Taqleel-e-Kalaam (Reducing Speech)
Man’s conversation apparently falls into three categories.
1. Beneficial. Where such speech is some worldly or Deeni benefit.
2. Harmful. In such speech is some worldly or Deeni harm.
3. Neither beneficial nor harmful. The Hadith describes this third category of speech as laa-ya’ni (futile, useless). On closer examination it will be realized that this third class of speech belongs also to the second category, viz. harmful talk. If SUBHAANALLAAH was uttered once during a time which was squandered in futile talk, then half the pan in the Scale of Anil (deeds) would be filled. If some advantageous or righteous act was done during the time spent in futile conversation, it would have become an expiation for sin and a medium of salvation in the Aakhirat. If not this, then at least such time idly spent could have been expended in some worldly benefit.
Rasulullah (saws) said:
“A sign of one’s Islam being healthy is one’s shunning of futile acts and futile talks.”
In Ihyaa-ul Uloom it is mentioned that a reckoning will be taken (in Aakhirat) of laa-ya’ni (futile) speech. There is therefore no certainty that one will be saved from something which will be submitted to reckoning.
The mujaahadah of reducing conversation is more difficult than the mujaahadah of reducing food and reducing sleep. In eating, preparation to a certain extent is involved, moreover, there is a limit to food consumption. Indigestion due to excessive eating will in itself compel one to reduce eating. Similarly, there is a limit to sleeping. On the contrary, conversation requires no effort and no difficulty is experienced in maintaining the tongue in operation. Man resorts to pleasures so as to experience delight and joy. Besides conversation, all other pleasures (hurooz) decrease in enjoyment with greater indulgence. Eating with a filled stomach does not bring about any enjoyment in the food. Excessive sleep too is not enjoyable. But, the enjoyment derived from speaking is limitless. In fact, pleasure increases the more one speaks. Hence, ‘aqleel-e-kalaam (reducing conversation) is the most difficult. Inspite of this difficulty, freedom in it (i.e. in speech) has not been granted because of the evils involved in abundant speech. One becomes greatly involved in sin because of speaking much. Reducing speech has therefore been stipulated as a rukn (fundamental) of mujaahadah.
Reducing speech does not mean reduction in such talk which is necessary. But, it means shunning nonsensical or futile conversation even if such talk happens to be lawful. If this habit is Inculcated then abstention from haraam talks such as falsehood, scandalizing, slandering, etc. will be automatic. Abstaining from unlawful discussion comes within the scope of true mujaahadah – mujaahadah which is compulsory. If one becomes accustomed to refrain from idle (although it may be lawful) talk which falls within the scope of secondary mujaahadah then to a far greater degree will one practise true mujaahadah (i.e. compulsory striving against haraam talk). It is not permissible to shun talk which is necessary since this will result in problems or cause inconvenience and difficulty to the audience.
Explanation of “Necessary”
“Necessary” here means such a need which if refrained from will result in harm. Therefore, if by refraining from a certain conversation the result is some worldly or Deeni harm, then such talk will be necessary. Example of necessary talk is the conversation that a trader has with customers in order to promote his sales. As long as his talk is in the interests of his trade it will be regarded as necessary. Refraining from such talk will result in worldly loss, hence the Shariat gives permission for such discussion. Such necessary conversation has absolutely no detrimental effect of the heart. The heart does not darken the slightest by such necessary talk. The illustrious Auliyaa have experienced that even a full day spent in necessary talk will not adversely affect the heart. An auctioneer can spend the entire day in selling by means of talking, but such talking will not darken the heart one iota because such talk is regarded as necessary. On the other hand, a single statement spoken unnecessarily will darken the heart.
The Shariat’s prescription of reducing speech does not mean sealing the mouth, but it envisages that the tongue be kept occupied with the tilaawat (recitation) of the Qur’aan Majeed or in Thikr (remembrance) of Allah Ta’ala. In this way the mujaahadah of speech reduction will be most beneficial. By means of this mujaahadah of speech reduction will be most beneficial. By means of this mujaahadah the tongue remains detached from sin; the habit of nonsensical discussion is reduced (or eliminated), and along with it limitless thawaab (spiritual reward) is obtained. By constantly engaging the tongue in Thikr such benefit is acquired, which is unobtainable by maintaining silence.
