One of the diseases we experience in our culture is cheap talk. People say things all the time, whether they mean it or not. Worse, people lie as easily as they breathe–sometimes, even as often–and sometimes, under the guise of “just kidding!”
But is talk cheap? Let’s look at some evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah.
- Shahada: People enter Islam when they take the shahada–in other words, when they say certain words.
- Kufr: People leave Islam when they say words of disbelief.
- Marriage, Divorce, Slaves: The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: Three things are serious if you’re serious, and serious if you’re joking: marriage, divorce, and freeing a slave. (The words matter, even if uttered without intention .)
- The Truthful: The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said, in a longer hadith: Truth leads to birr, and birr leads to Paradise. A person keeps speaking the truth until he is recorded with Allah as one of the truthful. [Bukhari]
- The Liars: The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said in that same hadith: Lying leads to vice, and vice leads to Hellfire. A person keeps lying until he is recorded with Allah as a liar. [Bukhari]
- Hellfire: One of the sahaba asked the Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم), “Will we be held accountable for what we say?” He said, “May your mother lose you! People will be flung face-down into the Hellfire on account of what their tongues sent before them!” [Tirmidhi]
- Hypocrites: The Prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: the hypocrites have three traits. [One is] when he speaks, he lies. [Bukhari and Muslim] (I.e. words can become a reason for one to become a hypocrite.)
And these are a few small things that you probably already knew, some common ahadith we hear often enough. There are no doubt many, many more proofs.
Don’t cheapen your talk! Be honest, be sincere, and be true to what you say. When you give your word, keep it–and if you don’t think you can, don’t say “inshallah I’ll do it” so they leave you alone and you can run off, tell them “I’d love to but I don’t know if I can for sure.”
May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) help us all to protect ourselves from cheap talk, ameen!