Minding the Tongue During Ramadan | SoundVision.com

Minding the Tongue During Ramadan

Ramadan is the month of the Quran, the Book that is meant to be widely and continuously recited. During Ramadan, we should engage our tongues with Quranic recitation and plentiful dhikr (remembrance of Allah). We should only speak truthful, beneficial words. By applying these behavioral goals, our tongues should hopefully become, over the course of the month, more efficient instruments of goodness. 

The Significance of the Tongue 

During Ramadan, it is important for us to reflect on our many blessings, and the tongue is, indeed, a great blessing from Allah. Its importance is affirmed when Allah asks humanity to ponder how perfectly He has designed us. He asks: 

“Have we not given you two eyes, a tongue, and two lips?” 

(Surah Al-Balad, 90:8-9)

Allah gave us the ability to use our senses to understand, process, and engage with the world around us. This use of the tongue for speech is one of the things that distinguishes man from animals and plants. 

The condition of our tongue can affect our entire body. According to the hadith, Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, has said:

 “When the son of Adam wakes up, all of his body parts defer to the tongue and say: 'Fear Allah concerning us; we are only part of you. If you are upright, then we are upright. But if you are crooked, then we are crooked.'” 

(Sunan At-Tirmidhi, #1912)

Our tongues have both power and responsibility. Using the tongue with the correct intention, it is possible for us to do many good actions toward Allah. We can express husnul dhan billah, or good expectations of Allah. We can praise Him. We can offer dua or supplication. We can beg for Allah’s forgiveness. We can repent. We can express gratitude to Him. We can dhikr. We can recite His Beautiful Names.

With our tongues, and with the permission of Allah, we can also try to be of service to others. We can console a sad heart. We can say words of encouragement. We can express love, sympathy, hope, and concern. We can share a reminder, enjoining good and forbidding evil. We can honor others by calling them by their correct titles and proper names. We can teach.  

Through our tongues, inshaAllah (God willing), we can increase in knowledge and awareness. We can ask good, sincere questions to enhance our learning. We can have meaningful discussions about beneficial topics. We can review what we have learned by reciting information to a teacher. We can offer words of support to those who are junior to us in age, experience, or knowledge as they journey through their life experiences. We can also ask those senior to us in age, experience, or knowledge for their advice as we travel through our own ages and stages of life. 

Our tongues can, indeed, become instruments of great good, but they can also cause us to fall into behaviors that are not so praiseworthy. In ignorance and misguidance, we can use the gift of speech in ways that may harm our souls and jeopardize our opportunity to reach a noble place in the Hereafter. During Ramadan, although the sins of the tongue will not nullify our fasts, they may negatively affect the reward. We should, therefore, strive to control our tongues, particularly during Ramadan. It was narrated by Abu Huraira, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

 "Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink." 

(Bukhari #1903)

Remind One Another to Tame the Tongue 

Ramadan is an ideal time to initiate positive personal habits and potentially eliminate negative ones. It is an optimal time to guard the tongue and cultivate refined, appropriate speech. Allah, in many authentic sources, commands us to speak a straight word, to speak well or be silent, to speak humbly, and to speak the truth. Alhamdulillaah, all praise and thanks to Allah alone, the early Muslims didn't just try to implement these injunctions individually and privately, they also reinforced these commands by reminding one another to monitor their speech. Here are a few examples: 

“Aswad ibn Asram reported that he said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, instruct me.’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, ‘Can you control your tongue?’ I said, ‘But what do I control if I cannot control my tongue?’ The Prophet said, ‘Can you control your hands?’ I said, ‘But what do I control if I cannot control my hands?’ The Prophet said, ‘Do not say anything on your tongue except what is right, and do not stretch out your hand except to do good.’” (Shu’ab al-Imaan #2867)

“Sufyan ibn Abdullah reported, ‘I said, “O Messenger of Allah, tell me of a matter I can depend upon?’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, ‘Say: My Lord is Allah. Then, remain upright.’ I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what do you fear most for me?’ The Prophet pointed to his tongue and said, ‘This.’” 

