Stage 1: Purification of the Tongue

Sins of the Tongue


Controlling one’s tongue has great benefits in this life as well as a positive impact on one’s hereafter. By intentionally managing our words, we will stop causing upset to people and as a result people will start to like us more and we will be more successful in this life & the hereafter.

This is narrated in the hadith below.

“Whoever guarantees me (the chastity of) what is between his legs (i.e. his private parts), and what is between his jaws ( i.e., his tongue), I guarantee him Paradise.”

Summary of the Sins to Avoid

The following are the sins of the tongue that one should avoid.

  1. Backbiting
  2. Slander
  3. Revealing someone’s secret
  4. Making a false promise
  5. Lying
  6. Swearing
  7. Cursing
  8. Singing or reciting sensual or sexual lewd lyrics
  9. Excessive talking and laughing
  10. Useless talk
  11. Ridiculing another person
  12. Obscene or rude talk
  13. Uttering black magic words in order to bring about paranormal effects
  14. Praising people in their presence who are not free of arrogance & conceit
  15. Hypocrisy i.e. being two-faced
  16. Argumentation & intense debate
  17. Finding fault with what Allah has given them
  18. Incessantly talking about affairs that do not concern them
  19. Making statements about oneself that express that one is pure and fault-free

Explanation of some of the Sins

1. Backbiting

To mention a fault about an identified or named absent person, such that if he were to hear it, they would dislike it.

There are eight situations in which backbiting is permissible:

  1. Complaining about a wrong that someone did to one (perhaps in order to redress this wrong)
  2. Asking for help to stop another person from disobeying Allah جل جلاله
  3. Asking a scholar for a legal opinion about a matter that involves another person
  4. Warning people about a bad man or woman who harms people or causes trouble
  5. Identifying a person who is only known by a degrading name (e.g., “the leper”)
  6. Talking about the disobedience of a person who openly disobeys Allah جل جلاله and does not care
  7. Telling the truth about a person when someone asks for advice in order to decide whether or not to deal with him (e.g. get married to him, do business with him, choose him as a friend, etc.)
  8. Finding out the reliability of witnesses or narrators.

2. Slander

Making up a false statement about a person and spreading it in public.

3. Revealing Someone’s Secret

When you hear something shameful about somebody, you are obliged to keep it a secret unless it is definitely against the law. Even if the matter is an infraction of the religious law, you are bound to keep it a secret if it does not concern you. If it concerns and touches you, you are free to divulge what you heard; yet it is still better to keep silent, even in grave cases. If what you heard is a violation against somebody’s rights, seriously hurts another member of the community, or is legally punishable, then it is your right to divulge what you know. But if the wrong done, did not cause any harm to anybody nor is punishable under the constraints of the law, it is best to keep one’s silence.

4. Making a False Promise

“O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? It is most hateful to Allah جل جلاله that you should say that which you do not do.” (Surah as-Saff 61:2-3)

Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (May Allah جل جلاله have mercy upon him) has explained this Ayat in the following manner:
“A believer’s promise to his believing brother is a vow that has no expiation (It cannot be broken). But one who goes back on his word declares his opposition and enmity to Allah جل جلاله ,and invokes the anger of Allah جل جلاله“.

5. Lying

Another detestable utterance of the tongue is lying. Telling untruths is certainly one of the gravest sins if it is done on purpose, when one knows perfectly that the thing is untrue and intends to cause harm by saying it. The worst of lying and slander is to slander Allah جل جلاله and His Messenger (Peace be upon him). Anyone who attributes words and actions to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) without being sure of their authenticity is committing a grave sin.

Lesser forms of lying include promising something you know you will not be able to deliver; offering made-up dreams for interpretations;
listening critically to the talk of people you dislike with the intention of repeating it, hoping to create contempt for them; repeating in public things you have heard said in private and making fun of people.

It is permitted to say something which is untrue in three situations:  

  1. In marriage, when a husband compliments his wife with the intention of pleasing her
  2. In war
  3. When reconciling between two people, you can say to one of them that the other was saying good about you, when he actually wasn’t. Only for the purpose to bring them two together.


It is lawful to lie in the above three situations in order to bring peace. There are also other acceptable conditions:

  • Telling fables, fairy tales to children for the purpose of amusement or education
  • Expressing one’s ability to give something when asked by saying, “maybe, if I can, one day, soon” as a delaying tactic, as not to break one’s heart
  • Exaggeration such as, “I invited you a hundred times, I told you a thousand times”

6. Swearing

Know that people who use bad words and have dirty mouths will be one of the worst people on the Day of Judgment.

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
“O ‘Aaishah! Have you ever seen me speaking bad and dirty language? (Remember that) the worst people in Allah جل جلاله‘s sight on the Day of Resurrection will be those whom the people desert or leave in order to save themselves from their dirty language or from their transgression.” (Bukhaari)

7. Cursing

To curse people or to even curse at animals and at things, is very dangerous. Cursing is defined as wishing for someone to have great harm, to be damned, to be chased away from the mercy of Allah جل جلاله . No one has the right to curse anyone, be it a believer or a disbeliever, especially if there is no reason behind it.