The Truth On Truthfulness In Islam
Allah praised Rasulullah (SAW) when Allah says:
وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ
“And indeed you are of a great moral character” (Surah Al-Qalam68: 4). It is a indication of the importance of having honourable morals, as well a confirmation of their lofty rank in the great Islamic structure. High morals are the protecting fortress which Muslims seek security in and Rasulullah (SAW) pointed to its importance when he said: “I was sent to perfect honourable morals.” Truthfulness comes at the top of the list of morals and Allah considered it to be the foundation for all principles. Truthfulness, besides being an honourable trait, is a necessity in all our public lives and perhaps it is the greatest gate to happiness of individuals as well as their entire communities. For example, when one wishes to make a purchase, they will look for a salesperson that is known for their honesty. The most just and accurate scale of measuring a nation’s advancement is in the truthfulness of its people, whether in words or deeds. It is a major crisis when trust is lost and this occurs when people are dishonest in their dealings with one another. When this happens, lying spreads among the people – lying in words, deeds and intentions.It is no surprise that Islamic law opposes and prohibits lying and exalts truthfulness; it frequently mentions truthfulness as a pre-condition for piety. Allah has decreed that truthfulness leads to piety, so whoever loses their truthfulness will in turn lose their piety. Allah says that which translates as:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ
“O’you who have believed, fear Allah and be with those who are true.” (Surah At-Tawbah9: 119).
Islam considers truthfulness as the key to righteousness and lying as the key to evil, as Rasulullah (SAW) said: “Truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. Lying leads to evil and evil leads to the Hellfire” Lying is an evil deception as Rasulullah (SAW) said: “The greatest deception is to intentionally make your brother (in faith) believe something which you know to be false.” In fact, lying is one of the major signs of hypocrisy. Rasulullah (SAW) said: “The signs of a hypocrite are three: When he speaks he lies, when he promises he is unfaithful and when he is entrusted he betrays”.
Lying cannot be a characteristic that a Muslim possesses Rasulullah (SAW) said: “A Muslim can have any characteristic except lying and betrayal” and when Rasulullah (SAW) was asked whether a believer can lie or not he answered, “No”. This answer should terrify those who care for their religion and dignity provided that they have any faith and manhood in them in the first place. Lying is cowardliness, degradation and a transgression of the boundaries of Allah. The one who practices this evil act is deserving of the curse of Allah and deprivation of His mercy. Allah says:
وَمِنْهُمُ الَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ النَّبِيَّ وَيَقُولُونَ هُوَ أُذُنٌ ۚ قُلْ أُذُنُ خَيْرٍ لَكُمْ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَيُؤْمِنُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْكُمْ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
“If any one disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge hath come to thee, say: “Come! Let us gather together,- our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: Then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie!.” (Surah al-‘Imraan3: 61). A liar will never succeed in any aspect of their life, nor will they ever be guided to any good. Their cowardliness and failure will be exposed to all the people and that will result in their demise and frustration in all their affairs. This is the promise of Allah to all those who lie. Allah says:
وَقَالَ رَجُلٌ مُؤْمِنٌ مِنْ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَكْتُمُ إِيمَانَهُ أَتَقْتُلُونَ رَجُلًا أَنْ يَقُولَ رَبِّيَ اللَّهُ وَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ ۖ وَإِنْ يَكُ كَاذِبًا فَعَلَيْهِ كَذِبُهُ ۖ وَإِنْ يَكُ صَادِقًا يُصِبْكُمْ بَعْضُ الَّذِي يَعِدُكُمْ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي مَنْ هُوَ مُسْرِفٌ كَذَّابٌ
“A believer, a man from among the people of Pharaoh, who had concealed his faith, said: “Will ye slay a man because he says, ‘My Lord is Allah? – When he has indeed come to you with Clear (Signs) from your Lord? And if he be a liar, on him is (the sin of) his lie: but, if he is telling the Truth, then will fall on you something of the (calamity) of which he warns you: Truly Allah guides not one who transgresses and lies!” (Surah Ghaafir 40: 28)
Allah also says:
قَالَ لَهُمْ مُوسَىٰ وَيْلَكُمْ لَا تَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا فَيُسْحِتَكُمْ بِعَذَابٍ ۖ وَقَدْ خَابَ مَنِ افْتَرَىٰ
“Moosa said to him: Woe to you! Forge not ye a lie against Allah, lest He destroy you (at once) utterly by chastisement: the forger must suffer frustration!”.” (Surah Taa Haa 20: 61).
