Islamiat Notes Honesty and Obligation Lecture No. 15


 Lecture No. 15

  HONESTY AND OBLIGATION

Definition of Honesty
·        Honesty is the quality of being truthful and able to be trusted.
·        If someone places/puts their trust in you, they believe that you are honest and reliable. That is, that you will do the right thing.
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·        Definition of Obligation
·         
·        The requirement to do what law, promise, or contract imposes; a duty.
·        In its general and most extensive sense, obligation is synonymous with duty. In a more technical meaning, it is a tie which binds us to pay or to do something agreeably to the laws and customs of the country in which the obligation is made.
·         
·        "When honesty is lost, then wait for the Hour (Doomsday)' Sahih Bukhari.
 Narrated Abu Huraira:
While the Prophet was saying something in a gathering, a Bedouin came and asked him, "When would the Hour (Doomsday) take place?" Allah's Apostle continued his talk, so some people said that Allah's Apostle had heard the question, but did not like what that Bedouin had asked. Some of them said that Allah’s Apostle had not heard it. When the Prophet finished his speech, he said, "Where is the questioner, who enquired about the Hour (Doomsday)?" The Bedouin said, "I am here, O Allah's Apostle." Then the Prophet said, "When honesty is lost, then wait for the Hour (Doomsday)." The Bedouin said, "How will that be lost?" The Prophet said, "When the power or authority comes in the hands of unfit persons, then wait for the Hour (Doomsday.)"
Honesty and Social Growth
    Honesty really is the best policy and quite rightly so. It is one of the most important and valuable of all moral values, but unfortunately has now been placed on the backburner of our character priorities.
            The absence of truthfulness is widespread and afflicts people near and far, young and old, men and women, and employees and employers; whether we admit or not, the lack of it does us great harm. One of the Prophet's miracles is that he foretold the loss of honesty at the end of time. He, [sallalalhu aalyhe wa salaam (SAWS)] says, "Then people sell things to each other, and hardly anyone acts in honesty, so much that people say to each other, 'In the clan of such and-such, there is an honest man.'" (Bukhari)
            And looking within our society today that prophecy is evident, as honest merchants are few and far between. Honesty plays such an important role in the lives of individuals and society and because of that Islam associates it with belief, considering it one of the greatest attributes of faith. Anas said, "We heard Allah's Prophet, (SAWS) say, 'A man who does not keep his vow has no faith." (Ahmed).
            Islam's concept of honesty is wide and comprehensive. It covers the personal, family, social, economic, and political aspects of life.
As well as other aspects that are related to the obligations Allah puts forth in the following example in the Qur'an,
"Indeed, We offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, and they declined to bear it and feared it; but man (undertook to) bear it. Indeed, he was unjust and ignorant." (33: 72).
            Interpreters of the Qur'an state that "trust" in this context include all of the obligations under Islamic Law and also all of the divine instructions to people.
            One of the most significant forms of honesty today is verbal honesty, which means being absolutely truthful and sincere when uttering a word or a statement. Allah's Messenger, (SAWS) once told Mu'az Ibn Jabal, "Hold this!" pointing to his tongue. Mu'aath asked, "Are we responsible for what we say?" The Prophet, (SAWS) said, "Are people not turned around in Hellfire, with their nostrils (or their faces) to the ground, only as a consequence of (what they say with) their tongues?" (Ahmed and Tirmidhi).
            One aspect of truthfulness in speech is the avoidance of exaggerated flattery, which is not the same as legitimate humoring. Ibnul-Qayyim distinguishes between the two by saying, "Humoring is being gentle with a person to get the truth out of him, or to make him renounce falsehood. Flattery, meanwhile, is being gentle with a person and approving falsehood of his or letting him have his way. Thus gentleness is an attribute of believers, and flattery is an attribute of hypocrites."
            The Companion of the Prophet, Abdullah Ibn Masoud, was quoted as saying; "A man may go out of his house, taking his faith along with him. He meets a man with whom he has some business and he starts saying, 'You are this' and You are that', praising and commending him with false statements, and he might get nothing from that man in return. He goes back home, having incurred Allah's wrath and with nothing of his faith left with him."
            So the case in point, flattery will get you nowhere in the context of our Deen (religion).
            On the other hand, one of the most outstanding forms of honesty in the contemporary world for a Muslim is to perform work with which he/she is entrusted with complete honesty and integrity. In doing so, he is being dutiful to his Lord, who knows the smallest details of his life and who also distinguishes between a corrupt person and an upright one. This type of person is concerned with and preparing for the time when he will be answering and accounting for this life in the Hereafter, rather than his immediate desires of the moment.
            However, and unfortunately so, that character type is not typical in the Muslim world, or any other for that matter. Administrative corruption in many offices in the Islamic world is nothing but betrayal of trust, and procrastination in performing one's tasks and meeting one's responsibilities.
            It is reported that Allah's Messenger, (SAWS) appointed a collector of charity. When that man finished his job, he said, "Allah's Messenger, this is for you, and this was given to me as gift." The Prophet, (SAWS) said, "Why do you not stay in the house of your father and mother and see if you get any gifts?" In the evening after salah (prayer), the Prophet, (SAWS) said, "By Him Who has Muhammad's soul in His hand, anyone of you who garners anything of it will come of the Day of Resurrection carrying it around his neck. If it is a camel, he will have it with him, with the camel bawling; if a cow, it will be mooing; if a sheep, it will be wailing. Oh Allah, I have delivered the message." (Bukhari and Muslim).
            A very noteworthy and admirable form of honesty is the placement of every person in the right place according to their individual ability, and giving qualified, experienced, and honest people positions suitable for them, where they can excel and be creative. It is a grave social injustice to place dishonest persons in decision-making position when there are others who are honest, proficient and capable of meeting the requirements of the job.
