The Value of Honesty
And he who brings the Truth and he who confirms (and supports) it - such are the men who do right. (AL-ZUMAR: 33)
O ye who believe! Why say ye that which ye do not? Grievously odious is it in the sight of Allah that ye say that which ye do not. (AL-SAFF: 2-3)
O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do. (AL-MA’IDA: 8)
O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do. (AL-NISA’: 135)
Allah doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; And when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice: Verily how excellent is the teaching which He giveth you! For Allah is He Who heareth and seeth all things. (AL-NISA’: 58)
Fulfill the Covenant of Allah when ye have entered into it, and break not your oaths after ye have confirmed them; indeed ye have made Allah your surety; for Allah knoweth all that ye do. (AL-NAHL: 91)
fulfill (every) engagement, for (every) engagement will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning). (AL-ISRA’: 34)
Magnification by the Prophet of the Value of Honesty in the Souls of his Companions:
By means of Abdullah Ibn Masood, who said, “The Messenger of God said, ‘indeed, truthfulness leads to piety, and piety leads to Paradise, and a man continues to engage in honest behavior until such time as he is thoroughly honest. Along a similar vein, truly, lying leads to corruption, and corruption leads to the Fire, and a man continues to engage in dishonest behavior until he is recorded by God to be an inveterate liar.’”
Honest Speech is that which is in Accord with Reality:
Zayd Ibn Arqam said, “We went out on a campaign with the Messenger of God accompanied by some Bedouins. We used to head straight for the water, but the Bedouins would beat us to it. One Bedouin, arriving there ahead of his friends, filled the trough, then surrounded it with stones and placed a leather covering atop it until such time as his friends should arrive.” He continued, “A man from among the Ansar approached the Bedouin, slackening his camel’s reins in order that it may drink, but he would not let him. So, he snatched away the rock which was stabilizing the trough, then, the Bedouin picked up a plank of wood and struck the Ansari man upon the head, injuring him. Then Abdullah Ibn Ubayy, the leader of the hypocrites, came, and he told him about it. He was one of his friends, and Abdullah Ibn Ubayy became angry, then said, ‘Spend nothing upon those who are with the Messenger of God, in order that they may scatter from around him,’ referring to the Bedouins. They used to go to the Messenger of God at meal times, so Abudullah said, ‘Only after they have dispersed from Muhammad’s presence are you to take food to Muhammad in order that he and those who are with him may eat.’
Then he said to those who were with him, ‘If/When you return to the city the greater party will oust there-from the lesser party.’” Zayd continued, “I had been lagging behind the Messenger of God and overheard Abdullah Ibn Ubayy, so I told my uncle and he went to inform the Messenger of God, who then sent an emissary to him, but he denied it, swearing an oath.” He continued, “So, the Messenger of God believed him, calling me the liar. Then my uncle came to me and said, ‘You have achieved nothing but to make the Messenger of God despise you and think, along with the Muslims in general, that you are dishonest.’” He continued, “Then I was seized by an anxiety unlike any which has ever befallen a man. Then, as I was riding along with the Messenger of God and my anxiety had lifted somewhat, the Messenger of God suddenly approached me and rubbed my ear, smiling in my face, and I would not have traded that for eternal life within this world. Then, Abu Bakr caught up to me, saying, ‘What did the Messenger of God say?’ I responded, ‘He did not say anything. He merely rubbed my ear and smiled in my face,’ he said, ‘Be joyful.’ Then, ‘Umar caught up with me and I said to him the same thing that I had told Abu Bakr. Then, when morning broke, the Messenger of God read Surat Al-Munafiqeen.”
Ka’ab Ibn Malik said, “I did not lag behind the Messenger of God on any campaign which he undertook other than the Battle of Tabuk, with the exception of my not having been present at the Battle of Badr, and he chided none who were absent from it, for the Messenger of God had intended merely to meet the Caravan of the Quraish, God having brought them and their enemy together in an unscheduled manner. Indeed, I was with the Messenger of God on the night of Aqaba when we concluded a peace treaty, and I would not trade that for having witnessed Badr, even if Badr is more memorable in the appraisal of men. I was certainly neither stronger or weaker when I tarried in that battle. But the Prophet never referred to that battle except by allusion. This was the very same battle he fought in severe heat, and encountered a long journey and many enemies. This demonstrates that honesty is salvation, and that honesty means being brave in facing up to mistakes by speaking the truth, an act which allows the individual, despite his suffering, to free himself from the anxious attention required to maintain the secrecy of lies. It demonstrates how the Prophet was able to impart moral discipline to his companions with no more than a facial expression, for his face would radiate and glow when he was happy; his companions knew that about him. It was this expression that Ka’ab Ibn Malik was waiting for when he went to the prayer at the mosque during the days of his ordeal, feeling the pain of having lost the Messenger of God's glance of approval, full of love and tenderness.