Prior to speaking, ponder for a few moments. Endeavour to understand whether Allah Ta’ala Who is the Hearer and the See; will be pleased or displeased with what you are about to speak. If this method of contemplation is adopted before speaking, then, Insha’Allah, sinful talk will not emerge from your lips. If after adopting such contemplation, the nafs urges one to indulge in sinful or nonsensical talk, then confront it with courage and suppress the urge. If any unbecoming talk was spoken then compensate immediately for it by making taubah (repenting). If the talk involved abuse to anyone, mockery of anyone, scandalizing or gossiping about anyone, then after taubah obtain the pardon of the person concerned as well. If for some reason it is difficult to obtain the necessary pardon (e.g. the person concerned may be away or may have died) then make Istighfaar (seeking Allah’s Forgiveness) for the person concerned as well as for oneself. Such forgiveness could be asked in the following way:
اَللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْلَنَا وَلَهُ
“O Allah forgive us and forgive him.”
Hadhrat Shaikh Fareeduddin Atraar (rahmatullah alayh) explains most beautifully, perfectly and comprehensively the benefits of maintaining silence. He says:
“In my mind does nor enter any topic nobler than silence. Silence contains so many benefits that they cannot be explained. Silence makes breasts the treasure houses pearls of wisdom. I learnt this hidden secret from the oyster’s shell.”
The drop of water enclosed in the oyster’s shell is transformed into a pearl. Similarly, man’s breast becomes a treasure-house for pearls of wisdom by means of`closure of the lips.
Qillat-e-Ta’am (Reducing food)
Allah Ta’ala states.
“Eat and drink, but do not waste. Verify, Allah does not love those who transgress the limits.”
Rasulullah (saws) said:
“Tasbeeh and Taqdees which are sufficient for those of the heaven will suffice for them (people) too.”
This Hadith means that like Tasbeeh (reciting the Glories of Allah) and Taqdees (reciting the Holiness of Allah) are sufficient for the Malaa-ikah (Angels) in the heavens so will it suffice as nourishment for Muslims. It is narrated that certain saints remained without food for long periods in solitude engaged in Tasbeeh and Taqdees. It is clear from this Hadith that at times Thikr and Tasbeeh are sufficient as nourishment. However, it is not possible to adhere to the methods of food reduction practiced in former times. The people of those days were endowed with great physical strength and despite the great reduction in food they suffered no ill effect and maintained their full concentration in their Ibaadat activities. Their physical strength could be gauged from the type of spiritual exercises (ashghaal) which they practiced. Some of their ashghaal were of such a severe nature that if anyone attempts to practice them today he will find his back breaking. Such an example is Salaat-e-Ma’koos which consists of suspending oneself upside down and in this inverted manner carry out some shaghl (singular of ashghaal).
In reality Rasulullah (saws) did not prescribe taqleel-e-ta’aam, but altered the routine rimes of eating and in this way made the intervals between eating times longer. This change of habit (in eating times) and the longer intervals (between eating times) which are difficult upon the nafs, have been considered by the Shariat to be representative of taqleel-e-ta’aam. Among the various forms of mujaahadah, fasting is the best. Hence, the Shariat has given taqleel-e-ta’aam the form of fasting. In the Shariat, reduction of food will therefore be fasting. The other forms of taqleel-e-ta’aam adopted by the people of mujaahadah have no original basis in the Shariat. Eating less and remaining hungry are not forms of mujaahadah of the Shariat. The significance (fadheelat) of hunger mentioned in the Hadith does not refer to voluntary (i.e. self-imposed) hunger, but refers to involuntary hunger – hunger which comes one’s way uninvited. The Hadith consoles such persons of poverty by explaining the virtues of hunger so that they do not worry and suffer unduly.
Patience in the face of such divinely imposed hunger, occasions thawaab and elevation of spiritual ranks. This significance of hunger is similar to the significance of sickness explained in the Hadith. The Hadith mentions thawaab for even sickness, but this does not mean that one has to voluntarily induce sickness. The method of qillate-e-ta’aam mentioned in the book, Tableeghe Deen by Imaam Ghazaali Rahmatullah Alayh, has been forbidden because reduction in food is not the intended purpose of the Shariat, also because the physique of people of today is unlike that of the people of earlier times.
Qillat-e-ta’aam is not an end in itself, but is a means of acquiring an intended aim. This intended aim and purpose is to weaken the animal urge in man, and the aim in weakening this urge is to prevent the nafs from sin. Therefore, if the nafs could be controlled and restrained from sin without reducing food then taqleel-e-ta’aam is not necessary. Furthermore, cheerfulness and joy in Ibaadat are experienced if the body is in the state of health and strength. Experience shows that nowadays the health in most cases suffers as a result of taqleel-e-ta’aam. But, at the same time one must abstain from excessive eating and adhere to moderation. The capacity of people differs, hence moderation will differ for different persons. The guide line in this matter is to eat when hungry and to stop eating when you feel that you can yet eat a few more morsels. In other words, one is allowed to eat to one’s stomach fill, but not to satisfy one’s desire.