The tongue is a blessing from Allah ().
Allah () tells us in the Quran that the tongue is amongst the greatest blessings that he has given us:
Have We not made for him two eyes? And a tongue and two lips? And have shown him the two ways? [90:8-10]
The tongue provides the human being a lot of functions. Amongst the apparent functions that don’t need much investigating is the fact that it is the tool we use to eat. The tongue is the mixer of food when it is in the mouth. The teeth break down the food and it is the job of the tongue to mix it all up and move it about the mouth and to finally move it to the throat so we can swallow it.
The tongue is also responsible for how food tastes to us, without it, all food would be the same and eating would not be as pleasurable.
The tongue is also responsible for speech. It allows us to express what we are feeling. Allah () says:
The Most Merciful Taught the Qur’an, Created man, [And] taught him eloquence. [55:1-4]
The tongue plays such a massive role in the function of speaking that we use it to refer to language itself in our everyday speech. For example when we say ‘Lisaanul-Arab’ (tongue of the Arabs) when referring to Arabic or ‘such and such is not his native tongue’.
Therefore, the tongue is a blessing from Allah () and the human being does not realise blessings when he is experiencing it but only becomes aware afterwards when he no longer has it. E.g. for those of us Allah () has given good health, we don’t really appreciate it, but were we to visit the sick in the hospitals we would see that being healthy is more valuable to them than all the wealth in the world.
The tongue is the keys to understanding a person
Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah says:
“If you would like to draw a conclusion of what is contained in someone’s Heart then use as a proof the movements of his Tongue! For surely, he will show you what is contained in his heart regardless of whether he wants to or not.”
He also said:
“As you can taste a pot full of food with a spoon likewise someone’s tongue can tell you about his heart.”
This means that when you are silent nobody really knows what type of person you really are but as soon as you speak, you present to the people the type of person you really are. That is when people will say so and so is a clever person or a not so clever person or he is eloquent or he is not so eloquent etc.
The tongue is dangerous
As was already mentioned, the tongue is a blessing from Allah () that when used for good benefits the Muslim such as Tawheed, Ibaada, Dhikr, reading the Quran, sending salutations on the prophet and saying subhaanallah.
As we can see many of the things that can lead on to the Jannah are accomplished with the tongue. But, so are many of the things that can lead one to the fire.
It is of the utmost importance that we pay attention to what is coming out of our mouths. Sadly, it is one of the areas that most of us are negligent and heedless in controlling it. Normally, most Muslims take great care to make sure what they are eating is Halal i.e. their income is Halal so they avoid Riba and don’t steal or cheat. They also make sure not to fall in Zina (fornication). But it is not even in our thoughts to differentiate whether what is coming out of our mouths is Halal or Haram. Allah () tells us in the Quran:
Man does not utter any word except that with him is an observer prepared [to record]. [50:18]
This means that the human being has an angel with him that who’s job is to record everything without leaving a word.
Allah () says:
And indeed, [appointed] over you are keepers, Noble and recording; They know whatever you do. [82:10-12]
Allah () also says:
No good is there in much of their private conversation, except for those who enjoin charity or that which is right or conciliation between people. And whoever does that seeking means to the approval of Allah – then We are going to give him a great reward. [4:114]
All we have to do is control our tongues
We all know what is Haraam and what is Halaal and what a person will earn a reward with from Allah as there are many ayaat in the Quran and ahadith of the prophet () . So, all we have to do is control our tongues and be aware of everything we are saying. We have to think before we speak and weigh if what we are going to say will be on our good record or evil record. To achieve this we have to be careful of excessive speech as Allah ():
When you received it with your tongues and said with your mouths that of which you had no knowledge and thought it was insignificant while it was, in the sight of Allah, tremendous. [24:15]
The Mu’min has certain characteristics
Allah () has taught us in the Quran that the true mu’min has certain characteristics e.g. in surah mu’minun Allah says:
Certainly will the believers have succeeded: (1) They who are during their prayer humbly submissive (2) And they who turn away from ill speech (3) And they who are observant of zakah (4) And they who guard their private parts (5) Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed – (6) But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors – (7) And they who are to their trusts and their promises attentive (8) And they who carefully maintain their prayers – (9) Those are the inheritors (10) Who will inherit al-Firdaus. They will abide therein eternally. [23:1-11]
Here, when Allah () is telling us about those who have succeeded, the second characteristic after humility and submissiveness in the salat is control of the tongue. Then Allah () tells us about zakat and about being chaste and so on. This shows how important control of the tongue is.
Also in surah furqan when Allah () describes Ebadu-Rahman (the servants of the most merciful) he says:
And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace, [25:63]
Say that which is good or remain silent
The best way of controlling your tongue is to follow the advice of the prophet ():
Upon the Authority of Abu Huraira – Radhiyallahu Anhu – who said the Messenger of Allah – Sallallahu Alaihi was Salam said:
“Whosoever believes in Allah and the last day then let him say that which is good or remain silent!” (Agree upon by Bukhaari (5785) and Muslim (47))