TRUTHFULNESS: THE SOUL OF A BELIEVER
A true believing Muslim has many characteristics by which he can be identified. The most outstanding one should be honesty of character and truthfulness of speech. Honesty should be at the core of a Muslim’s character, to himself, his Lord and to those around him. It is through honesty in the simple everyday actions that a person gains the trust of his friends and foes alike. Prophet Muhammad (saws) was an exemplary example of honesty of character. So much so that even before he gained Prophethood he had been given the title ‘Al–Ameen’ (the trustworthy) by the pagans of Quraish. After he had received the Prophethood, his sworn enemies from among the pagan Quraish and the Jews would still entrust him with their goods, as related in the Seerah. Many Sahaba, such as Abu Bakr As–Siddiq (ra), came to Islam due to the honesty and righteousness of Muhammad (saws).
Honesty in speech and character is not the domain of the Prophets alone, but is incumbent also on us, the followers of the Prophets.
Speaking the truth should not be seen as a separate component of a Muslim’s character, but as the doorway to righteousness. Ibn Mas’ud is related by Imam Malik to have said (in the meaning), “You must tell the truth. Truthfulness leads to right action. Right action leads to the Paradise. Beware of lying. Lying leads to corruption and corruption leads to the fire.” We should inculcate truthfulness in our everyday actions whether it be speaking to our children, our parents, our colleagues at work or even the ticket collector on our local bus. There is no virtue in lying to the ticket collector on the true length of your journey!
Remember Allah is constantly aware of our actions, “Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it)” [50:17].
We are encouraged to tell the truth to the extent that the Messenger of Allah (saws) said (in the meaning), “I guarantee a house in the surroundings of Paradise for a man who avoids quarrelling even if he were in the right, a house in the middle of Paradise for a man who avoids lying even if he were joking, and a house in the upper part of Paradise for a man who made his character good.” [Abu Dawood].
Speech is a gift and a trust from Allah (swt) to mankind. Therefore, we should guard our tongues from falsehood and deceit. How often has our tongue led us into actions that are deceitful and dishonest? Warnings, from Allah (swt), against lying and slander are many.
The Messenger of Allah (saws) relates (in the meaning), “Whoever has the following four (characteristics) will be a pure hypocrite and whoever has one of them will have one characteristic of hypocrisy until he gives it up: Whenever he is entrusted, he betrays. Whenever he speaks, he lies. Whenever he makes a covenant, he proves treacherous. Whenever he quarrels, he behaves in a very imprudent, evil and insulting manner.” [Bukhari]. The Prophet (saws) during the night journey (Al–Israa Wal–Mi’raaj) saw a man lying down and above him a man with a hooked iron bar was ripping from his mouth to his neck, then from his nostril to his neck and then from his eye to his neck. He would then do the same thing to the man’s other side. By the time he had finished the second side, the first would have healed and he would repeat these actions. The Prophet’s (saws) companion (Jibreel) told him this was the punishment up to the Day of Judgement of those who broadcast lies.
For those among the Muslims who fear Allah and wish to be of the truthful, the Prophet (saws) has taught us a simple rule to keep us pure; “Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or keep silent, …” [Muslim].
BE TRUTHFUL IF YOU SPEAK
By Shaykh Hishaam al-‘Aarif
Translated by Ahmed Abu Saad
Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) has ordered us to be truthful in our speeches. He (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) said what means: “O you who believe! Fear Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).” (9:119)
Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) made truthfulness in speech a sign of a believer. A believer is truthful in his belief, truthful in following the way of the prophet (sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, truthful in his love for the pious predecessors especially the companions, truthful in his search for the truth, truthful in his call to Allah, so Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) complemented this character saying what means: “Allah will say: ‘This is a Day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise) – they shall abide therein forever. Allah is pleased with them, and they with Him. That is the great success (Paradise)’.” (5:119)
‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Harith said: “We were with the prophet (sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and he asked for water. He placed his hands and made wudoo’, and we followed and made wudoo’ from the same water. The prophet (sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked: ‘What made you do that?’ We said: ‘The love for Allah and his Messenger.’ The prophet (sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘If you like to be loved by Allah and his Messenger, be trustworthy and loyal when entrusted, be truthful in your speech, and be good to your neighbors’.”
‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr narrated that the Prophet (sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Four characteristics, if you acquire them, then do worry what you else you have missed in your life: being trustworthy when entrusted, truthfulness in speech, good character, and eat what is allowed.”
Al-Bukhaaree, Muslim and others reported that Ibn Mas’ud narrated that the Prophet (sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Be truthful. Verily truthfulness guides to piety and righteousness, and piety and righteousness guides to paradise. And a person will keep on being truthful and making sure of being truthful until it is written that he is truthful. And stay away from lying. Verily lying guides to sins and sins guide to the hell fire. And a person will keep lying until it is written that he is untruthful.”
We conclude from this hadeeth that searching and making sure of truthfulness helps a person obtain a good ending for his life.
Ibn Hajr said: “If a person keeps lying until it is said he is a liar, this is not from the completeness of the characters of believers. In fact, it is a character of the hypocrites.”
Ibn Taymiyyah said: “The Prophet (sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told us that truthfulness is a character that surely brings and guides to piety and righteousness. And lying is a character that surely brings and guides to sinning.”
And Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) said what means: “Verily, the Abraar (the pious believers of Islamic Monotheism) will be in Delight (Paradise), and verily, the Fujjaar (the wicked, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners and evil-doers) will be in the blazing Fire (Hell).” (82:13-14)