First step in purification of ethics

Tongue is interpreter of heart and key of personality
Correction of tongue and speech plays a role of major importance in moral discussions because tongue is the interpreter of , of intellect, key of man’s personality, and the most important window to man’s soul.
In the other words, what is depicted on the tablet of man’s soul (including mental, emotional and sentimental events), first of all emerges on the tongue and within his speech. If in the past, physicians recognized a major part of moderation and unbalance of temperament through the condition of tongue, nowadays psychoanalysts mostly seek mental problems within the individuals’ speech.

On these accounts, ethic scholars consider a special importance for correction of tongue and deem its correction as the sign of spirit’s perfection and strengthening of prominent moral virtues and habits.
This reality is also stated in the traditions of the Prophet’s House (A.S.) in short and interesting phrases. Two following phrases narrated respectively from Imam Ali (A.S.) and Imam As-Sadiq (A.S.) is an evidence for this claim:
1- Man is hidden under his tongue. 1
That is to say not only scientific personality, but also moral and social personality and in general his humanistic personality is under his tongue, and as long as he has not spoken, his fault and virtue is concealed.
2- Firmness and straightness of belief is not possible without firmness and straightness of heart, and the latter too will not exist without firmness and straightness of tongue.2
Thirty great sins, which originate from tongue
The importance of correction of tongue is made clearer when we know that a large part of sins as a large part of good deeds are performed by tongue.
Ghazali has narrated twenty types of vices and sins for tongue as follows:
1- Speaking about the affairs not concerned with man.
2- Rant and babbling
3- Speaking about forbidden affairs like description of meetings of wine, gambling and unchaste women.
4- Dispute and fussing (caviling and objecting others for wrong purposes as humiliating them or one’s own pedantry).
5- Enmity and affray and quarrel in utterance
6- Affectation in speech and trouble in rhythm and such like
7- Abuse and insult
8- Cursing
9- Profane singing and unsound sings
10- Indulgence in humour
11- Irony and mockery
12- Disclosing mysteries of others
13- Lie promise
14- Lie in speech and oath
15- Slander
16- Gossip
17- Hypocrisy in speech
18- Inappropriate eulogy
19- Negligence from speech’s elegance and tools and mistakes thereof
20- Vulgar questions in respect to complicated issues related to beliefs, which cannot understand them
Surely, pests and vices of tongue are not restricted to what “Ghazali” has numerated. For instance, following affairs are among the vices of tongue, which are not stated by him:
1- Accusation
2- False evidence
3- Self-admiration
4- Spreading fornication and unfounded rumours, although being mentioned as a probability
5- Harshness in utterance
6- Improper insist (like Children of Israel, and etc)
7- Molestation of others with one’s speech
8- Blaming one who is not despicable
9- Ungratefulness with tongue
10- False propagation and encourage to sin There is no doubt that correction of tongue should be studied and taught as one of the most critical moral issues.
The importance of this subject is clear when we consider the fact that tongue is the simplest and easiest and cheapest means available for man, and its speedy function is not comparable with anything else, and so we shall be very careful of it, and in this view, we can resemble it to the useful materials having an explosive power and capability. As man takes care of them attentively, he should always be watchful to this sensible organ.
Silence and reticence
Taking into account the above risks caused by leaving the tongue free, ethic scholars have deemed silence, in cases that speaking is not necessary, as one of the ways of preventing those great risks, and a lot of traditions are mentioned about it from Prophet (S) and Prophet’s House (A.S.), and this is the reason why a number of great men have started purification of their carnal soul from this matter.
Moreover, silence causes a condition of “reflection” and “spirituality” and “clear-sightedness”, which is noteworthy, and perhaps for this reason we read in the biography of Zachariah, God’s great prophet, that three days of his silence and dumbness were put as the sign of fulfilment of his supplication concerning his request for a child:
He said: Thy token is that thou, with no bodily defect, shalt not speak unto mankind three nights. (19:10)
And Mary was ordered to vow silence fast:
Say: Lo! I have vowed a fast unto the Beneficent, and may not speak this day to any mortal. (19:26)

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