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Uttering Not Even a Bad Word

Adil Salahi

Arab News, 10/19/04

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was not known to use bad or vulgar language in any situation. Nowadays, when there is need to publish a verbatim transcription of a political leader, we often come across the phrase, ‘expletive deleted,’ which refers to some obscene words interjected by that person within his speech. It is generally accepted that people use such words in their speech. We have become so used to the idea that we think little of it. Yet it is not appropriate from the Islamic point of view that obscenities and vulgarities should be used in speech, even when one is angry. The Prophet has often spoken against such a practice, making it clear that we are accountable for what we say, in the same way as we will have to account for our deeds. Providing the perfect model for us to follow, he never used such bad language in any situation. When he was asked to condemn certain people for their bad actions, he might condemn the action itself but never the people.

Al-Tufayl ibn Amr Al-Dawsi visited Makkah in the early days of Islam, and despite being warned by the Quraysh against meeting the Prophet or listening to him, he met him, understood his message and embraced Islam. The Prophet told him to rejoin his people and to invite them to accept Islam. He did so, and although a number of his relatives and tribesmen embraced Islam, the majority took a hostile attitude. He went once to see the Prophet. When he asked him about the situation at the Daws tribe with regard to accepting the Islamic message, Al-Tufayl said: “Messenger of God! Daws has taken an attitude of determined rejection, and they deserve that you pray to God to punish them.” The Prophet turned to face the direction of the qiblah and raised his hands to pray. People nearby said: “Daws are doomed.” However, the Prophet’s prayer was: “My Lord, guide Daws to the truth and bring them into the fold.” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Ahmad).

We note how Al-Tufayl wanted the Prophet to pray against his own people. This indicates how frustrated he was, having been trying for years to show them the truth of Islam, but they continued to reject all his advocacy. He despaired that they would ever change their attitude. Having given up on them, he thought their punishment could not come too soon. Hence, his request to the Prophet to pray against them. Such a prayer, had the Prophet said it, would ensure their total destruction, because the Prophet’s prayer was sure to be answered. This is why the Prophet’s companions thought that Daws were doomed when he was about to pray against them. The example of the Prophet Noah and what happened to his people after he prayed against them is clearly stated in the Qur’an. But the Prophet did not say a word against them. On the contrary, he prayed for their guidance so that they would see the truth and accept it. This was what eventually took place. The next visit saw Al-Tufayl bringing with him around 80 of them to meet the Prophet and learn from him.

Many were the people who were hostile to Islam, and to the Prophet, fearing for their positions or interests, should Islam triumph. The Jews in Madinah were particularly hostile to Islam, despite the fact that the Prophet concluded a treaty of peaceful relations with them shortly after his settlement in the city. Sometimes they twisted their tongues when they greeted him so that they would use an abusive rather than a greeting word. Instead of Assalam alaikum they would say Assam alaikum, thus changing the word that means ‘peace be with you’ to one that means ‘death be yours’.

Aishah, the Prophet’s wife, reports: “A group of Jews came to see the Prophet and as they entered, they said: ‘Assam alaikum’ and the Prophet answered saying, ‘And yours.’ I said to them: ‘Death be your own, together with God’s curse and His wrath.’ God’s Messenger said to me: ‘Calm down, Aishah! Take things easy, and refrain from what is harsh or abusive.’ I said to him: ‘Have you not heard what they said?’ He said: ‘I have replied to it, and God will answer my prayer, but he will not answer their prayer against me.’” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad and Al-Tirmidhi).

Taking things easily, without returning a bad word or an abusive remark, was the Prophet’s consistent practice with all people. Needless to say, all the Prophet’s companions treated him with exemplary respect. They loved him more than they loved their own children. They could not tolerate the slightest insult voiced by anyone against him. If anyone said such a remark, they would immediately rise against him, but the Prophet always restrained them. He preferred to treat all people with kindness, overlooking their mistakes. He realized that this approach was more conducive to making people look at Islam in a favorable light. He wanted people to realize that the guidance he brought them was to their own advantage.

Aishah reports: “Once the Prophet bought a slaughtered camel from a Bedouin in return for a load of preserved dates. He brought the man home to give him the dates, but he found the load of dates had gone. He went out to explain the situation, saying: ‘We have bought this meat from you in return for a load of dates, thinking that we have this amount. But we have discovered that we do not have it.’ The man cried out: ‘What a trick!’ People poked him saying: ‘Do you say this to God’s Messenger?’ The Prophet ordered them to leave the man alone.” (Related by Al-Bukhari)

The same incident is reported in a longer Hadith related by Ahmad, giving more details. It mentions that the Prophet’s companions said to the man: “Confound you! Would God’s Messenger play a trick on anyone?” The Prophet said to them: “Leave him alone. A person who has a right to claim enjoys a privilege.” But the man repeated his remark two or three times and people were against him. When the Prophet realized that the man would not understand the situation, he said to one of his companions: “Go to Khuwaylah bint Hakim ibn Umayyah and say to her that God’s Messenger requests you to lend him a load of preserved dates if you have one, and we will repay you later.” The man went to her and she confirmed that she had the dates, requesting him to send someone to take it. The Prophet told the man to take the Bedouin to her home and give him the load of dates. When he had done so, the Bedouin passed by the Prophet and his companions on his way back and said to him: “May God reward you well. You have paid in full and given well.” The Prophet commented: “Such people who pay in full and give well are the best in God’s sight on the Day of Judgment.”



Earth, a planet hungry for peace

 Apartheid Wall

The Israeli Land-Grab Apartheid Wall built inside the Palestinian territories, here separating Abu Dis from occupied East Jerusalem. (IPC, 7/4/04).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.