Honesty and Integrity: Essential components of Success

One of the essential components of success is honesty.  Indeed, real success cannot be achieved without honesty and integrity.  Honesty means being true and straight in word, action, character and conduct.  Honesty means to choose what is morally right and stick to it both in public and in private.

Honesty includes many other morals like truthfulness, sincerity, and justice.  An honest person is the person who sticks to the truth and acts with justice in all situations, regardless of external pressures and temptations.  An honest person enjoys the internal strength and faith that sustain him during times of conflict and enable him to choose what is right even if it brings him temporary loss. An honest person always chooses truth over falsehood, justice over injustice, and good over evil.  These traits of truthfulness and honesty will in turn lead him to success and the fulfillment of his goals sooner or later.

——–

            Dishonesty, on the other hand, includes a number of immoral traits like lying, deceit, betrayal, and hypocrisy.  A dishonest person is someone who betrays his principles and morals in favor of monetary or worldly gain.  A dishonest person is someone who may distort the truth or act in a sly or crooked way to achieve his purpose, without any sense of wrong-doing or guilt.  A dishonest person lacks conscience and moral principles that sustain him during times of difficulty.  At the slightest difficulty, he or she is ready to compromise his principles to achieve his purposes.  Despite any immediate material gain that may be in sight, the path of dishonesty and lies is a dead end that will eventually lead to nowhere but to loss and failure.


 

         Thus, honesty is a reflection of inner faith, and the one who lacks honesty lacks true faith, as is mentioned in the following hadith:

عن أنس رضي الله عنه قال: مَا خَطَبَنَا رسولُ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم إلا قال: « ‏ لَا إِيمَانَ لِمَنْ لَا أَمَانَةَ لَهُ، وَلَا دِينَ لِمَنْ لَا عَهْدَ لَهُ» .  رواه أحمد والبزار والطبراني وابن حبان. ـ

   Narrated Anas -may God be pleased with him- said: “The Messenger -prayer and peace be upon him- did not give us a sermon except he said: ‘Whoever does not keep the trust lacks in faith, and whoever does not keep his pledge lacks in religion.’ ”  Related by Ahmad, Al-Bazzar, Al-Tabarani, and Ibn Hibban.


 

    God has set certain standards and morals when He created the Earth.  God referred to that as the Balance or the Scale of Justice.  God says:

    قال الله سبحانه وتعالى: { وَالسَّمَاءَ رَفَعَهَا وَوَضَعَ الْمِيزَانَ * أَلَّا تَطْغَوْا فِي الْمِيزَانِ * وَأَقِيمُوا الْوَزْنَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلَا تُخْسِرُوا الْمِيزَانَ} سورة الرحمن 7-9.  ـ

  God -the Exalted- says: {

  1. And the heaven He has raised high, and He has set up the Balance.
  2. In order that you may not transgress (due) balance.

     9. And observe the weight with equity and do not make the balance deficient} (Chapter 55, verses 7-9).

   The human is instructed to follow those morals and abide by those standards. Man must not transgress and tip the balance to one side; otherwise, it will lead to chaos and failure. Keeping a fair balance is the key to success and prosperity.  These are God’s rules and commandments.

    Indeed, whoever keeps the Balance and acts with honesty and truthfulness will achieve success because that is the only path that leads to it. Those who choose dishonesty and lying to achieve success will never get it even if they may seem to get it temporarily at first.


 

The concept of Good and Evil started with the creation of Adam and Satan.  Adam chose honesty and the truth, while Satan chose dishonesty, pride and lying.  Thus, we see Adam becoming successful while Satan being banished to Hell-Fire.

It is this ancient and sacred tenet of Good and Evil and their consequences that apply to honesty and dishonesty as well.  Whoever chooses honesty and integrity has a high chance of achieving success, while whoever selects dishonesty and lies guarantees himself loss and failure, even if he may seem to succeed at first.

