The Importance of Honouring Your Word
Whether it is a child or a politician, the importance of honesty and integrity is the bedrock of a productive and successful society. When honesty is lacking from our leaders and absent in society, we risk failure in every sphere of life.
A Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe; and the believer (Mumin) is the one whom people can trust with their money and their souls. (Tirmidhi)
Honour your Word and Fulfil your Trust
In surah Muminoon and others Allah Almighty teaches us that believers keep their promises and covenants (amanah) and do not betray the trust of others. This is the essential foundation for all relationships, transactions and society.
The Prophet (peace be on him) was trying to build a community on principles of trust, safety, support and cooperation, and so there are plenty of Quranic verses and narrations of the Prophet (peace be on him) which talk about the severity of the punishment of betrayal.
The betrayer on the Day of Judgement will have his betrayal publicly exposed:
Every traitor will have a banner on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said: This is the betrayer of so-and-so. (Bukhari)
Consequently, it is imperative to honour covenants, and commitments to the extent that we have to honour our pact even with an enemy, even in a war zone. Hence, the Prophet (peace be on him) advised his companions on expeditions, not to betray anyone.
Spread Trust and Be a Good Example
As this concept is so fundamental, we should train our families and children and our community to honour their word. Lead by example. Instead of lecturing, we should understand the principle and apply it ourselves. If someone knocks on your door and say to your son, ‘Tell them I’m not in’, then you are teaching your child to lie.
The Prophet (peace be on him) would teach companions through his example. He never broke his promises and he never broke any pacts even with his enemies. The Prophet (peace be on him) did not break the Treaty of Hudaibiya, it was the Quraysh.
Keep All Amanahs
There are different levels of trust or amanah. The highest is between us and Allah, then between us and other people – spouses, children, friends, bosses and employees.
We need to work hard and keep all the amanah we have been given: starting with our salah, and with regards to money – how we earn and spend it; our knowledge, and our children. We cannot be lax about giving promises and then breaking them, or forgetting about them. A mumin (believer) is one who can be entrusted with anything and above all a person of their word, so be cautious in what you promise.
There are no white lies in Islam. A lie is a lie. It is haram. Otherwise no one would be able to trust anyone.
Betrayal is not the feature of the believer. It is a sign of hypocrisy or disbelief:
There are four characteristics, whoever has all of them is a true hypocrite, and whoever has one of them has one of the qualities of a hypocrite until he gives it up: when he is trusted, he betrays; when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he disputes, he resorts to slander. (Bukhari, Muslim)
From this we see, that telling lies is not just haram, it is an attribute of nifaq (hypocrisy), and so is breaking promises. If people act in this manner they are completely untrustworthy, and you cannot rely on them in business, or relationships or any aspect of your dealings with them. You cannot untangle their lies from the truth. You cannot be sure they will deliver what they said they would. If people in the community behave like this is creates ill feeling, distrust and ultimately disconnects members of a family, or society or business. In particular be careful when you are in a position of responsibility.
Betrayal of the Leader
The Prophet (peace be on him) said the biggest betrayal is the betrayal of the leader when he betrays his people. When you say one thing but do something else behind the scene, this is completely haram.
As we watch Brexit negotiations stumbling along, they are affecting the whole country, not just politicians, and we are seeing the collapse of the Pound and the impact on the economy. It has been going on and on, with no end in sight and now talk of getting extensions. One expert recently said that in this scenario it could take seven to ten years to make a deal, yet all the while, people are suffering and there is uncertainty.
This is a betrayal by our leaders. If you can’t make a deal, make way for those who can. If you are staying in power just because you want to stay in power, you are sacrificing public interest for your personal interest. It is one thing to talk about British values but another thing to apply them. Where are these principles? We cannot see them, only personal and party interests. Whereas the interests of the people are to have a new referendum or a good deal.
We ask Allah Almighty to make things better and to help us out of chaos. May Allah facilitate the best. Ameen
Khutbah delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim 19th Oct 2018 at UKAMCCC (also known as Xhamia e Shqiptareve)
Transcribed by A Khan.
January 15, 2021