We cannot stress the importance of a kind, polite, nice and friendly word more than Allah did in the Holy Quran, teaching us how to talk to others. A kind word from us represents Islam whereas a harsh tone reminds us of devil.
'Tell my bondmen to speak that which is kindlier. Lo, the devil sows discord among them. Lo, the devil is for man an open foe.' (Quran 17:53)
'A kind word with forgiveness is better than almsgiving followed by injury. Allah is Absolute, Clement.' (Quran 2:263)
They say that there is power of life and death in the tongue. Actually, it's the words that come out of that tongue that can make or break your life. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift him up and help him make it through the day. On the other hand, a destructive word, from the same tongue, to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill him.
Let me tell you a story. A group of frogs were travelling through the woods. Suddenly, two of the frogs fell into a deep pit. When the other frogs saw how deep the pit was, they lost all hopes and told the two frogs that they were as good as dead. The two frogs, clinging to life as hard as possible, ignored their comments and tried to jump out of the pit with all their strength.
The other frogs kept telling them to stop as it was no use to kill themselves by exhausting their bodies. They told them to wait until some miracle happens otherwise forget it. They thought the two will be dead soon and went their way.
Finally, one of the two frogs accepted the majority opinion and gave up. He thought the others were probably right. He jumped half-heartedly for the last time and fell down ... and died.
The second frog continued to jump as hard as he possibly could. He saw his colleague lying dead nearby but never gave up. He decided to try one more time with the fullest possible strength he could muster. He told himself that with confidence and determination he can jump out of the pit. He needs to jump from the right angle, the right spot and with maximum force. So, he tried one more time giving his best, and made it out of the pit.
When he got out, he called the others to wait for him and then joined them. The other frogs asked him: 'Did you not hear us?' The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He said: 'I thought you were encouraging me the entire time. That's why I never gave up and kept trying harder and harder.'
There are many lessons to be learned from this story but the most important is the 'good word' or the encouraging 'kind word'. With just one word you can destroy your friendship or damage a good relationship. And with one word you can bring somebody back from the threshold of death. There is power in the word.
Be careful of what you say and when you say. Speak life to those who cross your path. It is sometimes hard to understand that an encouraging word can go such a long way.
Anyone can speak words that tend to rob another of the spirit to continue in difficult times. But special is the individual who will care to encourage others with his kind and polite words. This is not something extra-ordinary that we are required to do. As Muslims it is one of the basics of our conduct and manners.
Remember what is mentioned in the beginning of this story? The Almighty Allah says: 'A kind word with forgiveness is better than almsgiving followed by injury...' (Quran 2:263)
According to Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 50, No: 875, narrated Jarir: 'When I gave the pledge of allegiance to Allah's Apostle, he stipulated that I should give good advice to every Muslim.'
M. Javed Naseem is a retired Pakistani-American journalist now living in Morocco. He had worked as reporter and editor for daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; The Pakistan Times, Lahore; and the weekly Community News, New York.