How to Survive School Without Swearing

By Zaynub Siddiqui

The first day at a new school.

Middle School.

It was intimidating and I was super nervous like any other student. Even more nervous because I was wearing hijab, I was new and school had been in session for two weeks. As I slowly walked through the quiet hallway knowing that everyone was already in class, I felt a bit uneasy. I would surely catch everybody's attention in the classroom I was about to enter.

Up the new stairs, I walked up to the quiet 7th grade hall; the silence amplifying the nervous voice in my head. That is when I heard a buzzing sound and it so began. Students rushed out in herds and yelled, screamed, and shouted through the hallways. As I shuffled my way through the human herd of young adults, words that could never escape my mouth came out of theirs with such ease. Words that were foul, something that I was taught was rude… disgusting. A girl wearing the sixth grade uniform colors spoke her words out aloud to her friend beside her, “D@#n that f*#&ing teacher, she…”

I hurried down the hallway and heard more ugly words; words that scared me.

Stupid and Idiot were as far as I had ever heard. Even those were not allowed in our house. I could understand using them, but this was a whole new level.

Over the weeks, I realized that it was normal to speak like that in my school. What was even more ludicrous was that if you did not curse it was considered amazing. “Gurl, why you dont say anything?” and “I could never survive if I were you!” my new classmates told me as I responded to their questions to why I didn't curse.

But that was the beginning of the year, when I was brand new 'fresh meat' and was what they called “innocent”. Soon, the words became something not alarming to me…. something that was 'normal'.

Soon enough I too began to sorta curse. I was hanging with church girls who went to church every Sunday, and girls who wore hijab.

They cursed a lot.

My friend, Gwen, was like me. She chose not to cuss. She is sweet, loves anime and was cool without cussing. That's when I noticed that it was going to become a problem. My boundaries had shifted from stupid and idiot. This was not me.

It is not the character of a believer to indulge in slandering, cursing, or immoral talk.” (Tirmidhi)

So I took it on my own accord. I made myself stop. At moments I would feel myself slip. Sometimes, I would miss the way the foul words would prove my point. I didn't even know what they meant; I was saying them because everyone else was. They made me look strong and that was what everybody wanted to be: intimidating, mean, rude, and obnoxious. It was the opposite of what society wanted, everybody I knew in school wanted to be 'different', to be 'bad'.

Cussing is everywhere! When you or anyone you know is trying to stop understand It will be hard if it is a habit, at moments you may feel strange and awkward not doing what everyone else it doing.

1. First make yourself be conscious of what you are saying.

Curse words slip out all the time! Everybody makes mistakes and it will happen but just catch yourself. If you find yourself slipping just close your mouth and repeat in your head. “I will not curse.” It sounds really stupid and you might be thinking.“Oh god this is so stupid!” But it does work.

2. When your friends curse:

Ask your friends to try not to curse in front of you. Let them know that it makes you uncomfortable. The most likely reason why you are cursing is because of your friends. They curse which causes you to curse and so on. 'The words we use affect how we feel about ourselves, how others react to us and how others feel about themselves.' Our words truly shape our world.

3. Ask yourself why am I doing this.

When I thought about it I really only did start cursing to impress most of my friends. I sometimes cursed to express my anger or happiness.

“I'm so d@#n happy!” or the opposite when I was mad.

Try to find another way of expressing yourself when you're upset, happy, frustrated, in pain…etc. I asked myself: would I say this in front of my parents? If my parents aren't there, Allah is still there. Allah is watching all the time, even in school.

“Not a word does he (or she) utter but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it)” (Qur'an 50:18).

4. Try not to let the ugly words become normal.

When it becomes normal to you, it becomes a part of you. Like a routine. The first time and second and third will be strange but eventually in a month it will be normal and something that becomes apart of your everyday life. In the beginning it may be cool but you just end up sounding ignorant and unprofessional.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “People are not thrown into the hellfire on their faces or noses except due to the result of their tongues.” (Ahmad and al-Tirmidhi )

5. Ignore! Just ignore it!

Use the same technique you use when your nagging siblings bother you, or when your boring history teacher is explaining something you already know! Just try it, you will never know until you try it.

To be honest being a new teen myself, I understand how this article might just sound super-lame and  goody 2 shoes to some, but think of the outcome of how you speak will affect your future, it could even get you fired. If we aim to become blessed, articulate, compassionate citizens of this world we need to start using qawllun sadeeda.

“Be careful of your words, for they become your thoughts. Be careful of your thoughts, for they become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for they become your character. Be careful of your character, for it becomes your destiny.” – Anonymous

 About the Author:

Zaynub is twelve years old.  She enjoys debating and loves photography esp. Instagram.  She also has a special passion for reading.  Zaynub was born in Pennsylvania and raised in California.  She currently lives in Washington D.C.

(Attention, writers!  Muslim Kids Matter is a regular feature at Muslim Matters.  New articles for kids are posted every other Sunday.  You're welcome to send in your entries to muslimkidsmatter@muslimmatters.org.)

11 Responses

  1. Abu Asiyah

    MashaAllah, very articulate and mature article and helpful too!