Indeed, just like Good will prevail and triumph at the end while evil will eventually decline and be defeated, likewise honesty leads to success and good results while dishonesty leads to loss and evil consequences.


 

          God the Almighty has commanded us to stick to honesty in all matters, and made it obligatory on us.  God says:

    قال الله سبحانه وتعالى: {إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَى أَهْلِهَا وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُمْ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَنْ تَحْكُمُوا بِالْعَدْلِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ نِعِمَّا يَعِظُكُمْ بِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا} النساء 58. ـ

  God -the Exalted- says: {Verily, God commands you to render trusts to whom they are due; and that when you judge between people to judge with justice. Indeed, how excellent is that which God instructs you. Verily, God is ever All-Hearer, All-Seer} (Surah 4, verse 58).

Al-Qurtubi said in the interpretation of the verse: “It is most likely that this verse encompasses all people, so it includes the rulers and what they are entrusted with of distributing the wealth, paying back for injustices, and ruling with justice, and this was the opinion of Al-Tabari.

The verse also includes the lesser people in keeping the trusts and being careful when giving testimony, like a man judging in a calamity, etc. Also the five daily prayers, the obligatory charity, and the rest of acts of worship are a trust of God the Exalted.”


 

If we consider the wisdom behind the obligation of honesty, we find that the main reason is that it leads to trust and peace among people.  When we have honesty, then people can trust us.  And when people have honesty, then they can trust each other, and this will lead to a peaceful and secure society, which will lead to a successful and prosperous society.

   Therefore, honesty is a major ingredient of a peaceful and successful society.  Honesty is essential for creating trust among society.  Honesty was obligated for the general good and the benefit of society.  Honesty creates a society whose members care about each and make sure not to bring harm to others.  Honesty creates a community whose members make sure not to cheat, not to take what is not theirs, not to take more than necessary or their due, and not to be dishonest or unjust in any dealings with anyone. This will lead to a successful, peaceful and prosperous society.

Dishonesty, on the other hand, leads to mistrust and insecurity.  Dishonesty creates a selfish society where everyone is only concerned with his/her own gains and loots.  Dishonesty creates an unequal society with some members taking the rights of weak members, exploiting them, and mistreating them in different ways.  Dishonesty is a gate for injustice and bad morals.  Dishonesty leads to evil and mischief in the land.  Dishonesty leads to an insecure, oppressed society.


 

     And just like man is in constant struggle with Good and Evil, such a conflict also exists with honesty and dishonesty.  The believer chooses Good over Evil and honesty over dishonesty.  But man is prone to slips, falls, temptations and desires.  And just like Satan entices the son of Adam to do Evil and enjoy the temporary pleasures, Satan also tempts the son of Adam and promises him great wealth if he dealt with dishonesty.

Thus, the believer must beware of the temptations of the Satan and of the Self in times of trials and difficulty and never give in.  The believer must rather stick to his ideals and hold fast on to his principles, never giving them up.  The believer must keep his moral values, rather should improve on them with time.


 

       Furthermore, we have been forewarned that honesty will become more and more difficult as time passes and dishonesty will become widespread until many people will get used to it and think nothing of it.  But that would only lead to their loss and failure.  The Prophet -prayer and peace be upon- said that when the Day of Judgment draws near, honesty would be lifted and many people would be dishonest such that trustworthy people would be so scarce that people would say such a tribe has only one trustworthy person. 

