Speak Good or Stay Silent… The Art of Conversation

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

This hadith has triggered much thought with regards 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?

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 Qur’anic 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)

Think Before You Leap

Thinking before speaking is a challenge for a lot of people. It might even be hard for us especially if we are trying to prove to the world how right we are.

A significant feature of the speech of Muslims is that we don’t respond to bad words with bad words. It is advised we make peace with people who use these words by simply avoiding indulging with them in vain conversations that lead to nothing.

{And when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with ‘Salamaa’ (peaceful words of gentleness).} (Al-Furqan 25:63)

Before you speak, ask yourself if what you’re about to say is helpful, inspiring, necessary, or kind.

Just because we can say something does not mean we should.

Conversation during Anger

All of us have people in our lives who drive us crazy. We have spent hours reliving the unfair, unappreciative, inconsiderate treatment they have inflicted on us. But getting mad at this person just does not help. Believe me, I know.

Remember sometimes silence is often what most needs to be said.

Be Honest; Don’t swear

Occasionally when we want to confirm a statement, we swear by the name of Allah or one of His attributes. We should not make this a habit. The name of Allah should not be used carelessly, and to swear by it is a very serious matter.

Islam demands a truthfulness and prohibits lying. God commands that a Muslim be honest. This is seen in the verse:

{O you who believe! Fear God, and be with those who are true (in word and deeds)}. (At-Tawbah 9:119)

Our beloved Prophet teaches us in the hadith:

Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. In addition, a man keeps on telling the truth until he is recorded with Allah as a truthful person.

Falsehood leads to wickedness and evil-doing, and wickedness leads to the (Hell) Fire, and a man may keep on telling lies till he is written recorded with Allah as a liar.” (Bukhari)

Art of Conversation

In reality it is hard sometimes to be polite and respectful during speech. These are challenges. Suppress your inclination to speak when angry; bite your tongue. Simply appreciate the payoff of saying nothing at all.

A thought becomes a word. A word becomes an action. An action becomes an automatic behavior. Ultimately all these will define how we are seen and perceived.

Remember a moment of patience during a moment of anger saves us a hundred moments of regret.

About Deana Nassar
Deana Nassar is a published writer. As a mother of four, in her home she’s the sole expert on all things related to marriage, children’s psychology, motherhood and creative survival.
She loves charity work, reading and writing poetry, and is mostly known for writing articles discussing family and social issues, faith, freedom, and purpose that comes through God. She can be reached at [email protected]