By Samar Yahya
Honesty is the greatest moral virtue. From honesty springs forth many of the most noble of human qualities and characteristics.
Truthfulness and honesty are two characteristics without which a man can not claim himself to be a true Muslim.
Honesty is an extensive term that covers a wide range of meanings. It covers telling the truth, sincerity in work, carrying out duties, fulfilling one’s word, and making fair and objective judgments and decisions. Honesty also means doing the right thing in the right way at the right time.
Honesty means saying and acting truthfully in all times, matters, and conditions. Honesty means giving the right guidance to the person who needs it.
Islam orders us as Muslims to be honest to others and ourselves. A Muslim is ordered by Allah to be honest in his words and deeds, in private and public.
Being honest and truthful to oneself is implied by obeying Allah’s law. Being truthful with others means saying the truth and being honest in all dealings including the realm of trade and business, purchasing, education, learning, communication, and marriage.
A true Muslim is the one who could be distinguished by his essential characteristics of honesty and truthfulness.
Honesty in Islam consolidates the notions of truthfulness and dependability, and it lives in all human words, thoughts, relations, and actions.
“O you who have believed fear Allah and be with those who are true.” [Chapter 9 verse119]
Ibn Katheer, the renowned scholar of the meanings of the Holy Qur’an illustrated the significance of this verse. He was reported to have said, “Being truthful and sticking to truthfulness implies you will be among the people of the truth and be safeguarded from calamity and that it will make a way out for you from your tribulations.”
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the best example for all Muslims at all times and in all situations. He was a flawless case of honesty in Islam and before his prophethood, people of Makkah named the Prophet (peace be upon him) as the honest and truthful (Al-Amin and As-Sadiq).
Even Abu Sufyan, an adversary of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the beginning of the Prophet’s call, admitted the prophet’s honesty. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent a letter to Heraclius the Emperor of Byzantium welcoming him to Islam, Heraclius sent for Abu Sufyan to ask about Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and what this prophet was calling the people to.
Aby Sufyan said, “He never tells lies or deceives others. He invites the people to love Allah Alone and he advises us to fear Allah, and he calls the people to honesty and abstinence”.
It is of the mannerism of the high path of Islam to be honest when one speaks. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Honesty certainly leads to goodness, and goodness leads to paradise. Truly, a man keeps speaking the truth until he is inscribed as being true through and through. And lying leads to going wrong, and going wrong leads to hell. Truly, a man lies and lies until he is inscribed as being a liar through and through” (Bukhari and Muslim).
Fasting is one way that Muslims practice their honesty with their Lord and with themselves. A fasting Muslim does not allow a drop of water to go into his mouth because he has learned to be honest.
It is also obligatory for us to be honest in making and keeping promises. Being punctual and not to waste is another instance of honesty. Punctuality at school, at work, or at an agreed meeting is part of our honesty with ourselves and other people.
Honesty fosters constructive courage, which is doing what you know you want or need to do, despite your fear.
Being honest with yourself and with others shows how much you really care and demonstrates self-respect and respect for others.
Honesty fosters a connection and can bring people closer in their interactions.
Honesty attracts honesty. If honesty becomes an unconscious habit, one becomes magnetized to other honest people.
One can dig himself deeper into a hole with lies and deceit, however being honest keeps you out of trouble, guides one always in the right track especially when one fears the anticipated consequences.
Honesty, is an essential characteristic of a Muslim, includes being truthful towards Allah by worshipping Him sincerely; being truthful to oneself, by adhering to Allah’s laws; and being truthful with others by speaking the truth and being honest in all dealings. Thus, a person should be the same on the inside as he is on the outside.
A true Islamic society is based upon honesty and justice, and is intolerant of dishonesty in all its various forms.
A Muslim seeking to please Allah and follow the path of righteousness should be aware of the dangers of deceit and dishonesty. However, equally he should know that Allah is all Merciful, willing to forgive even the gravest sins for those who strive for His sake. Honesty is very important in the life of a believer.
“Honesty descended from the Heavens and settled in the roots of the hearts of men (faithful believers), and then the Quran was revealed and the people read the Quran, (and learnt it from it) and also learnt from the sayings and traditions. Both the Qur’an and the traditions strengthened their honesty.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
So, Islam instructs the Muslim to be honest and trains him to be so. The outcome is a healthy self and a healthy social atmosphere that leads to the happiness of both the individual and the community.