Why Hand and Tongue?

As in every statement of our Master (upon him be peace and blessings), every word in the hadith under discussion was chosen carefully. Why were the hand and tongue mentioned? Of course there are many subtle points related to this choice. A person can harm someone in two ways: either directly or indirectly. The hand represents presence (directly), and the tongue represents absence (indirectly). People either attack others directly, or indirectly through gossip and ridicule. True Muslims will never engage in such activities, because they always act justly and generously, whether directly or indirectly.

The Prophet mentioned the tongue before the hand because one can retaliate for what is done with the hand. However, the same is not always true for the damage done indirectly through gossip or slander. Thus, such action can cause conflict easily between individuals, communities, and even nations. Dealing with this type of harm is relatively more difficult than dealing with the harm caused by then hand. This is why the Prophet mentioned the tongue before the hand. On the other hand, the value of Muslims before God is indicated. Being a Muslim has such a great value before God that other Muslims control their hands and tongues concerning them.

Another important moral dimension of Islam is that Muslims keep at bay things that will harm others, whether physically or spiritually, and that they do their best not to harm others. Forget about giving harm; every segment of a Muslim society must represent safety and security. Muslims are true Muslims to the extent that they carry within themselves a feeling of safety and that their hearts beat with trust. Wherever they are or live reveals this feeling that derives from al-salaam. They wish safety when leaving, adorn their prayers with greetings, and give salaam to other believers when they leave God's presence. In all probability, it is unthinkable that people who pass their entire lives in such an orbit of salaam will enter a path contrary to the basic principles of safety, trust, soundness, and worldly and other-worldly security and harm themselves or others.

Let's look at these points deriving from its spirit: True Muslims are the most trustworthy representatives of universal peace. They travel everywhere with this sublime feeling, which is nourished deep in their spirits. Contrary to giving torment and suffering, they are remembered everywhere as symbols of safety and security. In their eyes, there is no difference between a physical (direct) or a verbal (indirect) violation of someone's rights. In fact, in some cases the latter is considered to be a greater crime than the former.

If Muslims commit some of these sins, they are still Muslims. We cannot considser them as being between faith and denial. As in every matter, in the matter of faith and Islam, one should keep aims high and seek perfection rather than being satisfied with being a common believer. These are only a few of the many things miraculously compressed into the hadith in question. S. Camci, Dr K. Unal, Hosgoru ve Diyalog Iklimi, Merkur Yayinlari, Izmir 1999, pp. 127–31

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