Argument in the Qur’an (8/8)
The manner of conversation in the Qur’an
As we said at the beginning, it is very important for believers to mention the name of Allah when talking among themselves, for this is an act of worship. In an environment of mutual love and respect, as well as when reciting and studying the Qur’an together, they speak of matters of faith in an elevated style. It is important that such an environment prevails and that an elevated style of conversation be maintained:
Say to My servants that they should only say the best. Satan wants to stir up trouble between them... (Surat al-Isra’: 53)
Those to whom Allah has taught the right path are defined as those who “listen well to what is said and follow the best of it” (Surat az-Zumar: 18).
Allah says the following about the believers’ houses: “...houses that Allah has permitted to be built and in which His name is remembered” and in which believers “proclaim His glory morning and evening” (Surat an-Nur: 36). In these houses, believers converse among themselves and remember Allah. In addition, “The believers are those whose hearts tremble when Allah is mentioned” (Surat al-Anfal: 2). For this reason, remembering Allah is an internal and sincere thing for them, and every word is a word of wisdom. It is a pure conversation bedecked with examples from the Qur’an.
Indeed, believers try their best to establish the environment of Paradise in this world. To this end, their houses are places where conversations resembling those of Paradise occur; they are places of laughter and joyful interchange. At the same time, they are places where the Qur’an’s verses are recited and wisdom is sought. The Qur’an describes the conversations held in Paradise as taking place from facing thrones, where Allah is mentioned and all nonsense is banished. All believers give thanks to Allah, Who shows mercy and forgives.
Indeed, they hold similar conversations and prayers in this world. According to the Qur’an, a believer’s greatest act of worship is to praise Allah. As there is no special time or place to do this, Allah may be remembered in any place in a believer’s conversation:
(People with intelligence are) those who remember Allah, standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and Earth: “Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire.” (Surah Al ‘Imran: 191)
They may talk about very different things, but every conversation is related to Allah. For this reason, their conversations do not descend to the level of nonsense (conversations that do not mention Allah and reach conclusions that are not related to Him are vain and irritating to the human spirit). For this reason, for example, when believers see a nice, aesthetically pleasing home, they talk about it, because such homes are blessings of Paradise.
Speaking about such a topic increases their desire for Paradise. They do not forget that a beautiful house is a transitory thing doomed to decay and that Allah created it to test them. Unbelievers can talk about such a house for hours on end, but the difference between them and believers is that the latter remember Allah in all of their conversations for their “hearts find peace in the remembrance of Allah” (Surat ar-Ra‘d: 28).
Allah says that the believers are “… not distracted by trade or commerce from the remembrance of Allah” (Surat an-Nur: 37). People can praise Allah individually or in a group. Of course, praising Him privately is very important, because this spiritual state will be reflected in all of a person’s daily activities. In this way, he or she will pass every test without losing his or her attachment to Allah, and will do everything with the intention of earning His reward.
The manner of conversation
People’s love and respect for others is reflected in their conversations. For this reason, all conversations should adhere to Islamic morality so that everybody can benefit from them.
Avoiding being a “know-it-all”
People who think that they know everything create tension in a conversation. Such individuals always impose their own ideas and speak without respect for others. They are not aware that their approach is very distasteful to others.
Giving others the opportunity to speak
Listening politely without interruption and trying to understand what the other person is saying is, one hopes, pleasing to Allah. Such an attitude shows respect for the speaker and for what is being said. It is wrong to think that people “who suppress others by adopting an over-emphatic tone of voice are worthy of respect.” On the contrary, those who raise their voices, interrupt others, and monopolize the conversation are showing their ignorance. Eventually, such a conversation becomes a torture to others. Their silence does not mean that they are listening or paying attention; rather, it generally means that they are just being polite.
It is natural that an expert can speak on a particular matter. But everyone can express their own ideas and opinions on a general matter. In this way, everyone can learn what others think and form an idea of their characters. It is very wrong to think, for example, “I know more than him, so why should he talk?” or “If you don’t know, be quiet.” One person may know less than another about a certain subject; however, by Allah’s gift of wisdom, the one who knows less may be more aware of the subject’s intricate nature. On the other hand, a person who knows about a subject in great detail may get submerged in those details and be unable to see the underlying logic. For this reason, it is important for everyone to express his or her own ideas so that new ideas and views can emerge.