            The worst societies are those in which tasks are entrusted to people who do not have the skills and the talent needed to perform them, and have no inclination to them. A Bedouin once asked Allah's Messenger, (SAWS) "When will the Hour (of Resurrection) come?" The Prophet, (SAWS) said, "If honesty is lost, expect the Hour!" The Bedouin asked, "How is it lost?" The Prophet, (SAWS) said, "When things are entrusted to people unfit to them, expect the Hour! (Bukhari).
            In contrast, the best society, with the highest productivity in both quantities, is that which assigns individuals to tasks, services, and activities in accordance with their abilities, inclinations, choices, talents, experience, and qualifications.
            In addition to the grave damages suffered by society and public interests when a non-qualified person is appointed to a position, such an appointment is a betrayal of Allah, His Messenger, and the faithful. The Prophet (SAWS) said, "A person betrays Allah, His Messenger, and the Faithful when he appoints a person as a governor of some people when they have those who would please Allah better," i.e., they are better and more qualified than him."
            Thus, the place of honesty in Islam is well demonstrated. Proving that in all aspects, its influence in the progress of society is essential to our well-being and that of our daily lives. Without it, our world would be anarchy and chaos; words would be meaningless, promises deceit rampant and only the worst of people would prosper.
            But with our faith to lean on, we can feel comfort in knowing that in the world there are still many who value honesty and integrity, swearing to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth; so help them and all of us, Allah.
Importance of Honest Livelihood
            Man's power of speech is a great gift from God. Through the vocal means of communication he is in a position to convey his ideas to others. The progress of human civilization is due to man's ability to understand and appreciate collective problems and to find out their solution through mutual consultation and consensus.
            The purpose of a society built on the basis of such mutual communication is to live in peace, harmony and comfort. But a greater gift of Allah than speech is wisdom; the faculty to think and make decisions, to discover, to create and to invent. God has made man His vicegerent on earth. This means that man enjoys an unquestioned dominance over every other living creature and has the power to discover the elements, hidden and openly visible on earth to harness him or her into the service of all human beings. Besides Allah has given men and women the power of judgment to enable him to distinguish between the good and the bad so that he may choose for himself the straight path and prepare himself for the Hereafter.
            Let us reflect upon this for a while. Since men/women are the finest of God's creatures endowed with many faculties, which other living creatures do not have, it is expected of men/women that they should manifest their superiority through his/her actions. We know in our daily observation that an animal, when hungry or thirsty would eat or drink whatever it finds and wherever it is. It cannot distinguish that whether the water or food found by it is permissible for it or not or whether it is trespassing other's domain for that matter.
            But human beings are supposed to ensure that the sources of their livelihood even food and drinking water are permitted to them or not and whether the food and drink being served to them have been procured by honest and lawful means or not. Early Muslims were honest down to earth. There was a Muslim 'Wali', Dahb Ibn Al Waleed. He had made a point to make sure that the source of their (Rizk) livelihood was honest and lawful. The incident shown below is an eye opener indeed.
            Once his mother gave him milk to drink. He enquired about its source of milk supply, the price etc. His mother told him every thing. Still he refused to drink on the plea that the pasture on which the goat had grazed was the one upon which Muslims had no right whatsoever. He told his mother that, "Verily God is Merciful and Compassionate and bestows his compassion upon us and I (The Wali) cannot soil His compassion with sin".
            From the above instance we can deduce that the importance of honest livelihood that essentially means the instance men/women earn through the rightful and honest means without any foul or impermissible means. Islam is not against accumulation of wealth but on the condition that the welfare of the family and society is kept in view. No dishonest means like exploitation or infringement upon others' rights and preferences are employed.
The overriding principle is any income which causes loss or inconvenience to any other person is prohibited, both at individual and collective levels. All sources of income that are based on mutual benefit and welfare and conform with the principles of social justice and equality are permitted.
            The Holy Qur'an has explicitly enunciated this principle as follows:
"O ye who believe! Squander not your wealth among yourselves in vanity, except it be a trade by mutual consent, and kill not one another. Lo! Allah is ever Merciful unto you. Whoso doeth that through aggression and injustice, we shall cast him into Fire, and that is ever easy for Allah." (4:29-30)
The illegal and prohibited means include bribery, usurpation of others' belongings, stealing, defalcation, breach of trust, depriving orphans of their rights, using false measure and weights, vices, making and selling of liquors and other intoxicants, gambling, fortune telling and usury.
            Income earned through these and similar sources are totally prohibited by Islam. The best source is by toiling physically and shedding his/own sweat and working as per schedule without wasting time. Any earning hurting others or impinging upon the rights of others is a horrific sin. Muslims should always pray to Allah for showing the rightful means of earning.
            Contentment and personal integrity are the two basic elements for honest livelihood. Contentment means that one should keep one's desires and needs within limits and should not succumb to worldly temptations. To be thankful to Allah and to be conscious of Allah's omniscience are bound to lead to rightful means of earning. Contentment and rightful earnings are the milestones of the right path and righteousness.
What Does Obeying Parents Mean?