(Sunan al-Tirmidhi #2410)

Narrated Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, "I said to the Prophet, 'It is enough for you in Safiyyah that she is short-statured?’" He replied, "You have said a word which would change the sea if it were mixed in it.” 

(Sunan Abi Dawud #4875)

The fast of Ramadan is a wonderful opportunity to practice taming the tongue and controlling the gift of speech. During the fast, we may suffer through the pangs of hunger and thirst, and we may stand for long hours in prayer, but if we are not earnestly trying to control our tongues, we may not reap the highest rewards of Ramadan. 

Because many of us are involved in the nightly Ramadan prayers and community iftars, we will probably interact with others Muslims more. Ramadan is a perfect time to model the habits of having good speech and shunning bad words. Our interactions with one another should be beneficial and not harmful, so our speech must set the tone for wholesome, Allah-pleasing interactions.

The Tongue is Like the Heart 

The tongue is similar to the heart. They are both made of strong muscles. They both move effortlessly, without our conscious efforts. Because we don’t have to think about them in order for them to work, It is easy for us to overlook their significance. This may be why the body warns the tongue to: 

“Fear Allah concerning us, for we are (dependant) upon you. If you are upright, then we will be upright, and if you are corrupt, then we will be corrupt.” 

(Tirmidhi #1912, Mishkaat #4838)

Ramadan Tongue No-No’s 

As Muslims, we should always be mindful of our speech, but during Ramadan, we should be particularly aware that it is the month that celebrates Allah’s Blessed and Divine Speech, the Quran. Most of us can easily think of praiseworthy things to do with our tongues during the month of the Quran. We may not be as aware of the things to avoid. Here is a basic list of some of the Ramadan Tongue No-Nos.



Hurtful Insulting Speech

Narrated Abu Huraira, Allah's Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, said: "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk about what is good or keep quiet, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt (or insult) his neighbor; and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should entertain his guest generously."

(Sahih al-Bukhari #6136)

Using Profanity or Saying Obscenities.

The Prophet said: “If any of you is fasting, let him not utter obscenities or act in an ignorant manner, and if anyone insults or wants to fight him, let him say, I am fasting.”

(Bukhari #1894, Muslim #1151)


“Oh you who have spoken the words of faith but faith has not entered your hearts! Do not backbite about the Muslims or seek out their faults, for whoever seeks out their faults, Allah will seek out his faults even if he is in his house.”

(Abu Dawood #4880)

Vain Talk

“Indeed successful are the believers, those who in their prayer have khushoo’ (fear of Allah) and those who refrain from vain talk.” (Surah Al-Mumineen, 23:1-3)

Sinful, Useless Talk

& Excessive Questioning Aimed at Causing a Dispute

The Prophet Allah has forbidden for you:

(1) Qil and Qal (sinful and useless talk, like backbiting or that one talks too much about others), 

(2) Asking too many questions (in disputed religious matters, etc).” (Sahih al-Bukhari #591)

Excessive, Unnecessary Talking

Abdullah ibn Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah said: "Verily, Allah despises an extravagant speaker among men, who flaps his tongue about like the flapping of a cow.”

(Sunan al-Tirmidhi #2853)


Anas reported the Messenger of Allah said, “Whoever speaks with a forked tongue in the world, Allah will make two tongues of fire for him on the Day of Resurrection.”

(Musnad Abi Ya’la #2746)


"Here you are! You disputed about what you have [little] knowledge of, but why do you now argue about what you do not know? Allah knows and you do not know."

(Surah Ali Imran, 3:66)


“Ahmad ibn Hanbal reported that Al-Hasan al-Basri, may Allah have mercy on him, heard some people arguing, and he said:

‘By Allah! These are not but people bored with worship and who found speaking easier upon them than acting. Their piety diminished, and thus, they speak.’”

(al-Zuhd li-Ahmad ibn Hanbal #1546)

Prying into the Affairs of Others

Abu Hurairah reports on the authority of the Prophet that, “From the good Islam of a man is that he leaves that which does not benefit him.”

