The Truth

Imam Ghazali (RA)


Advice to be True

            Allah has created this whole universe on the basis of love, and has demanded of the people that they should build up their life on the foundation of truth, to make truth and straight dealing a practice of their life, and should give place to truth only in their talks and dealings.

            When this clear sense is lost sight of by people, and false stories, superstitions and absurd beliefs rule their self, ideas and thoughts, then hardness and harshness are generated in them they move away from the right path, and they totally give up those realities the adoption of which was necessary.

            For this reason the strong and firm pillar of a Muslim's character is straight dealing. It is his duty to be attached to truth in every matter and to see every problem and affair through the glasses of truth, To keep it before him in every decision is the clearest manifestation of his dealing and treatment, Similarly the construction of the society in Islam is made on this foundation that mere conjectures and superstitions should be opposed baseless things and imaginary stories should be thrown outs doubts and misgivings should not be encouraged, because strong and firm realities only deserve to be manifested; they should have their imprint on the society s and their help should be taken in strengthening various relations.

            Allah's Messenger has said:

"Keep away from ill-thinking, because ill-thinking is the greatest falsehood,"(Bukhari)

Another hadith says:

"Leave alone doubtful things, follow those matters in which there is no doubts for truth is a means of satisfaction and falsehood is the cause of doubts and misgivings." (Tirmizi)

            Quran has expressed condemnation of those communities who follow conjectures and superstitions that have filled their brains with absurdities and has staked their present and future, with the help of the false stories, on the gamble of corruption and disruption:

"They follow nothing but conjecture and what their own souls desire, even though there has already come to them Guidance from their Lord." (An-Najm ..23)

"But they have no knowledge therein. They follow nothing but conjecture and conjecture avails nothing against Truth" (An-Najm.. 28)

            Since Islam respects truth most strongly, it turns away liars very harshly. It admonishes them very severely. Hazrat Ayesha narrates :

"Allah's Messenger did not hate anything as strongly as he hated falsehood, If he received in formation that a particular man has told a lie, he used to throwaway that man's respect and honour from his heart till the time he was not informed that he has repented for it," (Ahmed)

            Another narration by her states:

"For the Messenger of Allah falsehood was the worst habit in a person, If any man told a lie in his presence, that man's thought always troubled him until the time he was informed that he has repented", (Ibn Habban)

            This habit of the Prophet is not at all surprising. This was the policy of our forefathers. Their relations were formed on the basis of righteousness and good moral character. They knew each other. If anyone had blemishes in his character, and if he could be singled out on account of his misdeeds, then his position in that society would be like the position of a man suffering from an infectious itching disease in a healthy society, and he was not considered deserving of any

            The distinctive characteristic of the Muslim society in its first period was truth, disciplines, tolerance and cautious manner of speaking, Falsehood, breaking of promises, false accusations, and baseless things are the signs of disruption or of breaking away relation from religion. Or if they are to be termed as having relation with the religion, then it would be caused the religious business of the false accusers, deceivers and tricksters, or the religiosity of liars and promise breakers.


Falsehood is a Great Curse

            Falsehood is such an evil that discloses the internal corruption and wickedness of the liar; and this is a name of the wrong dealing which only acts in spreading evil, so much so that even without the needs that are troublesome or the forcing inclinations it leads persons to committing sins.

            Some evils are such that a man is involved in them totally. They are like diseases which require a very long drawn treatment; they are like fright and cowardice, which always hinder the progress of a coward and a frightened man, or like greed which makes men miserly and stingy.

            When some people come out for jihad to accompany the soldiers, they are shivering in their boots. Or some other people who are terrified when they work out the amount of Zakat that they have to pay. What is the comparison of these coward and miserly natures with those brave and generous natures which rush towards death laughing and which spend their wealth in the cause of Allah most willingly!

            Here some excuse can be found for such person as they become a prey of their fears and doubts when called upon to offer sacrifices. But there can be absolutely no excuse for those who make lying their habit and who for the whole of their life go on deceiving people by their falsehoods.

            Allah's Messenger said:

"All the evils can be found in a momin, except dishonesty and falsehood." (Ahmed)

The Messenger of Allah was asked whether any Muslim could be a coward. He answered : "Yes." He was asked: "Can a momin be a miser ?' He said that yea, he could be a miser. He was again asked: "Can a momin be a liar?" He replied: "No !" (Malik)

            The replies of the Prophet show that these factors of deficiency and weakness enter some persons' nature and when they are called upon to do their duty or pay the dues of Arab and His slaves, then these factors adversely influence them. But this does not mean that miserliness is tolerated and cowardice is a lesser evil.

            How is " possible when non-payment of zakat and running away from jihad are acts which touch the borderline of infidelity" (kufr),

            The extent to which a liar and a defiant person may spread falsehood and however wide this extent may be his sin before Allah will be to the same extent. Journalists, who misguide the people by false news, politicians who misrepresent important public problems and slaves of selfishness who cast aspersions against eminent persons and ladies of good character-all these sections commit terrible crimes and their punishment is very severe.

            Allah's Messenger said:

"One night I saw two men. They came to me and said:' Any man whom you see talking by widening his jaws, consider him a liar, He tells a lie which is copied through his medium, till it is talked of in the whole world. He goes on doing this till the Doomsday." (Fathul Bari)

            Making false promises to their subjects by the rulers also comes in this category, because the falsehood spoken from the pulpit spreads to the four corners of the world.

            It is in the Tradition that "Three persons can never enter Paradise. First the old man who commits illegal sex, second the man who tells lies and third that poor man who indulges in pride." (AI Bazzar)

            To invent lies against Allah's religion is the worst evil. One who has the slightest relation with Allah and His Messenger will never indulge in this kind of activity.

            This is the worst kind of liar, and the consequences which he will have to face are terrible.

            The Prophet has said:

"The consequence of inventing falsehood against me is not as bad as it is for inventing falsehood against anybody. Let the man who purposely and wittingly makes a false statement about me make his destination Hell." (Bukhari)

            In the list of false charges and accusations are included all those inventions and absurdities which the uneducated have fabricated against Allah's religion, which have no place in the faith. The general public has taken them to be the religion though they have nothing to do with it. In fact they are nothing but mere pastime and plaything.

            Allah's Messenger has warned his followers against the sources of these invented absurdities, has admonished them to be wary of adopting other ways than those directed by the Quran and the Sunnah. He has said:

"In the last period of my Ummah there will come people who will be deceitful, liars. They will tell you things which you would never have heard, nor have your forefathers heard them. Be wary of them; let them not misguide you and let them not involve you in corruptions." (Muslim)


Accustom your Children to be Truthful

            Islam commands that in the hearts of the children the seeds of the greatness and importance of truth be sown, so that they may grow up and develop on truth and may become young in its lap; and they may give it its due place in their talks.

            Abdullah Ibn A 'amir says that once my mother called me when the Prophet was present in my house. My mother asked me to come and said that she would give me a certain thing. He asked what did she want to give? She said that she wanted to give me a date (fruit). The Prophet said: " If you had not given him this date, then the committing of a falsehood would have been entered into your record of deeds.". (Abu Daud).

            Abu Huraira says that the Prophet has said:

"Anybody who called a child saying that he would give him a certain thing, and did not give it, then it is a lie." (Ahmed)

            It is worth noting that in what a wise way the Prophet has instructed his followers to train their children in such a manner that they should consider truth and straight dealing respectable things and should avoid telling lies. Had the Prophet ignored these things and had not emphatically reminded about them, then there was a danger that the children on growing up would not have considered telling lies as sin.

            Adoption of straight dealing and telling the truth has been very strictly insisted upon, so much so that it has been enjoined upon to take care about this in even small household matters.

