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.

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            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.

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Contentment and Satisfaction (Qana’ah)

(Keywords: Contentment, Satisfaction, Happiness, Pleasure, Peace, Contentedness, serenity, Thankfulness, Appreciation, Gratefulness, Cheerfulness)

 

قال الله عز وجل: {وَآتَاكُم مِّن كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ وَإِن تَعُدُّواْ نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ لاَ تُحْصُوهَا إِنَّ الإنْسَانَ لَظَلُومٌ كَفَّارٌ} سورة إبراهيم 34. ـ

God -the Exalted- says: { And God gave you of all that you asked for, and if you (try to) count the blessings of God, never will you be able to count them. Verily, man is indeed an extreme wrongdoer, ungrateful } (Surah 14, verse 34).

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عن عُبَيد اللَّه بِن مِحْصَنٍ الأَنْصارِيِّ الخَطْمِيِّ رضي اللَّه عنه قال: قال رسولُ اللَّه صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « منْ أَصبح مِنكُمْ آمِناً في سِرْبِهِ، مُعَافىً في جَسَدِه، عِندهُ قُوتُ يَومِهِ، فَكَأَنَّمَا حِيزَتْ لَهُ الدُّنْيَا بِحذافِيرِها» .  رواه الترمذي. ـ

Narrated Ubaid-Allah Ibn Mihsan Al-Ansari Al-Khatmi -may God be pleased with him- that the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “Whoever comes upon the morning healthy in his body, safe in his flock, and has the sustenance of his day, then it is as if he has attained the whole worldly life.” Related by Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban.

وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسولُ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « ‏انْظُرُوا إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ أَسْفَلَ مِنْكُمْ وَلَا تَنْظُرُوا إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ فَوْقَكُمْ فَإِنَّهُ أَجْدَرُ أَنْ لَا تَزْدَرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ» . رواه مسلم والترمذي وابن ماجه وأحمد. ـ

Narrated Abu Hurairah -may God be pleased with him- that the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “Look at those who are below you (in worldly status), and do not look at those who are above you, for it is worthier not to scorn the blessing of God upon you.”  Related by Imam Muslim, Al-Tirmithi, Ibn Majah, and Imam Ahmad.

وَعَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاس وأنس بن مالك رَضِي الله عنْهُم أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « لَوْ أَنَّ لابْنِ آدَمَ وَادِياً مِنْ ذَهَبٍ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُ وَادِيانِ، وَلَنْ يَمْلأَ فَاهُ إِلاَّ التُّرَابُ، وَيَتُوبُ اللَّهُ عَلَى مَنْ تَابَ» . مُتَّفَقٌ عَليْهِ. ـ

Narrated Ibn Abbas and Anas Ibn Malik -may God be pleased with them- that the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “If the son of Adam has a valley of gold, he would have wished to have two valleys.  Nothing fills out the inside of the son of Adam except for the dust (when he dies).  And God accepts the repentance of anyone who repents.”  Related by Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim.



 

God -the Most Generous- reminds us of His many blessings upon us.  Indeed, God has granted us from every blessing we can think of.  God, the Exalted, granted us health, wealth, food, shelter, family, and most important the religion of Islam.  And yet some people feel discontent and dissatisfied with their lot and share in life. 

We can see two groups of people:

1) The first group are happy and content with what they have, while

2) The second group are always sad and never satisfied with they have.  The question then is what is the difference between the two groups?

The difference between the two groups simply lies in the word Contentment or Qana’ah.  The point of reference (miqyas) is different for both groups.  That is, their model of happiness is different.  As for the first group, their point of reference or model of happiness is set toward people below them.  They never look at people above them in worldly status.  They are content with what they have.  Yes, they do ask God for more, but then they are happy with what He grants them.  In other words, they look for more with God, and they don’t look at richer people.

While the point of reference (miqyas) or model of happiness for the second group is the richest or most powerful man in the world.  For them, happiness is associated with more worldly possession, more wealth, and more power.  So they always compare themselves to those above them in worldly status.  Therefore, they are never satisfied; they always look up, they always want more.

Then as for the first group, they live this life in a condition of inner comfort and happiness.  They are satisfied with what they have, and they appreciate these blessings and thank God for what He has given them; they enjoy contentment.

As for the second group, they live this life in a condition of continuous frustration, complaining, displeasure, and dissatisfaction until they die.  They are never happy, but always want more, always look up to other people but can’t seem to get it all, so they end up feeling sad, depressed and deprived.  They don’t appreciate the many blessings God has bestowed upon them, so they end up being ungrateful; not appreciating or thanking God for His blessing upon them.  They suffer perpetual discontentment.

 


 

Know that the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- has already set the point of reference (miqyas) or model of happiness for his nation, both in word and by his own action.  Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- said that if anyone wakes up in the morning healthy, safe and having the food of that day, then it is as if he has the whole world!  This is the point of reference or model of happiness.  It is not having food for a month, or living in a palace, or amassing great wealth, it is simply having health, safety and food of that day.  This is the reference point set by the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him.  And the Prophet gave us a practical and most beautiful example of contentment or qana’ah by enjoying whatever he had, even if it was one date, and thanking God fully for it.

Another point of reference set by the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- is: don’t look at people above you in worldly status.  This will only create greediness and endless yearning which will result in sadness and jealousy.  Rather, be content with what you have and appreciate the blessings you have by considering those below you in worldly status.

Indeed, we are warned not to look down upon the blessings of God upon us.  And we are asked to appreciate and count those blessings by just looking at the people who don’t have them.  Consider the people who are sick, while you are healthy.  Consider the people who don’t have a full meal, while you do.  Consider the people who don’t have a place to live in, while you have a house.  Consider the people who don’t have money and have to beg, while you have enough money, and so forth.  Consider each blessing and thank God for it.


 

Contentment is prescribed for both the poor and the rich.  Every Muslim should feel content with the blessings God has granted him.  The Muslim can ask God for more, but he should not look to those who own more than him.  The scholars said that the poor person who feels content is actually rich, while the rich who looks upon others with greed is actually poor.

The only thing a Muslim is asked to look up to is religious matters.  In religion, the Muslim should never be satisfied but should always seek a higher status with God and should always consider those who are more righteous or those who do more good deeds than him.


 

Then, know that Islam has sat two points of reference (miqyas) when it comes to happiness and contentment.  First, if you wake up in the morning healthy, safe and have the food of that day, then know that you are a rich person.  And second, don’t compare yourself to people above you in worldly status, but look at people below you and appreciate and thank God for the many blessings He granted you.  Don’t look at other people’s wealth, but ask God from His bounty.  Know that contentment leads to happiness in both lives.  In this life, contentment leads to a worry-free, happy life, and in the Hereafter contentment leads to the pleasure of the Lord and His Paradise.  And God knows best.

 

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