“And be not soft in speech…”
AssalamuAlaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
For the Muslimah of the 21st century, combining Deen and Dunya may seem a little difficult- what with fathers, husbands and brothers battling out the ‘can she-can’t she’
she go out to work? Should
I allow her to meet with her male colleagues? Should
I limit the time she spends outside the house?’ and taking it to extremes- ‘Actually
, doesn’t Islam say my wife or daughter shouldn’t be going out at all?” and this is usually the point where the door is locked and key thrown away.
But dear sisters, it is worth noting that the above worries are not without reason- As human beings we cannot help but err. The Shaytaan is forever at our sides- tempting and urging us to indulge in sin. So Insha’Allah the following naseeha (advice) will be of benefit- Not so that our fathers, husbands and brothers can ‘oppress’ us further, but so that we can educate ourselves on how to remain safe, how to safeguard our hayaa (modesty) and gain the pleasure of Allah Subhanahu WaTa’ala
First and foremost, of great importance is the way in which Muslimahs speak and conduct themselves before Gher Mehram men. (The men that it is possible to get married to)
It has been narrated in a hadeeth:
“A believer is not who taunts or curses, or acts indecently or speaks vulgar language” (Tirmidhi: Narrated by Ibn Mas’ood)
For a layperson such as myself, it is clear by reading the above that good manners are important for the ‘believers’, and weather they be male or female is not specified. However in an Aayah of Surah Ahzab, the importance of a Muslimah being modest in her speech is emphasised.
In women, beauty can be seen in many forms- in her physical appearance, her dress, and the way she conducts and holds herself; but also in her manner of speaking. This is why it has been mentioned in the following Aayah:
“33:32. O wives of the Prophet! you are not like any other of the women; If you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease yearn; and speak a good word.” (Shakir's Quran Translation)
Imaam Qurtubi writes in the interpretation of this verse:
Allah (swt) has commanded Muslim women to talk in a straightforward and concise manner with (ghair mahram) men. The tone of their voice should be devoid of softness and sweetness unlike the street women and uncivilised women of olden days who used to sweet talk men. A woman should be very careful whilst talking to (ghair mahram) men even if they are members of her in-laws. She should in a firm voice without being loud. (Qurtubi, vol. 14, pp 177-78)
One may argue that these aayat are specifically for the ‘wives of the prophet’, that they do not relate to and cannot be applied to the Muslim women of today. But no! Laa! This is not the case.
Ibn Kathir writes:
These are the etiquettes Allah (swt) taught the wives of the prophet (saw) and since all the women of the Muslim Ummah are required to follow their example, these commandments are applicable to all Muslim women. (Ibn Kathir. Vol. 3, p.483)
It is something to ponder over; if verses such as the aforementioned were specifically addressed to the wives of the prophet, shouldn’t they be of more importance to the Muslimahs of today?
The wives of the most morally upright man to have lived, the wives of the prophet (saw) were commanded…”And be not soft in speech”, so in today’s society- where fitnah and corruption is prevalent- where woman are seen as play-things; to be careful of the way we speak is of utmost importance.
But what does it mean? I hear you ask. What does it mean when Allah orders us to be ‘soft in speech’? One important commandment becomes clear from this verse, it is that:
Women should not talk to (ghair mahram) men unnecessarily or in a soft and sweet tone of voice, but rather in a straightforward and honourable manner, so that no one will misinterpret them or have nay bad thought about them. (Hijab, Dr Muhammad Ismail Memon Madani, p.17)
A Muslimah may have her body adequately covered, she may observe the hijab and niqab- yet she must always remain vigilant of her manner of speaking.
After this verse was revealed, some of the wives of the prophet (saw) used to cover their mouths with their hands to hide their natural voice while talking to strangers. (Hijab, Dr Muhammad Ismail Memon Madani, p.18)
SubhanAllah! Such taqwa and firmness of faith! My dear sisters- we all know that Islam is a beautiful religion filled with hikmah and beneficial teachings. So know then, that to preserve our honour and modesty, we must live according to the teachings of Islam. This includes modesty in dress but also in speech and character.
And a final naseehah Insha’Allah; we all know that technology is advancing day by day. We can find reliable sites online from where we can learn the Deen of Allah. We also find forums on which we can discuss Islam with likeminded Muslims around the world. However! As mentioned earlier- to err is human and at times we may slip and forget. We might talk and interact with strange (ghair mahram) men on the internet under the guise of seeking knowledge. We might see the computer screen as a buffer and therefore talk in an inappropriate manner, Astaghfirullah.