Abdullah Ibn Umar narrated that the Prophet (S.A.W) told a person that one who awoke in the morning as obedient to his parents, according to the commandments of Almighty Allah, was like one who found two doors opened for him in Heaven. And he will find one door opened if any one of his parents was alive. But one, who broke the day as disobedient to his parents defying the orders of Allah the Almighty, was like one who found the two doors opened for him in Hell. And he will find one door opened if any one of his parents was alive.
The man asked the Prophet (S.A.W), if one should be obedient to his parents even if they were insensible to him? The Prophet (S.A.W), replied, "Yes, even if they are insensible; yes, even if they are insensible; yes, even if they are insensible."
Parents are to be obeyed in matters that are permitted in Islam whether they demand you to perform them or to leave them, as long as it does not endanger your life or limb. If they order you to commit as act of disobedience - whether it be to leave something obligatory (like hijaab) or to commit something haram (like dealing in interest) there is no obedience to them. If they order you to leave something mustahab (like giving up the night prayer or recitation of the Qur'an) for some benefit they may get out of it, like companionship, then it is obligatory to obey them. If they order you to leave the fard kifayah (like washing a dead body, or offering the funeral prayer on it, or Jihad, etc.) and there is no one else to do it or not enough people to do it, then they are not to be obeyed. If enough people are taking care of the matter, then they must be obeyed.
Even though obedience is crucial to being a good Muslim and in fulfilling our duty to Allah, it should be clear that its objectives are to show kindness and achieve better individuals, families and society. Common sense good interest must prevail. Here are two examples to ponder:

1 - Going for Jihad: The lengthy discussions of the scholars on this point can be summarized as follows: If the Jihad has become fard aim (obligation on every individual Muslim), then obedience to the parents is over-ruled and Jihad requirements must be fulfilled. This rule is general for all obligations like offering the salah or performing Hajj; one does not need their permission unless their livelihood and well being depend on their son.
If, on the other hand, Jihad is fard kifayah (obligation on Muslims as community or group), then - as held by the majority of the scholars - their permission must be sought before going for Jihad. A man came to the Prophet (S.A.W), and said, "O Messenger of Allah, may I take part in Jihad?" He asked, "Do you have parents?" He replied, "Yes". He said, "So strive for them." (Abu Dawud). In another Hadith, a man migrated to the Messenger of Allah from Yemen. He asked, "Is any of your relatives in Yemen?" He replied, "My parents." He (S.A.W) asked, "Did they permit you to come?" he replied, "No". He said, "Go back to them and ask for their permission. If they permit you, then right, otherwise be devoted to them." (Abu Dawud)