     In the following narration, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, provided us details about that:

عن حُذيْفَة بنِ الْيمانِ رضي اللَّه عنه قال: حَدَّثَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّه صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم حَدِيثَيْنِ رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَهُمَا وَأَنَا أَنْتَظِرُ الْآخَرَ، حَدَّثَنَا « أَنَّ الْأَمَانَةَ نَزَلَتْ فِي جَذْرِ قُلُوبِ الرِّجَالِ، ثُمَّ عَلِمُوا مِنْ الْقُرْآنِ ثُمَّ عَلِمُوا مِنْ السُّنَّةِ»، وَحَدَّثَنَا عَنْ رَفْعِهَا قَالَ: « يَنَامُ الرَّجُلُ النَّوْمَةَ، فَتُقْبَضُ الْأَمَانَةُ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ، فَيَظَلُّ أَثَرُهَا مِثْلَ أَثَرِ الْوَكْتِ، ثُمَّ يَنَامُ النَّوْمَةَ فَتُقْبَضُ فَيَبْقَى أَثَرُهَا مِثْلَ الْمَجْلِ، كَجَمْرٍ دَحْرَجْتَهُ عَلَى رِجْلِكَ فَنَفِط،َ فَتَرَاهُ مُنْتَبِرًا وَلَيْسَ فِيهِ شَيْءٌ، فَيُصْبِحُ النَّاسُ يَتَبَايَعُونَ، فَلَا يَكَادُ أَحَدٌ يُؤَدِّي الْأَمَانَةَ، فَيُقَالُ: إِنَّ فِي بَنِي فُلَانٍ رَجُلًا أَمِينًا، وَيُقَالُ لِلرَّجُلِ: مَا أَعْقَلَهُ وَمَا أَظْرَفَهُ وَمَا أَجْلَدَهُ، وَمَا فِي قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالُ حَبَّةِ خَرْدَلٍ مِنْ إِيمَانٍ» .  متفقٌ عليه. ـ

      Narrated Hudhayfa Ibn Al-Yamaan -may Allah be pleased with him- said: “The Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- narrated to us two hadiths, one of which I have seen (happening) and I am waiting for the other. He told us:

‘Honesty descended in the innermost (root) of the hearts of men (in the beginning). Then the Qur’an was revealed and they learnt it (honesty) from the Qur’an and they learnt it from the Sunnah (tradition).’  He also told us about the removal of honesty. He said:

‘A man would go to sleep whereupon honesty would be taken away from his heart, leaving a trace of a faint mark. He would again sleep and the remainder of honesty would be taken away from his heart leaving a trace of a blister, as if you rolled down an ember on your foot and it formed a vesicle. You would see a swelling but there is nothing in it.

So there would come a day when people would deal in business with each other but there would hardly be any trustworthy persons among them. (And there would be so much lack of honest persons) till it would be said: There is in such and such a tribe one person who is honest.  And they would also admire a person saying: How prudent he is, how good mannered and how strong he is, while indeed he would not have belief as little as a mustard seed in his heart.’ ” Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

     We are seeing signs of that these days.  Honesty is not valued any more, rather many people have resorted to deceit, lying and cheating to achieve their goals.  Dishonesty is not frowned upon or looked with disapproval any more, rather it is considered to be a winning card by some and even necessary for success by others.  But that is not true, for the same arguments are used to find excuses for doing Evil.  The truth is that Good and Honesty are the only path to achieving success and fulfilling one’s goals no matter the circumstances.

       Then the believer must be steadfast in these times and hold tightly to Good and Honesty even if only few choose to do so.  The believer must try to avoid Evil and dishonesty in any shape or form, and rather stick to Good and Honesty and believe that it is the only way to success and true happiness.  And God knows best.

=======================

Most Beloved

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ sent some cavalry towards Najd. They captured a man from the tribe of Bani Hanifa, who was called Thumama Ibn Uthal, and he was the chief of the people of Yamama.  They tied him to one of the pillars of the Mosque.

The Prophet ﷺ went to him and said: ‘What do you have, O Thumama?’  He replied: ‘I have goodness, O Muhammad. If you should kill me, you would kill a person who has already killed somebody, and if you should set me free, you would do a favor to one who is grateful, and if you want property, then ask me whatever wealth you want.’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ left him for two days.

He ﷺ then came back to him and asked: ‘What do you have, O Thumama?’  He replied: ‘What I have already told you: if you should set me free, you would do a favor to one who is grateful; if you should kill me, you would kill a person who has already killed somebody; and if you want property, then ask me whatever wealth you want.’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ left him until the next day.

