Almighty Allah ordered believers preach their religion to others as well. Therefore, telling the existence, oneness and greatness of Allah and inviting them to live by the Quran values, is a great blessing and a very important worship for Muslims. For this reason, believers remember Allah, always say the best of the words, preach the message of Islam, enjoin the good, and forbid the bad. However, they avoid turning conversations into a monologue, without allowing anyone else to speak, as they know this is not the attitude preached by Quran’s moral values.
Allah states in the following verse that everything everyone says are recorded:
“No indeed! We will write down what he says and prolong the punishment for him. We will inherit from him the things he is talking about and he will come to Us all alone.” (Surah Maryam, 79-80)
Therefore people are responsible for every idea and thought they have, everything they do, just like everything they say and they will be treated accordingly in the hereafter. For this reason the goal of a person must be avoiding to say a word that could make him ashamed and repent at the Sight of Allah.
Those who are aware of this important truth revealed by our Lord in the Quran and who live by these good moral values, are no doubt the ‘believers’. The believers, spend all their lives to gain the pleasure of Allah. Everything they do, every decision they make, their actions, behaviors are all intended to please Allah. The same thing goes for their speeches, conversations and tone. The believers, in pursuit of Allah’s pleasure, will speak only if what he is going to say, will make a positive contribution to the person he is talking to. They never seek to draw attention, show off their knowledge when they are speaking to someone. Sometimes they don’t talk at all, and just listen. And sometimes it might be just a couple of sentences that is needed to convey his opinion and chooses to benefit from the ideas of the other person instead. However, some people use a far different style of speech other than the one based the Quran’s moral values.
The mistakes that prevent a conversation from being a wise one
The believers will only speak for Allah’s pleasure, and only if that speech is going to make a positive impact on the person he is speaking to. He doesn’t seek to be on the forefront. However, many people just try to be one in the spotlight, making all the talk, acting with an attitude of ‘I know the best, so I have to talk the most’. Some of these undesired qualities can be listed as follows: never listening to anyone, and interrupting others, usually talking with a loud voice. This way these people think that they can make others listen to them and gain their respect. They never hesitate to shout in attempts to show how right they are, or to deter, convince or silence others. However Muslims talk with a reasonable level of voice. Allah shows the Prophet Luqman (pbuh) as an example to believers. The Prophet Luqman (pbuh) advises his son as follows:
Be moderate in your tread and lower your voice. The most hateful of voices is the donkey’s bray.(Surah Luqman, 19)
These people don’t ever think of listening to others or benefitting from their ideas. According to them, turning conversations into a one-man conference is an achievement, makes them superior, therefore they never imagine that it could disturb other people.
According to them, it is not possible for others to have more knowledge in a subject or put it in a more clever way. This is an attitude the believers must refrain from strictly. Our Lord states as follows:
...We raise the rank of anyone We will. Over everyone with knowledge is a Knower.(Surah Yusuf, 76)
People with the ‘I know the best’ attitude, usually try to give the appearance of being the smartest, wisest and most knowledgeable person around. They don’t need deep knowledge or expertise to act like that, it could be something everyone knows, or that they only know of superficially, or that they heard from others. In every opportunity, they try to prove their so-called knowledge and experience to people around them. Just like it is the case in many other bad habits, the source of ‘I know the best’ attitude comes from the inner self, the enemy of wisdom and common sense.
Listening to a speaking person courteously without interrupting is a good attitude, which will hopefully be a means for Allah’s pleasure. Such behavior will also be an indication of respect to the speaker. However, people away from Quran’s moral values, usually don’t listen to others, and even interrupt or talk at the same time. This is especially common on debate programs on TVs. Even well-educated people that are expected to behave in a more proper way, can be very impolite and uncivil. Such people, instead of trying to benefit from what is explained, just strive to make others listen to them and concede defeat.
Making long sentences during conversations is another attitude that usually makes others uncomfortable. Usually, one is expected to pause between sentences and ask the opinions of others. If another person starts speaking too, he also must avoid repeating the sentences, and make long sentences. Also, changing the subject and starting to talk about something else while someone is still trying to say something are other actions that must be abstained from. Believers, out of courtesy, listen to the speaker while looking in the face of that person, not force anyone to listen, especially if that person is trying to leave.
Listening to a speaking person courteously without interrupting is a good attitude, which will hopefully be a means for Allah’s pleasure. Such behavior will also be an indication of respect to the speaker.
It is of course very natural for a specialized person to talk, in an area that requires expertise. However, everyone should join in so that everyone can express their opinions and ideas. This will make sure that everyone’s opinions are learned, and it also gives the opportunity to have an idea about people’s personality. Thoughts such as ‘he knows less than I do, so he shouldn’t talk’ or ‘only those ones with knowledge should talk’ are wrong. Maybe someone has less technical knowledge compared to others, but one who has been given wisdom by Allah, may come to realize aspects of the subject that others are unknown to others. Or perhaps the person that knows all the details about the subject got drowned in details and missed the big picture. For these reasons, it is significant that every person that is participating in a conversation, expresses their ideas so that new ideas and points of view are known.
