing, but the Creator of all languages asks from us first to learn “the language of the Holy Qur’ān.” This is not just learning Arabic, but learning how to understand the Qur’ānic language of mercy. And the path to understanding the Qur’ān goes through disciplining our speech through the warnings that the Qur’ān has laid out for us, and then beautifying it through Divine teachings.
Most of the problems in our relationship with others usually originate from misunderstandings and misuse of the language; because language can be a key to both goodness and evil. This is why we should be very careful not to turn our tongues into thorns stuck into other people’s hearts.
In fact it is stated in a proverb that “wounds of a sword get healed, but wounded feelings caused by harsh words do not get healed.”
Therefore we should think twice and calculate what will be the results before saying something. Because speaking is like throwing a rock. We should be careful where the rock will land.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) points out this fact and says that:
“Do not say something for which you have to apologize…” (Ibn Mājah, Zuhd, 15)
Speaking is like shooting arrows, when an arrow leave the bow it is impossible to return it back, similarly, the words are impossible to be taken back once they are uttered. While we have the control over our words before we speak, they take over the control after we utter them.
We can always speak the words that we haven’t spoken yet; however we cannot take back the works already spoken and we may have to defend them.
Mature believers first think about if their words will be beneficial, then if their words will cause problems for themselves or for the addressee, they prefer silence. They are also careful about which words they will say and how they will say them.
How nicely Abū Bakr (r.a) warns us in this regard:
“Think well about what you will say, to whom you will say and when you will say…” A believer must have intuition and adjust his words according to the person whom he speaks; because words which are good for some people might hurt others. This is why first the psychological state of the listener must be determined and before saying something, two three steps ahead must be calculated.
In other words, we should be careful not to say something first which we need to say at the end.
People trust and pay attention to such mature and intuitive believers. This is why the Prophet (pbuh) would tell people the issues which they will be interested and talk to them according to the level of their comprehension. He would not use the same language for a bedouin and a competent companion. He (pbuh) would say simple facts to Bedouins whereas he would state deep spiritual realties to the mature companions.
Once when ‘Omar (r.a) witnessed a conversation between the Prophet (pbuh) and Abū Bakr (r.a), even though he was one of the most knowledgeable and wise companions, he had to admit that:
“I was like someone who does not know Arabic. I did not understand a single word from their conversation.”
This is why the Prophet (pbuh) warned Ibn ‘Abbas:
“O Ibn ‘Abbās! Do not speak to people with language they cannot understand; because if you do that, it may lead them to mischief.” (Daylamī, V, 359)
Rumī (q.s) advises in this regard that:
“Do not sell mirrors in the bazaar of the blind; and do not recite gazelles in the bazaar of the deaf.”
One day the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was riding his camel and his friends were walking in front of him. Mu’adh b. Jabal (r.a) asked him:
“O Messenger of Allah! Would you mind if I come close to you?”
When the Prophet (pbuh) let him come closer, Mu’adh (r.a) asked again:
“O Messenger of Allah! May my father and mother be sacrificed for you. My wish from Allah the Almighty is to take our lives before taking yours. But in case Allah takes your life before us What kind of worship do you advice us to perform after you?”
Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) did not answer this question. Mu’adh (r.a) asked again:
“Should we fight in the path of Allah the Almighty?”
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
“Fighting for the sake of Allah is a nice thing to do, but there are better deeds to do.”
Mu’adh asked that:
“Do you mean fasting or giving charity?”
“Fasting and giving charity are also good deeds.”
Mu’adh counted all the good deeds he could think off, and every time Allah’s Apostle said:
“There are better deeds to do.”
Finally when Mu’adh (r.a) asked:
“May my father and mother be sacrificed for you. Tell me, O Messenger of Allah, What is a better deed?”
He pointed to his mouth and said:
“To stay silent If it is not going to tell something nice.”
Mu’adh (r.a) asked:
“Are we going to be questioned for what we talked?”
The Messenger of Allah touched Mu’adh’s knee and told him:
“May Allah reward you with goodness O Mu’adh! What else pushes human beings into Hell face down? He who believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak good or remain silent. Speak good and gain reward; reach peace and tranquility by not speaking hurtful words.” (Hakim, IV, 319/7774)
Therefore a believer should never forget that his words are constantly recorded by Divine cameras. In fact it is stated in a verse:
“He utters not a word but there is by him a watcher ready (to note it).” (50; 18)
Even if we do not get questioned for our words in this world, we will certainly be questioned about them in the Hereafter. This is why we should seriously be careful about our words just like we are careful about what we eat. Maybe because of this Holy Qur’ān gives much importance to manners of speaking in other words how to talk or not to talk.