Brotherhood & Sisterhood Islamic Character Reflections

The Power of Words published in November 2011

It had been an exceptionally hard day for me, about 3 years ago. Everything seemed to be out of place and one thing after another was going wrong. I headed over to the University Center to get a bite to eat—maybe food would calm my nerves. At the time, I had been wearing niqab (the face veil), but that was the least of my worries, or so I thought. As I stood in line to get my food, I glanced behind me and noticed a few Muslim brothers. I was about to extend my salaam (greetings of peace) to them when I caught wind of what they were saying. They were talking about ME! ‘Why does she think she can dress that way? Who does she think she is?!’ On normal days, their comments would have had no effect on me, but on that day, they went straight to my heart. Perhaps their comments were like the straw that broke the camel’s back, because instantly tears began to flow down my face, which of course no one could see. I left the food line, disheartened, and walked away hoping to find a place to be alone and be at peace at last.

I walked for a good 5 minutes, trying to compose myself before I got to my destination. I reached the building I was aiming for and began to walk up the stairs as I felt a tap on my shoulder and a whispered, “Wait!” I turned around and found a woman I didn’t know, panting, trying to catch her breath. I waited until she was able to speak and what she said next took me by complete surprise. She looked me in the eye and said, “I’ve been following you, trying to catch up to you for 5 minutes! I just wanted you to know that I admire your strength in wearing what you believe in. More power to you and may the God you believe in bless you.” And that was it. That’s all she said. She turned around and walked away, without telling me her name or wanting anything from me. Instantly my pain began to melt and I began to smile. It was her kind words that made my day so much brighter. It was her kind words that reminded me why I was doing what I was doing: God. The woman didn’t know how much I needed to hear some sort of uplifting words. She didn’t know that I was having a horrible day, but she saw an opportunity to say something good, and she seized it.

It was on that day that I realized the power of words. The power that our beloved Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) was talking about when he said: “Indeed a servant will speak a word pleasing to Allah that he thinks to be insignificant, but because of it Allah raises him by many degrees. And indeed a servant will speak a word displeasing to Allah that he thinks to be insignificant, but because of it, He will consign him to the Hellfire.” So many times we say things that we don’t think through. We don’t think about the effects of our words. Those brothers, whom I hold no grudge against alhamdulilah (praise be to God), probably forgot the conversation they had minutes after I left, not realizing the weight of their words. And that woman probably forgot the conversation we had, minutes after she left, not realizing the weight of her words. But as we can see, years later, I still have not forgotten.

It is through such an example that we can come to think that a word is never too small to be hurtful nor too small to be beneficial. We should consider any word that we speak, out of fear that this word may be the word that causes our ultimate destruction. We should rush to say any kind and helpful word that we can, out of hope that this word will be the cause of our rising in rank. May Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) cause us to be of those who are raised in rank by our words and never be condemned to hell-fire.

“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.” —Pearl Strachan

About the author

Reehab (Ramadan) Aref

Reehab (Ramadan) Aref

Reehab (Ramadan) Aref grew up in a small Texas city and was unexpectedly uprooted to Cairo, Egypt. The shift of countries precipitated a shift in her outlook on life; this, with her enriching experience in community activism—specifically social service, youth work, and Qur’anic Studies—provides for a rather enlightened perspective. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in Counseling Psychology. Thankfully, her main outlet and therapeutic tool is to write, write, write! She keeps her own blog, contributes regularly to various publications, and – most importantly – you’ll find her entries on this site.


  • SubhanAllah .. what a beautiful reminder sister. May Allah (SWT) bless you for sharing this with us and may HE grant us the strenght to restrain our tongues. Ameen

  • Alhamdulillah I was just thinking about this yesterday – I wonder how many people we have hurt by careless words. May Allah swt forgive us.

    But this article is a lovely reminder mashAllah!

