One day, His Excellency Muaz, one of our Prophet’s friends, told our Prophet:
- O Messenger of God! Tell me something that will make me enter paradise and keep me away from hell fire. Our Prophet said:
- You are asking for something grand. However this is very simple for a person for whom God made it easy. If you worship nothing else but only God, if you pray properly, if you pay the poor-due (al-Zakat), if you fast during the month of Ramadan, if you make pilgrimage to Mecca (al-Hajj) provided you are able, then you will obtain what you asked. He continued:
- Do you want me to tell you about the means of goodness? Fasting is the shield (against hell and sins). Alms extinguish the wrath caused by sins just as water extinguishes fire. Also, the prayer that is performed in the middle of the night extinguishes sins.
Then, the Messenger of God (blessings and peace be upon him) recited the following verses from Quran- “Their sides stay clear of their beds as they call on their Lord in fear and ardent hope. And they give of what We have provided for them. No soul knows the delight that is hidden away for it in recompense for what it used to do.” [Surah As-Sajda, Ayah 16-17]
Then He said:
- Do you want me to tell you the beginning of good works, the backbone and the most exalted one? His Excellency Muaz said:
- Yes, please let me know O Messenger of
God! Our Prophet said:
- The beginning of works is Islam, the backbone is the ritual prayer, and the most exalted
one is jehad (struggling in the way of Allah).
Then He said:
Do you want me to tell you the life-blood of it all? His Excellency Muaz said:
- Yes, let me know O Messenger of God! Hereupon our beloved Prophet pointed to his tongue and said:
- Protect this! His Excellency Muaz said:
- O Messenger of God! Are we responsible for the things that we say as well? Our prophet said:
- May God bless you O Muaz! The thing that drags people to hell on their faces is what their tongues do.
(Tirmizi, Iman 8)