Recognize the power of words (DW#601)

Have you not considered how Allah sets forth a parable of a good word (being) like a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are in heaven,Yielding its fruit in every season by the permission of its Lord? And Allah sets forth parables for men that they may be mindful.[Quran 14:24-25]

The verses for today’s reflection are from Sura Ibrahim and they compare the impact of words to that of a tree.

So what is a Kalimat Tayyabba, a "good word"?

In the first instance, it is a word that calls to righteousness, to the Truth. But it is much more than that.

The Quran compares a good word to a good tree (and later an evil word to an evil tree). It is interesting that we consider trees to have solid psychical mass while we rarely consider our words in the same way. We think that they are spoken into air and disappear in the next moment. (And sometimes we wish that they did!)

On the other hand, we have all experienced the power of words to connect and heal people and also perhaps the power of words to alienate and harm people. Words often produce powerful, lasting effects on both the speaker and the listener. Whether we are aware of it or not, every word we say has the potential to ease or afflict ourselves and others. The Quran here is asking us to be mindful of this power and to use it wisely.

Let’s explore the parable of the verse which compares a good word to a good tree.

A good tree is one that:

  1. Is beautiful to behold; it gives pleasure to all who see it;
  2. Is stable; it remains firm and unshaken in storms, because its roots are firmly fixed in the earth;
  3. It has a wide canopy; its branches reach high, catching sunshine and at the same time providing shade to countless birds in its branches and men and animals beneath it, and
  4. It has abundant fruit, providing pleasure and nourishment to those who eat it.

Similarly, a good word is one that is

  1. A pleasure to listen to. Easy on the senses
  2. Firmly rooted in truth, unshaken
  3. Its impact is one of providing guidance and comfort
  4. The fruits of a good word are increased connection with others, the decimation of knowledge and guidance.

Can you think of other way in which words that we speak are like that of a tree?

For the next several days, we will inshallah explore other verses which encourage us to be mindful of our speech.

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