Silence: the Mark of a Believer Nadir Amirali

 He who speaks more commits more errors. He who commits more errors becomes shameless. He who is shameless will have less fear of Allah. He whose fear of Allah is less, his heart dies. He whose heart dies enters the fire. He who knows that his speech is also a part of his action speaks less except where he has some purpose." – Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him)
There are numerous authentic traditions attributed to the Holy Household of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them) on the importance of silence. In fact, silence was one of the very characteristic qualities of the companions of the Prophets and Imams as well as the Prophets and Imams themselves. It is one of the many important qualities one must acquire in his quest for the Divine. It is a sign of many virtues such as a strong intellect (Aql) and wisdom. Therefore, we should strive to make silence one of the defining qualities of our personality.
What is so good about silence that the Ahlul Bayt stressed its importance to the faithful? It must be more than a mere absence of noise. One might notice among friends that silence is avoided, even feared. So much so, in fact, that when there is a gap of silence during a conversation, someone will say something nonsensical just to escape the unbearable void of awkwardness. Still, what's the big deal about silence?
Silence cultivates one's spirituality and feeling of nearness to Allah. The more we adopt the practice of silence in our lives, the more beautiful we will find it to be. Let us elaborate on some of its benefits.

First and foremost, tranquility. Every morning, if one allocates even a quarter of an hour to the practice of silence before going to work or school, he will face the challenges of the day ahead in a positive manner. If one lets the silence permeate into every single part of his body, the feelings of anxiety and stress will disappear. Similarly, after a hard day's work, or just ten minutes before prayer time, if one devotes a few minutes to silence, he will find it easier to concentrate during his worship. He will feel closer to Allah.

Simply put, shut your mouth and open your mind. Wherever you go, whatever you do, don't say a word. Just observe what you're doing and what others are doing. Observe everything. Don't judge, just watch quietly and absorb everything around you. Eventually, if you do this for long enough, you will find yourself organizing and sifting through all those thoughts in your head. You will discard the rubbish, and you will save the jewels. You will think about your experiences and the experiences of others, and you will extract valuable lessons that will help you in life. You will begin to see Allah's beauty in every single thing, be it your fingers on the keyboard or the waves in the sea. You begin – there is no other way to put this – to understand.

Imam Ali says that the wiser man is, the less he will speak. Think about this for a second. Wisdom will come about as you reflect on the nature of everything. You'll adopt silence because it's the smart thing to do: silence guards secrets, silence controls the tongue, silence gets rid of nonsense (in your head as well as in your speech), silence sharpens the wit, and silence increases the value of your words. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) said that one who knows the value of his speech will also know the value of silence. In fact, if one adopts silence, he will value his speech and therefore guard it like he guards his wealth.

Finally, silence strengthens one's Aql. The carnal self (the Nafs) thrives on foolishness. It feeds on impulsive and thoughtless actions, and therefore, speech. Realize, as our holy Imam says, that your speech is a part of your action. If you think before you act, you will think before you speak. If you think before you speak, you will stop saying foolish things accidentally. You will stop unintentionally revealing your secrets (and the secrets of others). Furthermore, silence gives one control over his emotions, especially anger. It is said that anger is a type of madness. Subdue that anger with silence, and you will put an end to a great many detrimental things in your life.
Some ways to adopt silence in your life

Insha'Allah, if we decide to adopt the way of silence, we will find ourselves tearing one more veil that separates us from our Creator. And surely He knows best.

 Speech and Silence

Imam Ali (a.s.) says:

لاَ خَيْرَ فِيْ الصُّمْتِ عَنِ الْحُكْمِ كَمَا اَنَّهُ لاَ خَيْرَ فِيْ الْقَوْلِ بِالْجَهْلِ

Neither the silence of a wise man nor the speech of an ignorant has any profit.[1][1]

Brief description

God has urged those who are informed and learned not to remain silent against deviations, misbehavior, injustices and divisive actions of enemies. They should radiate the light of guidance, truth and justice on the hearts through their warm and reasonable logic and expression. Everybody is considered informed and responsible for what he knows, although it may be little. On the other hand, those who do not have sufficient information should not mislead people through their improper interference. That silence and this speech both cause misfortune.


[1][1] Nahjul Balaaghah, aphorisms.

Articles/Extracts Related to speech ::-   BACKBITING    |  Taqiayah    /   LYING

H a d i t h

5ـ الإمامُ عليٌّ (عَلَيهِ الّسَلامُ) ـ لِقَنْبرٍ وقد رامَ أن يَشتِمَ شاتِمَهُ ـ: مَهْلاً يا قَنبرُ ! دَعْ شاتِمَكَ مُهاناً تُرْضِ الرَّحمنَ وتُسخِطُ الشَّيطانَ وتُعاقِبُ عَدُوَّكَ ، فَوَالذي فَلَقَ الحَبَّةَ وبَرَأ النَّسَمَةَ ما أرضَى المؤمنُ رَبَّهُ بِمِثلِ الحِلْمِ ، ولا أسخَطَ الشَّيطانَ بِمِثلِ الصَّمتِ ، ولا عُوقِبَ الأحمَقُ بمِثلِ السُّكوتِ عَنهُ.

5– Imam Ali (AS) said to Qanbar when he wished to insult a man who had insulted him, 'Careful Qanbar! Leave your insulter to his disdain and you will please the Beneficent Lord, displease Satan and punish thereby your enemy, for by the One who split the grain and created the breeze, there is no stance better than clemency with which a believer can please his Lord, and nothing like silence to offend Satan, and an idiot is best punished by ignoring him.’[Amali al-Mufid, p. 118, no. 2]


6ـ الإمامُ الكاظمُ (عَلَيهِ الّسَلامُ) ـ لَمّا رَأى رَجُلَينِ يَتَسابّانِ ـ: البادِي أظلَمُ ، ووِزرُهُ ووِزرُ صاحِبِهِ علَيهِ ما لَم يَعتَدِ المَظلومُ.

6– Imam al-Kazim (AS) when he saw two people insulting each other, said, 'The initiator is the more unjust and bears his own sin as well as the sin of his opponent as long as the latter does not retort.’[Tuhaf al-`Uqoul, no. 412]


When Allah wishes to bless His servant, then He helps him in controlling his tongue.

Instead of finding faults in others, Allah keeps him busy in looking at his own defects.

Those who speak less, their intelligence is complete and their hearts are pure.

Those who speak more, their intelligence is incomplete and their hearts are hard.

(Nahjul Balagah)


A God-fearing man’s tongue should be behind his heart.

First, he should think, then he should speak justly. Otherwise he should keep quiet.

A Munafik acts just the opposite of this. He keeps talking rubbish. He is not worried about what he is talking.

(Nahjul Balagah)


Imām `Alī ibn Husayn (a.s.) said:"The human tongue does a favor on other parts of the body every day. It inquires about their condition. The parts of body say: If you spare us, we will remain in good condition. They beg for Allāh’s mercy and say that if they are rewarded, it is because of the tongue and if they are punished, it is also because of the tongue.”[Reference:  Iqbal al-A`amal, page  299]