Words are the Mightiest of Weapons

October 16th, 2013 @   -  No Comments

Words are the mightiest weapon in the human repertoire. We use them in all situations, to express our love, hate, happiness, sadness and anger among many other expressions. We use them in our prayers and our fights. We use them to build relationships and to destroy them. Most likely you are where you are today because of the words you used in the past.

The Prophet (PBUH) has warned in numerous hadiths about the misuse of the tongue. For example, in a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (RAA), the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Indeed a servant may say a word from which Allah’s pleasure is gained and the servant does not realize it, Allah will raise him up levels. Indeed a servant may say a word from which Allah’s displeasure is gained and he does not realize it, Allah will put him in Jahanam due to it.” (Bukhari, Al-Muwatta and in Saheehul-Jaami’).

The Quran instructs Muslims to speak in the following manners:

  1. Speak fairly: “speak fair to the people“ (Quran 2:83).
    1. Speak truthfully: “who are true (in word and deed)”  (Quran 3:17).
    2. Speak deeply: “speak to them a word to reach their very souls”(Quran 4:63).
    3. Speak graciously: “say not to them a word of contempt” (Quran 17:23).
    4. Speak kindly: “speak to them a word of easy kindness” (Quran 17:28).
    5. Speak the best: “Say to My servants that they should (only) say those things that are best” (Quran 17:53).
    6. Speak moderately: “Neither speak thy Prayer aloud, nor speak it in a low tone, but seek a middle course between.” (Quran 17:110).
    7. Speak bravely: “And remove the impediment from my speech” (Quran 20:27).
    8. Speak mildly: “But speak to him mildly” (Quran 20:44).
    9. Speak effectively: “be not too complacent of speech” (Quran 33:32).
    10. Speak with justice: “say a word directed to the Right” (Quran 33:70).
    11. Speak rightly about God: “no man or spirit should say aught that untrue against God” (Quran 72:05).

If leaders followed all of these Quranic manners of speaking, would they have any problems in their organizations? Wouldn’t they win the hearts and minds of everyone around them? Imagine all your employees or members using these manners of speaking, what would your organization look like?

How can we as leaders build a culture where people speak to each other in the Quranic manners? I suggest the following steps:

1.      Role modelling

As leaders, we need to adopt these Quranic manners of speaking ourselves before we ask others to do so. Allah warns us, “Do you enjoin right conduct on the people, and forget (To practise it) yourselves, and yet you study the Scripture?” (Quran 2:44). Do you speak to people in the Quranic manners? If not, what needs to change? Make a list of the ways you need to change and start working on them.

2.      Build trust within your team

When people trust each other, they are more likely to speak nicely with each other and avoid suspicions, rumours and backbiting. They are also more likely to speak the truth and give honest feedback. How is trust in your organization? What are you going to do to increase its level?

Trust can be built by making your people true partners in whatever you do.

3.      Keep your people in the loop

When people are kept informed, they do not rely on rumours and idle talk to work out what is going on. There are things that perhaps only certain people need to know, however, it is important that people are kept informed of everything they are entitled to know.

4.      Train your people in non-violent communication

Make “excellent communication” one of your core values. This means that people are held accountable for it. However, before you hold them accountable, you need to give them the appropriate training and provide them with clear expectations. There are excellent workshops on non-violent communication where people learn how to deal with tough issues. You may find the work of Marshall Rosenberg interesting. Using Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats as a meeting management tool can also eliminate unfocused and unproductive meetings and help people communicate better.

In addition, you may want to coach your people to avoid situations where they may be dragged into saying bad things. For example, if people are discussing issues and the discussion starts becoming heated, ask them to continue the discussion some other time when they have cooled down.


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