The Responsibility of the Word

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The Responsibility of the Word[1]

The Importance of the Word and Its Role

The Word is one of the most important channels which reach with one to Allah’s pleasure. Through it preaching takes place, guidance reaches its people, reformation is achieved, knowledge is spread, civilization is built, humanity progresses, and education is perfected. So the word is a vessel for all of these great forms of obedience and many others.

For this reason, a man came to Imam As-Sajjad (Peace upon him) and asked him: “Which is better: Speech or silence?” The Imam (Peace upon him) replied: “Each of them has its defects, but if they are both free of those defects then speech is better than silence”. The man asked: “How is this so, O son of the Messenger of Allah?” He said: “Because Allah (Exalted is He) did not send the Prophets and the Trustees to be silent, He sent them to talk. Paradise was never deserved by silence, nor was Hellfire earned through silence, nor was Allah’s wrath ever avoided through silence. All of this happens through speech” ([2]). Allah (Exalted is He) says: “In most of their secret talks there is no good: But if one exhorts to a deed of charity or justice or conciliation between men, (Secrecy is permissible)” [Surah of the Women: 114]. One of the Traditions even stated: “The good word is a form of almsgiving”([3]).

On the other hand, the evil word may cause a great damage and destruction. Many of the capital sin for which Allah (Exalted is He) promised Hellfire are connected to the word, examples include backbiting, gossip telling, lying, slander, defamation, cursing, hurting, and spreading rumor and evil manners. For this reason, the Messenger of Allah (Prayers of Allah and His Peace upon him and upon and the members of his household) is reported to have said: “What would cast people on down on their noses in Hellfire except the harvest of their tongues” ([4]). Scholars and moralists have all written books about the evils of the tongue.

Refinement of the Word:

For this reason, the Most Holy Divine Lawmaker dedicated a large portion of His teachings to the refinement of this word and directing it to be useful and constructive. He vividly described the features of the good word: “- A goodly word like a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the heavens,- of its Lord. So Allah sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition. It brings forth its fruit at all times, by the leave of its Lord” [Surah of Abraham: 24-25], and also warned from the harm of the evil word: “And the parable of an evil Word is that of an evil tree: It is torn up by the root from the surface of the earth: it has no stability” [Surah of Abraham: 26]. This is a most severe warning from the consequences of the evil word.

He considered, for instance, that if someone in the east utters even half a word which causes the murder of someone in the west, then this former person is a murderer. We do see this phenomenon often today when we see the creators of the culture of Takfir, murder, injustice and aggression. A man in the east or another of west would be fooled by their misguidance and would obey them, committing a crime whose burden would first and foremost fall on the creator of this culture.

There is an important Tradition in this respect which destroys the very foundation of the culture built by those spreading terror and murder just because of disagreement in views or a conflict in interests. It is narrated from Imam As-Sadiq (Peace upon him) that he said that his grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (Prayers of Allah and His Peace upon him and the members of his household) had said: “Allah torments the tongue in a manner He torments no other limb, it would say: O Lord! You have tormented me in a way You did not torment any other thing. It would be told: A word was uttered by you, it reached the eastern and western directions of this earth, and blood was spilt unjustly because of it. By My Glory! I would torment you in a way I did not torment no other limb!” ([5]).

If we sense that importance, then this feeling would allow us to devise a program dealing with the word, watching over it, and controlling it. What you say is under your control as long as you don’t say it, but once you it then you become under its control, you will have to deal with its consequences and responsibilities. Many people have fallen victims to their words in this world and the Hereafter. An example is the Grand Qadi for Al-Mu’tassim Al-Abbassi who told him about Imam Al-Jawad (Peace upon him) even though he knew that this would keep him in Hellfire forever as he himself had said.

Investment in Modern Communication for the Benefit of Islam:

We witness today a tremendous revolution in information and communication technology which have reached heights undreamt of before by humanity. The opening of these doors provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to deliver the rhetoric of peace and happiness to humanity. The tyrants can no longer suppress the word or prevent its arrival to the people as they did before throughout history using the same lack of vision throughout history: “I but point out to you that which I see (myself)” [Surah of the Forgiver: 29]. Islam was often forced to carry the sword to fight those tyrants and free their people from worshipping them and allowing them to follow the religion of their choosing under the banners of “Let there be no compulsion in religion” [Surah of the Cow: 256], “that those who died might die after a clear Sign (had been given), and those who lived might live after a Clear Sign (had been given)” [Surah of the Booty of War: 42], “Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it)” [Surah of the Cave: 29], “We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will)” [Surah of Man: 3]. Islam encouraged dialogue and the culture of the other view: “Say: "Produce your proof if ye are truthful."” [Surah of the Cow: 111] “And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better” [Surah of the Spider: 4], “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious” [Surah of the Bees: 125].

By Allah’s great munificence, we live at a time of great opportunity for delivering the good word to the hearings of the whole world. The world today yearns for peace, happiness, and goodness after it witnessed the failure of all the ideologies, and after those who do not follow the message of the household of the Prophetic household (Peace upon them) failed to present Islam in its correct and real aspect, causing many people to abhor it. The whole world looks to you, O followers of the members of the Prophetic household (Peace upon them) so that you must reflect a pure and shining image of true Islam: filled with mercy, love of goodness and peace and tranquility for all humanity.

Factors which Lead to our Success in Delivering the Word of Islam:

Many years passed while we were suffering from frustration, the suppression of freedom, and censorship over speech. Allah (Exalted is He) has removed this so test us: will we be grateful and deliver the rights of this bliss, or will we be ungrateful (Allah forbid) and abuse this freedom.

There are three factors:

1- The advanced media of communication

2- The failure of ideologies to provide humanity with happiness, security, peace, and tranquility.

3- The existence of the full freedom for calling humanity unto Allah (Exalted is He), and the truth, goodness, and guidance.

The presence of these factors doubles our responsibility in investing the word in delivering the Message which Allah (Exalted is He) entrusted us with after the heavens and the earth and all other creatures failed to carry it: “We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it;- He was indeed unjust and foolish” [Surah of the Clans: 72].

([1]) Statement made by Marja Al-Yaqubi (May his shadow be preserved) and delivered on his behalf in the celebration held on 4 Rajab 1426(August 10th, 2005) in the Ministry of Culture on the first anniversary of opening the countries’ radio broadcast. Important passages were added to it.

([2]) Al-Wasa’il, Vol. 12, p. 188.

([3]) Ibid. Vol. 5, p. 233.

([4]) Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 155.

([5]) Wasa’il Ash-Shiah, Vol. 8, Kitab Al-Qada, Abwab Sifat Al-Qadi, Chapter 4, Tradition 4.