I'la' al-Sunan Zafar Usmani

Silence is wisdom…Zafar Usmani

I‘la’ al-Sunan:

“Silence is Wisdom…”


‘Allama Zafar Usmani (Allah have mercy on him) comments on the hadith, “Silence is wisdom though few are silent:”[1] “…in this statement…is support for the practice of the Folk[2] Speaking little is from the spiritual struggle (mujahadat) that their path is built on. There are many hadiths praising silence (al-samt) over excessive talk. Among them is the hadith from Ibn ‘Umar in al-Tirmidhi attributed to the Prophet with the wording ‘whoever is silent has attained salvation’[3] […] and Muhammad [Ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani] relates at the end of his book al-Athar from Abu Hanifa, from Hammad, from Ibrahim [al-Nakha‘i] who said: ‘tribulations arise from speech’ […] and al-Qadi Ibn Bahlul said:

Do not say that which you abhor /

the tongue utters words and they come to be’

[…] and in al-Maqasid al-Hasana as well is a narration found in the scrolls (suhuf)[4] of Ibrahim (upon him be peace) that the intelligent person ought to be aware of his times, turned towards its affairs and guards his tongue. Whoever considers speech to be part of his actions should reduce his speech except for what concerns him…”[5]



[1] One should exercise silence.

[2] Silence is a means to salvation.

[3] Every word will be accountable to Allah with consequences.

[4] Silence can be a cause of tribulations.

[5] Controlling one’s tongue is possible through struggle and exertion.



[1] It reported by al-Bayhaqi in Shu‘ab al-Iman (#5027) but with a weak chain as per Ibn ‘Adi in al-Kamil fi’l-Du‘afa’, 5:1816. It is actually a statement attributed to Luqman al-Hakim (as) from Anas Ibn Malik as stated by Ibn Hajar in Bulugh al-Maram, (#1939). See also Ibn Hibban, Rawdat al-‘Uqala’, p.41 and al-Hakim in his Mustadrak, 2:422-423. The truth of the statement is neverthless affirmed in the Sahihs of Bukhari (#6018) and Muslim (#47).

[2] “al-qawm”: ‘the people’, ‘the folk’; referring to the Sufis.

[3] Tirmidhi, Sunan (#2503) and Ahmad, al-Musnad (#6481).

[4] See Q. 87:19 and cf. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, al-Tamhid, 9:199 and al-Qurtubi, al-Jami‘ li-Ahkam al-Qur’an, s.v.

[5] Usmani, I‘la’ al-Sunan, 18:453 (#6061). Cf. Ibn ‘Arabi, Hilyat al-Abdal, pp.30-33 (= OUP edn.).


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