Ethics In Islam
Truth or veracity is a great and important attribute of human character and virtue. Islam has laid great emphasis on the followers to cultivate this quality among themselves as second nature because Truth is one of the main and strongest attributes of Allaah. In the Eminent Qur'aan Allaah, the Lord of the worlds, has mentioned at numerous places about His Commands, sacred Promises and Truth in His every Word. At one place the Qur'aan says:
"And whose word can be truer than Allaah's" (S. 4: 87).
In another verse of the same Surah it is stated:
"Allaah's promise is the truth, and whose word can be truer than Allaah's?" (S. 4: 122).
"Truth" is a Divine Quality. Allaah is true in His words and promises. He also infused this quality among His servants on whom He conferred the prophethood or messengership and sent them to this world. The prophets and messengers are all true, and pure both in their words and deeds during all periods of their life - childhood, youth and old age. Their veracity has all along been free from doubt and always testified by people of all periods. Allaah has quoted this gracious quality of truthfulness and veracity of these prophets in times out of number in the sacred Qur'aan. Qur'aan refers to the truthfulness of Hazrat Ibrahim (alai-his salam) in the following words:
"Also mention in the Book (the story of) Ibrahim, he was a man of truth, a Prophet." (S. 19:41).
Speaking about Hazrat Idris (alai-his salaam), the Qur'aan reveals:
"Also mention in the Book (the case of) Idris: he was a man of truth (and
sincerity), (and) a prophet:" (S. 19: 56)
The truth, purity and sincerity of these noble servants of Allaah have been exemplified so that the people who claimed to be their followers and followed their teachings sincerely should examine their own ethical virtues, character, conduct and behaviour on the anvil of the conduct and character of these prophets, and then adopt the path of truth and veracity.
Truth is not only the correct and accurate description of an event which one knows but its range is wider than that. Allaah Almighty commands His servants to follow the course of truth and veracity in all walks of life and be steadfast to it. Allaah likes and loves those who adorn themselves with this great quality of truth and prove themselves true to their words, promise and deeds. Hazrat Ismail ('alai-his salaam), the great Prophet of Allaah had promised his father that he would find him true and steadfast while being offered for sacrifice in the way of Allaah. (This event in Islamic history is well-known to all, even to non-Muslims). The father laid the son on the ground by his forehead, and with the full spirit of devotion and submission to the Will of Allaah and the desire to seek His Pleasure, moved his knife on the throat of his innocent son after having sacrificed his paternal affection in the way of Allaah. The son had surrendered to suffer all tribulations and trials without saying a word and happily agreed to sacrifice his life in the way of Allaah. This exhibition of sacrifice of an innocent son at the hands of his father was accepted and approved in the Court of Allaah and the sharp knife, instead of cutting the throat of Hazrat Ismail, was commanded by Allaah to cut the throat of a ram instead which was sent from the Paradise by Allaah. After completing his act of devotion and supplication the father untied the cloth from his eyes and the world observed a strange scene - a ram bathed in blood and dust lying there and the son of the 'Friend of Allaah', was standing by his side. This great tiding was resounding all around that....
"We redeemed him with a momentous sacrifice:" (S. 37: 107).
A memorial for this noble example of complete submission and faith by Hazrat Ismail was sanctified by Allaah to be remembered and observed till Doomsday and the dignity of his honouring and fulfilling the promise was to remain till the existence of this world.
Hazrat Ismail (alai-his salaam) demonstrated the highest standard of annihilation of self and unflinching faith. Thus he honoured his pledge that he had given to his respected father. For this achievement in the field of Truth, Allaah granted him the honour of having in his progeny the only but final Messenger and Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (sal-lal-laa-hu 'alai-hi waa aa-li-hi wa-sal-lam), in whose Shariat the great Sunnah of sacrifice of Hazrat Ismail was made sacred and obligatory till the Day of Resurrection.
When the prophets of Allaah announced before their people the message of the Unity of Allaah and claimed to be His prophets, the peoples of their times asked of them to perform miracles or display some sign and symbols to prove the truth of their claims. This was a general practice of the people of those days to judge the claims of the prophethood. Hazrat Noah, Hazrat Saleh, Hazrat Musa (alai-hi mus-salaam) were also asked by their people to unfold miracles as a proof of their being prophets of Allaah. The Qur'aan quotes the demand of the peoples in the following words:
"Show us a sign if you tell the truth."
