A-cuss-tomed To Profanity

Posted on January 10, 2012



There is a path that I walk on almost every day. It is a curved, narrow strip of concrete between a patch of lush woods and a winding road. In the early morning it is deserted and it is easy to step on it and get lost in one’s thoughts. There is the rhythmic monotony of foot touching concrete and the soothing sound of the wind surrendering to the trees.

Deep in thought, I invariably forget about the nasty curse word scrawled into the concrete. The filth of someone’s mind carved into the path forcing its ugliness upon anyone who steps near. Its stench pollutes the crisp, clarity of the morning and I draw back in disgust. But the word has already formed in my mind and it seems to resound all around me, conjuring back images of all the other times I have heard it.

Curse words, profane expletives and disgusting swear words have become such an integral part of speech today that no one even notices or objects to them anymore. We participate and walk past many such conversations daily and they are not just on the screen. These words that would never be heard in polite conversation a decade ago are spoken brazenly in our mosques, in the schools and sometimes even in our homes.

People are heard saying with great pride, “I cursed him out, man!”

Allah (swt) gives us a sneak peek into hellfire and we find the inhabitants of hell cursing and blaming each other for their fate. It was considered “cool” to use dirty language in this life but in the hereafter those that are receiving a sizzling “warm” welcome from Allah (swt) are found engaging in cussing. Are these the kinds of people who we want to emulate in our lives? Is theirs a desirable end? On the other hand, those that turned away in disgust from “lughw” (dirty, false, evil vain talk) in this world will be protected from it in the hereafter. In Jannah there will be scintillating conversation but no sign of indecency or vulgarity in speech.

In our daily lives we cross paths with people of all ages and from all walks of life. Etched into our demeanor, our attitudes and our conversations are words that we live by and that seep into our conversations almost unconsciously. These could be words of sincere remembrance like MashAllah, Alhumdolillah and Subhanallah or they could be vulgar obscenities. We have the choice of what we speak but the angels have no choice as they are bound to write down whatever comes out of our lips.

It is said, “Don’t just talk to talk, but walk the walk.” The opposite seems to be true now. People dress the ‘acceptable’ Islamic way: the hijab is perfectly matched to the tint of their clothing and the ‘thoub’ is the perfect length or the kufi is fitted nice and tight but the language they use among their peers is foul to say the least. When you find young men with near flawless Tajweed walk over from the prayer hall to the basketball court and start to cuss it makes one’s hair stand on edge. What happened to the concept of ‘haya’ (decency) in this Ummat? Do we not claim to be the followers of the Prophet (saws) who said:

“I was sent to perfect good character.” (Muwatta Imam Malik Book 47, Number 47.1.8)

The Masjid should be on the daily or at least weekly route of the believer. It is a place where we find refuge from the outside world and hope that we can briefly escape the indecency that pervades most of society in general. I realized that I was deluding myself when I visited a remarkably beautiful mosque in another city. I looked around in awe at the breathtaking calligraphy and the poignant perfection of its architecture and felt all holy inside. But the moment was not to last. Scribbled inside a small scratch in the paint was the same curse word that I had found on the path. The filth of someone’s mind polluting even this sacred space.

We have become desensitized to profanity just as we have become desensitized to all the other indecency that surrounds us. But we must act now on an individual level, and among our friends and family to eliminate this repulsive habit. Otherwise, it will seep in through the cracks and profane the moral character of this Ummah.