    May Allah bless the author, her parents, and only increase them good! Ameen!

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  2. M.G.H

    Great Advice!! Cussing has definitely become more common place in the last twenty years..Growing up saying OMG was considered rude, things have changed.

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  3. Rayan

    Mashallah, a very well written article! I’m a seventeen year old writer and I can agree fully with what you’ve written, and the ways of avoiding it. I don’t swear, in an environment where cussing is fully normal – I think that the best explanation to give to others is that firstly, I don’t need to resort to swearing to make a point, and secondly, as a Muslim I believe that every word you say, you are accountable for – ‘words become YOU’ as you said. Here’s an important one as well – people will argue with you that there is no ‘meaning’ behind swearing, that it’s just as bad to say ‘idiot’ or ‘snap’ if that’s the intention behind it. That’s not true, because the connotations that the words carry are completely different, and that’s why people use swear words in the first place!

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  4. Happy Friend

    Why to even send her to a school in the first place ? Why not homeschool your kids ? today it’s cussing, tomorrow it would be alcohol, than it would be porn, than it would sex and drugs. why deliberately go to the fire just presuming you won’t get burnt. i don’t see a point at all with parents sending their kids to schools and than making a fuss about the environment. if you want to protect the kids, just don’t send them there. nobody forced u to send ur kids to school. jst don’t be hypocrite. i won’t go to a bar for drinking orange juice.

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    • Walid

      @Happy Friend. My wife and I homeschool our 13 yr old daughter. But not everyone can do/afford it. It’s not as easy as “why don’t you just homeschool them?”. I wish it was. If the parent is not educated it will be hard to homeschool. If the family’s income is low..it will be harder, etc. etc.

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      • Happy Friend

        @Walid

        Brother, i totally appreciate your efforts and may Allah grant you (and your wife) patience and your daughter much knowledge and wisdom.

        The point I made was an informed one because i know that many people can’t afford and many are themselves not educated. But after knowing (and seeing) what happens in schools these days, it’s better to let your kids remain uneducated than sending them to school. If Imaan itself is lost, what benefit would that education provide ? Getting your kids educated is a responsibility, but can it be accomplished by committing haram ? If we open one door, then there are many such doors to be opened. People also take riba based loans to marry off their kids, student loans, to buy property and what not. If one starts giving justification, then there exists a justification for all sins.

        And Allah knows best.

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      • Nick Lynch

        I respect your opinion but I strongly disagree that it’s better to let children be uneducated than sending them to school.

        I went to an inner-city school where there was a lot of swearing (amongst other things). It wasn’t overly great at the time but in hindsight I’m glad I went there. It taught me that there are different types of people with different views and values in life. May I also say that the teachers were great (better than in my subsequent further education) and I for one learned a lot more than I could have by being educated at home, or worse, not learning anything at home.

        And for the record, although I am not offended by it, I never ever feel the need or desire to swear and have not done for quite some time.

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      • Happy Friend

        Brother, it simply doesn’t ends till swearing. Swearing is just one of the vices (we have porn on mobile devices, we have smoking, we have drugs, we have alcohol, we have sex and what not). A child’s mind is not mature enough to understand that it’s not appropriate to swear. moreover, the peer pressure is immense to overcome what’s ‘hap’ and ‘cool’. Not getting educated could only be an option where there’s a much better environment as home when compared to a school. Anyway, this article won’t be read by people who are uneducated. And if they are educated enough and Islamic enough (because one can be highly educated in the worldly knowledge but may be 0 in Deen), they would realize the importance of home schooling. i am from India, and i would say that many of Muslim parents themselves swear and hurl abuses to each other and to the people from the society, so they learn it from home, rather than from school. my intention was never to suggest a one fits all approach. of course, the situation and environment is different for everyone and it’s the respective level of taqwa and knowledge of deen, for which people would decide what’s best for them.

        Personally, if Allah grants me kids in the future (Inshallah), i have decided not to send them to school or I would make my own school for them (as Zakir Naik did for his own child)

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  5. Wael Abdelgawad

    Nothing lame about your article at all, sister. It was right on point. I appreciate hearing about your struggle, and your quotations were all very relevant. Swearing does not make a person sound forceful or “bad”, it just makes them sound ignorant. When I meet someone who swears all the time I see him as someone who is poorly educated and doesn’t have the vocabulary to express himself properly.

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  6. gunal

    Why is it accepted that children can/do swear? Especially in schools? Homeschooling or even wrapping them in cotton wool would not resolve this issue unless someone (it feels like it is only me) says I won’t stand for this! This is not normal. I send my child to school to learn to be able to express himself. If his school corridors are full of children who cannot find words to express their emotions (and resort to meaningless offensive language) then there is something wrong. Means that school is failing its society it is aiming, (supposedly), to build. Yesterday I heard a parent using the F word to her 7 year old child on the bus. If I had my child with me I would say “do not use that kind of language in front of my child”. If a school can’t say that to protect my child against verbal abusers of the society hen indeed ‘what is the point for schools?’

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