عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه ، عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : من كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر ، فليقل خيرا أو ليصمت ، ومن كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر ، فليكرم جاره ، ومن كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر ، فليكرم ضيفه رواه البخاري ومسلم
Abū Hurayrah (May Allāh be pleased with him narrated that Allāh’s Messenger صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said, “He who believes in Allāh and the Last Day should speak good or remain silent…” [Al-Bukhārī & Muslim]
I noticed during the course of my Ramaḍān Tafsīr that I was wont to quote the above Ḥadīth. In fact, I may have even quoted it daily. It is just so applicable in so many situations.
Lèse-majesté is the crime of offending the majesty of the ruler or the state. It is unfortunate that many sincere and well-meaning Muslims commit Lèse-majesté against Allāh, the King of kings, through the careless choice of words, when referring to Allāh, or to other matters of Islāmic belief. These people do not maintain silence, and instead of speaking good, in fact commit the reverse.
You might argue that surely sincerity should count and it does not matter if an unintended meaning comes about from the wrong choice of words? No! If the above Ḥadīth appears to be too general to make one think and choose the correct word before speaking, then please refer to my previous article on the importance which Allāh’s Messenger صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ placed on the selection of words and terminology.
Many of the words which slip from our tongues are offensive to the majesty of Allāh. If we should guard our tongues in regards the creation, how much more so in regards Allāh?
Allāh is not in need
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنتُمُ الْفُقَرَاء إِلَى اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ
O mankind! You are in need of Allāh, whereas Allāh is self-sufficient, Most Praiseworthy [al-Fāṭir: 15]
Allāh is aṣ-Ṣamad and al-Ghanī. He is free of any need and we are Fuqarā, in need of Allāh in every way during every moment of our existence. “Need” means that someone is deficient of something. To intentionally ascribe need unto Allāh is clear unbelief. How possibly is your Lord Most High deficient and in need? To carelessly ascribe need unto Allāh is a sign of one not being careful with one’s tongue. This is a requirement of faith.
One commonly hears this word being used for Allāh in South Africa. “Allāh needs us to….”
My dear brother or sister, if you should ponder over the implications of your words, you would realise that your words are the opposite of the religious message you wished to convey. Allāh is not in need of our prayers, faith, repentance….our anything. Nor is Allāh your buddy that you may use any word you feel like. “Allāh wishes” or “Allāh commands” is more appropriate to Allah’s Majesty.
Allāh does not look, His knowledge is complete
وَاللّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ
….Allāh knows and you do not know. [al-Baqarah: 232]
A statement often repeated in speeches which makes my blood boil is, “Allāh is looking for ways to forgive us.” The words of this statement implies two meanings of “look” which are far from the majesty of Allāh:
- look at Examine (a matter) and consider what action to take
- usually look for Attempt to find
Both meanings contradict Allāh’s attribute of perfect knowledge. Allāh does not have to consider what to do. He already knows in His perfect knowledge. Nor does Allāh have to attempt to find a way to forgive us. He does not attempt or try anything, He does! Furthermore attempting to find something means that Allāh’s knowledge is incomplete He still needs to search for the means of forgiveness! Worse, since the speaker will then be advocating a specific good deed, the implication is that the speaker knows the means of forgiveness whilst Allāh is “still looking”. Allāh save us from such ignorance.
It is not me who is being small minded, it is the utterer of such carelessness who should be more respectful to his Creator. Allāh has created various means for us to earn His forgiveness. He does not “look for ways to forgive us”.
Allāh does not have to “attempt”
بَدِيعُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَإِذَا قَضَى أَمْراً فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ
The Originator of the heavens and the earth! When He decrees a thing to be, He but says unto it, “Be” -and it is! [al-Baqarah: 117]
Already mentioned above, Allāh does not try or attempt anything, he simply does. The oft repeated phrase, “What Allāh is trying to say in this verse….”contradicts Allāh’s perfection. Allāh says, Allāh does not try to say. It is you who does not know what to say, for “to try” means to exert oneself in an attempt to achieve an as yet unattained goal. Only imperfect creatures such as ourselves have to exert and our goals have yet to be accomplished. Allāh is HIs perfection does not exert, there is no effort on Him, and whatever He wishes becomes as He wills. Do not cast our imperfections upon Allāh.
There is no obligation on Allāh
فَعَّالٌ لِّمَا يُرِيدُ
He most certainly does as He pleases. [al-Burūj: 16]
Allāh is not obligated to us in any way. If He forgives us, it is through His mercy, not that He is obligated to accept repentance. If He grants us Paradise, it is through His generosity, not that He is obligated to reward our good deeds. Words such as “must” which mean that Allāh is obligated, are not in line with our beliefs. “I have prayed, so Allāh must answer…” is your arrogance, not Islāmic belief. Humble yourself by saying instead, “I have prayed and I am confident that my Generous Lord will answer…” as the Ḥadīth teaches that supplications should be conducted with confidence.
Respect the Speech of Allāh
وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُمْ لَيَقُولُنَّ إِنَّمَا كُنَّا نَخُوضُ وَنَلْعَبُ قُلْ أَبِاللّهِ وَآيَاتِهِ وَرَسُولِهِ كُنتُمْ تَسْتَهْزِؤُونَ
And if you ask them, they will surely say, “We were only conversing and playing.” Say, “Is it Allah and His Signs and His Messenger that you were mocking?” [at-Tawbah: 65]
I had previously written on inappropriate Muslim “humour” and mocking the sacred. Since today’s topic is in regards words inappropriate to Allāh’s majesty, I shall conclude with discussing the using of the Qurān as humour, since it is the eternal speech of Allāh.
I find it tragic that as Islāmic knowledge increases, there are people who now have a greater platform for their jokes, just like the hypocrites mentioned in the Verse above, instead of having greater respect for the Qurān. It defies my understanding how the same people who rightfully show the utmost respect to the printed manuscript of the Qurān, are sometimes the worst culprits who disrespect the actual Speech of Allāh.
My ears have been polluted enough to hear variations of the South African “joke” that the Zulu nation is mentioned in the Qurān. Figure for yourself where the “zulu” sound occurs as part of Arabic words in the Qurān.
I recall as a student when we were taught the Verse containing “mustabīn”. The student sitting next to me is a person very respectful to the outer elements of the faith, yet he brayed, “Ha! Mister Bean is mentioned in the Qurān!”
Another idiocy I heard two decades ago and which just does not want to die, is that “Alif-Lām-Mīm means Allāh loves Memons.”
I will put this as simply as I can, and if does not sink in…then guidance is from Allāh.
The Qurān is the Speech of Allāh. Making jokes of the Qurān is mocking Allāh. This speech was brought to us through the efforts of His Messenger صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ who bled and was tortured to bring us this Book of Guidance. Can you not watch your tongue in regards Allāh and His Speech?
I have given a few examples which may not be applicable to all places or peoples. It is up to each slave to behave with dignity in regards his Master.