The Prophet Mohammad (saas) also drew attention to unnecessary conversations which don’t include praising Allah in one hadith:
Ibn Umar (RA) narrates:
“The Prophet Mohammad (saas) said: “Don’t talk too much other than for praising Allah. Because talking too much other than talking about Allah, will make the heart gloomy (hard). Know that, one that is farthest from Allah is who has a gloomy heart.”(Tirmidhi, Zuhd 62, (2413). (5891)
The pleasant conversations of believers
The believers don’t seek such goals of their lower selves as to put themselves in the forefront or have the final say. Therefore they have a reasonable, calm manner. Out of their understanding of courtesy based on their commitment to the Quran’s moral values, they always allow others to be in the forefront, try to benefit from what others say and refrain from acting in an ignorant fashion.
Their conversations are sincere and honest. Since believers consult each other in everything they do, everyone’s opinions count. The believers stay away from proud and stubborn actions such as ‘my ideas are better’. A believer is always aware of the fact that someone else might know better. For these reasons, these good conversations help believers gain a stronger faith, think deeper, comprehend things better and ponder more on the signs leading to faith.
Conversations are actually very good opportunities to get to know the people, benefit from their ideas and thoughts. The emotions, thoughts, desires as well as their mistakes reflect on their talks. The tone is an important indicator to tell a deep believer apart from a person with low moral qualities. Because a believer, out of his firm fear of Allah, never makes the person he is talking to uncomfortable. His speech is sincere, wise, inspires confidence, courteous, reasonable, humble and positive. He carefully avoids void and unnecessary conversations that could lead people to pessimism, despair and conflicts.
What is "Wisdom"?
The word ‘wisdom’ has a wide meaning which can be summarized as ‘putting things in the perfect way possible both in speech and manners, concisely speaking, yet with immense meaning, and the deep understanding capacity that Allah bestowed on His Prophets and holy servants’. Islamic scholars defined wisdom in many ways, but the majority agrees on the following:
"Wisdom is beneficial knowledge and sincere actions." (Elmalili M. Hamdi Yazir, True Religion, Language of the Quran I, 915)
So, talking wisely should be understood as beneficial, concise, true, essential talks done at the right time and at the right place.
The conversations of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) are the best examples of conversations
A believer, even if he has knowledge of the subject discussed, thinks of the possibility that other person might know that subject as well, and therefore listens to his brothers and sisters with interest and courtesy. This superior moral value of believers comes from the fact that they follow Quran’s verses, and look up to the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) in everything they do. Imam Gazali, describes the conversations of the Prophet Mohammad as follows, based on the hadiths:
“...He would pay compliment to everyone present at his sight. Therefore, everyone would get the idea that they were the most merited there. The way he sat, listened, his words, beautiful compliments were only for the people that sat at his presence. But his gatherings were places of respect, humility and safety… He would call his companions with their appellation to compliment them and if any of them didn’t have appellation, they would find appellation for them and address them so…” (Hujjat-ul-Islam, Imam Ghazzali,, Ihya Ulum-id-din,, 2. cilt, Çeviri: Dr. Sıtkı Gülle, Huzur Yayın Evi, 1998, s.798)
Aisha (ra) explains the words of the Prophet Muhammad (saas) on how a Muslim should talk:
“When he talked, his words didn’t come in a rapid succession like yours do, he would talk little but in a concise way. But you keep on adding new sentences.” (Al Fawaid, Hujjat-ul-Islam, Imam Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-id-din, vol.2, Translation: Dr. Sıtkı Gülle, Huzur Publishing House, Istanbul 1998, s. 800)
“The Messenger of Allah, the Prophet Mohammad (saas) talked very concisely (with short, concise words, which convey lots of meanings. His short sentences would give the message he intended, he never said less or more than exactly what is needed. His words followed each other in a harmonic way, he would pause between sentences, making sure that his listeners understood and memorized what he said. He had a strong and pleasant voice. He talked when necessary and always told the truth.” (Abu Dawud, , Hujjat-ul-Islam, Imam Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-id-din, 2. cilt, Çeviri: Dr. Sıtkı Gülle, Huzur Yayınevi, İstanbul 1998, s. 800)
“When he paused, the people in his presence started talking. No one would argue in his presence.” (Tirmidhi; Hujjat-ul-Islam, Imam Ghazzali,, Ihya Ulum-id-din, vol.2, Translation: Dr. Sıtkı Gülle, Huzur Publishing House, Istanbul 1998, s. 800)
“He was very genial, he always smiled at the Companions, liked what they said, listened to them very carefully and considered himself to be one of them as well.” (a.g.e.)
“He gives wisdom to whoever He wills and he who has been given wisdom has been given great good. But no one pays heed but people of intelligence...”(Surat al-Baqara, 269)
As the verse states, not only Prophets but ordinary people can be wise as well. All believers- women and men- can ask our Lord to grant them such a blessing.
The believers are aware of the huge blessing in wisdom, and ask Allah to grant them ‘wisdom, eloquence and articulateness. Allah gives the Prophet Abraham’s (pbuh) prayer as an example to believers in the Quran:
“My Lord, give me right judgement and unite me with the righteous; and make me highly esteemed among the later peoples;.”(Surat ash-Shu’ara, 83-84)