An alim (scholar) was asked ‘How do you learn to control your tongue?’. His reply was amazing. He said ‘My way of controlling my tongue is as follows; whenever my nafs tells me to speak, I remain silent. Whenever my nafs tells me to remain silent, I speak’.

There is a wealth of information in these words of wisdom. When will a person’s nafs tell him to remain silent? When it comes to defending the truth, the nafs often tells the person to remain silent. Why do you have to be the spoilsport? Why do you want to get into trouble? If you are sitting in a gathering with nine other people and everyone is sitting backbiting and slandering someone why dont you just keep quiet? Your nafs will say ‘By remaining silent, the nine others won’t oppose you. If you speak up and say, look, it’s haraam for you to do this (and thereby defend the honour and intergrity of the innocent person in his absence), everyone will turn against you. So why do you want to be a spoil sport? Why do you want to tarnish your name? Just be quiet’., It is in such a situation that the nafs says remain silent. This is why the alim said ‘Whenever my nafs tells me to speak I remain silent, and whenever my nafs tells me to remain silent, I speak’.

[This excerpt is based on a dars (lesson) on Ramadhan delivered by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on 30th July 2010].