By Mohammad Bayat
The tongue is a dangerous part of the human body. ‘The boneless tongue, so small and weak, can crush and kill, declared the Greek.’1 The slick tongue is a burden for those who don’t know how to use it. ‘ A Persian proverb wisely saith,’ A lengthy tongue- an early death.’ 2 From a young age we are told to watch what we say. The tongue can be sweet like honey and bitter like poison. ‘A true Muslim will bite his tongue seven times before a word is uttered from his mouth.’3 This will ensure a man that he has thought before he has spoken. Does our tongue have seven layers? The tongue is truly a piece of flesh that has so much more to it than we may think. I can always heal a broken bone, a cut on my face, but never can I cure the heart that has been stabbed by my harsh tongue. A good word always heals a wounded heart. Unpleasant words uttered from our mouth to a person will never be forgotten. You can shatter a mirror into a hundred pieces and glue those pieces together. No matter what you do you may never remove the cracks- they are seen even when the mirror is glued back together. The same goes with a human heart. The person affected may mend their heart but they remember those harsh words that once hurt them. ‘ From Hebrew with the maxim sprung, ‘though feet shall slip ne’er let the tongue.’4
The tongue will bring us to hell if we don’t use it correctly. How is that so? Words that come out of our mouth are forgotten just as they are spoken. We speak millions of words a day; you can’t possibly remember what you have said. You cannot possibly collect all the raindrops that fall from the sky. The same goes with the words that come out of our mouth. What said from our mouths will bring us to hell fire? ‘Don’t let it be said that your words were harsh, vulgar, belittling or cruel. Remember words can be food for thought or a fire’s fuel. You must understand, then demand to comprehend that it is all in The Power of the Tongue.’5 The tongue stings just as a bee does. The harshness that comes out of our mouth peels away the flesh of someone or even worse.
‘Watch what you say’, yells my mother. ‘Don’t make yourself look like a fool, says my grandmother.’ ‘Remember whatever that comes out of your mouth represents my family utters my father.’ Is it really true that my tongue plays such a big role in my life? I only see a meaty piece of flesh that just stays in my mouth. It only works when I want it to. How can it affect me so much? ‘What you say to yourself is what you make of yourself. Where you take yourself is where you place yourself. You must understand then demand to comprehend, that life and death are in....the Power of the Tongue.’ 6 I now know how my tongue works. This tongue that belongs in my mouth has been affecting my soul, language, behavior, and reputation. It is so much more than a fleshy piece of meat in my mouth. I can reconcile relations with this tongue. I can also lie, and destroy a family with this tongue. I can compare it to hell on wheels.
In the “Power of the Tongue,” writes:
‘The power of words that flow from our heart bring honor and instruction,
But words uncontrolled tear others apart with sorrow, pain and destruction.
Even though the tongue is small, the power it generates is great.
It's the spark that lights the fire. Calamity and heartache await.
The tongue can be used to praise our God or curse the ones He created.
Once it is loosed and out of control, it's impossible to sedate it.
As water pure and that defiled can't flow from the very same source,
So words that heal are canceled out by words that blow others off course.
So let us watch our tongue today. Consider God's Word and fear it.
Let us submit our unruly heart to the Lordship of God's Spirit.
Let us reach up and trust our God to give us the Spirit's power
To live today governing our tongue as we walk with Him each hour.’7
The tongue so small yet so powerful, and it affects our lives in ways we may have never known. We must sit and analyze and get flashbacks of those times where we have accidently used our tongue in a hurtful way. We must remember the affects it had caused. Islamic laws prohibit its followers from gossiping behind anyone’s back. It is compared worse than adultery. The reason it is compared worse than adultery is because if someone commits adultery they can ask God for forgiveness and God will hopefully forgive. But when one gossips or backbites against someone they cannot repent to God, because you must go to that person and ask them for forgiveness first. That would be the most embarrassing thing to have to do in order to be forgiven by God. There is no reason for me to gossip behind someone in the first place. I have heard my priest say that the Koran states that those who gossip behind someone is like he or she are chewing there ‘dead brothers flesh’. 8 I have also heard that when once gossips about someone their good deeds go to that person being talked about and their sins for the day are transferred to the other person.