It is also a realistic story, the events of which are living examples of a dilemma and the plight it placed one in. All of that renders the trainee in a position of interaction with the story, as if he himself is going through it, particularly because the Prophet made his companions active participants in forming the story’s events. In the story of Ka’ab Ibn Malik the companions played a part in his stigmatization, communal boycotting being a powerful means of imparting moral discipline.
Honesty Entails Sincerity of Intention in one’s Actions:
Intention is the most important infrastructure to moral behavior, and sincerity as regards it entails stripping things down to the sheer moral value, avoiding participating in any moral activity with an eye to achieving personal benefits or a passing fancy.
By way of Ibn ‘Umar we hear that the Messenger of God said, “One day three individuals from those who came before you were walking along when it suddenly began to rain and they took shelter within a cave, which they became trapped within. Some of them said to the others, ‘The fact is, by God, that there is nothing which could rescue and save you other than honesty, so let every man from among us put forward something honest and good that he knows he has wrought.
One of them said, ‘Dear God, if you are aware that there was once a man whose labor I rented who performed his duties for a bushel of rice, then went off, leaving it behind, and that I took that bushel of rice of his and planted it and it came to be that that bushel of rice which was his became wealth with which I purchased a cow. Later, he came to me, asking for his pay, and I told him, “Go to that cow and take it.” He then responded to me by saying, “The only thing that you owe me is a bushel of rice.” I responded, “Make your way over to that cow, for it is certainly the product of that bushel” and he took possession of and departed with the cow.’ If you are aware that I certainly did do that thing out of my fear of You, then make a way out for us.’ فَانْسَاحَتْ عَنْهُمُ الصَّخْرَةُ Then, an opening appeared from among the rubble. Another said, ‘Dear God, if you are aware that both of my parents were elderly, of an exceedingly advanced age, and that I used to come to them nightly with milk from one of my goats, and I was slower than usual in getting to them one evening, and, once I had arrived, I found that they had already gone to sleep. My family and dependants were screaming and crying out from hunger and weakness, but I was accustomed not to feed them until after my parents had taken their shares.
I disliked to awaken them as I also disliked to leave them patiently enduring the weakness brought on by the absence of their evening meal. I ceased not to wait there until the break of dawn. If You know it to be true that I performed such an act out of my fear of You, then forge a way out for us.’ And the boulder revealed a bit of the entrance such that they were able to view the sky. Then, the last one spoke, saying, ‘Dear God, if you are aware that I had a cousin –a daughter of my father’s brother- who was one of the most beloved of all people to me, and that I attempted to seduce her, but she refused except in the case that I would bring her one hundred dinars. I set about to gather them until such time as I would be able to, then, I went to her with the money in my possession and I paid them to her, and she gave me access to her body. But, when I sat between her legs she said, ‘Fear God and do not break the seal unjustly.’ I got up and left behind the one hundred dinars. If you know it to be true that I did that out of fear of You, then forge a way out for us. Then, God did indeed forge a way out for them, and they exited the cave.”
Honesty means that the outside should Match the Interior, just as Words Match Actions:
Part of what is conveyed by such words as honesty, sincerity, concordance between one’s personal and public behaviors, and concordance of words with actions. God Almighty says, “O ye who believe! Why say ye that which ye do not? Grievously odious is it in the sight of Allah that ye say that which ye do not” So, honesty is the opposite of hypocrisy, showing off, and pretentiousness.
By way of Yahya Ibn Al-Jazzar, who said, “Some people from among the companions of the Messenger of God entered upon Um Salama and said, “Oh Mother of the Believers, speak to us regarding a personal matter of the Messenger of God s. She replied, ‘In person or in public, he was the same.’ Thereafter I regretted it, saying to myself, ‘You have disclosed a secret of the Messenger of God s.’ She said, ‘When he returned I told him, and he said, “You have done well.”’”