  • Jazakillahu khayran katheera dear sister,

    That’s a great piece. The words, seemingly very small or insignificant, does leave a huge impact on our everyday lives. Sometimes its all we need to move on, and sometimes its something which totally puts us down. SubhanAllah what a timely reminder. Jazakillahu ahsan al jaza once again.

    P.S I’m normally a silent reader, and I often think to actually leave a comment if something/writing helped me in any way but usually the laziness of nafs comes over. Alhamdulillah for your article, after I finished reading there was no excuse left to laze. 🙂

  • SubhanAllah, wonderful reminder sister! May Allah swt help us restrain our tongues, and make it easier for us to obey him. Ameen!

  • Jazakallah khair for thistruly beautiful post! I love how you tied your own beautiful story with the beautiful and very meaningful Hadith of the Prophet (saws).

  • SubhanaAllah may Allah guide us to what is best ameen.

    I, myself am InshaAllah in a constant “checking myself” battle with myself. When I start to feel like I’m acting to snippy, righteous or rude I check myself and try to remember not everyone knows the things I know, understands them as I do or takes them as I mean them to come out. I could only hope more of us tried to check ourselves and our speech. Thank you for writing this. As a non face veiling sister you and all the other niqaabis have my FULL respect and support. May Allah continue to guide and bless you ameen.

  • JazakAllah Khayr sister. So many important lessons we learned in your story: how strong we have be for the sake of Allah, how we must do things to please Allah alone (not parents, friends or society), how we must support one other in our struggles to do right, how sometimes we are our own enemies( i.e., Muslims), how we need to pray to Allah (swt) for help to do the right thing… SubhanAllah, alhumdulillah… MashAllah you did well sister.

  • Baarak Allaahu feeki for this! A very well-written, meaningful article. I really teared up. May Allaah guide that woman to Islam and bless her, and may He bless us all with minds that are quicker than our tongues. Ameen.

  • Assalamualaikum warahmatullah e wabarakatuhu

    Jazakallah khair for such a beautiful article. It’s something that all of us can relate to. But the important point is to analyse whether we have ever been unknowingly on the giving side of hurt through our seemingly harmless words??? After all, it’s easy to notice pain when we go through it ourselves.

    There is another Hadith that I remembered.. and I looked for it.. here it is..

    On the authority of Muadh bin Jabal, who said:

    I said: “O Messenger of Allah, tell me of an act which will take me into Paradise and will keep me away from Hell fire.” He said: “You have asked me about a major matter, yet it is easy for him for whom Allah Almighty makes it easy. You should worship Allah, associating nothing with Him, you should perform the prayers, you should pay the zakat, you should fast in Ramadan, and you should make the pilgrimage to the House.” Then he said:” Shall I not show you the gates of goodness ? Fasting [which] is a shield, charity [which] extigueshes sin as water extebgueshes fire; and the praying of a man in the deapth of night.” Then he recited :

    “Who forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend of that We have bestowed on them. No soul knoweth what is kept hid for them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do”. (quran, verse)

    Then he said: ” Shall I not tell you of the peak of the matter, its pillar, and its topmost part?” I said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” He said: “The peak of the matter is Islam; the pillar is prayer; and its topmost part is jihad.” Then he said: “Shall I not tell you of the controling of all that ?” I said:”Yes, O Messenger of Allah”, and he took hold of his tongue and said: “Restrain this.” I said: “O Prophet of Allah, will what we say be held against us ?” He said: “May your mother be bereaved of you, Muadh ! Is there anything that topples people on their faces – or he said on their noses into Hell-fire other than the jests of their tongues ?”

    Related by Al-Tirmithi, who said it was a fine and true hadlth.

    Also, there was one.. which I couldn’t find.. but it means that when we wake up in the morning all our body parts admonish the tongue to be careful for the rest of the day.. if anyone of you remember this hadith please quote it.

    And finally sister, alhamdulillah.. what happened with you was Allah’s (swt) way of keeping you from uselessly dropping your salam to non-mahrams.. 🙂 May Allah reward you for your writing this article.