            Asma Binte Yazid narrates that she once asked the Messenger of Allah:

"If some one of us women stated that she had no desire to have a certain thing even though she had that desire, then would it be considered a lie ?" He replied: "Falsehood is written as falsehood, and a small falsehood is written as a small falsehood." (Muslim)


Prohibited to tell a Lie even in a Joke

            The Establisher of the Shariah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has warned of all the occasions where falsehood can be used and the adverse consequences of the same, so much so that it is not possible for even an ordinary enforcer to misguide the people about the reality or to lessen its importance. A man tends to make false statements in cutting jokes, thinking that on the occasions of entertaining people there is nothing wrong if baseless information is given or false and imaginary events are related. But Islam, which considers providing relief to hearts as permissible, has fixed only those methods proper and permissible which are within that: limits of truth, because halal is much broader than haram and that truth is independent of falsehood. Allah's Messenger has said:

"Death for the man who indulges in story-telling in order to make some people laugh and for that he relies on falsehood. There is death for him, there is destruction for him." (Tirmizi)

"I give guarantee of a house in the middle of Paradise for the man who has given up falsehood, though he was required to indulge in humour." (Baihaqui)

            The Prophet has said:

"A Momin cannot have complete faith unless he gives up falsehood in his jokes and debates though in all other matters he speaks the truth." (Ahmed)

            This is our daily observation that people give full rein to their tongues in the matter of humorous talks to make others laugh, and do not hesitate to spread the tales and stories invented by friends or foes only for the purpose of getting some pleasure or for pulling some one's leg, when the world has absolutely prohibited such a wrong policy, and this is a fact that this kind of entertainment and amusements and false acts create enmities and rivalries,


Avoid Exaggeration in Praise

            Some peoples when they praise somebody, go to the extent of exaggerating and making false statements, For a Muslim it is necessary that when he praises somebody he should do it to the extent to which he knows about that man, He should avoid exaggeration and falsehood in showering praises of the praised one, although he may be deserving of the praises, for exaggeration is a kind of falsehood which has been forbidden,

            To a person who was praising the Prophet, he said: "Do not indulge in exaggeration while praising me, as the Christians did in the case of Ibn Maryam (Christ). I am only a slave. So only say that he is a slave of Allah and His Messenger." (Razin)

            A group of such people is always found who lick the boots of the leaders and rulers of the country and praise them to heaven, The main purpose of their lives is to compose very lengthy panegyric poems or to write long-drawn essays in praise of their benefactors, Thus they try to make a mountain of the molehill and place an unknown person in the palace of fame. Sometimes they do not even hesitate to call the tyrant rulers as standard bearers of justice and coward and chicken hearted soldiers as brave and lion-hearted fighters. Their only purpose in this is to earn wealth. This is the worst kind of falsehood. Allah's Messenger has counselled us to totally reject them and expose them till they give up their wrong practices.

            Abu Huraira says that the Prophet has commanded us that we should throw dust in the face of those who indulge in exaggeration in their praises. (Tirmizi)

            The commentators have pointed out that the persons mentioned here are those who make exaggeration as their habit and through this try to earn gifts and presents from the praised ones but those persons who praise the performers of good acts with a view to encouraging them and to inciting others to follow their example are not meant.

            The limits where a Muslim stops and which keep him distinct from the bootlickers and the exaggerators are: that he praises his benefactor or a good person, but he does not let him indulge in vanity and pride. These limits have been clarified by the Prophet.

            Hazrat Abu Bakr narrates that a man praised some one in the presence of Allah's Messenger and the Prophet told him:

"Fire on you, you have separated the head of your companion," He repeated these words and then said: "If some one wants to praise his brothers then if he is aware of the facts then he should say that I think he is such and such and Allah is the real Knower, and there is none purer and innocent than Allah; I consider him bearer of these qualities." (Bukhari)


