| 2 Summary of Ethics


Overall Meaning: The Meaning of Silence

Samt linguistically: samata yasmutu samtan wa sumutan wa sumatan (he is silent, exercises silence): meaning he is quiet. It is said to one who does not speak that he is samit (mute), and sakit is not used in that context. [388] al-Mu`jam al-Wasit (p. 522).

Samt technically: desisting from speech as long as truth is apparent. It is also said: that is the abstinence of the tongue when others are present. [389] al-Tawqif `ala Muhimmat al-Ta`arif, Zayn al-Din al-Manawi (p. 219) The Difference between Silence and Reticence

Reticence is desisting from speech whilst being able to speak. Ability to speak or the lack thereof is not considered in silence. Additionally, the period of time for which silence is adhered to is considered. Whoever is close-lipped for a short period of time is reticent. He is not considered silent unless he is so for a lengthy period of time. Reticence is not speaking regardless whether the spoken is truth or falsehood. Silence is only called so if it is from saying falsehood, not truth. [390] Nadrat al-Na`im, a number of researchers (7/2634). Commandments of Silence and Encouragement towards it in the Qur’an and Sunnah

❖ Allah, exalted, says: “Not a word does a person utter without having a vigilant observer ready to write it down.” Qaf: 18.
❖ He also says, honoured and majestic: “Do not follow blindly what you do not know to be true: ears, eyes, and heart, you will be questioned about all these.” al-Isra’: 36.
❖ Abu Hurayrah, Allah pleased with him, narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him say what is good or be silent...” [391] Reported by al-Bukhari (6475) and Muslim (48). Quotes of the Predecessors and Scholars on Silence

❖ Abu al-Darda’, Allah be pleased with him, said: “Learn silence just as you learn speech. Silence is a dear wisdom. Be more keen to listen than you are to speak, and do not speak about a matter that is of no concern to you. Laugh not but it be due to amazement, and walk not but with a purpose.” [392] Reported by al-Khara’iti in Makarim al-Akhlaq (p. 136).
❖ Anas ibn Malik, Allah be pleased with him, said: “Four do not cease being amazing: silence - and it is the first form of worship, humility, remembrance of Allah, and having little.” [393] Reported by Ibn Abi al-Dunya in al-Samt (p. 262) and Ibn Abi `Asim in al-Zuhd (p. 36) halted.
❖ Wuhayb ibn al-Ward, Allah have mercy upon him, said: “It used to be said: ‘Wisdom is ten parts: nine of them are in silence, and the tenth is in isolating oneself from the people.’” [394] Reported by Ibn Abi al-Dunya in al-Samt (p. 62). Categories of Silence
Praiseworthy silence: which is to withhold one’s tongue from all that Allah has forbidden of speech, like backbiting, slander, profanity, and similar things. Likewise, not saying that which is in itself permissible out of caution that it may lead to the impermissible. Blameworthy silence: is when one is silent when it is necessary to speak out. Examples of this include forbidding what is wrong, not spreading good talk, and concealing knowledge. Benefits of Silence
It is a sign of complete faith and sound Islam. It is a sign of good morals and a pure soul. It bears the fruits of Allah’s love then the people’s. It is from the greatest means to gaining poise and having dignity. It is a sign of wisdom. It is a saviour from mistakes, and a means to having free time for thinking, worship, and remembrance. Examples of Silence from the Life of the Prophet ﷺ and Companions, Allah be Pleased with Them

❖ Jabir ibn Sumrah said: “I was in the same sitting as the Prophet ﷺ more than one-hundred times. His companions would be saying poetry and remembering matters of their pre-Islamic past, and he would be quiet. Sometimes he would smile with them.” [395] Reported by al-Tirmidhi (2850) and the wording is his, as well as Ahmad (21010).
❖ Ibn Buraydah said: “I saw Ibn `Abbas grasping his tongue saying: ‘Woe to you! Say what is good and you will be prosperous, or at least do not say evil so that you are safe; if not, know you will be regretful.’ It was said to him: ‘Ibn `Abbas, why do you say this?’ He replied: ‘It reached me that man’ - I think he said this - ‘is not more infuriated or enraged with a body part of his on the Day of Recompense than he will be with his tongue, other than what he said of good or dictated therefrom.’” [396] Reported by Ahmad in Fada’il al-Sahabah (1846), Abu Nu`aym in Hilyat al-Awliya’ (1/327), and al-Fakahi in Akhbar Makkah (270). Means to Acquiring Silence
Reading the biographies of the Righteous Predecessors, emulating them in their silence. Contemplating the evil consequences of speech that is unnecessary and unbeneficial, which leads to speaking falsehood. Avoiding sittings wherein there is much clamour, lewdness, and profanity. Adages, Proverbs, and Poetry about Silence [397] al-Amthal, Abu `Ubayd (p. 44); `uyun al-Akhbar, Ibn Qutaybah (2/192); Rabi` al-Abrar, al-Zamakhshari (2/134). Ghamsiyyah refers to a ghamizah (blemish, shortcoming).

❖ It used to be said: “If you missed some manners, then keep to silence.” [398] `Uyun al-Akhbar, Ibn Qutaybah (2/192).
❖ “Silence is best for hiding faults and avoiding errors.” [399] Rabi` al-Abrar, al-Zamakhshari (2/134).
❖ Abu Ja`far al-Qurashi said:

“Conceal deficiency -if possible- by silence.
In silence, there be much rest for the silent.

Make silence your reply if you come up short.
Many a statement’s response lies in silence.” [400] Reported by Ibn Abi al-Dunya in al-Samt (700).

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