01-08-07

Speaking the truth

Speaking the truth

Another characteristic prevalent in the speech of the faithful is their telling the truth no matter what the circumstances. We are told in the Qur'an that avoiding speaking the truth, simply from fear of others, is not acceptable. For this reason, while speaking, the faithful listen to the voice of their conscience. They always speak with the best and most effective words, but, at the same time, do not neglect speaking the truth for fear of disappointing or angering someone, or to win him or her over. They do not fail to speak the truth from concern that the response will have negative repercussions for themselves or their friends. Neither do they tell lies to gain advantage for themselves or their friends and relatives, because Allah instructs all to tell the truth in this verse of the Qur'an: "You who believe! Heed Allah and speak words which hit the mark" (Surat al-Ahzab: 70) and "… avoid false words." (Surat al-Hajj: 30)

Lying is frequent where the morality of the Qur'an is not followed. Some believe that lying is not harmful. Some say that, while certain lies are wrong, others are permissible. They consider that small lies, in order to avoid suffering some greater loss, whether in the moral or material sense, are a necessity of life. They try to ease their consciences by putting forward suggestions such as, "I tell lies but I do nobody any harm," or "By lying I'm actually doing good." By reason of these excuses, they tell dozens of lies throughout the day, though they claim that they are not lies. For example, they may tell someone who calls them on the phone, "I'm very busy. I can't talk to you at the moment," while, in fact, at the time they weren't busy doing anything at all. Or, they lose a file at the office but, when asked, say they know nothing about it, or try to put the blame on someone else. When they meet their bosses, though they think exactly the opposite, they say things like, "You think very correctly," or "You conducted business very well," being truly two-faced. They tell a friend who asks for a loan, "I'm in trouble at the moment, I have no money myself," when in truth they have quite enough. When one of their relatives asks for help, they find an excuse saying, "I'm very ill, I can't come at the moment," when in actuality they are not ill at all. It is possible to offer a great number of such examples, because people who have descended into this sort of morality have practically made lying a way of life.

As for Muslims, they speak in the knowledge that Allah sees them, in all instances and all times, and hears every word they say, and that they will be called upon to account for themselves on the Day of Judgment. Because they fear Allah, they avoid telling lies, or using even the slightest evasion, as well as concealing information, and slander, gossip and bad language of all types. They take refuge in Allah from saying a word they think He will not approve of, and speak with honesty at all times. They are aware that lies and slander cause a person to suffer loss in the afterlife, as we are told in the verse, "Who could do greater wrong than someone who invents lies against Allah or denies His Signs? The wrongdoers are certainly not successful." (Surat al-An‘am: 21)

In those communities in which they carried out their missions, the Prophets were known for their true word, as can be understood from the ways in which they were addressed by the people around them. The Qur'an tells us of one who had been unjustly thrown into prison, because of a false accusation, and who had come to the Prophet Yusuf (as) saying: "O truthful Yusuf …" (Surah Yusuf: 46)

The true words of Muslims are noticeable in a number of ways; they never perjure themselves. Allah warns believers to avoid such transgressions in the following verse of the Qur'an: "They have made their oaths into a cloak and barred the Way of Allah. What they have done is truly evil." (Surat al-Munafiqun: 2) In fact, false oaths are one of the most frequently used methods to deceive one another by those who are removed from the morality expounded in the Qur'an. Even when they clearly know that each other has no fear of Allah, and that their oaths are used as a means of deception, they still believe each other's words. This behavior, however, is strongly condemned by our Prophet (saas), who said, "Those who purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah's Covenant and their oaths, they shall have no portion in the Hereafter." (Bukhari and Muslim)

In other verses, also pertaining to speaking the truth, Allah points out that making a promise one cannot keep is unacceptable; "You who believe! Why do you say what you do not do? It is deeply abhorrent to Allah that you should say what you do not do." (Surat as-Saff: 2-3)

For that reason, the faithful do not make promises they cannot keep. They know these may burden them with great responsibility in the presence of Allah. Among those distant from the morality of the Qur'an, however, these acts are quite common. This sort of people may resort to such ploys to gain an unfair advantage, to lead those around them in the direction they wish, or to cover up their own shortcomings. As for the faithful, when they give their word they do not break it. They know that if they do not keep their word they will have committed an error, not only against others, but against Allah. Because they fear Allah, they try to remain true to their word, no matter how difficult it may be to do so. Our attention is drawn to this feature of believers in the Qur'an:

Those who fulfill Allah's contract and do not break their agreement. (Surat ar-Ra‘d: 20)

Another characteristic exemplifying the true words of the faithful is their truthfulness in bearing witness. The Qur'an refers to this trait of the faithful like this:

Those who do not bear false witness … (Surat al-Furqan: 72)

Those who stand by their testimony. (Surat al-Ma‘arij: 33)

Although its consequences may result in harm, both to themselves and those around them, believers bear witness to what they hear or see without hesitation. That is because they know that Allah commands them to uphold justice as true witnessses. One pertinent verse reads:

You who believe! Be upholders of justice, bearing witness for Allah alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives. Whether they are rich or poor, Allah is well able to look after them. Do not follow your own desires and deviate from the truth. If you twist or turn away, Allah is aware of what you do. (Surat an-Nisa': 135)

Knowing that our Prophet (saas) admonished the faithful on this matter the following way: "I warn you against making a false statement and giving a false testimony." (Bukhari and Muslim), they never protect one who is guilty and always adhere to what truth requires. They tell the truth with impartiality, even in the case of those whom they do not approve of, bearing witness against them in the fairest manner. As we are told in the verse, "You who believe! Show integrity for the sake of Allah, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to heedfulness. Heed Allah. Allah is aware of what you do," (Surat al- Ma'ida: 8) they fear Allah and take refuge in Him.

These true words of the faithful are evident also in their summoning others to the truth. On the other hand, those who have not adopted the morality of the Qur'an seek to cast doubt on the existence of Allah and the afterlife through statements made without any evidence whatsoever. The Qur'an draws our attention to the invalidity of their statements as such:

Among people there is one who argues about Allah without knowledge, and follows every rebellious Satan. (Surat al-Hajj: 3)

These people encourage one another to become excessively fond the life of this world, to not heed Allah, and to live instead according to a corrupt morality and be neglectful of the afterlife. One of the most frequently encountered examples of this case is their offering the suggestion, "I will bear the burden of your sin" when encouraging one another to behave in ways they know to be wrong. Allah, however, explains in this verse, "No burden-bearer can bear another's burden. Then you will return to your Lord and He will inform you of what you did. He knows what the heart contains," (Surat az-Zumar: 7) that such a thing is not possible in His sight. Therefore, those who come to others with such a suggestion are lying.

Believers, however, always summon those around them to the truth and to what is right. They exalt the glory of Allah, remind others that the afterlife is a sure reality, that the Day of Judgment is close at hand, and call on them to heed Allah's laws. In the Qur'an, we are told that Allah's messengers were known, among the communities to which they were sent, for always telling the truth and for speaking in an honest and truthful fashion. As for those who, despite their honesty and truthfulness, still did not believe that which the Prophets had set forth, but instead set themselves against them, when they find themselves face to face with the truth in the after life, will confess to this reality, saying, "The Messengers were telling the truth."

The Trumpet will be blown and at once they will be sliding from their graves towards their Lord. They will say, "Alas for us! Who has raised us from our resting-place? This is what the All-Merciful promised us. The Messengers were telling the truth." (Surah Ya Sin: 51-52)

 

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