If one’s feet slip, it can be extremely dangerous. One could lose one’s balance and fall. This could result in fractured bones, perhaps even a heart attack. Undoubtedly these are serious consequences. However, these effects of the slip of the feet can never compare to the harm that can ensue from the slip of the tongue. It can result in several people suffering a ‘heart attack’. When the tongue slips, it pierces hearts, breaks marriages, splits families, estranges bosom friends and results in a host of other social evils. The soft and fleshy tongue can cause a wound far worse than the wound of the hard teeth. As a poet says: “The wound of the sword will heal – But the wound of the tongue will not.”
Once Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was asked: “What is the path of salvation (from the fitnah that is engulfing us from all directions)?” He replied: “Guard your tongue, let your house be sufficient for you and cry over your sins” (Sunan Tirmizi #2406).
The tongue often slips when one gives advice to others. However, even when giving advice, kind words and a gentle approach should be adopted. When Allah Ta‘ala sent Moosa and Haroon (‘alaihimas salaam) to Fir‘aun, He gave them the following command: “And say to him (Fir‘aun) soft words (Surah Taha v44).” There really cannot be any person today worse than Fir‘aun, nor is anyone among us better than Moosa and Haroon (‘alaihimas salaam).
Harsh words often lead the opposite party to obstinacy. As a result, the faint hope of getting the person to understand the truth is also extinguished. When this pertains to the manner of talking to even the kuffaar under general conditions, how much more important it is that a fellow Muslim should be addressed in kind terms. Indeed at times to discipline a child or subordinate, a visible display of sternness has to be adopted. However, the general rule is to always adopt kind words even when reprimanding a person upon some wrong action.
Therefore, before uttering something, think about its consequences. Your words could fly like sharp arrows and cause irreparable harm.