(Musnad Ahmed bin Hambal 4/132)

Asking Questions about Allah’s Actions Beyond What is Permissible

“He [Allah] cannot be questioned as to what He does, but they will be questioned.”

(Surah Al-Anbiya, 21:23)


Suggestions to Tame the Tongue 

Here are some tips to keep your tongue tamed during Ramadan.

Be humble and peaceful in spirit.  

"The servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say words of peace." 

(Surah Al-Furqan, 25:63)

Ask Allah to help when you pray. 

Allah says to the believers, "and say: `My Lord! Increase me in knowledge." 

(Surah Ta Ha, 20:114)

“O my Lord! Open for me my chest.  Ease my task for me.” 

(Surah Ta Ha, 20:25-26)

Be mindful of your tongue and seek refuge from its evil. 

Shakal ibn Humayd reported, "I came to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and I said, 'O Messenger of Allah, teach me to seek refuge that, by it, I may seek refuge.' The Prophet took me by the hand and he said, 'Say: O Allah, I seek refuge in You from the evil of my hearing, from the evil of my seeing, from the evil of my tongue, from the evil in my heart, and from the evil of my seed.” 

(Sunan al-Tirmidhi #3492)

Spend time in dhikr

Abdullah ibn Busr reported that a man said, “O Messenger of Allah, the laws of Islam are too many for me, so tell me something I can hold onto.” The Messenger of Allah said, “Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah.”

(Sunan al-Tirmidhi #3375)

"Those who believe and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.”

(Surah Ar-Ra‘d, 13:28)

Recite the Qur’an often. 

Abu al-Qasim reported, Abu Umamah, may Allah be pleased with him, said,

 “Recite the Quran, and do not be deceived by depending on the written copies. 

Verily, Allah will never punish a heart that has preserved the Quran.”

(Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah #34044)

Seek sound knowledge about the rewards of good speech and the consequences of evil speech. 

“Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created – Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood. Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, He Who taught (the use of) the pen, Taught man that which he knew not.”

 (Surah Al-’Alaq, 96:1-5)

Keep silent as much as possible. 

Ibn ‘Asakir reported that Shabib ibn Shaybah, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “Whoever hears a word he disapproves, he should be silent. What he disapproves will cease. If he answers it, he will hear more of what he disapproves.” 

(Tarikh Dimashq 73/132)

"Allah does not like that evil should be mentioned in public except by one who has been wronged.  And Allah is all-hearing, all-knowing." 

(Surah An-Nisa, 4:148)

Repent for your verbal shortcomings. 

Aisha reported that the Messenger of Allah said these words often before he passed away, “Glory be to Allah and with His praise. I seek Your forgiveness, and I repent to You.” 

(Sahih Muslim #484)

Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Five sins cannot be expiated [meaning, for them, we have to offer full tauba or repentance]:

idolatry, killing a soul without a just cause, slandering a believer, fleeing the battlefield, and bearing false witness to consume the wealth of another without right.”

(Musnad al-Shamiyyin #1161)

Take advantage of Ramadan. Use this month of mercy to eliminate negative speech behaviors and implement more positive ones, inshaAllah. Plant the seeds of change.  Ramadan is always 29 or 30 days; it may take longer than that to see real change, but it is a start. Exercise patience. Years ago, a research study (which has since been refuted) suggested that it took only 21 days to form a new habit. Newer research suggests it probably is much longer than that. A month, however, is enough time to lay the foundation for change. May Allah give us success. 

 Candice “Sister Islaah” Abd’al-Rahim reverted to Islam in 1976, and considers herself a student of knowledge. She has deep education credentials which include an M.A. in Teaching, a Certificate of Advanced Studies (Post-Masters) in Administration and Supervision, a B.S. in English, and experiences as a principal (in fact the first hijab public school principal in Maryland), curriculum and staff developer, mentor, and classroom teacher of grades pre-K through 12. She is a former adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Graduate School of Education and is a doctoral candidate in Islamic Sciences at the International Online University. Islaah’s contributions to the field have earned her honors in the Who’s Who of Distinguished JHU Alumni. She is a wife, daughter, mother, and grandmother and is an active member of several Muslim communities in the Baltimore area

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