The Value of Words in Islam


The Prophet ﷺ said,

“A man speaks a good word without knowing its worth, Allah records for him His Good Pleasure till the day he will meet Him; and a man utters an evil word without realizing its importance, Allah records for him His displeasure till the day he will meet Him.”

– At-Tirmidhi

The Importance of Speech

Allah, the creator of all the heavens and the earth, has blessed us with the ability to speak. He, the Exalted, gave us this ability so that we may communicate with each other, express our feelings and reveal our intentions. The tongue is a great endowment of Allah (SWT) – which may be used to praise and thank him for which one earns reward.

In Surah Al Balad, Allah SWT says:

“Have We not made for him two eyes? And a tongue and two lips?”

Allah is reminding us of this blessing he has given us – something we have just been fortunately born with – something we did not even earn, it was just given to us.

Nevertheless, some words may earn us the greatest reward and others may lead to the worst punishment. The tongue has the power to do good and to do bad and indeed, it will be a witness for us on the day of judgement.

Allah (SWT) has ordained the Muslims, not to belittle the value of their words, and not to utter words of no use. He warned us to be weary of our speech and having the ability to foresee the repercussions of what we say.

Indeed, Allah SWT reminds us in Surah Qaf:

“Not a word does he (or she) utter but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it).”

In fact, Allah has praised believers who refrain from vain pursuits (curiosity), gossip and backbiting, “Certainly will the believers have succeeded, they who are during their prayer humbly submissive, and they who turn away from ill speech.” (Surah Muminoon, Verses 1-3)

Now we should realise the importance of our words. Our beautiful lord is telling us it is the believers who will succeeded. He says certainly. There is no doubt.  That the believers who have succeeded, are those who during their prayer, are humbly submissive and those who turn away from ill speech.

That’s its importance – and if we are still not getting the message here – I will give you a realistic worldly view. In one day, this tongue of ours can be used as an aid, as a help, to save someone’s life and on the same day, we could use it to push someone far away from our religion – and that would cause the destruction of 2 people. The person we harm and our ourselves.

The Effect of Useless Talk

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 and gossiping require energy that might affect both our physical and mental health. And of course, it has a huge impact on our spiritual health.

Malik Bin Dinar once said,

“If 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.”

We are responsible for every word we say, especially when it may harm others through gossip or backbiting or telling lies. Indeed, by uttering just one word “divorce” a man can destroy a coherent family. Other careless words we may say, can ruin relations between friends, partners or loved ones.

Each and every word we utter is recorded and one day we will stand accountable for this record.

It has been narrated that, Muadh Ibn Jabbal, a companion of the Prophet (ﷺ), once asked the Messenger of Allah, to tell him about an act that will cause him to enter paradise and be protected from the fire.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said “Guard your tongue” Muadh Ibn Jabbal asked, “Shall we be questioned about our utterances?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Most people will be thrown into Hell face down because of the transgressions of their tongue” – Because of the damage we as individuals inflict upon others by the mis-use of our tongues.

Wiping Away Sins Equal to the Foam of the Ocean

Now before we begin speaking about the practical tips which will end the remaining of the khutbah, I want to share with you something powerful that you’re already aware of. You’re already equipped with.

It is said that there is a statement that is light on the tongue, but heavy on your scale of good deeds, and that is “Subhan Allah Wa Bihamdihi”. This means Glory and Praise is to Allah.

A phrase that is so loved by the most merciful, our lord. It is a way to attain forgiveness of our sins, to earning mountains of good deeds and a means to entering Jannah. A statement that takes 5 seconds to say but our lord is ready to reward us this much.

So, which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?

Let’s ask ourselves, why do we spend so much time talking about matters that do not concern us, waste minutes up to hours talking about these matters – yet its so hard for us to say easy statements like these which already know have huge rewards. Have our hearts become confused? Indeed, it has become hard and weak.

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “He who utters: ‘Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi (Allah is free from imperfection and His is the praise)’ one hundred times a day, his sins will be obliterated, even if they are equal to the extent of the foam of the ocean.” [Bukhari]

Practical Tips

We need to begin by cutting down on the amount we talk about matters that do not benefit us. We need to begin guarding our tongues like our Prophet (ﷺ) advised us to. For us to work on this, it will take time. So, in order to work on these habits, let us begin speaking about the practical tips.

  • Give Compliments

    We ask each other, how one another is doing – but also leave a compliment in the conversation as well. Oh Masha’Allah, “You smell nice today!” or “You have a lovely jacket” or maybe “Did you do something with your hair bro?!”

    They’re such small light phrases, but it gives more depth to the conversation then just asking “how are you” – knowing that the automatic response we always get is Alhamdulillah. Along with compliments, be thankful to people – for even the little things. The Prophet (ﷺ) said “He has not thanked Allah, who has not thanked the people.” 

  • Think Before You Speak

    Before you open your mouth and speak and say something witty or clever that may hurt someone – Think – Are your words better than the silence or is the silence better than the words you utter from your mouth. As The hadith of our beloved Prophet (ﷺ) states, “Speak good or remain silent.” Just know that if the best of creation is giving advice like this, we definitely have to pay attention because there must be good reason for it.

Ending Reminder

Just to end this khutbah now, I will leave you with something to think about regarding today’s topic.

Here at St Georges, in this university environment. We need to be careful of what we say. Alhamdulillah, Allah has blessed us to be a close family here at uni. The brotherhood and sisterhood are very strong (May Allah preserve it) – however there are some people who we have left out. It is our duty as Muslims, to pull them towards us and take them into open arms. No one should be left behind, no one should feel that we have preferred a Muslim brother over themselves. The same for within the sisters. This power that our tongue has, we can use it to bring Muslims together, to worship and remember Allah (SWT) together.

Using this tongue to say thank you when a person doesn’t expect it or to say sorry or I apologise when you have not done anything wrong. You will begin to shake the hearts of people, and that’s when we are going to finally begin fulfilling the duty we have been given by Allah. And that is sharing our Islamic identity. That we are Muslim.

The Prophet ﷺ was asked, “Who is the most excellent among the Muslims?” He said,

“The one from whose tongue and hands the other Muslims are secure.”

– Sahih Bukhari