How does our religion warn those who speak loudly, by shouting in a way that is inappropriate for communication ethics? What kind of an attitude should we adopt towards this kind of people?
The essence and base of religion is faith. Worships are columns that enable the tree and building of religion to stand. And high ethics constitute the fruits of religion related to individuals, community and environment.
A human being is an ethical being, as well as a biological and psychological being. Ethics refers to good or evil disposition, nature and character. The sum of rules that human beings follow and feel a need to follow is called ethics. In other words, ethics can be expressed as “behavioral patterns and traits that exist in human personalities and which come out by themselves without needing to be forced.” Being economical and not wasting is one of these traits.
It is an ethical quality, which is important and elevated, of human beings to live economically. As for human beings, being economical means “keeping the middle of the road, acting in a modest way, being frugal, avoiding spending less or more than what is necessary.”
The religion of Islam commands us to keep the middle of the road by refraining from extremism in all matters from eating to clothing and use of furniture and possessions. It prohibits extravagancy and stinginess. In the Quran, the following is stated :
"And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass." (Luqman, 31:19).
Therefore, it is sunnah to follow some rules while speaking. Actually, there is someone who guides us, setting us an example, in this matter; and that person is Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh), who was sent as the mercy upon all realms. We can summarize his sunnah about this matter as follows:
a) Refraining from speaking loudly,
b) Knowing how to talk to whom,
c) Not speaking so quietly that words and sentences cannot be understood,
d) Not speaking so loudly that can disturb others, keeping the voice in between them,
e) Not making use of foreign (and unfamiliar) words and complicated sentences that will make it difficult for the addressee to understand.
It indicates for sure that we have not been educated according to the Quranic discipline, have not been shaped by the Prophet’s sunnah and have not been exposed to Islamic culture enough, as we exceed these limits in our daily lives. Actually, words and acts of a believer who has been exposed to this culture enough will always be balanced; his voice will be orderly and words and sentences he speaks will be careful and easy to understand.
Some people speak loudly, like bullies, with inappropriate words and sentences, which shows their cultural structure and degree of education and their disrespect for other people. In order to enable those people to put their inappropriate and rude way of speaking in a mould to shape them into a respectful and civilized way, Allah the Glorious makes a metaphor, which is a warning for them: “for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass.” (see Celal Yıldırım, İlmin Işığında Asrın Kur’an Tefsiri, interpretation of the verse 19 of the Chapter Luqman)
On the other hand, although the verses of sura al-Hujurat specifically states how the Prophet must be talked to, surely there are some lessons which we must learn through it.
The following Quranic verse was sent down in response to that someone outside called upon to the Prophet by shouting “Muhammad!” while he was resting:
“O ye who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk, as ye may speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds become vain and ye perceive not.”
“Those that lower their voices in the presence of God's Messenger-- their hearts has God tested for piety: For them is Forgiveness and a great Reward.”
“ Those who shout out to thee from without the inner apartments - most of them lack understanding.”
“ If only they had patience until thou couldst come out to them, it would be best for them: but God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (al-Hujurat, 49:2-5).
The verse “Say to My servants that they should (only) say those things that are best” (al-Isra, 53) shows the style of communication that is appropriate for Allah’s servants.
It is Allah’s command for Muslims to talk nicely to not only Muslims but also to all humans, and even to the greatest enemies of Islam. As a matter of fact, when Allah sent His apostles like Moses and Aaron to talk with the Pharaoh, who claimed to be god, He stated how they should talk as follows:
“Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds; but speak to him mildly; perchance he may take warning or fear (God)." (Ta Ha, 20:43-44)
Whatever Muslims do, they do it wisely. As a matter of fact, it is stressed in the verse that it is a lot of good:
“He granteth wisdom to whom He pleaseth; and he to whom wisdom is granted receiveth indeed a benefit overflowing…” (al-Baqarah, 2:269).
For this reason, all their speaking, statements and warnings must be full of wisdom; because the verse “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious, for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (an-Nahl, 16:125) demands that speaking must be in accordance with wisdom.
Speaking without wisdom is the style people use in order to prove that they are superior to their addressees in terms of intellect and knowledge; with a feeling of arrogance. Speeches made with this aim make them look poor quality to the utmost degree and so simple, rather than elevating them. However, what is appropriate for Quran’s ethics is a modest way of addressing as much as possible. This ethic of believes is stated in the Quran with the following verse: “And the servants of (God) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, "Peace!" (al-Furqan, 25:63).
A believing person never adopts an arrogant and boastful style when talking to people, even when they might not have some characteristics or properties he has got because Allah states that He dislikes boastful people, with the verse “And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for God loveth not any arrogant boaster.” (Luqman, 31:18).
Another unwise issue in people’s speech that is remarkable is that they always try to be the one who says the last word and who is right. This kind of people prefers to express their opinions and make others accept them instead of listening to what their addressees say and benefiting from their opinions. However, there are always chances of learning from other people, no matter how much they know. Even though someone is less knowledgeable, it is possible for him to approach the matter from a different angle, to make objective evaluations and offer useful ideas. Allah states the following in the Quran, : “We raise to degrees (of wisdom) whom We please: but over all endued with knowledge is one.” (Yusuf, 12:76).
There is no place for claiming to be superior in believers’ communication. This kind of communication causes one to look so simple and poor quality. Besides, there is nothing that claiming can earn someone because what is important for believers is not having people to accept their opinions but to find the truth.
Another manner that has got no place in Islamic ethics is nonsense speech. As for what is nonsense and useless speech, believers determine the criteria in accordance with Islam. Throughout the time they live, knowing that the time they spend on the earth is very important for their otherworldly lives, they pay the utmost attention not to speak nonsense, by referring to their consciences.
Amongst other remarkable negative qualities of speech, interrupting and using a tone of voice that is not moderate can be counted. They are familiar manners with people, who do not live in accordance with Islamic ethics, not to listen to the speaker, to discuss at the same time by not listening to what is said, to try to get the upper hand, and to speak nonsense, which is also called idle talk. Even people who are experts in their fields sometimes act with such a style that is deprived of kindness and respect. Such people try to get their ideas accepted by others with an arrogant style of speech instead of benefiting from what others say. However, Muslims do not aim to prove themselves, to get the upper hand and to be the one who says the last word, which are all desires of the soul. For this reason, their styles are always moderate and calm. As a requirement of their understanding of kindness, which results from the Quranic ethics, they always try to get to know each other first and benefit from each other’s speeches; and they avoid acting ignorantly.
Another obvious characteristic which those who do not live in accordance with Islamic ethics have got is their tone of voice. They see no harm in shouting in order to prove themselves right, to make their addressees give up, to convince them or to get the upper hand by silencing them. However, Muslims’ tone of voice is moderate. They never do something or say something which will cause extremism, rudeness and disrespect. While expressing the Truth, they answer with words, manners and behavior which will not hurt the right of Allah and the right of people.