Tongue- ‘Anatomy. The usually movable organ in the floor of the mouth in humans and most vertebrates, functioning in eating, in tasting, and, in humans, in speaking.’ 9 Interesting, I thought to myself. It only states that the tongue has three main functions: eating, tasting, and talking. There is definitely not enough on information on the tongue. The tongue to me seems like a simple piece of meat when I read this definition. I decided to make a definition for myself on what I believe the tongue is. My definition for the tongue is as follows, ‘ A piece of flesh, visible to the human eye, small, meaty, the ignition to the fire or the water of salvation, the object of wrath, or the honey to happiness. The tongue/my tongue/your tongue/his tongue/her tongue/their tongue/ need to be careful of what comes out of it. The children of Adam usually commit the biggest sins by the use of their tongue. Watching what we say should be an eminent part of ones lives. The tongue of fire for those who need not fear God and the tongue of love, happiness, faith for those who fear the Almighty. I now can see a piece of flesh that can be controlled by my actions. I need to take control of it rather than it controlling me. For in the long run I am the one who suffers and it, the tongue just remains there inside my mouth all protected while I am out in the open. Vulnerable to a backlash by people. I need to watch my tongue and my tongue should watch me.
Around the mosques there are hundreds of people. All I can see is meat in their mouths and blood drooling down their chins. Their white clothes stained with their dead brothers flesh, the flesh that they have chewed. It is unbearable. I cannot move, for I am dead. I cannot say anything for my body had no motion. All I can do is witness this horrible scene. “Stop talking behind each other, I yell”. No luck. My body is being carried by the congregation to my final resting place. How is wished I had another few days to live. I wish to inform those living that the promises of God are true and that you should live your life according to his commands. The angel of death told me that this was the only age that God blessed me with. I had lived my life and now it was time to be questioned on how I had lived it. I remember being able to scream, and talk. I wish that I could have had my tongue to use. “I don’t want to go.” “I want to live I yell!” No luck, they cannot hear me. It already too late, the last shovel of dirt has been thrown over my grave and everyone has left.” I am all alone, so scared, so cold, and it is so dark. I am to remain in this place until the day of reckoning.
I swear by this flesh, this dirty flesh, there was something more than it belonging in my mouth. Its now the day of reckoning and I am standing in front of my lord. The chaos is unbearable; nothing can save me today, not my mother, my father, nor my children, or relatives. I am in a streak of motion I cannot stop. I am walking toward a path that I wish I had not. Oh how I wish I were on earth. I remember being able to control all of my actions. The angels of God take me to a room and begin questioning me. Ya Mohammad, “How did you live your life”? I reply, “I tried to live my life purely and made some mistakes here and there.” Ya Mohammad, “With the bodily parts that you were blessed with by thy Lord, how were they used?” “Which body parts I ask?” “They reply asking me about my tongue.” “The tongue?” “Yes they say, waiting for my answer.” “Blessings be upon the lord of the world and hereafter, the promises of thy lord has been fulfilled, I have not used my tongue in any manner against the commands of God, I controlled it so that it would not take control of me. I understood it as a piece of flesh that had more than one face. It was a creature inside of a creature, inside of a creature.” “Yes thy Lord never turns back against his promises, you have lived your life according to the principles of the Islamic faith and now you may enter the gardens of Jannah (heaven).” “Run to the Gate before it closes, we were waiting for you.” “The gate is opened at my arrival and I am greeted by the those who control it.” “As I greet them, my tongue is shining like the moon.”
1Philip B. Strong, “The Tongue”
2 Philip B. Srong, “The Tongue”
3 Imam Ali, “Sayings from the Nahjul Balagha”
4 Philip B. Strong, “The Tongue”
5 Philip B. Strong, “The Tongue”
6 Ge’ylah Jones-Bradford, “Power of the Tongue”
7 Ge’ylah Jones-Bradford, “Power of the Tongue”
8 George Cuff, “The power of the Tongue”
9 Koranic Text, “Surah Al Hujurt verse 12”
10 Dictionary.com, “Definition of Tongue”