Islam prohibited lying even in jest. Among the characteristics of Rasulullah (SAW) is as one of his companions said “He joked but never said anything except the truth.” Once a woman came to Rasulullah (SAW) and asked him about Paradise, thereupon Rasulullah (SAW) replied: “Paradise will not be entered by old women” which made the woman to cry, thereupon Rasulullah (SAW) recited to her the verse in which Allah says:
إِنَّا أَنْشَأْنَاهُنَّ إِنْشَاءًفَجَعَلْنَاهُنَّ أَبْكَارًا عُرُبًا أَتْرَابًا
“Indeed, We have produced them (i.e., the women of Paradise) in a (new) creation. And made them virgins, Devoted (to their husbands) and of equal age.” (Surah Al-Waaqi’ah 56: 35-37). This meant that when this woman enters paradise, she will not be old.
Islam prohibits lying due to the harm that would result from it, we should know that it is permitted in certain restricted situations which bring more benefit than harm, such as lying to save an innocent soul from being killed, or deceiving the enemy during a war. Also, if one is aiming for reconciliation between Muslims, one my also resort to this. Finally, when a man talks to his wife to please her and bring peace and harmony between him and her, then this is permissible. Rasulullah (SAW) said, “All of the lies of the son of Aadam are recorded except during war, reconciliation between two Muslims and talking to his wife in order to please her”.
It was the strict adherence to these instructions that brought about a generation which history had never seen the like of. The generation left behind has finest examples for adhering to honourable morals. We have the story of Al-Hajjaj (an oppressive Muslim leader), who was just about to execute some captives, when one of the captives stood up and said, “May Allah guide you, O leader of the believers, I have a right upon you” Al-Hajjaj replied: “What is your right?” he said, “A man cursed you one day (in your absence) and I defended you” Al-Hajjaj asked: “Who can testify to this?” So another captive stood up and said: “I testify that this happened.” Thereupon, Al-Hajjaj said to his guards: “Set the first captive free”, then turned to the witness and asked: “What prevented you from defending me like the other man did?” The witness replied: “I had an old grudge in my heart against you.” So Al-Hajjaj said to his guards: “Set him free also, for his truthfulness.” Thus, Muslims must be truthful, under in extremely difficult circumstances; they must realize that nothing except truthfulness will lead to their salvation, both in this life and the next. It is incumbent upon us that we all be truthful in our words and deeds. This is so that we can regain the complete trust of others, which would bring about security, love, happiness and social-stability. Parents and guardians must raise their children on truthfulness so that they grow up having strong morals such as honesty, chastity and chivalry. Let parents beware of lying to their children, even if it is only to silence them from crying or to calm them down, as this is getting them used to the most despicable action in the scale of Allah. This is beside the fact that children will no longer trust their parent’s words or be affected by them. To illustrate this point, ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Aamir (RA), narrated that: “Once, when I was a child, Rasulullah (SAW) was at our home. I was outside playing and my mother called out: ‘O ‘Abdullaah, come here and I will give you something’ the Messenger of Allah (SAW) asked: “What do you wish to give him?” she replied: ‘Dates’ Rasulullah (SAW) said: “If you hadn’t have intended to give him anything, then it would have been recorded against you that you lied.”
Beware of lying, even if it is only once, as this will open the door widely for further lying; He who lies once will lose his position and trust in the eyes of the people. Ziyad, who was a governor of Iraq, said in a speech: “The lies of a person will eventually become well-known. If you find out that I lied even once then you are free to disobey me; and If you hear that have I told a lie then be certain that I must have told other lies.”
Something to end of with Umar (RA) mentioned Rasulullah (SAW) saying: “The thing from which I fear for you the most is the knowledgeable hypocrite.” Umar (RA) was then asked: “How can a hypocrite be knowledgeable?” Umar (RA) answered: “He speaks with wisdom but acts with injustice.” This should make us ever more aware that with knowledge one should be careful in what ever we might do, or say.
“May Allah make us those whose speech is that of the truth, Aameen Thuma Aameen”