On Silence (Samt)
‘Abd Allah bin Yusuf al-Isphahani informed us…through Abu Hurairah RahdiAllahu anhu that the Messenger of God SallAllahu alaihi wasallam said, “Whosoever believes in God and the last day, let him not trouble his neighbor. Whosoever believes in God and the last day, let him be generous to his guest. Whosoever believes in God and the last day, let him say what is good or let him be silent.”
Ali bin Ahmad Abdan informed us….that Ukbah bin Amir RadhiAllahu anhu said, “I asked, O Messenger of God, what is salvation?” He said, “’Keep your tongue to yourself, stay home, and weep over your sins.’”
Silence is security. That is the root of the matter. This can be cause for remorse on occasions when keeping quiet is blameworthy. What is necessary is that one choose speech or silence according to the divine law and the obligation of a Muslim to command what is good and forbid what is evil. To say nothing at the proper time is a characteristic of true men, just as to speak at the proper occasion is one of the noblest qualities. I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say, “Whoever holds back from speaking the truth is a devil without a tongue.”
One should be silent in the presence of God. God Most High said,
When the Qur’an is recited, hearken to it and give ear so that you may receive mercy (7:204)
And He said, referring to the Jinn who were in the presence of the Messenger,
When they were present with him, they said, ‘Listen!’ (46:29)
Voices will be lowered for the Beneficent, so that nothing will be heard but a whisper (20:108)
What a difference is there between a servant who is silent to protect himself from lying and gossiping and a servant who is silent because he is overwhelmed by the power of the awe he feels!
Silence has two parts, outer quiet and the quiet of the heart and mind. Someone who trusts in God stills his heart as a way of laying claim to his sustenance. The Gnostic stills his heart in acceptance of destiny through the quality of harmony with God. The one relies upon the fineness of His work. The other is content with the totality of His decrees. With this meaning they have said:
His misfortunes came over you,
And the cares of your inner being were relieved.
Bishr bin al-Harith said, “When speech makes you conceited, be silent. When silence makes you conceited, speak.” Sahl ibn Abd Alah al-Tustari said, “Silence is not appropriate for a person until his ego has been compelled to retreat. Repentance is not appropriate for a person until his ego has been compelled to silence.”
It is related that Muadh bin Jabal said, “Speak to people little and speak to your Lord much. Perhaps your heart will see God Most High. Someone asked Dhul-Nun al-Misri, “Who among people best protests his heart?” He replied, “The one among them who best controls his tongue.”
Ibn Masud said, “Nothing is worthier of a stay in prison than the tongue.” Ali bin Bukkar said, “God Most High made two doors for everything, but He made four doors for the tongue, the lips are two leaves of a door, and the two jaws are the two leaves of a door. It is said that Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, for many used to hold a stone in his mouth in order to limit his speech.
A wise man said that the human being was created with only one tongue, but with two eyes and two ears so that he may hear and see more than he says. Ibrahim bin Adham was invited to a banquet. When he sat down the guests began to gossip. He remarked, “It is our custom to eat the meat course after the bread, but you have begun by eating the meat! (He was pointing to the saying of God,
Would one of you like to eat the dead flesh of his brother? No, you would abhor it (59:12)
A Sufi said, “Silence is the tongue of forbearance.” Another said. “Learn silence as you have learned speech. Speech will guide you, and silence will protect you. It is said, “The chastity of the tongue is its silence.” And it is said, “The tongue is like the beast of prey. If you do not tie it up, it will attack you.”
Abu Hafs was asked, “Which is better for the Friend of God, speech or silence?” He replied, “If the one who speaks knew what disasters there are in speech, he would be silent even if he lived as long as Noah, and if the one who keeps silent knew what disasters there are in silence, he would pray to God Most High twice as much as Noah did until he could speak.”
Excerpts from Qushayri. This is a brilliant book, elaborating the main stations and states while referring to Qur’an, Hadith and a rich array of scholars.
…a respectful reflection on silence one.
All good is from Allah Ta’ala whereas mistakes are from this humble speck. May Allah Ta’ala Bless all readers, bringing you all closer to Him and His Rasul SallAllahu alaihi wasallam. May He accept our humble efforts and grant us the capacity to be good and do good. Ameen.