The revered mother of Hazrat Isa (alai-his-salaam), Hazrat Maryam (razi-yal-laa-hu 'an-ha) has been called 'true' in the Qur'aan for her qualities of chastity and veracity. However, truth or veracity is such a pious and pure ethical quality which transcends man to the stage of perfection both in the field of knowledge and virtue. Truth is the fountain of good that nourishes all virtues. It is truth which enhances the reputation of man. in the fields of industry, trade, commerce and in all spheres of life, man achieves high position in society because of truth and veracity. The Kind Prophet from his childhood through youth, before and after the conferment of prophethood, i.e. throughout his life, through every period, blossomed forth the fragrance of this ethical quality of truth and veracity. In childhood, when he shepherded the sheep and goats, and in his youth when he was engaged in commerce and trade, he invariably practised truth and veracity in all his dealings. He always spoke the truth without fear and favour and made true promises. People were so much influenced by his cardinal principle of truth and veracity that when he was conferred with prophethood and he started preaching Islam and invited people individually to accept the Unity of Allaah and his prophethood, Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (razi-yal-laa-hu 'an-ha) and other unbiased persons entered the fold of Islam forthwith, only because they had continuous experience of the Prophet's utterances and actions of truth and veracity. They believed that he always spoke the truth and, therefore, his very first message convinced them that one who always stuck to the truth in worldly dealings with people, how could he utter an incorrect statement about Allaah and the Hereafter. Definitely they thought and were convinced that the message that he preached was correct and true. Therefore, when they heard the message, they believed it. The land of Makkans soon began to resound with the slogan of Unity 'La-ila-ha il-lal-la-hu Muham-ma-dur-rasaul-lul-lah' (There is no god but Allaah and Muhammad is His Messenger) and thus after a long time, the prayer of 'Friend' and patience of Ismail began to fructify in the shape and form of 'Ummat-i-Muslimah' which rose on the surface of earth.
The truth and veracity of the Kind Prophet was well-known to the people of Makkah. He was very popular for his qualities of honesty. Truth and veracity throughout the peninsula. Every Arab trusted and relied on him because he was never found lacking in human qualities and never uttered an untruth. It was his truth and veracity that were unquestionable that when he started preaching Islamic beliefs of Unity of Allaah and his Prophethood among common people and addressed all the tribes of Makkah and from Mount Safa and asked them:
"What I want to say to you, would you believe it as true or not. Tell me, whether you take me to be honest and true or otherwise."
On hearing this all without exception, knowing his character at close quarters proclaimed with one voice:
"We have never experienced your telling an untruth both in word and deed."
The wealth of belief is the share of those people who are honoured by Allaah with His guidance and sense of obedience. But, the people of Makkah who had not entered the fold of Islam because of family or personal malice, inter-community feuds, vanity of power, status and authority or fear of losing the leadership, remained immersed day and night in vices and sins. They adhered to their religion and worshipped the idols, as they were long in love with them. They did not believe in the Prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad (sal-lal-laa hu 'alai-hi was alahi wa-sal-lam) and indulged in causing inhuman atrocities and cruelties to the Prophet of Allaah. They competed with each other in this heinous act. In spite of all these inimical designs and deeds, when they assembled together to discuss any mater they were unanimous about the truth and veracity of the Prophet. Even Abu Jahel Umar bin Hasham, who was the bitterest enemy of the Prophet and of the Muslims, once met the prophet and while affirming his truth and veracity remarked:
"O Muhammad (sal-lal-laa-hu 'alai-hi was al-lam)! I do not call you a liar but we do not accept the Message which you have brought."
Disgusted by the persecutions and dishonesty of the people of Makkah, the Prophet migrated to Madinah. Among the visitors who came to see the Prophet, there was a Jew scholar, Hazrat Abdullah bin Salaam. When this scholar came near the Prophet and looked at his face he spontaneously exclaimed:
"This is not the face of a liar."
Then Hazrat Abdullah had some secret conversation with the Prophet and joyfully entered the fold of Islam.
The Kind Prophet commands the faithful to speak the truth, make sincere promises, favour the true persons and abstain from uttering lies and falsehood. Those who had the honour to be in his august company, always loved truth and veracity and hated lies and fraud. They believed that no sin was more contemptuous than speaking lies, because the Qur'aan has placed the liar in second position of condemnation, the first being the infidels. The Qur'aan has condemned and cursed a liar at many places and revealed grievous penalty for him. Describing the habit of lying as hypocrisy, the Qur'aan has warned:
"And grievous is the penalty they (incur) because they are false (to themselves). (S. 2: 10).
The Kind Prophet, describing the act of lying as one of the characteristics of a hypocrite, said:
"There are three characteristics of a hypocrite: When he speaks, he tells a lie; when he makes a promise, he acts against it; and when he is made a trustee of anything, he commits breach of trust."
In another saying, a fourth characteristic has also been mentioned:
"When he quarrels, he indulges in abuse."
The Prophet warned that out of these vices if a person is embroiled in a single one, then that would be enough to justify him to be called hypocrite.
In the holy war of Tabuk, some people did not take part along with the Prophet. When the Prophet returned from the front, a few hypocrites among them forward with lame excuses and regretted their inability to take part in the holy war. Allaah Almighty informed the Kind Prophet of their fraud and commanded him not to offer their funeral prayers and not allow them to take part in the holy war, because they were among those who disobeyed the orders of Allaah and His Prophet.
On this occasion, there were also a few Muslims who did not take part in the holy war. When the Prophet asked them the reason, they did not tell a lie but regretfully accepted their laxity, procrastination and irresponsibility. They repented and apologized on their wrong deed and assured the Prophet that they would honour his command in future and would never repeat such lapses. The Prophet deferred decision in the case of these companions - Hazrat Ka'ab bin Malik, Hazrat Hiiaal bin Umid, Mararah bin Rabi (razi-yal-laa-hu 'an-hum) - till a Revelation from Allaah Almighty was revealed to him.
These companions had to undergo great hardship and trial till the revelation was received from Allaah. Because of their procrastination and slackness for not taking part in holy war, people boycotted them economically and socially, and did not reply to their salaam. They feared that any relationship and association with them, before the award of a Divine decree about them, might not be a cause of Allaah's wrath in their case. Even the wives of these companions remained away from them and awaited an announcement in their case by the Prophet. At this juncture of total boycott by Muslims, an anti-Muslim King tried to lure these companions away from Islam by giving them temptations of various kinds through his agent. But these true servants of Allaah rigidly rejected the offer and remained faithful to the truth and accepted their fault and pleaded for Allaah's mercy and pardon. After forty days, Allaah revealed the Verse in which He accepted their repentance. Describing their steadfastness to truth and acceptance of their repentance, Allaah instructed the faithful to follow their example:
"Oh you who believe! Fear Allaah and be with those who are true (in word and
deed). (S. 9: 19).
From the events recounted above, it would become apparent that truth strengthens faith and falsehood breeds contempt, discord and fraud. The Kind Prophet said that truth shows the path of virtue and virtue leads to Paradise; a person who speaks the truth and forms a habit of the same becomes "Siddique" (true man). The lie shows the path of vice and vice leads to hell; a person who speaks a lie and makes a habit of the same, is known in the Court of Allaah as a 'liar.'
The Kind Prophet also said that:
"The faith of a person cannot be perfect unless he completely gives up the telling of lies; not even in jokes and arguments he should tell a lie, although he may be in the right."
Those who degrade themselves from the high and noble station of truth and veracity and stoop to the lowly station of lying for a little benefit, commit a worse crime, it is generally observed that people give false testimony and evidences; shopkeepers mislead and dupe the customers to earn a little more profit; quote more than the actual price or cost of the goods and wear that it is the actual cost; and resort to falsehood of every kind to impress on the customers that a certain price was offered for a certain thing but they did not sell at that price. All these lies for little benefits amount to serious sins, about which it is stated in one of the traditions:
"Allaah will shun three types of people from His Vision and will never purify them from sins, (instead He will give them grievous penalty). One of the three, is that person who does favour to any one so as to taunt him for his favour; the second person is that who so wears his shirt, pajama or cloth in pride that his ankle is covered and the third one who sells his goods on false oaths."
Some people tell a lie for fun and people laugh at them,. There are also some people who use their lies to make fun of others or to incite two men to fight and then enjoy the excitement or the fighting. When they succeed in making a fool of some one or make two of them fight, they think of it as a perfection of art. Such people shall remember always the above quoted tradition of the Prophet. Lying in any shape or form is against the principle of faith and a cause for inviting Allaah's condemnation and wrath. Truth is the means for cementing of faith and the pleasure of Allaah Almighty.
Truth or veracity is a high and noble ethical attribute, which raises a
human being to the pinnacle of honour and good character in this world as well as in the Hereafter to be acknowledge when he or she will stand before Allaah. On the Doomsday, when God's created ones will see their deed record register and receive award on their good and bad deeds, there will be the shadow of Allaah's Blessings on those who established themselves on the path of truth during their sojourn in the ephemeral world. They will be exalted on that Day, favoured with the Pleasure of Allaah and rewarded to enter Paradise. The Qur'aan explains this in 'Surah Maidahin' the following words:
"This is a day on which the truthful will profit from their truth; theirs are Gardens, with rives flowing beneath, - their eternal Home: Allaah will be pleased with them, and they with Allaah." (S. 5: 122).
O Allaah! We seek Your help for keeping ourselves on the Path of Truth in all our affairs of life. We seek your pleasure, bounties and favours for us all Your dear servants, and we offer our gratitude for Your commands O Allaah! We lack in fulfilling Your commands and obeying the laws of Shariat, for which we beseech Your forgiveness. Our slackness, procrastination and laxity in the past may be overlooked and we may be enlisted into the fold of Your dear servants.