CONVERSATION. The following instructions are given in the Qur’an regarding talking and conversation. Surah xxxi. 17, “Be moderate in thy walk, and lower thy voice; verily the most disagreeable of voices is the voice of asses.” Surah ii 77, “Speak to men kindly.” In the Traditions, Ibn Mas’ud relates that Muhammad said, “May those people go to the fire of hell who speak much.”
On the subject of conversation, Faqir Jani Muhammad As’sd, the author of the celebrated ethical work entitled the Akhlak-I-Jalali p. 288, says: –
“He should not talk much, for it is a sign of levity in feeling and weakness in judgment and tends to lower him in point of consideration and position. We are told that the Prophet used to observe the strictest medium in his language; so much so, that, in the most protracted interviews, you might have counted the words he uttered. Buzurg Jamihr used to say, ‘When you see a person talking much without occasion, be sure he is out of his senses. Let him not give vent to statements till he has determined in his own mind what he is going to say. When anyone is relating a story, however well known to the listener, the latter is not to intimate his acquaintance with it till the narrative is concluded. A question put to others he must not himself reply to; if put to a body of which he is a member, let him not prevent the others; and if another is engaged in answering what himself could answer better, let him keep silence till the other’s statement is completed, and then give his own, but in such sort as not to annoy the former speaker. Let him not commence his reply till the querist’s sentence is concluded. Conversations and discussions which do not concern him, although held in his presence, be is not to interfere in; and if people conceal what they are saying, he must not attempt furtively to overhear. To his elders he should speak with judgment, pitching his voice at a medium between high and low. Should any abstruse topic present itself; he should give it perspicuity by comparison. Prolixity he should never aim at, when, not absolutely required; the contrary, let it be his endeavour to compress all he has to say. Neither should he employ unusual terms or far-fetched figures. He should beware of obscenity and bad language, or if he must needs refer to an independent subject, let him be content with allusion by metaphor. Of all things, let him keep clear of a taste for indelicacy, which tends to lower his breeding, degrade his respectability and bring him into general disrespectability, agreement and dislike. Let his language upon every occasion correspond with the exigency of his position; and if accompanied by gesticulation of the hand or eye or eyebrow, let it be only of that graceful sort which his situation calls for. Let him never, for right or wrong, engage in disputes with others of the company – least of all with the elders or the triflers of it:- and when embarked in such dispute, let him be rigidly observant of the rules of candour.
“Let him not deal in profound, observation beyond the intellect of those he is addressing, but adapt his discourse to the judgment of his hearers. Thus even the Prophet has declared – ‘We of the prophetic order are enjoined to address men in the measure of their understandings’; and Jesus (blessed be he) said, ‘Use not wisdom with the unwise to their annoyance’ (St. Matthew vii. 6?). In all his conversation let him adhere to the ways of courtesy. Never let him mimic anyone’s gestures, actions, or words, nor give utterance to the language of menace.
“When addressing a great person, let him begin with something ominous of good, as the permanence of his fortune, felicity, and so forth.
“From all back-biting, carping, slander, and falsehood, whether heard or spoken, let him hold it essential to keep clear; nay, even from any partnership with those addicted to such practices. Let him listen more than he speaks. It was the answer of a wise man to those who asked him why he did so, ‘Because,’ said he, ‘God has given me two ears and only one tongue’; which was as much as to say, ‘Hear twice as much as you speak.’”
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam