The Art of Listening

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah ibn Abu Ghuddah (q.s.) says that if a person starts telling us, whether in private or public, something that we already knew very well, we should pretend as if we do not know it.  We should not rush to reveal our knowledge or to interfere with the speech.  Instead, we should show our attention and concentration.  The honorable tab'i, Imam ‘Atha ibn Abi Rabah (r.a.) said, "A young man would tell me something that I may have heard before he was born.  Nevertheless, I would listen to him as if I had never heard it before."

Shaykh Khalid ibn Swafwan at-Tamimi (r.a.), who frequented the courts of two Khalifah: ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (r.a.) and Hisham ibn ‘Abd al-Malik, said, "If a person tells you something you have heard before, or news that you already learned, do not interrupt him to exhibit your knowledge to those present.  This is rude and ill-mannered."

The honourable Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Wahab al-Qurashi al-Miswri (r.a.), a companion of Imam Malik (r.a.), Imam al-Layts ibn Sa'd (r.a.) and Imam Sufyan ats-Tsawri (r.a.), said, "Sometimes a person would tell me a story that I have heard before his parents had wed.  Yet, I listened as if I have never heard it before."

Shaykh Ibrahim ibn al-Junayd (r.a.) said, "A wise man said to his son, 'Learn the art of listening as you learn the art of speaking.'"

Listening well means maintaining eye contact, allowing the speaker to finish the speech, and restraining your urge to interrupt his speech.

Hafizh al-Khathib al-Baghdadi (r.a.) said in a poem:

Never interrupt a talk
Though you know it inside out


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