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Speak Good or Stay Silent… The Art of Conversation

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent.” (Al-Bukhari)

This hadith has triggered much thought with regard to manners in general and manners during conversation in particular. As youngsters we were familiar with the famous quote “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” How many of us were rebuked for not thinking before speaking?

Our society is fueled by words. They are our main source of communication. We use them everywhere.

Words that shoot out from our mouths can be likened to a bullet from a gun. This includes words used in social media and emotional expression. Or, in short: everywhere. Once out, these words may result in irreversible damage.

We all know a person who speaks out of turn, says the wrong thing that creates an awkward moment and asks inappropriate questions. This person may also never allow anyone else to get a word in edgewise. Although the friend might have good intentions, being around him can frustrate us, right?

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During conversation there are several guidelines that, if respected, will avoid misunderstanding and hurt feelings.


Recognize that you will be held accountable. Accountability means recognizing that our words, whether written, spoken, or thought, are our personal responsibility. If we use those words wrongly, we should apologize.

It is true that some simply have a greater share of natural charm; however the art of conversation is a skill in which all can become competent. We may never have a silver-tongue, but we can learn to speak in ways that make us a valued friend or guest. This will set us apart at functions, impress others and may even win us new friends.

As Muslims we have been taught that it is never good to be unkind to anyone. It is especially terrible to see older people being pushed aside, talked to or addressed without respect or kindness.

After all, those older than us have life experiences that we should listen to and learn from. Remember that being courteous to everyone, regardless of their age, shows our true character. Ignoring those who have been around much longer than us shows a lack of manners on our part.

Don’t Be Loud

Since tone defines whether we will make our relationship or break it, we need to be careful. Both our tone and the volume of our voice need to be considered. Any undesirable loudness in our voice could upset others. This will result in communication breakdown and further attempts will be futile.

The Quranic verse reminds us:

{And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.} (Luqman 31:19-20)

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