Advice of Imam (as) on Thinking before Talking


Our 11th Imam (as) was born on the 10th of Rabi’ al-Thani, in the year 232 AH in Madinatul-Munawwarah. He (as) was the son of Imam al-Hadi (as) & Sayyida Hadeesa Khatoon (as). He (as) was known as Abu Muhammad meaning ‘the father of Muhammad’, the name of our 12th Imam (AJ). And among his titles, he (as) was popularly known as: Al-Zakee (the pure one) and Al-’Askary.


Al-‘Askar in Arabic means ‘an army’. In history, there are two different reasons given as to why our 11th Imam (as) was known as Al-‘Askary.

Some historians write that when Mu’tasimbillah, the Abbasid caliph chose a place called ‘Surman Ray’ as the base for him army, this place became known as Al-‘Askar. Our 11th Imam (as) lived at this place with his Holy Father and therefore became known as Hasan Al-‘Askary meaning ‘Hasan –the resident of Al-‘Askar’.

And others write that there is an incident related to why our Imam (as) became known as Al-‘Askary. Once, the Abbasid ruler called our Imam (as) to his palace and ordered his army to march past before him. He did this to show his might & power and create fear in the heart of our Imam (as) lest the Imam (as) was thinking of overthrowing him. When the march past was over, our Imam (as) asked the caliph to gaze between two of his fingers. The caliph saw a huge army of lancers and swordsmen marching past, a much bigger army than that of the caliph and named him Al-‘Askary meaning ‘the man with great army’.


In one of his traditions, the Imam (as) has been reported saying:

“The heart of a fool is in his mouth and the mouth of the wise is in his heart”. (Tuhaf al-‘Uqool)

Basically, what the Imam (as) is implying is that a foolish person will always talk without thinking whereas a wise person will always first think and then talk. Some people will feel that they are free to express whatever comes into their minds. Islam says: No! You must first think that what you are about to say- is it right or wrong, and what are its repercussions before you utter any word.


Regarding people who talk without thinking, there are three things that Islam is telling us about them:


They are foolish; therefore, one must always distant himself from such people lest they are affected by his foolishness.

It is narrated that:

[One day, Prophet ‘Issa (as) was seen running away from a man. He (as) was asked as to why he (as) was running, he (as) replied,

“I am running away from an AHMAQ (a fool)”. People said to him, “O Spirit of Allah! You have power to bring the dead to life”. He (as) replied, “Yes, I do have that power but I find it difficult to bring a fool to his senses”.] (Lessons from Life)


Islam says that never to discuss or argue on anything with such people for they will never find any reason in what you are telling them. Quran has offered a beautiful way of dealing with them.

“And the servants of the All Beneficent are those who walk humbly on the earth, and when the ignorant address them, they say: Peace!”. (25:63)

It is narrated that:

[There was a man who belonged to Banu Abbas. He was a staunch enemy of Ahlul-Bayt (as) and despite being given all the proofs of Imam Ali (as) ‘s successorship; he was not willing to accept them.

One day, he got up from his sleep and narrated to some people his dream in which he had seen Imam Ali (as). He said, “I confronted Ali (as) in my dream regarding his Khilafah and he (as) had nothing to offer me as explanation”. When people asked him what did Ali (as) say to him, he replied, “Every time I confronted him, he (as) repeatedly said: ‘Peace!’”. People scoffed at him and said, “Understand what Ali (as) did to you! Not that he (as) did not have any reply for you, he said ‘Peace’ because this is the Quranic Instruction for the believers to say when confronted by ignorant who are also foolish”.] (Quran-o-‘Itrat)

And thirdly

The consequences of people who have the habit of talking without thinking are problems in this world and in the Hereafter.

[A Vazeer was having a stroll one night in the city to find out the condition of the subjects. As he passed by a shop, he heard a murmur. The Vazeer came closer and peeped through a hole of that shop. He saw a man giving finishing touches to a very nice shawl that he had woven and at the same time saying: “O my tongue! Please remain under my control when I go tomorrow to give this present to the king”.

The next day, the man came to the court and presented the gift to the king. The Vazeer was also present. Everyone liked the workmanship and material of that shawl. Each one present in the court also expressed his opinion about the purpose the shawl should be used for. Ultimately, the king said, “Let us ask the man himself about the purpose of this shawl”.

The man, who had no control over his tongue and had the habit of talking without thinking, said: “This shawl would be very artistic covering over the shroud of the king when he dies”. The king and all those present in the court were angrily astonished at this blunt reply. Out of anger the king ordered the man to be beheaded.

It was here that the Vazeer intervened and narrated the story of the previous night. He said, “O King! This man’s tongue is not under his control – he does not at all mean bad for you”. The man, thereupon was released.]

(Lessons from Life)

So talking without thinking can cause serious problems in this life…as well as in the Hereafter!

Shaykh Sadooq (ar) has reported from Imam Ali (as) who had said to his son Muhammad al-Hanafiyya regarding control of tongue:

“O son! Do not speak what you know not, Infact do not also speak all that you know for Allah (SWT) has given certain responsibilities to each of your organs and you shall be questioned about them on the Day of Judgement.” The Imam (as) then recited this verse from the Holy Quran, in which, Allah (SWT) says: “Do not follow that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed the hearing, the eye-sight and the heart –all of these are accountable”. (17:36)

Mulla Mujahidali Sheriff


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