Will Rogers says, “Never miss a good chance to shut up” and I absolutely agree. There are 4 situations where your “silence” is appreciated. Where your silence is crucial. Where it is a sign of your refined manners. Where you win both in this world and the hereafter. Where you will be rewarded In Sha’ Allah. What are these 4 situations where silence is golden:
1) When you are having a conversation with a person. Shut up, listen, think and learn from what is being communicated to you. Don’t interrupt that person. Don’t stir the waters and disturb the flow of the current of information coming your way and poison the conversation with your interruptions. You kill a conversation. Interrupting others mid conversation is a sign of haste on your part. It’s a sign that you lack patience, social and communication skills. It’s even a sign of arrogance, because you are saying to the person with whom you are “engaged” in conversation that they have nothing to say that is worth listening to. On the other hand, listening attentively is a sign of self-confidence, especially when there is a difference in opinion between you and the person you are conversing with. Let me give you an example of this from the Seerah of the Prophet (salah Allah alayhe wa salam). Remember when the Messenger of Allah was approached by Quraysh’s delegate Utbah Ibn Rabi’ah, who wanted. Quraysh were ready to bribe the Prophet (salah Allah alayhe wa salam) into stopping his mission. When ‘Utbah asked to speak to the Prophet (salah Allah alayhe wa salam), the Prophet said, “Speak, Abul-Walid. I am listening.” So, ‘Utbah started, “Nephew,” and continued with words that were quite offensive, even today. ‘Utbah said, ‘If you want money by this business, we will collect some of our property and make you the wealthiest among us. If you want honor, we will make you our chief so that every decision is yours. If you want a kingdom, we will make you our king. If you are possessed by a jinn that you cannot drive away from yourself, we will find skillful doctors to help you. We will spend our wealth on it till you are cured.’ The Prophet (salah Allah alayhe wa salam) listened to ‘Utbah, and then asked“Have you finished, Abul-Walid?” “Yes,” responded ‘Utbah. “Then listen to me,” said to Messenger of Allah (salah Allah alayhe wa Salahm. “I will,” said ‘Utbah. Then the Messenger of Allah recited some verses from Surah Fussilat:
“Ha, Meem / A Revelation from (Allah), Most Gracious, Most Merciful / A Book whose verses have been detailed, an Arabic Qur’an for a people who know / Good tidings and a warning. But most of them turn away so that they hear not…” (Fussilat 1-4)
The Prophet (saw) continued reciting the verses, until ‘Utbah begged him to stop. The Prophet did, and then ‘Utbah returned to the leaders of Quraysh leaders with a different facial expression than the one he initially left with. The point is that the Prophet listened to ‘Utbah patiently. Controlled his anger. Calmly thought about what ‘Utbah said. Then responded powerfully. Let be an example to follow when you are in a similar situation.
2) The second situation when your silence is golden, is when you don’t have anything of value or benefit to add to a conversation/discussion. Don’t just say something to draw attention to yourself. You know that moment when you have the urge for your presence to be noticed. The moment you inject a superficial comment into a discussion, or even a false one. News flash: you’ll regret it. Follow your Prophet (saw) who did not speak unnecessarily. Every word weighed heavy in his scale of deeds. Ponder on this: not making any contribution to a conversation because you knew that you had nothing of value to add is better than adding what is unnecessary, ignorant, repetitive, superficial or false.
3) The third situation when keeping your mouth shut is best is when you are angry. Fact is that when you are angry you lose part of your ability to think straight, to reason, or perceive things clearly. In Arabic, the mind is called “AL AQL”, which means “ The Tether”. So in other words, your mind tethers your words and actions and keeps them in check. So, when you’re angry that tether comes undone, and you might say the wrong thing and regret it. That’s why the Prophet (saw) says,”The strong one is not one who is good at wrestling, but the strong one is one who controls himself in a fit of rage.” Being silent when you’re angry is crucial, because in a fit of rage you’ll most probably say that which you will regret afterwards. Your words will hurt others, severe relationship, even make you lose respect. And once that damage is done, you won’t be able to swallow your words. So, stay safe and don’t put yourself in a situation where you say to yourself,“ I wish I’d just kept my mouth shut.”
4) The fourth and last circumstance, is when you’re in the midst of a gossip, slander, or dirty joke session. If you can’t leave that hostile space, keep a straight face and make, “No comment.” If you are a special person who is courageous enough to defend others in their absence, then do so otherwise either leave or offer no comment. There is absolutely nothing you can say other than defending them that will be beneficial or rewarding in this situation. Remember the verse, “In no way does he utter a saying except that close to him is a (Guardian) constantly ready to record it” (Surat Qaf, 18). You don’t want to stare at your record on the Day of Judgment and find your gossip, slander, and foul language starting right back at you. Remember your words are part of your actions, if you don’t realize that you’ll be making a lot of mistakes and won’t even notice it until the book of records is laying in your hands. It’ll be too late then.
In closing, remember all of these are applicable to social media as well. Don’t read two words/phrases/clauses/sentences from someone’s comment/s and then respond. If you are going to respond you owe it to that person to read their entire comment /s, ponder over them and learn from them before responding. Don’t repeat/paraphrase what someone has already said, maybe just “Like” it or don’t respond at all because someone already said what you wanted. Don’t read someone’s comment with the intention to just attack them, your angry attitude towards that person will cloud your judgment and be reflected in your response. Don’t read into someone’s words what they didn’t say, instead ask for clarification. Don’t follow your doubts and false assumptions. All of these situations are covered under the hadith of the Prophet (salah Allah alayhe wa salam), “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent.”Be wise. Let your silences be an indication of your respectful and thoughtful nature. Let your utterances be reminders for yourself and others. Let your observations of situations around you be examples to follow or warnings to take heed from.
Next time you find yourself in these situations, remember, “Shhhhh!”