By way of Abu Sa’id Al-Khudairy, who said, “The Messenger of God was more shy than a virgin in her seclusion, and if he saw something he disliked we knew it from his face.”
By way of Al-Mughira Ibn Shu’aba, “There was a solar eclipse on the day in which Abraham died, and the people said, ‘It was eclipsed for the death of Abraham.’ The Messenger of God said, ‘Indeed, the sun and the moon are a pair of signs among the signs of God. They become eclipsed neither at anybody’s death nor at anybody’s life. If you catch sight of them, call upon God in prayer, both impromptu and canonical, until such time as the eclipse unfolds.’”
The Prophet trained his companions in how to achieve honesty with themselves by not drawing things out of proportion. Despite the fact that the disaster of an infant son’s death had stricken him, he did not allow this opportunity to impart moral teachings and discipline to pass him by. He defended his companions from the corruption of the intellectual faculties and their overturn by the admittance of superstitions to their minds by pushing away their swift claim of a connection between the ways of God and His signs in the creation and the lives of individuals or their deaths.
The Messenger of God rejected having an unnecessary dignity falsely bestowed upon him which he was in no way in need of.
By way of ‘Amru Ibn Murra, who said, “The Prophet told me, ‘Recite to me,’ and I responded, ‘Shall I recite to you when it is unto you that the recitation is revealed?’ He said, ‘Truly, I love to hear it from someone other than me.’ So, I recited Surah Al-Nisaa for him until I reached “How then if We brought from each people a witness, and We brought thee as a witness against these people!” whereupon he said, ‘Hold it.’ as tears flowed from his eyes.’”
By way of Abdullah Ibn Masoud, who said, “The Messenger of God said to me, ‘Recite the Qur’an for me.’ I responded, ‘Shall I recite the Qur’an for you when it is unto you that the Qur’an is revealed?’ He replied, ‘Truly, I crave to hear it recited by other than myself.’ Then, I began to recite from Surat Al-Nisaa when, as I reached “How then if We brought from each people a witness, and We brought thee as a witness against these people!” I looked up, (or, a man near me caught my attention, causing me to raise my head) and I saw his tears flowing.”
This demonstrates the honesty of the Prophet and the sincerity of his faith in his Lord as well as the cohesiveness of his call to faith. He thereby set an example for others of how to achieve congruity between those traits and aspects which are visible with those which are invisible.
Additionally, he here makes use of the tool of reading a text aloud in the presence of the teacher, developing an emotional connection to the meanings and values contained within the recited text by bringing it to life for those whom he trains.
Al Bara’ told us, “I swear to God that we, in the heat of battle, would seek safety near him, and the bravest among us were those who fought at his sides,” by whom he meant the Prophet s.
An indication of the truthfulness and uprightness of the Prophet is born witness to by the fact that, when the fighting got thick, the He was the one behind whom others would take cover, the bravest among them sure to be found fighting at his side.
By way of Al-Bara’ Ibn Al-Aazib, “When the fighting was at its worst during the Battle of Hunayn the Messenger of God came and offered us words of encouragement, saying, ‘I am the Prophet ; that is no lie. I am a descendant of Abd Al-Muttalib; Dear Lord, send us Your aid.’”
A sign of hisbravery is his lack of hesitation regarding giving away his location. In the heat of battle, displaying unrivaled courage, he addressed the group.
By way of Anis, who said, “The Prophet was the best, most generous, and bravest of men. The people of Median were surprised by a fearful event one night and set off towards the sound. When they arrived they were met by the Messenger of God, who had preceded them to the noise, with a sword around his neck sitting bareback on one of Abu Talha’s horses, said, ‘Don’t be afraid; there is no need to panic. I found him all riled up, bucking and braying.’”
Thus did the Messenger of God establish a role model of courageously taking the initiative. He did not allow concern for his personal safety to prevent him from going ahead and investigating the noise on his own in a demonstration of social responsibility and decisive action.
Integrity as regards Fulfilling Promises and Covenants and Honoring Trusts:
By way of Abu Huraira, who said, “The Messenger of God said, ‘Were it not for the immigration I would be one of the Ansar, and, if human kind as a whole, or, any discrete people among mankind, were to follow one path while the Ansar followed another, I would follow the path trodden by the Ansar.’”
