Thursday 7 June 2018

Sufi Gates of Speech

This week we shared in the annual Friends Listen Assembly, an opportunity for one member of our community to share their experiences of struggle and support. The name of the assembly is vitally important, reminding us of both our obligation and the opportunity to lift one another up when we’re dragging along. Friends do indeed listen. Perhaps a question we need to ask ourselves is “When I’m speaking, who do my friends hear?” No one of us is perfect all the time in thought and action, and we can all strive to do better in how we think, speak and act of those around us. Words are incredibly powerful and how we speak sets the stage for how we will act and how those who hear us act, based on the things we say. At the assembly I suggested that we could use the Sufi gates of speech to help us be more other-centred. The Sufis, a pacificist Muslim sect, believe that before a word leaves our lips, it should pass through three gates.

  • Is it true?
  • Is it kind?
  • Is it necessary?

I could write extensively on all three of these gates, but the simplicity of the statements helps to keep the focus on our words and the actions they inspire. If we can shepherd our words through these three gates before they leave our mouths, then perhaps the world we create will be one where it is easier for our friends to listen, and more importantly, to hear, our care for them.


There are lots of reasons to get out in the wild places. Here’s three of the best. Who are the people you share the most important places with? Can you be grateful for their presence in your life?

Fr Jack McLain SJ