Stories of the Salaf Preserving Their Tongues
Shaikh ul-Islâm Ibn Taimiyyah said in his writings explaining the situations of many people: “It is much surprising to find a person who easily preserves himself from committing sins i.e. earning money from Harâm sources, being unjust, stealing, drinking alcohol or looking at what is unlawful for him to look at, while he still finds it difficult to preserve his tongue. It happens to see someone who is known with his righteousness, all time worshipping and piety but he utters words that cause Allah’s wrath, while he is not aware of such consequences. You may see a person who preserves himself from approaching what leads to injustice or any filthy action yet his tongue is not stopping from backbiting live and dead people alike without even caring about it”.
1) It was stated that if someone asked to see Ibrahim An-Nakha’î, while he was at home, but he disliked to go outside to meet him, he would tell his servant: “tell him to ask for me in the Masjid and do not say: I am not here, so that it does not count as a lie”.
2) It was narrated that a wise man used to say if he ever finds a person who talks much and rarely is silent: “Allâh created for you two ears and one tongue so that what you hear is double to what you talk”.
3) Ar-Rabî’ bin Subaih narrated that a man said to al-Hasan: O Abû Sa’îd I see something I dislike, Abû Sa’îd replied: what is that? He said:” I see people attending your place looking for any mistake you make so they can spread it amongst people to ruin your reputation. Al-Hasan replied: O’ My nephew: Do not let this matter be heavy on your chest and bother you. I will tell you what is greater and surprising than that. The man replied: what is that, uncle? He said: “I obeyed myself in every aspect that gets me closer to Allâh, hoping to enter Jannah, be saved from hell-fire and to be with the prophets. However, I never obeyed myself when it comes to listen to what people has say i.e. backbiting, slandering or whatever is evil. You need to know that if anyone has to be preserved from people’s tongues evilness then it has to be the creator who created them. Thus, knowing that, the created is normally to be never protected from their evil tongues.
4) Jubair bin ‘Abdullah said: I saw a man approaching Wahhab bin Manbah saying to him: “There is someone who backbites you” so Wahhab replied: “Did not the Shaytaan find anyone else but you to muck with and make him look like a fool?” Then it was just moments after that and the man came so he welcomed him and treated him kindly.
5) Hatim bin al-’Asim said: “If a respectable good man sits with you, you would be watching every word you utter so that you do not say something wrong. Yet, you know that your words are watched by Allâh but you still do not watch the words you utter!
6) Abû Haiyân at-Tamimi narrated from his father saying: “I saw the daughter of ar-Rabî’ bin Khaytham asking his permission to go and play so he replied to her: “go and utter nothing but goodness.”
7) A man backbitten someone while he was in the presence of Ma’rûf al-Karkhî so Ma’rûf said, warning the man about the danger of backbiting: “keep in mind, always, the time when they put pieces of cotton in your eyes, referring to his death”
8) A man told Amr bin al-’Ubaid: al-Aswârî still backbites you and mentions you with no good, so Amr replied: “You did not fulfill the trust of the man when he let you sit with him since you told us what he said furthermore, you did not fulfill my rights upon you when you told me what I dislike to hear about one of my brothers. However, advise him that death will happen to all of us, the grave will hold us inside and the judgment day will gather us and then Allâh will be the judge between us and he is, truly, the most just wise judge.
9) Al-Mu’âfî bin Maran once was asked: “what do you say of a man who writes poetry?” He replied: “it is his life so let him waste it if he wishes the way he likes!”
10) Ibn ‘Abbas (RA) said: There is no word that son of Adam utters without being written, even the pain humming he makes because of his sickness. So when Imam Ahmad was sick he was told that Tâwûs disliked pain humming of sickness so Imam Ahmad stopped doing so, although the pain was great.
11) ‘Umar bin ‘Abdul-’Aziz once said: “whoever knows and realize that his words, which he utters, are part of his deeds, he, surely will speak only with what concerns him”.
12) al-Hasan bin Salih said: “We searched into where Wara’ (refers to the status where a person avoid doing what is Halal fearing that it has a suspicion of Harâm) can be found, and we realized that Wara’ is rarely can be found and if it is found it will be the least of it in tongues”.
13) ‘Abdullah al-Khaiyâr used to say when he sits with people: “O Allâh save us and protect us and save the believers from the evilness of our tongues”.
14) Some of the Salaf used to say: “every hour which son of Adam lived will be viewed and screened to him. And every hour he lived and did not mention or remembered Allâh in that hour, he will weep on himself for wasting such an hour”.
15) Al-Hasan bin Bashshâr once said: “I observed my tongue for thirty years so that I never uttered a word that require me to apologize for”.
16) Basher bin Mansur once said: “we were once sitting with Ayyub al-Sakhtiyânî and we talked and backbitten others. Consequently, stop it for if I wished to tell you all what I have talked about today I would have done already, but I will not”.