The Prophet ’sfulfillment of the covenant he contracted with the Ansar -to dwell among them for aye, never moving away from them- is a demonstration os By way of Anis Ibn Malik, who said, “The Prophet of God never addressed us except that he said, ‘Whoever is not trustworthy has no faith, and, whoever breaks his covenants is bankrupt as regards religion.’”
This shows a companion pointing out how the Messenger of God constantly reinforced certain matters by means of ongoing repetition. The repetition, here, serves to emphasize the value of integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness, which were among the traits for which Hewas well-know both prior to and during his receipt of his mission. The clearest example of this dedication to the principles of honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness which can be found in hislife’s story is his insistence, at the time when he immigrated to Medina, that Ali Ibn Abu Talib, his nephew, stay behind in Mecca in order to undertake and ensure the safe return of such goods as had been left in hispossession as trusts by the unbelievers of Mecca, the very ones who had, in hostility, announced their enmity towards him, expelling himfrom his beloved hometown.
Due to the great importance accorded to fulfilling promises and terms of covenants as well as the honoring of trusts, the Messenger of God linked them to faith in God u explaining that faith exists where such matters are conscientiously attended; when they are neglected and disregarded, faith is absent.
By way of Abu Huraira, who said, “The Prophet said, ‘The signs of the hypocrite are three: When he speaks he lies, when he promises he fails to perform, and, when he is entrusted he betrays.’”
By way of Abu Huraira, who said, “The Messenger of God said, ‘Deliver security to such as have entrusted you and do not betray such as have betrayed you.’”
By way of Jabir Ibn Abdullah, who said, “The Messenger of God said, ‘When a person brings forward a statement and then looks to see who might be around, he is speaking in confidence.’”
By way of Jabir Ibn Abdullah, who said, “The Messenger of God said, ‘When you put things in the balance do so in such a way that the scale clearly tips.’”
Abu Hameed Al Saedi said, “The Prophet of God made use of a man from the Banu Asad called Ibn Utabiyya in collecting charity. When he came back he announced, ‘This is for you and this was gifted unto me.’ The Prophet stood upon his platform, praised God and thanked Him, then said, ‘What could he be thinking, the person whom we send on an errand and, when he returns, tells us, “This part is yours and this part is mine?” Why does he not go and sit in the house of his mother and father and see and if he is given such gifts or not? By the One in Whose Hands my soul is held, he shall take nothing except that, on the Day of Resurrection, he shall come bearing it upon his neck, even if it is a camel braying or a cow lowing or a goat screeching.’ He then raised his arms high into the air such that we were able to see his armpits, saying three times, ‘I ask you, have I delivered?’”
This is an example of the Prophet offering advice in such as way as not to publically announce the identity of the person who fell into error. Notice the wording, “What could he be thinking, the person” who does such and such, naming an action which is disliked, thereby simultaneously issuing direct and indirect instructions.
God u says “Allah doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; And when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice: Verily how excellent is the teaching which He giveth you! For Allah is He Who heareth and seeth all things.”
By way of Abu Bakr Al Thaqafi, who said, “The Prophet said, ‘Shall I not inform you of the gravest among the major sins?’ repeating it thrice. They responded, ‘But of course, Oh Messenger of God. ’ He then said, ‘Ascribing partners to God and treating parents disrespectfully.’ Then he sat up, although he had been reclining, and said, ‘And fraudulent speech.’ And he did not cease from repeating it until we said, ‘If only he would stop.’”
Honesty Encompasses Justice, Fairness, and the Equitable Implementation of Rulings:
By way of Aisha, who informed us that Quraish needed to deal with the matter of a theft committed by a woman belonging to the Makhzoom, so they appointed Usama Ibn Zayd to speak with the Prophet s, for he was beloved of the Prophet . (p. 67) Usama spoke to himand the Messenger of God replied, “Do you seek to intercede in regards to a penalty established by God ?” The then arose and addressed the crowd, “Truly, the peoples who came before you were destroyed only because they did not impose punishment upon the rich among them when they stole, but, when a poor man from among them stole, they implemented the penalty. By God Almighty, if Fatima, the daughter of the Messenger of God were to steal, I would, without a doubt, cut her hand off.”