يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا
Yā ayyuhalladhīna āmanūt-taqullāh wa-qulū qawlan sadīda
O you who believe! Be God conscious and speak upright words
(Sūratul AHzāb, No. 33, Āyat 70)
Words of the human being are a reflection of what goes on in the heart and mind of the person. The cleanliness of the heart, or its pollution, is displayed through the words that come out from the mouth. Amīrul Mu’minīn Imam Ali (a) says: Speak and you will be known, for a person is hidden under his tongue (MH, H. 17848). Words also convey a message to the hearer and can communicate important, even life changing, ideas. Words are thus powerful tools for spreading good and curtailing evil.
According to the above āyat, believers should have taqwā and speak the upright words (qawlan sadīdan). The word ‘sadidan’ comes from sadda, that which is firm and strong; that which closes off, and obstructs, like a barrier or dam.
The upright word:
– is firm and consistent
– is based on truth which is a strong foundation
– does not let falsehood and wrong seep through it and weaken it.
– obstructs evil, prevents it from going forward and pushes it back.
The ability to speak upright words comes from faith in God and the desire to please Him through using the tongue in the right way. This God consciousness which should be a natural result of faith in God, gives the strength and courage to speak the upright words. There can be no fear or concern about people. Upright words are only for the sake of Allah. That is what makes them so powerful and effective.
Hadith tell us that whenever the Holy Prophet (s) sat on the pulpit to talk to the believers, he would recite the above verse before starting. It is a good practice to follow. Recite the verse whenever you try to guide and encourage others towards good. It is a reminder that you must be God conscious in what you say, and should make your words firm and upright. And the reward of your efforts is clearly mentioned in the verse that follows: (Allah) shall rectify your conduct for you, and He shall forgive you your sins (Q 33:71).
Sources: Aytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirazī (ed), Tafsīr Namūne;
Muhammad al-Rayshahrī, Mizānul Hikmah