One of the important teachings of the Qur’an is what may be called ‘speech management’. That is the use of words with an extreme sense of responsibility and not letting one’s tongue get out of control. This teaching is stressed in the chapter Al-Nisa’ (Women) of the Qur’an: There is no good in most of their secret talk, except in the case of those who enjoin charity and kindness, or reconciliation between people. If anyone does that, seeking the pleasure of God, We will give him an immense reward. (4:114)
This Qur’anic verse does not pertain to specifically secret talk. It includes all kinds of talks and conversations. The power of speech given to man is a very rare quality. It is an exclusive boon for both men and women. But, every gift involves responsibility, and this is especially true in the case of the power of speech. One must use this power with great caution. Speech, to be of proper value, must be used in those fields which are useful for mankind. Such use of speech is worthy of reward, while the misuse of speech is liable to punishment.
The art of speech management means the control of your tongue, thinking before speaking, and calculating in advance the impact of what you have to say. You should avoid negative talk, telling lies, misrepresentation of facts, and any kind of utterances that may create a rift or suspicion between two people or two groups. Speech is most commonly misused when people do not know the difference between an allegation and a statement based on evidence. If you want to say anything about anyone, first of all, you have to examine whether what you have to say is supported by logic or not. If you have good reason to speak, then you may open your mouth, otherwise, you should remain silent. Here the options are clear.
What is right speech? Right speech is that which is based on truth, which will stand up to objective analysis—is based on certified data that is positive in nature—and which will not create any unnecessary problems. All human activities are related to speech in some way or the other. So, every man and woman must develop the art of speaking in a manner that is positive and which creates a healthy atmosphere in all important spheres—the family, society, and the nation. Good speech is the basis of nation-building. The art of speech management means the control of your tongue, thinking before speaking, and calculating in advance the impact of what you have to say. People generally live without discipline; they dislike imposing any constraints on their activities. This is very true of speech. Right speech means disciplined speech, talking in a properly controlled way. That is, weighing every word before speaking.
Futile speech is good for nothing, whereas well-considered speech is a source of the greatest good. The art of speech management is the most vital part for a man or a woman. Without acquiring this art, a man is only half a man and a woman is only half a woman. Only those—both men and women—who have developed the art of right speech, can be said to be complete human beings.