Keep away from Falsehood and Deception In Trade

            Traders make false statements while showing their wares and stating their prices. The basis of trade in our midst is unlimited greed. The shopkeeper desires that their should be dearness, while the buyer wants to get the commodities free of charge. It is wealth which controls activities of buying and selling in the markets and in different fields. Islam hates this kind of deceptive affair and the senseless debate and disputation latent in it, The Prophet has said: "The buyers and sellers are free till they do not separate and if they have acted with honesty, and have explained the defects of commodities, then Allah will bless them with prosperity. And if both of them tried to deal dishonestly and tried to

            In another tradition it stated: "The prosperity of the dealing of both the persons is terminated. The untrue and false oath will help get the commodity sold, but it reduces the earning ." (Ahmed)

            The buyers who go to the shopkeepers are mostly ignorant of the real situation, and whatever the shopkeeper says they believe it, The honest thing is not to take undue advantage of the simplicity of men for the purpose of obtaining double price or for concealing the defects.

            The Messenger of Allah has said :

"What would be a greater dishonesty than this that when you are talking with your brother he may be thinking that you are telling the truth whereas you are deceiving him by telling lies." (Bukhari)

            He has also said :

"It is not lawful for a Muslim to sell such a commodity that has a defect, except that the defect is shown to the buyer." (Bukhari)

            Ibn Abi Adna narrates that a man opened a shop in the market and swore that he would sell such a commodity as no one else would be selling, so that he may deceive some Muslims; so the following verses were revealed:

"Verily, those who sell the covenant with Allah and their oaths for a small price, there is no compensation for them in the Hereafter. On the Day of Judgment Allah will not speak to them, nor will He look at them, and nor will He purify them; but for them is very severe punishment" (Baqarah)

            Disregard of truth in giving evidence is the worst type of falsehood. When a Muslim should stand up for giving evidence, he should state the truth unhesitatingly; regardless of the fact whether it is against his close friend or a favourite person. No relationship or prejudice should deviate him from the right path, nor any greed or bribe should be able to make him waver in his stand.

"O You who believe I Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor; for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (ofyour heart), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted-with all that you do." (Nissa: 135)

            Hazrat Abu Bakr narrates Allah has stated:

"May I not tell you the major sins ?" Three times he repeated the same thing. We requested: "Why not O Messenger of Allah ?" He replied: "To associate some one else with Allah, to disobey the parents and to murder some one unjustly." He was leaning. Then he got up and said: "And to tell lies and to give false evidence." He went on repeating it till we said to ourselves it would be better if he were silent then." (Bukhari)

            Trickery and deception is a falsehood which has layers and layers of darkness. It does not only involve the concealment of truth but it also tries to prove that the falsehood is truth. In some special matters it harms only a few individuals but in public matters it becomes a severe and deadly danger against the whole nation.

            For this reason the Prophet has very bluntly and emphatically counselled to keep away from it and bas warned against it.


Do not break your Promises

            The traders and the industrialists particularly should take special care to see that they keep their promises, that they are true to their words and that they do not change their stand. It is a very sad state of affairs that among the Muslims the tendency of breaking promises and crossing the limits has become very common, when their religion has termed the false promises as symbols of disruption.

            The Messenger of Allah considered the words coming out from the mouth as holy and the words that fell on his ears as Abdullah bin Abi Hama says that he entered into a contract for the sale of a commodity with the Prophet before he was blessed with prophet-hood, and some commodities had remained to be sold. He promised to the prophet that he would hand over a certain thing to him at a certain place. Then he forgot all about this. After three days he remembered his promise and went to the appointed place. He saw that the Prophet was present at the spot. He only said this: "O young man! You worried me. I am waiting here for you for the last three days ." (Abu Daud)

            It is narrated that the Prophet had promised Jabir bin Abdullah that he would give him some gifts from the stock of articles coming from Bahrain, but before fulfilling this promise he died. When the stock from Bahrain arrived at the place of the First Caliph, he caused an announcement to be made in the public that anyone whom the Prophet might have promised to give something from this stock or anyone who had lent something to the Prophet should come to him and take away his due" (Bukhari)

