However much we may try to insulate our lives and loved ones from vulgarity and sacrilegious language, it nonetheless floods our ears and is a flame in the worlds we move in. From television to the Internet, it is ever present, and even in the public spaces of work, the market, and the campus. The truth is for us Muslims nowadays, it is evermore likely to insinuate itself into the speech of our very homes.
Profanity is a sly thing. It seeps into the heart almost undetected. And there it quickly oxidizes the sterling eman that lives there.
For most teenagers, swearing or "cussing" is a rite of passage. Based on the media we provide them and the models before them, many see the use of expletives as a way to appear cool and grown-up in front of there peers. Muslims are just as susceptible to cursing, as are our non-Muslim counterparts.
Foul language may seem a small thing to worry about in a world terrorized by bloody bombardments, sieges, ecological assault, and rapacious economics. Yet sins of the tongue are often the most dangerous of all. They spark from parted lips with effortless case and even less thought. The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, warned against the evil of our words, saying: "He is a Muslim who avoids harming Muslims with his tongue and hands. And the Muhajir (Emigre for the sake of God) is one who gives up all that Allah has forbidden" (Bukhari).
Worse yet, swearing is exceptionally habit forming. Once you start, it's difficult to stop, especially when the pressure's on or strife is at hand.
We can all benefit from a dose of 'mouth wash' to help get a handle on swearing before it takes hold and becomes an unbecoming, and spiritually dangerous, feature of our personalities.
Here are five rules to prevent descent into swearing and to uproot it if it is already there.
1. Respect Others
Respecting others is a major ethic in Islam. The use of profanity, whether directly or indirectly, negates the rights of others not to be subjected to such filth. For Muslims especially, whose hearts have tasted the sweetness of Islam, the use of expletives sours the human heart, which is the seat of all of our affections. Over time, cursing definitely pollutes and weakens the spirit, making it susceptible to the wiles of Shaytan. Keeping your speech clean and free from profanity shows others not only that you respect them but also that you respect yourself.
2. Zero-Tolerance Rules
Making the choice of refraining from vulgar language means taking the crucial step of surrounding oneself with like-minded peers. People that support your elevated linguistic aim and uplift your efforts will truly help you break the impulse to curse. If you keep the company of people for whom swearing is like breathing, you are setting yourself up for failure. It will be beyond tempting for you to join in on the profanity to fit in, or just by default. Many of us face peer pressure when it comes to swearing. If we don't engage in bad language, or are so bold as to openly oppose it, we will likely be labeled as "puritans" or moralizers, open demonstrations of purity and morality being notably great failings in the mind of modern society. We must remember that our Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, never used profane language and spoke only when speech was of a benefit to himself and others. Useless and idle talk is notorious for wreaking social havoc.
3. Guarding Your Tongue
If you've ever stubbed your toe on a piece of unseen furniture in a darkened room or burned your hand on an open flame, then you know just how easily a swear word can come to mind, let alone sail right out of your mouth. It's kind of like a raft going over the edge of the falls. Guarding your tongue is an around the clock affair. Yet the benefits of a "clean" mouth far outweigh the restraint this imposes. Change the way you react to certain circumstances. Instead of releasing a verbal bomb when you are upset, physically bite your lips together and literally swallow it. Use the opportunity as a chance, not to get enraged but rather to engage in a deed pleasing to your Creator, such as sincere supplications. Say asthafirullah, O Allah forgive me. Wa atubu ilayh, And I repent to Him. Or send prayers of blessings upon the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. Or ask Allah to remove from you, sins for your pains. These kinds of positive, spiritual exclamations very quickly become noble habits. You may have hurt your toe immensely but you can be thankful to Allah that the injury did not result in a broken bone, which would have been exponentially more painful. Sure your finger now has a molten red blister the size of Kansas City on it, but you can certainly be grateful that you did not set your home or even yourself on fire. Before engaging in something as destructive as cursing, open your eyes to the blessings hidden beneath your displeasure.
4. Paying The Consequences
It may be naive to think that one could simply stop cursing over night, "cold turkey," especially if one has been doing it for an extended period of time. Establishing hefty consequences for transgressions or slip-ups can go a long way in deterring future relapses, thus ensuring that you annihilate the habit once and for all. Hold yourself accountable for every swear word that escapes your lips. Perhaps you can donate 10 minutes of your time for a worthy cause for every expletive you utter in a single week. Or charge yourself a quarter for every curse you utter in the course of a month. Fill a jar with all of the coins and donate it to charity. Accountability is the key to success when it comes to breaking the chains of any habit. So hold yourself to a higher degree and be responsible.
5. Responsibility First
Most likely, you learned how to swear from an adult when you were a child. And now the student has the potential of becoming the teacher. Every word that comes out of your mouth carries great weight and can influence a young (or older) child around you. Be responsible with your speech and take great care not to use swear words in front of your impressionable offspring. The last thing you need on your conscience is the fact that you are responsible for introducing someone you care about to something as heinous as cursing. Instead, speak only words that are necessary and fill the air with proper speech that serves a halal purpose.
Keeping a firm grip on every syllable that passes between your lips should be a source of great achievement. These days, the power of human speech has been lost in a veritable sea of slang and laziness. All Muslims must remember that speech is a gift from Allah Almighty. It should be used wisely and with great care so as not to bring harm upon oneself or others. Breaking bad habits is often an uphill battle. So arm yourself with the shield of eman and the sword of sabr, patience, and the knowledge that cleaning up your speech is an achievable goal with countless rewards.
Article provided by Al Jumuah Magazine, a monthly Muslim lifestyle publication, which addresses the religious concerns of Muslim families across the world.
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