Saying Good or Remaining Silent

In his well-known, Mukhtasar Minhaj Al-Qasidin, Ibn Qudamah Al-Maqdisi states: “There are various flaws, which are related to the tongue and for which man finds special inclination in his heart stimulated by his human temperament. Silence is the only way with which man can escape from or get rid of such flaws. Therefore, it may be better to speak first about the virtue of silence, before dealing with the flaws pertaining to the tongue.
First of all, it should be known that silence comprehends man’s determination and rids his mind of wasteful thoughts. It was reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever can guarantee (the chastity of) what is between his two jaw-bones and what is between his two legs (i.e., his tongue and his private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
Moreover, in the well known Hadith reported on the authority of Mu`adh ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, took hold of his tongue and said, “Restrain this!” Mu`adh said, “O Messenger of Allah, will what we say be held against us?” He said, “May your mother be bereaved of you, Mu`adh! Is there anything that topples people on their faces – or he said on their noses – into Hell-fire other than the jests of their tongues?” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi)
Ibn Mas`ud said, “There is nothing that is in more need of imprisonment than my tongue.”
And, Abu Ad-Darda’ said, “Be just to your ears as (you are) to your tongue. You have been provided with two ears and (only) one tongue so that you may hear more than you speak.” [Al-Maqdisi, Ibn Qudamah, Mukhtasar Minhaj Al-Qasidin, published by Dar Al-Manarah, Egypt, 2002]
After stating this, Ibn Qudamah counted twelve destructive flaws that are pertaining to the tongue such as backbiting, telling lies, slandering, etc.
The eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, gives the following Fatwa: “There are numerous Hadiths that have come from the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, warning us against the flaws of the tongue. Among them is: “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say good or remain silent.”
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is also reported to have said,”Allah gives mercy to the one who says good thus gaining benefit, or keeps silent thus being granted safety (from saying wrong).”
Talkativeness causes a person to get entangled in many wrong things. The tongue has destructive flaws. Imam Al-Ghazali has counted up to twenty flaws, such as lying, backbiting, slandering, false testimony, oaths that lead to ones’ destruction, attacking peoples dignity, mocking and putting others down, and many others.
Further, Sheikh `Abdul-Ghani An-Nablusi has counted up to seventy-two flaws of the tongue and has included much detail on this.
If a person speaks too much, then he is subject to say wrong, to say things by accident, and to chew people’s flesh in their absence (i.e. backbiting). This is why safety is in remaining silent. This does not mean that a person should keep his mouth shut; but he should watch himself so that he does not speak except what is good and what pleases Allah, Mighty and Glorified be He.
Long ago people used to say: “If speech is silver, then silence is gold.” Here, we recall the following poetic lines:
O people! Guard strictly your statements,
Do not let them bite you for they are like serpents.
How many in the graves were victims of their statements,
And to whom even the brave dreaded their arguments.

In this world and the next, a person will see the consequences of the mistakes of his tongue. He will be afflicted and tormented with tremendous harm because of his tongue. This is why it was said: A stumble of the foot is an accident, soon one will be fine. But a stumble of the tongue can be deadly for the young.
Also, it was said: You possess the word. But when you say it, the word possesses you.” This is why a person must not be too talkative.
Most people who talk too much say wrong things, and thus they become the subject of discussion among people. It is obligatory upon the believer, who keeps Allah in mind and fears Him, to know that one’s speech is a part of his actions; it will be counted for or against him.
Allah Almighty says, “Certainly We have created man, and We know what his soul whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein There are two recording angels sitting one on the right and one on the left Not a word does he utter, but there is a watcher by him ready.” (Qaf: 16-18)
So, whoever knows that their words are exactly like their actions, written, calculated and counted upon them, then their speech will be reduced to only that which concerns them to be in the safe side.”