Avoiding to put oneself in the front in a conversation
People usually do not pay attention when others are speaking; they do not listen and analyze what they hear. We often see this on television discussions panels. Two experts in their fields may be completely rude and disrespectful to each other; instead of learning from the other person, they arrogantly try to impose their own views.
Muslims do not have the egotistical desire to put themselves in the front, to prevail, or to have the last word in an argument. For this reason, their attitude is one of quiet moderation. Their politeness comes from the Qur’an’s moral teachings, according to which they are to give precedence to each other and benefit from what other people say.
Avoiding pointless conversations
Many people speak just to show how much they know, giving their listeners useless information on useless subjects. Sometimes it takes them two or three hours to say something they could have said in a few short sentences. Rather than producing the desired effect in the hearts of their listeners, they only irritate them instead. No one likes to listen to such people.
One of the main things to notice in a conversation is whether the speaker goes on at such great length that his or her counterpart becomes uncomfortable. Muslims are not to engage in an endless monologue and thus deny everyone else the opportunity to speak. Rather, they are to speak as clearly as possible, express the subject’s essence effectively, and always know the reasons behind what they are saying so that the other participants will benefit.
Avoiding long, repetitious sentences
Speaking in long sentences also annoys a listener. Breaks must be allowed in a conversation so that other people can express their ideas. The speaker must also avoid repetition and be concise in his or her points. In other words, the speaker should not jump from one subject to another when the other party wishes to say something; rather, he or she should pay close attention and not oblige others to endure a monologue, especially if they are short of time or need to be elsewhere.
Using a moderate tone of voice
Some people do not use the right tone of voice during a conversation. They practically shout while making their point, thereby intimidating, persuading, or silencing all others in order to get the upper hand. But Muslims use a moderate tone of voice:
Be moderate in your tread and lower your voice. The most hateful of voices is the donkey’s bray. (Surah Luqman: 19)
Speaking in a measured, polite, and respectful manner
As befits their fine moral character, Muslims speak in a measured, polite, and respectful manner. The other person’s age, cultural level, intelligence, wealth, or poverty do not matter, for a Muslim’s manner of speaking is not affected by such transient factors: “Over everyone with knowledge is a Knower” (Surah Yusuf: 76). In their modesty, believers value what other people think.
Speaking about religion and sacred things
Making jokes or ironic statements about religion and sacred things must be avoided at all costs. Those who indulge in such practices must be interrupted, informed of their mistake, and be warned of their grave error. Even laughing in such instances is just as serious, and Muslims must protest and clearly express their uneasiness if such things occur.
It has been sent down to you in the Book that, when you hear Allah’s Signs being rejected and mocked at by people, you must not sit with them until they start talking of other things. If you do, you are just the same as them. Allah will gather all the hypocrites and unbelievers into Hell. (Surat an-Nisa’: 140)
Making jokes about religion and sacred things, telling amusing stories, giving inappropriate explanations, and relating anecdotes about Paradise and Hell are kinds of anti-religious propaganda. All Muslims must avoid taking part in such things, for Allah says that only people without faith indulge in them:
If you ask them, they will say: “We were only joking and playing around.” Say: “Would you make a mockery of Allah and of His Signs and of His Messenger?” (Surat at-Tawba: 65)
Thus, Muslims must carefully avoid such situations and react sharply to those who make such comments. This reaction is in keeping with the Qur’an’s moral teachings.
Giving the best response
Believers live according to the Qur’an’s moral teachings in order to please Allah. They know that if they regard other people are autonomous individuals, each of whom is to be approached with a different attitude, they are not living according to its teachings. For this reason, they act with the awareness that everyone they meet is part of the test that Allah has created for them and that they are representing Islamic morality. They try to respond to what others say as best as they can. Allah describes this morality:
When you are greeted with a greeting, return the greeting or improve on it. Allah takes account of everything. (Surat an-Nisa’: 86)
This manner of speaking, which the Almighty Lord revealed in the Qur’an and through our Prophet (saas), will bring countless good things to people in both worlds, for:
Do you not see how Allah makes a metaphor of a good word: a good tree whose roots are firm and whose branches are in heaven? It bears fruit regularly by its Lord’s permission. Allah makes metaphors for people so that, hopefully, they will pay heed. (Surah Ibrahim: 24-25)