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Article appeared Friday, October 21st, 2011 in The News Today, Bangladesh

The Revelation (200)

yousuf mahbubul Islam, PhD

When we speak, what are the things we say? Do we evaluate the effect on others as well as ultimately on ourselves? Does what we say speak of our own character or does it speak of the character of others? Throughout history thinkers have thought about this aspect of human nature. Great men have left behind their findings as words for us to consider. For example, Frank A. Clark (1911 1991), an American writer, famous for a cartoon feature called, The Country Parson tried to help us realize the evil effects of what we say. Gossip needn't be false to be evil - there's a lot of truth that shouldn't be passed around. {1} What are the things we should consider saying? Choice of words can help build character, at the same time they can ruin character. Correctly placed words of encouragement can become a turning-point in the life of another they can also ruin a life. To help us understand the importance of words Napoleon Hill (1883 1970), who is known as the founder of The Science of Success and author of the book Think and Grow Rich, said the following. Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another. {2} So, if you wish to build your own character, walk with confidence and be considered a beautiful human being ponder on the words of the actress Audrey Hepburn (1929 1993), who is fondly known as among the 50 most beautiful people in the world: For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. {2} If we try to bring out the best in others, we in turn receive blessings from our Creator who then rewards us with tremendous personal growth and satisfaction. This is the way our Creator has designed the functioning of the world, as pointed out by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Who is the most favored of Allah? He, from whom the greatest good comes to His creatures. {3} To help avoid vain idle talk and learn wisdom, Prophet Muhammad gives the following guidance: It is better to sit alone than in company with the bad; and it is better still to sit with the good than alone. It is better to speak to a seeker of knowledge than to remain silent; but silence is better than idle words. {3} In addition, being a complete book of guidance, the most recent Revelation, the Quran, gives the following commandment to help minimize the damage done by people who spread rumors. O, you who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news ascertain the truth lest you harm people unwittingly and afterwards become full of repentance for what you have done. [49.6] The Quran also looks at a possible root cause of the start of a rumor or gossip. At the bottom may simply lie a suspicion; therefore the following Verse not only tells us to categorically avoid suspicion but also gives an analogy as to the effect of speaking ill. O, you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: and spy not on each other nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, you would abhor it...but fear Allah: for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. [49.12]

Notice the tone, insight and authority with which the Quran speaks its Verses. It is not only the latest guidance or user manual from our Creator, we are asked to study and consider its Verses carefully, as it will also provide the basis of judgment on the Day of Judgment. It is He Who sent down to you (Muhammad) in truth the Book confirming what went before it; and He sent down Law (Of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this as a guide to mankind and He sent down the Criterion (of judgment between right and wrong). [3.3]

4.82 Do they not consider the Qur'an (carefully)? Had it been from other than Allah they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.
Just as one believes in any user manual without question our Creator ties the study of the Quran with belief in the Creator. Those to whom We have sent the book study it as it should be studied; they are the ones that believe in it; those who reject faith in it the loss is their own. [2.121] As to the effect of gossip and rumors during the time of war, our Creator reports on situations during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

4.83 When there comes to them some matter touching (public) safety or fear they divulge it. If they had only referred it to the Apostle or to those charged with authority among them the proper investigators would have tested it from them (direct). Were it not for the Grace and Mercy of Allah unto you all but a few of you would have fallen into the clutches of Satan.
A rumor should be reported to the highest authority with a view for it to be checked out. Our Creator should be relied upon at all times it should also be remembered that we are only personally responsible for our own deeds.

4.84 Then fight in Allah's cause - you are held responsible only for yourself and rouse the believers. It may be that Allah will restrain the fury of the unbelievers: for Allah is the strongest in might and in punishment. 4.85 Whoever recommends and helps a good cause becomes a partner in it: and whoever recommends and helps an evil cause shares in its burden: and Allah has power over all things.
In the following Verse, our Creator gives the yardstick of reciprocal conduct.

4.86 When a (courteous) greeting is offered to you meet it with a greeting still more courteous or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things. 4.87 Allah! There is no god but He: of a surety He will gather you together against the Day of Judgment about which there is no doubt. And whose word can be truer than Allah's?
----{Notes}: {1} http://www.quotegarden.com/gossip.html {2} http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/speak_2.html {3} http://www.islamicrenaissance.com/blog/10-prophet-muhammad-quotes-a-taste-of-honey/