1 June 2008

Watch your tone...

When one speaks to a guest or any other person in a gathering or alone, one should always maintain a pleasant voice, with a low but audible tone. Raising the voice is contrary to correct adab and indicates lack of respect for the person to whom you are talking. One should maintain this adab whether at home or in any other place, with family friends and others. Adab starts at home. If you only observe something outside of the home and not outside then this is clearly only for show.

Perhaps the most important point to note is to adhere to this adab when speaking with one's parents or someone of status or an elder or someone whom you have great respect for. If appropriate one should smile whilst talking to others (obviously not to non-mahrams!). It is is the simple action such as the smile that may act as your charity or simply allow others to be more receptive towards what you have to say, dispelling the stern and humourless impression many have of Muslims today.

The Quran relates to us the advice of Luqman the sage to his son, directing him to speak in a gentle manner, speaking loudly is detested and ugly.
وَٱقۡصِدۡ فِى مَشۡيِكَ وَٱغۡضُضۡ مِن صَوۡتِكَ‌ۚ إِنَّ أَنكَرَ ٱلۡأَصۡوَٲتِ لَصَوۡتُ ٱلۡحَمِيرِ
"And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass."
(Surah Luqman: verse 19)

Similarly in verses two and three of Surah Hujarat:
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تَرۡفَعُوٓاْ أَصۡوَٲتَكُمۡ فَوۡقَ صَوۡتِ ٱلنَّبِىِّ وَلَا تَجۡهَرُواْ لَهُ ۥ بِٱلۡقَوۡلِ كَجَهۡرِ بَعۡضِڪُمۡ لِبَعۡضٍ أَن تَحۡبَطَ أَعۡمَـٰلُكُمۡ وَأَنتُمۡ لَا
تَشۡعُرُونَ - إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَغُضُّونَ أَصۡوَٲتَهُمۡ عِندَ رَسُولِ ٱللَّهِ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱمۡتَحَنَ ٱللَّهُ قُلُوبَہُمۡ لِلتَّقۡوَىٰ‌ۚ لَهُم مَّغۡفِرَةٌ۬ وَأَجۡرٌ عَظِيمٌ
O ye who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk, as ye may speak aloud to one another lest your deeds become vain and ye perceive not. (2) Those that lower their voice in the presence of Allah's Messenger― their hearts has Allah tested for piety: for them is Forgiveness and a great Reward. (3)

Imam Bukhari (رحمة الله عليه) reported that 'Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr (رضى الله عنه) said that after the revelation of this verse, whenever Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضى الله عنه) wanted to speak to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), he would talk almost in whispers and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) could hardly hear him and would ask him to repeat what he said (Sahih Bukhari).
Al Hafiz al-Dhahabi wrote in his biography of Imam ibn Sireen (رحمة الله عليه) the great scholar, "Whenever he was in his mother's presence, he would talk in such a hushed voice that you would think he was ill." (Tarikh al-Islam)
In his biography of Abdullah ibn Awn al-Basri (رحمة الله عليه), a student of Imam Ibn Sireen (رحمة الله عليه) and one of the famous scholars, he noted:
"One time his mother called him and because he responded with a voice louder than hers, he was fearful and repentant, thus freeing two slaves." (Ibid)
So it is important to only talk as loud as is necessary, and not to raise ones voice over the one whom one respects or is honourable.

Ettiquette between brothers and sisters in conversation

It may ofte be necessary, particularly in the west for a non related brother and sister to speak, whether it be in a shop, at school, college, a hospital, or otherwise. Talking reflects ones personality, this can often cause a problem in conversations between sisters and brothers who are non-mahram to each other. When a sister talks with a non-mahram brother, she should be aware of her tone. She must not beautify her voice but attempt to make it thicker with the intention of pleasing Allah and not falling prey to the one who may have illness in his heart. This means she has to make more effort if her voice is particularly gentle, so inshaAllah will have a greater reward for it. This is not something one should overlook, particularly given the times we live in.
Another problem one faces today is the western ettiquette of "looking at the person you are talking to". This is another cause for concern, as the commands of Allah are being shelved and brothers and sisters believe it is okay to "look" because you are talking to that person. One should ask oneself, does the blind man see the people he talks to in order to judge their tone or understand what they are saying? It is simply unnecessary, and one should take care of ones tone and lower one's gaze when talking to members of the opposite sex, do not give shaytaan a free invitation.


robin said...

Do only brothers have "illness" in the heart?

Umm Salihaa said...

Asalamualaikum wahrehmatullah

Indeed it is not true, that only brothers have illness in their heart, however in the context of a woman not beautifying her voice...then the above refers to the brother.

With respect to the sister, it is an illness of her heart if she intentionally beautifys her voice or herself in order to attract the attention of a brother, so it is correct to say that noone is free of the lure of shaytaan or indeed the nafs.

May Allah guide us all and grant us all protection from falling prey to such acts.


JazakhumAllahu khairun for your comment

robin said...

Walaikumasalaam Sister.

No problem

I just wanted to make it clear because if one were to read the post, it was easy to assume that only Brothers had this illness and that only they were attracted to a beautified voice when in fact a Sister, under shaytaan's influence, is just as much vulnerable.

Also, you correctly stated in the post that this was particularly a western practice, but what is also a western practice is those of the same gender being attracted to one another. In this case, would it have been more correct to advise Sisters and Brothers not to beautify their voices to anyone at all outside their extended family?

I understand your advice may have been referring to Sisters only but I think it was important to state both sides particularly as the title referred to the "Etiquette between Brothers and Sisters".

Jazakallahu Khair

Umm Salihaa said...

Asalamualaikum wahrehmatullah

JazakhumAllahu khairun for your additional points.

Personally if someone beautify's her voice infront of other sisters for example, there is nothing to say this isn't allowed- that I have come accross...however, then one may consider envy, jelousy and other such illnesses too...of a sister to a sister. So I guess this is an expandable topic.

With regards to adab when speaking to a woman I would ask brothers to read the following answer by Shaykh Salih Al-Munajjid:


Whilst I understand the angle you take on the western practice of same gender relationships, this is clearly forbidden in Islam
Ref: http://islamqa.com/en/ref/10050/
so in terms of "Adab in Islam" or the adab of conversation this is not relevant to the above mentioned post. However, I will consider writing about such matters in future posts inshaAllah.

robin said...

Sister, with all due respect, it is completely relevant to the post. If a) beautifying ones voice is seen as being attractive and b) a female can be attracted to a female, then this point is completely relevant.

If advising a Sister not to beautify her voice to a Brother is "in" Islamic adab, then advising a Sister not to beautify her voice to a fellow Sister is also "in" Islamic adab.

Yes, same gender relationships are forbidden in Islam but this does not mean they do not exist. Should we ignore them and not advice on preventing/avoiding them. The post is not on same gender relationships, I agree. But, same gender relationships was used as a reason for why a Sister should not beautify her voice to a Sister either, which the post did not highlight and which was my original point on "illness" in the heart.

Let's not concentrate on the "in" and be more generous with the advice Inshaallah. If something is clearly forbidden, it does not mean it is irrelevant, in fact, some would argue it is more relevant due the seriousness of it.

Do you agree a certain type of woman can be attracted to another woman if she beautifies her voice? Yes, it is forbidden but it exists. Our adab must be to speak in a way that we are wary of this possibility, be it as a male or female, to a male or female.

Please let me know your thoughts. If you think I am being overly critical, please do not take it to heart. I'm sure this is the purpose of the blog - for everyone to benefit. If I have made a mistake then please point it out to me so I can learn. Keep up the good work.

Jazakallahu Khair