الْمَرْءُ مَخْبُوءٌ تَحْتَ لِسَانِهِ۔
Man is hidden under his tongue.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #148)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
The Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states,
Man is hidden under his tongue.
This impactful saying emphasizes the significance of our words and the power they hold. Let us delve into the exegesis of this Hadith in light of the Quran.
The word "makhbūḍ" in Arabic, translated as "hidden," implies that there is something concealed or veiled beneath the surface. It suggests that there is a deeper reality within us that is not immediately apparent to others. This deeper reality refers to our true character, intentions, and beliefs. Our tongues, therefore, serve as a gateway to this hidden aspect of our being.
Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) reminds us in the Quran of the importance of guarding our tongues and speaking with righteousness. In Surah Al-Qalam (68:10), Allah says,
Indeed, your Lord knows, [O Muhammad], that you stand [in prayer] almost two-thirds of the night or half of it or a third of it, and [so do] a group of those with you. And Allah determines [the extent of] the night and the day. He has known that you [Muslims] will not be able to do it and has turned to you in forgiveness, so recite what is easy [for you] of the Qur'an. He has known that there will be among you those who are ill and others traveling throughout the land seeking [something] of the bounty of Allah and others fighting for the cause of Allah. So recite what is easy from it and establish prayer and give zakah and loan Allah a goodly loan. And whatever good you put forward for yourselves - you will find it with Allah. It is better and greater in reward. And seek forgiveness of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
This verse highlights the importance of reciting the Quran and establishing prayer, even if it is done in a manner that is manageable for each individual. It teaches us that Allah is aware of our limitations and accepts our efforts. Similarly, in our speech, we should strive to choose our words wisely and speak with sincerity and truthfulness.
Furthermore, the Quran reminds us in Surah Al-Isra (17:36),
And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight, and the heart - about all those [one] will be questioned.
This verse emphasizes the importance of restraining our tongues from spreading rumors, engaging in gossip, or speaking without knowledge. Our words have the potential to cause harm, sow discord, and damage relationships. Therefore, it is crucial to exercise caution and speak only when we have knowledge and understanding.
Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) statement serves as a reminder that our words are a reflection of our inner selves. It is through our speech that our true character is revealed. If we consistently speak with kindness, honesty, and wisdom, it is an indication of the goodness within us. Conversely, if our words are filled with deceit, arrogance, or malice, it reflects a darker aspect of our being.
Our words have the power to inspire, uplift, and bring about positive change. They can also cause pain, division, and destruction. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us as Muslims to be mindful of our speech and strive to align it with the teachings of the Quran and the noble example set by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and his Ahl al-Bayt (عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلسَّلَامُ).
Let us reflect on the consequences of our words and the impact they have on ourselves and those around us. By choosing our words carefully, we can contribute to a more harmonious and compassionate society. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom and guidance to guard our tongues and speak with righteousness.
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