Answered by: Mufti Eunus Ali
I wanted to confirm what our deen says about those who engaged in futile/idle talk as some ‘Ulema describe it. Conversations that don’t benefit the believers in any way.
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Allah has stated: Not a single word is uttered by one, but there is a watcher (angels) near him, ready (to record). (Surah Qaaf: 18)
Hasan Basri and Qatadah both have stated that these angels record every single word that one utters whether it may be rewardable or sinful.
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) has stated that only those statements are recorded which are either rewardable or sinful.
In another narration from Abu Talha and Ibn Abbas both these narrations are reconciled. It is mentioned that all the utterances are recorded whether they be of a rewardable or sinful nature. Then every Thursday the angels review the recorded utterances and retain those which are rewardable and sinful whilst other than that is discarded. And Allah has stated: “Allah wipes off what He wills and affirms’ (what He wills). And with Him is the Mother Book.”(Ar-Ra’d: 39)
It is narrated by Bilal Bin Harith Al-Muzani (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon Him) has stated:
“Verily, a man sometimes utters a good word that pleases Allah, unaware of how high it will be rewarded, and on its account, Allah decrees His pleasure of him until the Day he meets Him. Similarly, a man might utter a word that angers Allah, unaware of how dreadful its punishment will be, and on its account, Allah decrees for him His anger until the Day he meets Him.” (Musnad Ahmad)
Alqamah would say after narrating this from Bilal Ibn Harith: How many words did I not utter due to this Hadith.
Now I would like to discuss your question from two aspects:
Firstly I will discuss the usage of futile or idle talk.
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) has narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon Him) has said: “Do not talk too much without remembrance of Allah. Indeed excessive talking without remembrance of Allah hardens the heart. And indeed the furthest of people from Allah is the harsh-hearted.”
Narrated Al-Mughira bin Shu`ba: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Allah has forbidden for you, (1) to be undutiful to your mothers, (2) to bury your daughters alive, (3) to not to pay the rights of the others (e.g. charity, etc.) and (4) to beg of men (begging). And Allah has hated for you (1) vain, useless talk, or that you talk too much about others, (2) to ask too many questions, (in disputed religious matters), and (3) to waste the wealth (by extravagance).
The scholars have explained to us that not all forms of futile speech will be haram or prohibited. However, this does not mean that it will have a negative effect as the above Hadith states that it will lead to the hardness of the heart.
When the heart hardens one becomes more inclined to the creation instead of the creator, concentration and devotion are minimized and the ability to cry in front of Allah fades away. One becomes oblivious to Allah and the Hereafter.
If the futile and idle speech contains impermissible things such as back biting, slandering and swearing etc. it will then become haram.
Secondly Hanzala (may Allah be pleased with him) has reported:
We were in the company of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and he delivered to us a sermon and made a mention of Hell-Fire. Then I came to my house and began to laugh with my children and sport with my wife. (Hanzala) further reported: I went out and met Abu Bakr and made a mention of that to him. Thereupon he said: I have done the same as you have mentioned. So we went to see Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and said to him: Allah’s Messenger, Hanzala has turned into a hypocrite. And he (the Holy Prophet) said Show respite. And then I narrated to him the story, and Abu Bakr said: I have done the same as he has done. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Hanzala, there is a time for worldly affairs and a time for (worship and devotion), and if your state of mind is always the same as it is at the time of remembrance of Allah, the Angels would shake hands with you and would greet you on the path by saying: As-Salamu-Alaikum.
In this Hadith the Prophet (peace be upon Him) has taught us that there are times when we need to be serious and futile things should be abandoned whilst at other times there is no harm in relaxing and talking about matters other than our religion provided that it is within the boundaries of Shari’ah.
In conclusion, we should adopt the middle path whereby one does not become involved in an excessive futile and idle talk that leads to heedlessness and Allah is forgotten and on the other hand, we should not become so strict and rigid that it is unbearable for others to be around us.
We can see the practical example of this in the life of the Prophet (peace be upon Him) that he would at times say stories to the mothers of the believers and say jokes to the companions and when needed be the Prophet (peace be upon Him) was formal and on point.
Only Allah knows best
Written by Mufti Eunus Ali
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham
 Ma’ariful Quran, Volume 8, Page 160
 Sunan Tirmizhi: 2411
 Saheeh Bukhari: 2408
 TuhfatulAhwazi, Page 1895, Baytul Afkar Ad-Dawliyyah &Umdatul Qari, Volume 12, Page 347, Darul Kutubul Ilmiyyah
 Saheeh Muslim: 2750
 Imam Nawawi’s Commentary of Saheeh Muslim, Volume 7, Page 387, Maktabatul Bushra