    • MashaAllah !BarakAllahu feek dear sister for the article.
      @sr the hadith you wanted is
      Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “When the son of Adam gets up in the morning, all the limbs humble themselves before the tongue and say: `Fear Allah for our sake because we are with you: (i.e., we will be rewarded or punished as a result of what you do) if you are straight, we will be straight; and if you are crooked, we will become crooked.”’

  • MasyaAllah beautiful reminder sister. If everything that you do is for the sake of Allah, May Allah grant you the highest level of Jannah, insyaAllah..Amiin Ya Rabb.

  • mA/ I’m positive that you will make dua’ for that person for the rest of your life. I’m always impressed with nonmuslims who support and show generosity to muslims. There is a lot to be learned from them.

  • Masha’Allah.. such a lovely and relevant article…

    im horrified to think that sometimes i might have said something insignificant for me but which may have hurt someone badly … i seek refuge in Allah from any such action in the future…

    sister..i related to your article the moment u mentioned the guys’ talk.. i’ve experienced something similar.. and felt the same way except that i had no one to give a good word… But faith in Allah swt helps overcome all such negativity..

    it also raises one issue about the attitude of fellow muslims towards their brothers and sisters.. there’s something wrong at times..

  • SubhanAllah, beautiful, beautiful post with so many real-life ways for implementation. May Allah bless you Reebo!

  • that was really nice. Just a few days ago, I was having a conversation with a non-Muslim friend about Muslim women covering and I didn’t expect her to support the hijab and I felt so good after talking to her. A different kind of iman high 🙂

  • OMG SubhanAllah I just stumbled on this article on facebook! The same thing happened to me today when I was going to my institute in the morning. There was a lady in the bus who introduced herself and then told me she thinks its cool that I wear a naqab living in Canada and that she finds it challenging to wear even a hijab! I had had a pretty bad night and was kinda upset but those words just made my day! Alhumdulillah. Words indeed are powerful. May Allah bless us with a tongue that only says what He pleases ameen.

  • Masha Allah, a beautiful story. May Allah reward you for sharing and may He keep you strong and holding tightly to His rope…ameen

  • Reehab,
    Your words ARE powerful and immensely beneficial. Thank you for putting your heart out there and teaching us valuable lessons.

  • Masha’Allah, what an awakening bombshell, we ignore all the time! Let Allah guide us to speak only the good words, insha Allah!

  • Excellent article – very good personal story tied in with a great message. Like Br.Mohsin says in a comment above about non-muslims, I find it very encouraging and uplifting too when they appreciate and admire the beauty of our deen. May Allah guide them all – we should pray for their guidance and not their destruction.

  • If you get succeed in making the people believe that whatever you says you do the same then your words will get power. i agree with author that he chooses this topic. if you fill your promises and you people start thinking about you that you are a true teller and never lies always then your words get the power. i appreciate the effort of author. Good work in the right way. Keep on working like this in this way. May God Bless you, with His blessings.

  • Dear Sister

    The Niqab

    Within the senses, to see and hear a greeting from a sister through the fabric of
    creation, resonates with profound clarity and insight that early morning when
    a beautiful sister said hello in greeting fashion and with the best passion of
    character a greeting, a morning time to start a new day when her voice would
    speak and soft tones resonate as if her lips filtered through her niqab and greeted
    me ever so heartfelt, that to this day, her voice, her gift of voice continues to resonate
    down memory lane when Muslim character spoke and said a simple hello Anthony
    while having opened the doors of my city bus to greet my passengers and the filter
    of divinity would shower my existence to the human persona of that morning breath
    beyond the mask that sails the seven seas when touched by that voice, by that breeze
    as if motive power to thrust the ship and anchor our lives, that niqab, the spoken word
    beyond the sails of mighty ships to the lips that tongue the hello oh gracious and eloquent
    oh so humble the mercy and soul of fabric design to the ultimate designer that weaves the
    human conduct beyond human comprehension as if a bird of paradise uttered my name
    and her wings, angelic before her face, feather touched beyond the niqab!

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