17) Ash-Sha’bî used to draw a circle and ask his servant to put her finger in the middle of it, if someone asked for him and he disliked going out, then he would tell his servant say: ” he is not in here” ( referring to where she put her finger).
Note: This is used only when it is in need and necessarily otherwise it is not allowed because this is a form of a lie although the words are not. However, it is disliked to do so in general. Ash-Sha’bî did it out of necessity so that he did not lie.
18) A man once told al-Fudayl bin ‘Iyad: “A man backbitten me”. Al-Fudayl replied: “He benefited you rather than harmed you” (referring to the fact that he will take from the good deeds of the one who backbitten him in judgment day as a result of this).
19) ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Mahdî once said: “I dislike people to disobey Allâh otherwise I would have wished every one in this world to backbite me. There is no equal joy to finding in your scale in the judgment day a deed you did not know about or even did”.
20) A man once said to Bakr bin Muhammad: “I was told that you are talking about me behind my back”. Bakr replied: “If I did then you are more precious to me than myself”.
21) It was narrated that one of known respectable scholars was seen in a dream where he was asked about what happened to him after death. He replied:” “I am not passing through because of a word I said before” he was asked: what was it? He replied: “I said: people need rain badly (because they did not have rain for long time). Because of that word, I was told by Allah: “and what do you know! I know the interest of my slaves and what is beneficial to them”.
22) ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad once said: “I was with Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal when a man told him: O Abû ‘Abdullah, I have backbitten you, please forgive me for what I did. So Imam Ahmad said: “You are forgiven if you do not do it again. After he said that I said to him surprisingly:” O Abû ‘Abdullah you simply forgave him for what he did!” He replied to me: “did you not see me conditioning my forgiveness by not doing it ever again?”
23) Some people came to Ibn Siren and said to him: “we backbitten you, so forgive us for what we did!!” He replied:” I will never make lawful what Allâh made unlawful (he indicated that they still need to repent and ask Allâh forgiveness while he himself had forgiven them).”
24) Tawq bin Munbih said: I entered upon Muhammad bin Siren once and when he saw me, he said to me: “It seems as if you are in pain and sick,” I replied positively saying “Yes, I am”. He said “after, well go see that doctor and ask him to treat you or go see another doctor as he is more expert than him.” He immediately said after that : ” I ask Allah’s forgiveness because of what I have just said for what I said is backbiting in Allah’s right” (He meant: advising him to see slave of Allâh is a sin as he should have advise him to seek Allah’s assistance).
25) It was narrated that al-Hasan was once told that a man has backbitten you. He immediately sent that man who backbitten him a plate full of dates and sent a message saying: “I wanted to reward you for giving me more reward, yet please forgive me as I cannot thank you enough for what you did for me”.
26) Abû Umamah al-Bâhilî once said: “In judgment day, the slave of Allâh will be given his book of deeds, where he finds rewards for things he did not do, so he asks: O My Lord, where did I get these deeds? So Allâh replies to him saying:” these are because of the people who backbitten you and you did not know about it”.
27) Some wise men once asked: “What is the wisdom behind that at the time of Rasulullah (SAW)) the filthy smell of backbiting was easily distinguished while nowadays we cannot distinguish this filthy smell anymore!” He replied: “It is because the filthy smell of backbiting filled our noses, nowadays, so that we know no other smell but that one.” The example of this: A man who enters a shop of leather tanner who cannot stay there because of the strong smell while the people who work there, eat, drink and they never even notice that smell because it fills their noses and they are used to that smell, which is the same situation of us nowadays.
28) ‘Abdullah bin al-Mubarak once said to Sufyan ath-Thawree: “O Abdullah, how amazing that Abu Hanifa never backbites anyone so that he never even backbitten an enemy of his.” Sufyan replied: “He is more reasonable and smart to let his tongue be controlled with what erases his good deeds”.
29) A man entered upon ‘Umar bin ‘Abdul-’Aziz once and backbitten about another man. ‘Umar bin ‘Abdul-’Aziz said to this man: “if you wish we will investigate what you say so if we find you a liar then you are one of those who Allah said about them
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنْ جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَنْ تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَى مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ
“O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done.” (Surah Hujurat 49:6) and if you were honest and what you said is true then you are one of those who Allâh said about them:
هَمَّازٍ مَشَّاءٍ بِنَمِيمٍ
“A slanderer, going about with calumnies,” (Surah 68:11) or you can ask forgiveness.” The man replied: “I ask forgiveness and will never do it again.”
30) A man came to ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar, at the time he was a ruler and said to him: “I heard that someone mentioned me with bad behind my back in front of you.” ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar said: “Yes, it happened.” The man said: “Let me know what he said so that I defend myself and show you that what was said are lies.” ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar said: “I dislike uttering evilness about myself by cursing my tongue. Yet, it is enough to know that I did not believe what was said and still joining the relationship between you and me.”