2- Divorcing your spouse: Abdullah Ibn Umar said, "I had a wife whom I loved but Umar disliked. He told me to divorce her, and when I refused, Umar went to Allah's Messenger (S.A.W), and mentioned the matter to him. Allah's Messenger (S.A.W), then told me to divorced her." (Abu Dawud and Tirmizi). It must be noticed here that the father was the pious and just Omar Ibn ul-Khattab who was not supposed to do wrong to his son's wife without substantial reasons. So, when a man whose father had asked him to divorce his wife asked Imam Ahmed about a similar situation, he said to him,” If your father is as pious as Omar Ibn ul-Khattab, divorce you wife!"
Disobeying the parents is a grave matter:
After polytheism, the gravest sin is disobedience to parents. This is an evil that a true Muslim cannot even imagine without repulsion. Thankfulness, gentleness and gratitude are the three basic qualities that made one be a good person. One who does not cultivate these basic attitudes within him can neither fulfill his duties towards Allah nor the people: Hence Muslims who are obedient to Almighty Allah can never be disobedient or even careless to their parents.
Abu Baker narrated that the Prophet (S.A.W) asked that should he not warn them against the three major sins? All of them said, "Certainly, O Prophet!" He then said, "To ascribe partners with Allah, to disobey the parents." Getting up, as he was reclining, he said, "To tell a lie or to give false evidence." He went on repeating his words for such a long time that we wished him to be silent. (Bukhari and Muslim). In this Hadith the word "uqooq" has been used, for the disobedience to parents. It is Arabic word which means carelessness, cruelty, painful attitude and disobedience.

It is narrated that the Prophet (S.A.W) said, "Allah postpones the punishment for one's sins till the Day of Judgment if He so desires. But He award the punishment for disobeying the parents during this life, before his death."(Authentic, Al-Hakim). This means that the disobedient children will be punished twice; once in this world and secondly in the Hereafter.
In the Hadith narrated by Sauban, the Prophet (S.A.W) indicated that the following three major sins can nullify all other virtues: Ascribing partners with Allah, disobedience to parents and fleeing from Jihad.

Disobedience to mothers:
Mughairah bin Shu'bah relates that the Prophet, (S.A.W) once said, "Be sure that Allah has forbidden you to disobey your mothers, to be miserly and greedy, and infanticide (burying the newborn daughters alive.) And He dislikes you to be talkative and too inquisitive and to waste your belongings."

            It also implies that we should take extreme care of the sentiments, habits, temperament and likes and dislikes of mothers. We should not even imagine being rude and disobedient to her. By serving and obeying our mothers we can be sure of earning the favor of Almighty Allah. Acknowledging the great favour of the parents is central to our success in being right with them, as they are the cause of our existence. It will enable us to see ihsan towards the parents as a sign of a healthy, natural disposition.

Unfortunately, sometimes this disposition gets distorted and people start viewing their own existence with resentment. Consequently, they blame their parents for bringing them into this world or that they may not be living at the ease and joy they think they deserve. Human beings' existence is due to Allah and to Him alone, for He wills who will be one's parents, where one will be born, the time of birth and what sustenance will he receive. Our parents have done us a great favour, our Creator has told us not to even show them signs of discontent if they did something we did not like or were wrong about anything. But to pay back their favour by being loving, kind and dutiful to them is the absolute minimum that all us have to do.
So let us Muslims not adapt the attitudes of the popular culture in which we find ourselves, where mothers are nothing more than serving girls and fathers nothing more than errand boys. We must share with our children what Allah and His Messenger, (S.A.W) have said about the rights of parents, and most importantly, we must teach them by setting the best example; by treating our parents with the love, respect, honor and tenderness they deserve.
Children imitate what they see, by us being good to our parents, we can hope that our children imitate what they see, by us being good to our parents; we can hope that our children will in turn be good to us.

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