Truthfulness and Trustworthiness

Truthfulness and trustworthiness are virtues of foremost importance in Islam. In the words of the Prophet, peace be upon him, these are the pre-requisites of Faith. Without them, no one can be a true Muslim. There are traditions that say that to tell a lie, to betray a trust and to break a pledge (or promise) are signs of a hypocrite. Presented hereunder are the traditions in which the Prophet has exhorted us to cultivate qualities of truthfulness and trustworthiness, and to keep away from the filthy habits of falsehood and unfaithfulness to a trust.

[1] It is related by Abdullah bin Masud that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Observe truthfulness as a duty and always speak the truth, for truthfulness puts you on the path of virtue, and virtue leads you to Heaven, and when a person tells the truth as a rule, and makes truthfulness a way of life, he attains the place of sincerity and faithfulness, and, with God, his name is written among the Sincere, and stay strictly away from falsehood, for falsehood puts you on the path of immorality, and leads you to Hell, and when a man takes to lying, the sequel is that his name is written, with God, among the Faithless and the Insincere.” – Bukhari and Muslim

[2] It is related by Ubadah bin Samit that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “You promise six things (to me), and I (shall) give you the guarantee of Paradise. (These are): speak the truth when you speak; fulfil a promise when you make one; render back honestly when a trust is placed in your charge; protect your private parts from a forbidden act (specially fornication and adultery); shut your eyes to things to look at which is prohibited; (and) hold back your hands on occasions on which you are commanded to hold them back, (as for instance, do not hurt or harm anyone unjustly or stretch the hand to seize a thing unlawfully.” – Musnad Ahmad and Baihaqi

Commentary

It shows that if a person has affirmed his faith in Islam, and observes his duties, and, also, pays attention to the six moral virtues indicated in it, for him there is the assurance of Paradise from God and the Prophet, and he is destined to attain salvation.

[3] Abu Umama Bahli relates that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “There is a place for any habit in the nature of a true believer except falsehood and breach of faith.” – Musnad Ahmad and Baihaqi

[4] Sufyan bin Aseed Hazrami related to us that he heard it directly from the lips of the Prophet, peace be upon him, that “a most serious form of betrayal of faith is that you tell a lie to a brother while he believes that you are truthful in what you say.” – Abu Da’ud

[5] It is related, on the authority of Abdullah bin ‘Aamir that “(one day), as the Prophet, peace be upon him, was present in our house, my mother said to me: ‘Come quickly, I will give you something’. The Prophet, thereupon, asked my mother what she was going to give me. ‘A date’, replied my mother. ‘Remember’, observed, the Prophet, if you had not given anything to the child after promising to do so, a lie would have been written down in your Scroll of Deeds.’” – Abu Da’ud and Baihaqi 

Commentary

The moral of it is that a lie should not be uttered even to coax or cajole a child, for a Muslim’s tongue must always be free from the filthiness of falsehood. Another wisdom of it is that if parents will tell lies before their children, even to please them or make them to do something, they, too, will develop the habit of lying.

[6] It is related by Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “It is enough (to make a man guilty of falsehood) that he goes about circulating what he hears (from others).” – Muslim 

Commentary

It tells that to spread a report among the people, without confirmation, also, is a form of falsehood, and as a person with the habit of telling a lie is, commonly, treated as unreliable, in the same way, such a man, too, will not be worthy of trust. Anyway, a believer should, also, guard his tongue against all the forms of concealed or imperceptible falsehood.

[7] It is related by Umm Kulthum, (daughter of ‘Uqba bin Abi Mu’ait), that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “He is not a liar or a sinner who tries to make peace among people who are on bad terms with one another, and, with that end, carries reports of goodwill and wellwishing from one party to the other and says good things (that may have a conciliatory effect).” – Bukhari and Muslim

[8] It is related by Abu Sa’eed Khudri that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “The honest trader will be with the Prophets, the Truthful, and the Martyrs.” – Tirmidhi, Darmi and Dar Qutni 

Commentary

We learn from the above tradition that it is not necessary to renounce the world and abjure its affairs and interests for the sake of spiritual advancement. Even a trader, sitting in the market or working diligently in his shop or office, can win the company of the Prophets, the Truthful and the Martyrs, in the Hereafter, if he abides by the commandments of God and the Prophet and fulfils the religious obligations of honesty and trustworthiness.

[9] Ibn ‘Abbas related that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said to Ashajj, leader of the tribe of Abdil Qais, that “there are two habits of yours that are pleasing to the Lord: one is forbearance, i.e., not to be overcome with anger, and the other is not to act in a hurry.” – Muslim

[10] It is related by Sahl bin Sa’ad Sa’idi that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “To act in a calm and collected manner is from the side of God, while to act in haste is from the side of the Devil.” – Tirmidhi

Commentary

What it tells is that to perform one’s duties in a steady and composed manner is a commendable quality and a Divine gift, whereas unseemly haste is a bad habit and bears the stamp of the Devil.

[11] ‘A’ishah related to us, saying that (once) some Jews called on the Prophet, peace be upon him, and (out of viciousness), they greeted him with As-saam-u-Alaikum (Death be with you) instead of As-Salaam-u-Alaikum (Peace be upon you). On realising the meaning and intention of their salutation, she retorted, “May it be with you, and the curse of God.” Upon it, the Prophet, peace be upon him, observed, “No, ‘A’ishah’ No. Control your tongue, and be polite, and guard yourself against foulness of speech.” – Bukhari

[12] It is related by ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “A faithful believer neither attacks with his tongue nor utters a curse nor speaks ill of anyone nor calls names.” – Tirmidhi

[13] It is related by Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “To speak gently is (a kind of) charity.” – Bukhari