He ﷺ then came back to him and said: ‘What do you have, O Thumama?’ He replied: ‘I have what I have already told you: if you should set me free, you would do a favor to one who is grateful; if you should kill me, you would kill a person who has already killed somebody; and if you want property, then ask me whatever wealth you want.’  Upon that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘Set Thumama free.’

So Thumama went to a garden of date-palm trees near the Mosque, took a bath, and then entered the Mosque and said: ‘I testify that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.  By Allah, O Muhammad, there was no face on the surface of the earth most disliked by me than yours, but now your face has become the most beloved face to me.  By Allah, there was no religion most disliked by me than yours, but now your religion (of Islam) is the most beloved religion to me. And by Allah, there was no city most disliked by me than your town, but now your town is the most beloved city to me. Your cavalry captured me (at the time) when I was intending to perform Umrah. So what do you think I should do?’

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ gave him good tidings (congratulated him) and instructed him to proceed with Umrah.

When Thumama reached Makkah, somebody asked him: ‘Have you renounced your religion?’  He replied: ‘No, rather I have embraced Islam with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. By Allah, you will not get a single grain of wheat from Yamama until the Messenger of Allah ﷺ gives permission for that.’ ”

(Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

We see the high moral character of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in many aspects of this story. Thumama was already wanted by the Muslims as he had killed some of them, and yet the Prophet received him calmly and in the best manner. It is related in another narration that the Prophet displayed hospitality and ordered his own camel to be milked for Thumama.  In addition to that, we see the amiable demeanor of the Prophet ﷺ with his captive; he showed him no signs of threat or aggressiveness or torture.  Quite the opposite: the Prophet treated his captive with honor, generosity, and forgiveness.

In the face of such treatment and high moral code, Thumama was captivated by this noble character and had no choice but to admit to the truthfulness of Prophet Muhammad’s Divine Message.  Thumama then made his famous statement and expressed his true feelings:

By Allah, O Muhammad, there was no face on the surface of the earth most disliked by me than yours, but now your face has become the most beloved face to me.  By Allah, there was no religion most disliked by me than yours, but now your religion is the most beloved religion to me.

Indeed, what great words, and what wonderful meanings they contain.  For indeed, whoever comes to know Allah and His Messenger ﷺ will find inner peace, enlightenment, and true happiness that sustain him throughout life and after death, such that he attains pleasure in both this world and the Hereafter.  It is this great feeling that Thumama expressed in his words and this beautiful meaning that he tried to convey.  Thumama also expressed his appreciation of his new faith in action as well.  Ibn Hisham reported that when Thumama was a prisoner, he used to complain of the little food they brought him although the Muslims served him as much as they could.  But when they presented the same food to him after he embraced Islam, he ate little and showed contentment. The Muslims wondered at his change of behavior, so the Prophet ﷺ alerted them to the fact that his Islam now took precedence.

Finally, it is related that Thumama, who was the chief of Yamama, stopped all supplies and provision from reaching Quraysh in Makkah for their ill treatment of the Muslims, until they suffered shortage of food due to that embargo. Quraysh sought the aid of the Prophet ﷺ in this matter, beseeching him to maintain their kinship. Again we see the high moral code of the Prophet ﷺ and his high level of compassion: he wrote to Thumama asking him to let supplies pass to Quraysh. Thumama did so, appreciating the mercy, compassion, and true human feelings of the Prophet of Allah, prayer and blessings be upon him.

Thus, we see many lessons in this story that the Muslim should learn and try to emulate.  Indeed, as shown by both words and action of the Prophet ﷺ, positive morals and exceptional manners are an integral part of our religion of Islam. In this story, we see the embodiment of mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and morals in the best way possible. These traits and characteristics should be the target and goal of Muslims in their daily lives. And Allah knows best.