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How to Guard Your Tongue and Make it Work For Good

The tongue is a blessing from Allah and a great tool of communication. Animals are unable to speak, we are!
How can you show gratefulness for your tongue? That’s right, by using it in the right way.

Sahl ibn Sa’ad reported that the Messenger of Allah said:

Whoever guards what is between his jaws and legs, I shall guarantee him paradise. (Al-Bukhari)

Let’s first look at some don’t’s of the tongue so we can recognize them in our lives and break our bad habits. Then we’ll look at how we can use our tongues in the right way so we can make this tiger work for good!

One of the Greatest Productivity Killers: Backbiting

The Prophet Muhammad once asked his Companions:

Do you know what is backbiting?

They said:

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‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’

He said:

To mention about your brother that which he hates.

They said:

‘What if that which we say about our brother is true?’

He said:

If there is in him what you say about him then that is backbiting, and if you say of him that which is not true then you have slandered him. (Muslim)

Allah says in the Quran:

Do not backbite each other, would any of you wish to eat the flesh of your dead brother, no rather you hate it! (49:12)

Four Tips on How to Overcome the Evil Habit of Backbiting

1. Remember the punishment of Allah and reflect on the verses of the Quran that talk about bad speech.

2. Fear that your own faults might be revealed. The Prophet said:

O you who believe with your tongues, yet eeman has not entered your hearts. Do not backbite the Muslims, nor follow their faults. For he who follows others faults then Allah will declare (disclose) his faults and he whom Allah reveals his faults, then Allah disgraces him in his own house. (Sunan Abu Dawood)

3. Know that you give your rewards to someone else if you backbite them.

A man came to al-Hasan al-Basri and said that he had heard that al-Hasan al-Basri had backbitten him. Upon this he said:

Who are you that I may give you my rewards?”

It is also said:

“If I would backbite, I would backbite my parents, because they deserve my rewards the most!”

4. The most important thing is that there is a great reward in staying away from backbiting. The Prophet said:

Whoever protects the honor of his brother in his absence, Allah will protect his face from the Fire on the Day of Judgment. (Sunan at-Tirmidhi)

Don’t’s of the Tongue

– Lying (How often do you hear: “I’m not lying, I’m only joking”? This is what the Prophet said about this:

 A believer does not become a perfect believer until he abandons lying, even as a joke. Until he gives up arguing and debating even if he may be upon the truth and he may be right. (Sunan Abi Dawud)

– Verbal abuse

– Foul language

– Backbiting and slander

How Silence is Golden

To conclude, we can do either of two things with our speech to become successful: 1. use it to encourage to good, or 2. keep silent.

Your speech can be khayr (good), sharr (evil), or laghw (vain).

Next to good speech, silence can be a great productivity booster too! Silence can be worship; it’s an adornment without jewels and a fortress without walls.  It frees us from having to apologize to anyone, the recording angels having nothing to record when we are silent, and our faults are concealed.

Three Ways You Can Control Your Tongue

1. Think

Imam Ash-Shafi’i said:

“If you wish to speak then it is upon you to think before you speak. If you think there is good in it then speak and if not then do not speak. Before you talk, ask yourself: Will this saying of mine please Allah? Will this saying of mine bring me closer to Allah? Does this saying earn with it obedience to Allah? If yes, speak, if not, remain silent.”

2. Surround yourself with good company and remind yourself and others to good speech.

It takes two to gossip. Research and learn the punishment for bad speech. Imagine how the punishment in the grave would feel. If the angel of death were to take your soul in would you want bad words to be your last?

3. Use the money jar.

The idea is to keep a jar in your house in which you put a certain amount of money whenever you use bad language, for example each time you swear or gossip. The amount you put in should be big enough to make you feel regret and remember how much this bad language will cost you in the Hereafter! You can give the money to charity.

Do’s of the Tongue:

  • Read the Quran!
  • Teach someone beneficial knowledge.
  • Enjoin good and forbid evil.
  • Tell others you love them for the sake of Allah.
  • Don’t talk too much (excessive speech hardens the heart even if it’s not bad speech).
  • Practice keeping silent more!


It’s not difficult to break the habit of foul language. Replace it with dhikr. Whenever you can, begin to replace your swear words with Alhamdulillah, or Subhanallah or other words of remembrance. This way you get the reward of remembering Allah and you cleanse your heart and tongue of foul language, because Allah hates foul speech!

Finally, please make dua’ with me that we will be of these people:

Indeed, Allah will admit those who believe and do righteous deeds to gardens beneath which rivers flow. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearl, and their garments therein will be silk.  And they had been guided [in worldly life] to good speech, and they were guided to the path of the Praiseworthy. (Quran, 22:23-24)

From Understand Quran.

About Khawlah bint Yahya
Khawlah b. Yahya founded SISTERS' PROJECT in 2008, a United Kingdom women's support organization and is a writer for different Islamic organizations and academies. She authored the renown How to Live by the Names of Allah Series, published by the Understand Qur'an Academy, as well as the internationally shared Revive a Sunnah Series. She focuses most of her work on how to translate classic Islamic Knowledge to daily life action. She recently released Personal Lessons from the Qur'an, in which daily life action points are based on Qur’anic ayaat in a way that’s never seen before. You can now purchase the E-book on: