The virtue of honesty and its importance
Sheikh Saalih aal Taalib
January 15, 2010 ~ Muharram 29, 1431
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All praise to Allah. “All the praises and thanks be to Allah, to Whom belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. His is all the praises and thanks in the Hereafter, and He is the All-Wise, the All-Aware. He knows that which gets into the earth and that which comes forth from it, and that which descend from the heaven and that which ascends to it. And He is the Most Merciful, the Oft-Forgiving.” [Saba; Verse 1-2]
Glory be to Him and praise be to Him. He knows the hidden and concealed of the souls. And He uncovers the secrets of the heart and its concealment: “Allah knows the fraud of the eyes, and all that the breasts conceal.” [Ghaafir; Verse 19]. And He counts the harvests of the tongues, then He will spread it on the Day of Resurrection. He makes firm and He writes, then He takes reckoning, then He forgives or punishes.
I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone. He has no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger. May Allah’s many salutations, peace and blessings be upon him, and on his pure family and his best companions.
Verily Taqwa (piety) is the best advice, the best dress and the noblest character: “O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His messenger – peace be upon him – he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. saviour from Hell and entry into Paradise).” [Ahzaab; Verse 70-71]
May Allah have mercy on the one who reforms his tongue and recognizes his bridle and makes his leading rope the path of truth and does not make idle talk his habit and not (make it) his decision-maker.
O Muslims: Today’s talk is a talk about a character trait that is the leader of character, the collection of virtue and the head of good traits. Allah praises it in His Book when He – Glorified is He – says: “And who is truer in statement than Allah?” [Nisaa; Verse 87] “And whose words can be truer than those of Allah?” [Nisaa; Verse 122] and He says: “Say (O Muhammad – peace be upon him): ‘Allah has spoken the truth…” [Aal Imraan; Verse 95]
Allah describes His messengers, His prophets, His sincere friends and His friends as truthful so He – Glorified is He – says: “And mention in the Book (Quraan) Isma’eel. Verily! He was true to what he promised, and he was a messenger, (and) a prophet.” [Maryam; Verse 54] and He says to all His servants: “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).” [Tawbah; Verse 119].
O Muslims: The quality of honesty is neither voluntary nor a choice. Verily it is compulsory on a Muslim and a feature of a believer, of whom it is compulsory for his external and internal alike to be true, clear, pure and serene.
Although this quality is simple and the creation agrees on it, we are today in great need to advise regarding mandating it in the midst of a crisis of character which many suffer from. The main reasons of which are: weakness of faith, weakness of upbringing and yearning for this world.
Honesty – O believers – is praised in this world and the Hereafter and is a sign of piety, a reason for the expiation of evil deeds and raising in ranks. And all this is gathered in the saying of Allah – Exalted and Majestic – : “And he (Muhammad – peace be upon him) who has brought the truth (this Quraan and Islamic Monotheism) and (those who) believed therein, those are the pious. They shall have all that they will desire with their Lord. That is the reward of the good-doers. So that Allah may remit from them the evil of what they did and give them the reward, according to the best of what they used to do.” [Zumar; Verse 33-35]. As for the Day of Retribution, then listen to the Saying of Allah – the Exalted – : “Allah will say: ‘This is a day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are Gardens under which rivers flow – they shall abide therein forever. Allah is pleased with them and they with Him. That is the great success.” [Maaidah; Verse 119]
Honesty is a virtue, a nobility, an illuminated path and a sublime soul, and its companion is always given the ability to do good. And ponder – O Muslims – on this hadeeth: On the authority of Abdullah bin Mas’ood – may Allah be pleased with him – who said that the prophet – peace be upon him – said: “Truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man continues to tell the truth until he becomes a truthful person. Falsehood leads to sinning and sinning leads to the Hellfire, and a man may continue to tell lies till he is written before Allah as a liar.” [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim]. And in the narration of Muslim: “And a man continues to be truthful and strives for truthfulness until he is written as a truthful person by Allah. And a man continues to tell lies and strives upon lying until he is written as a liar by Allah.”
Verily honesty is a guide to every righteous deed, a guide to every good; taking its companion on the pathways of guidance until it enters him into Paradise. How not, while he speaks the truth? How not, while he speaks the truth and is truthful, defending the truth in every speech and action?
Verily he is truthful and he strives on honesty and he mandates it, is cautious regarding it, weighs his words, stays far from errors, and feels embarrassed at stumbles.
He doesn’t involve himself in secrets or betrayal until he is written by Allah as truthful.
And which rank does a Muslim hope for after this! Verily they are the friends of the prophets and martyrs: “…Then they will be in the company of those on whom Allah has bestowed His Grace, of the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the righteous. And how excellent these companions are!” [Nisaa; Verse 69].
O Muslim: In order to explain to you the effect of honesty in the heart and why the truthful ones deserve the company of the prophets, ponder also over this authentic hadeeth on the authority of Abu Hurairah – may Allah be pleased with him – who said that the prophet – peace be upon him – said: “When the time draws near, a believer’s dream can hardly be false. And the truest vision will be of one who is himself the most truthful in speech. The vision of a Muslim is one forty-sixth part of prophethood.” [Hadeeth; narrated by Bukhari and Muslim].
Ponder.. A true dream is a part of prophethood, and it is in the heart of the truthful one who soars and purifies, so he shines and is illuminated by the Light of Allah and the curtain of the unknown is opened for him and Allah lets him know of what He wills.
O Muslims: Whoever mandates honesty while he is young, he will hold onto it when he is older. And whoever holds onto it regarding himself, then it is regarding Allah more (deserving) to be held onto. And whoever strives for honesty is guided towards it, his self is made good, his pleasure is purified and his heart is illuminated.
Servants of Allah: Verily it is not correct to be negligent in this principle, because it is the basis of our religion, and it was a rubric for our model and example Muhammad – peace be upon him – whose life was the best example of a complete human, who took from truthful speech and trustful dealings a firm way, not deviating from it even one iota. And that was in him like a secret refuge and naturally. He was known for it even before prophethood and he was nicknamed the truthful, the honest. And he was well-known for this, and he was known by this among people. And when he was commanded to announce in public the call and propagation of the message, he gathered the people and asked them whether they will believe him if he informs them of a matter, so they answered with what they knew of him saying: We have not experienced you except as truthful.
And consider this incident from a life which was full of truthfulness, nobility and loyalty. On the authority of Abdullah bin Abi Hamsa who said: “I bought something from the prophet – peace be upon him – before he received his prophetic commission, and as there was something still due to him I promised him that I would bring it to him at his place, but I forgot. When I remembered 3 days later, I went to that place and found him there. He said: “You have vexed me, young man. I have been here for 3 days waiting for you.” [Narrated by Abu Dawood]
Three days and he came (regarding) the same promise to the agreed place loyally and truthfully.
And this solid principle continued with him from his childhood until he – peace be upon him – passed away. He did not utter (even) one lie, but lying was the most disdained attribute to him. Aisha – may Allah be pleased with her – said: “There was no behaviour more hateful to the messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – than lying. A man would lie when narrating something in the presence of the prophet and he would not be content until he knew that he had repented.” [Imam Ahmad and Ibn Hibbaan].
That is because lying – O Servants of Allah – is a vile quality and an ignoble trait. And a stingy person or a coward may be excused but the liar has no excuse – Safwan bin Sulaim narrates: It was said to the prophet – peace be upon him – : “Can a Muslim be a coward?” He said: “Yes.” It was said: “Can he be stingy?” He said: “Yes.” It was said: “Can he be a liar?” He said: “No” [Narrated by Imam Ahmad in his muwatta]
Another hadeeth in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad supports and explains it: On the authority of Abu Umamah – may Allah be pleased with him – who said: The messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – said: “A believer may commit every sin except betrayal and lying.”
An Nawawi – may Allah have mercy on him – said: “The texts of the Book (Quraan) and Sunnah have demonstrated the prohibition of lying in a sentence, and it is from the ugly sins and the immoral faults and the consensus of the Ummah is in agreement on its prohibition as mentioned in the demonstrations of the texts.” Then he – may Allah have mercy on him – said: “And this hadeeth of whose authenticity is agreed upon suffices: On the authority of Abu Hurairah – may Allah be pleased with him – who said: The messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – said: “The signs of a hypocrite are three: when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise and when he is entrusted he betrays the trust.”
And on the authority of Abdullah bin Umar – may Allah be pleased with him – who reports that the prophet – peace be upon him – said: “Whoever has (the following) four characteristics will be a pure hypocrite. And whoever has one of these characteristics has one characteristic of a hypocrite unless he gives it up: when he makes a covenant he proves treacherous, when he speaks he lies, when he makes a promise he breaks it, and when he argues he proves wicked.” [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim].
Lying decreases faith. Allah – Exalted and Majestic – said: “It is only those who believe not in the verses of Allah, who fabricate falsehood…” [Nahl; Verse 105]. Surely the liar is dealt with with cursing: “…then we pray and invoke (sincerely) the Curse of Allah upon those who lie.” [Aal Imraan; Verse 61].
Silence is better than lying and the honesty of the tongue is the first happiness. And there isn’t anything that you can think of, that is more further (away) from chivalry and beauty and glory in men than lying. Lying is the collection of every evil and the origin of every sin and its small brings on its big.
And surely the wise ones said: “Whoever has legalized the suckling on lying, his weaning is made difficult.” For that reason the prophet – peace be upon him – used to rebuke it even if small, and he used to shun lying even to small children so that they may grow up on honesty and become familiar with it and that they may distance (themselves) from lying and reject it.
Abdullah bin Aamir reports: My mother called me one day when the messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – was sitting in our house. She said: Come here and I shall give you something. The messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – asked her: “What did you intend to give him?” She replied: I intended to give him some dates. The messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – said: “If you were not to give him anything, a lie would be recorded against you.” [Narrated by Abu Dawood with a good chain of narration].
And on the authority of Abu Hurairah – may Allah be pleased with him – who said that the messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – said: “Whoever says to a child: ‘Come here and take this’ then does not give him something, this is counted as a lie.” [Narrated by Imam Ahmad with an authentic chain of narration].
Look at how the messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – taught fathers and mothers to bring up their children, an upbringing wherein they sanctify honesty and mock lying. And if he were to ignore these matters and regard them as trivial trivia it would have been feared that the children would grow up considering lying (as) a small sin while it is in the sight of Allah great.
And this strictness in striving for the truth and protecting honesty continued until it encompassed (even) domestic issues. On the authority of Asmaa bint Yazeed – may Allah be pleased with her – who said: “O messenger of Allah if one of us were to say about something we desired ‘I do not desire it’, would this be considered lying? He replied: “A lie is written as a lie, and a white lie is written as a white lie.” [Narrated by Imam Ahmad and Tabarani in Kabeer].
Surely, there’s no negligence in the principle of lying even in entertaining or joking. On the authority of Bahz bin Hakeem, who narrates from his father, who narrates from his grandfather – may Allah be pleased with them – that: I heard the messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – saying: “Woe to him who tells lies to make people laugh. Woe to him. Woe to him.” [Narrated by Ahmad, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi and Nisaai and Tirmidhi said: (It is) good and authentic].
So if this is (regarding) the one who jokes, then what do you think about the most heinous lie, that is, the lie against Allah and His messenger! Allah – Exalted and Majestic – said: “And on the Day of Resurrection you will see those who lied against Allah – their faces will be black…” [Zumar; Verse 60] and he – peace be upon him – said: “Whoever lies against me intentionally, let him occupy his seat in Hellfire.” [Agreed upon]
In keeping with that, is the one whose harm is widespread like lying that affects the interests of the Ummah and its great matters or (that) which causes confusion in the ranks of society or spreads chaos and disposes of trust and dresses the truth with falsehood, especially with the presence of means to spread (news) widely and quickly propagating information, so you find information networks releasing rumours and you see the media lying and newspapers inciting, so honesty is hurt in the midst of this mess. And when the truths are mixed, people walk without guidance. And surely, the prophet – peace be upon him – saw the punishment of the one whose lie was propagated so he said: “And as for the man whose cheeks you saw being torn apart, he is a liar. He used to speak lies until they used to become famous everywhere.” [Narrated by Bukhari]
And perhaps the lie comes from a source that the listener thought was true, so he took his stance on it, then it reached the (level of) infliction and harm that none besides Allah knows, and perhaps it has destroyed homes, broken families or spilled blood due to the conveying of a liar or a treacherous betrayal. And in the hadeeth: “It is great treachery that you should tell your brother something and have him believe you while you are lying.” [Narrated by Abu Dawood]
Servants of Allah: Honesty is a blessing and lying is a destruction, and at (the time of) buying and selling greed is present and piety decreases, therefore the noble directives (serve) as an admonition at this stage. Hakeem bin Hizaam – may Allah be pleased with him – said: The messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – said: “Both parties in a business transaction have the right to annul it so long as they have not separated; and if they speak the truth and make everything clear they will be blessed in their transaction; but if they tell a lie and conceal anything the blessing of their transaction will be wiped out.” [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim]
And Bukhari classified this hadeeth in his Saheeh as: The chapter (on) what lying and concealment wipes out in trade.
And Rifa’ah – may Allah be pleased with him – narrated that he came out with the prophet – peace be upon him – to the place of prayer, then he saw the people trading so he said: “O group of merchants,” so they answered to the messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – they raised their necks and their sights towards him, then he said: “All merchants are resurrected on the Day of Judgement as sinners, except for those who feared Allah, treated their customers well, and were truthful.” [Narrated by Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja and Tirmidhi said: This hadeeth is good and authentic].
Beware, so make honesty a motto and garment for you and mandate it in public and private, Allah will create piety in your hearts and ability and light on your paths: “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).” [Tawbah; Verse 119].
May Allah bless me and you in the Great Quraan and benefit us with the guidance of the leader of the messengers. I say these words of mine and I ask Allah – the Exalted – to forgive me and you.
All praise is due to Allah for His Kindness and thanks to him for His ability and bounties. And I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone. He has no partner. Great is His Being. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, a caller to His Pleasure. May Allah’s salutations, peace and blessings be n him, and on his family, companions those after them and those who follow them in goodness until the Day of Judgement.
O Muslims: growing your souls with honesty and holding fast onto it and (onto) the (fact that) Allah – the Exalted – is always watchful, in secret and public, and holding onto piety; (all these) motivate a person to have honesty as a quality.
Spreading honesty in the society and renouncing the liars – especially in the general media networks and broadcasting sources – is compulsory on the society.
Verily it is sinful that people become used to the one who liars, and he remains present, affecting (others) with his pen, tongue or media means. Surely liars are found in any place, but it is not permissible for lying to remain or (for us) to become used to its presence.
Sharee’a is critical in this regard. And the punishment of the slanderer (as mentioned) in the Great Quraan is lashing and being known as evil. And Allah also says: “And reject their testimony forever…” [Noor; Verse 4].
It is a containment of an epidemic and a removal for a disease. Similarly, the role model has a great effect in this regard. And how many a mother, father or teacher neglects by being careless about honesty and they do not realise that the growing one picks up from him, being aware or unaware, and he is raised on this character or that.
Honesty is the enlightenment of the society and the responsibility of every person… “And are people thrown on their faces into the Fire for anything but the harvest of their tongues”
This, and send salutations and peace on the best of people and the purest of humans Muhammad bin Abdullah al-Hashimiyy, al-Qurashyy.
O Allah send your salutations, peace and blessings on your servant and messenger Muhammad and on his pure good family and his companions, the fortunate personalities. And be happy O Allah with the guided leaders and pleased khulafa – Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and ‘Ali – and all the rest of the companions of your prophet and those who tread their path and follow their way, O Lord of the worlds.
O Allah grant honour to Islam and the Muslims…