            It is worth noting how the words are appraised and they are enforced, so that they may not become worthless if left uncared for. False promises do untold harm to the interests of the society. They cause inconvenience to the people and waste time, Redeeming your pledges is a commendable quality. Allah considers fulfilling of promises as one of the attributes of prophet-hood:

"Also mention in the Book (the story of) Ismail; he was true to what he promised and he was a Messenger, Prophet. He used to enjoin on his people prayer and charity and he was most acceptable in sight of the Lord " (Maryam.. 54-55)

            In these verses the order of the good qualities show what position the quality of fulfilling of promises enjoys; and Ismail showed that he was true to his word when his father told him that he saw a dream in which he was slaughtering his son, Ismail, and asked him what he thought about it. The son, who was true to his word, replied: "God willing, you will find me patient and steadfast."

            Sometimes man relies on falsehood when he commits a mistake, and he wants to save himself from the bad consequences of that mistake. This is very unwise and brings a bad name. It amounts to going from one evil to another, which is worse than the first evil. It is necessary that man should own his mistakes. It is likely that his truthfulness and his sense of sorrow over his mistake may save him from the bad consequences and he may be pardoned. When a Muslim senses some danger or is afraid to speak the truth, it is proper that he should show courage and try to avoid getting ensnared in the net of falsehood. Allah's Messenger has said: " Adopt truth, even if you see your destruction in it, for the (final) salvation is in it." (Ibn Abi-duniya) In another hadith it is mentioned: "When a person tells a lie, the bad odour that emanates from it keeps the angels one mile away." (Tirmizi)


Truth of Speech leads to Truth of Action

            If a man is truthful and straight in his speech and dealings, then inevitably there will be truthfulness and sincerity in his actions and goodness and reform in his conditions. By adopting truthful and straight methods in dealing with others, this light of truth also illuminates man's heart and mind and their darkness also vanish:

"O you who believe ! Fear Allah and (always) say a word directed to the right;, that He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins ;. He that obeys Allah and His Messenger has already attained the highest achievement." (Ahzab.. 70-71)

            Right action is the desired actions about which there is no misgiving, because it is the creation of certainty. There is no idea of defect in that, because it is the companion of sincerity. There is no curve in it, because its source is truth. The success of the communities and nations in the matter of conveying their message depends on the fact that the bearers of the message must be performers of right action, If they have an abundant record of right and truthful action, then they can reach the zenith of success and glory, otherwise they swerve from their destination in the way, for mere idleness, senseless activities, slogan shouting and self-praise would not be of any use. Allah's Messenger has said:

"Adopt truth, for truth shows the path of righteousness, and righteousness shows the path to Paradise. A man speaks the truth regularly and adopts truthful ways till he is recorded as a truthful person before Allah; and  keep away from falsehood, for falsehood leads to wickedness, and wickedness throws in the Hell, A person tells lies regularly and attaches himself to falsehood till he is recorded as a liar before Allah," (Fathul Bari)

            Evil and wickedness towards which the habit of telling lies leads is the last stage of the destruction of self and the lowness of faith.

            Imam Malik has reported about the hadith narrated by Ibn Masood: " A person regularly tells lies and adopts falsehood (as his policy), till a black point is imprinted in his heart, and slowly and slowly the whole heart becomes black. At that time his name is entered in the list of liars before Allah."

            Allah has stated in Quran :

"It is those who believe not in the Signs of Allah that forge falsehood, it is they who lie." (Nahl: 105)

            Righteousness whose path is shown by truth is the highest peak of goodness to which only men of high determination can reach. In this connection the following verses of the holy Quran would suffice:

"It is no virtue that you turn your face to the East and the West, but virtue is that one should believe in Allah, and the Last Day and the angels and the prophets; and spend out of love for Him his wealth on relatives and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and on those who ask and for ransom of the slaves and establish salat and pay zakat. And those who fulfil the pledges they make and steadfast In adversity and affliction and In times of struggle, such are the people as are truthful and Godfearing." (Baqarah: 177)

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