Allah Almighty states in the Holy Quran:
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللہَ وَکُوۡنُوۡا مَعَ الصّٰدِقِیۡنَ ﴿۱۱۹﴾
‘O believers! fear Allah and be with the truthful.
(Al-Taubah 9, Verse 119)
عَنْ أبِيْ خَالِدٍ حَكِيْمِ بْنِ حِزَامٍ – رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ – قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُوْلُ اللهِ – صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «اَلْبَيِّعَانِ بِالْخِيَارِ مَا لَمْ يَتَفَرَّقَا، فَإنْ صَدَقَا وَبَيَّنَا بُوْرِكَ لَهُمَا فِيْ بَيْعِهِمَا، وَإنْ كَتَمَا وَكَذَبَا مُحِقَتْ بَرَكَةُ بَيْعِهِمَا».
Sayyiduna Abu Khalid Hakeem ibn Hizam – may Allah be pleased with him – reported: The Messenger of Allah – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – said, “Both parties in a business transaction have a right has long as they have not separated; and if they tell the truth and make everything clear to each other (i.e., the seller and the buyer speak the truth, the seller with regard to what is purchased, and the buyer with regard to the money) they will be blessed in their transaction, but if they conceal anything and lie, the blessing on their transaction will be eliminated.”
There is no doubt that honesty and truthfulness are regarded to be two very important aspects in Islam.
In the terminology of the Awliyah, they explain that real truthfulness or honesty is to speak the truth even when threatened with death. Some have said that to refrain from anything Haraam appearing from the mouth is honesty. Some have said that for the heart and tongue to be one is considered as proper truth.
Hadrat Junaid Baghdadi – may Allah be pleased with him – has stated that, “The essence of truthfulness or honesty is to speak the truth even in those circumstances where if one could get away with the lie, he still chose to speak the truth.”
When Shaikh Fathah Moseli – may Allah be pleased with him – was asked about honesty, he picked up a hot burning piece of iron and placing it on his hand, he declared, “This is real honesty.”
One Saint has explained that, “If a person does not perform consistent Fard then even his act of Fard which he performs for a time being is not accepted.” When he was asked what consistent Fard is, he replied that it was honesty.
The Awliyah explain that the lowest state of truthfulness is when the inner and outer self of a person is the same. The Saadiq is that person whose speech is the truth while the Siddiq is that person who is honest in both speech and action.
Hadrat Junaid Baghdadi – may Allah be pleased with him – explains that, “Truthfulness is one of the swords of Allah Almighty. Wherever it is placed, it is able to pierce that place.”
Honesty is a pillar of religion. Through it, the religion of a person becomes complete. If we look at the verse which explains the special servants of Allah, we will see that after the Amibyah, the Siddiqeen is mentioned.
When Hadrat Haarith Muhaasibi – may Allah be pleased with him – was asked about the signs of honesty, he replied, “When a person is busy reforming his heart he does not care whether people lose respect for him. He does not even care whether the creation is aware of his piety or not. He does not even care whether people become aware of his bad habits. If this is not the case, then it means he is desirous of peoples respect and esteem and this is not the way of a true Sideeq.”
The degree of truthfulness and the truthful
Hadrat Junaid Baghdadi – may Allah be pleased with him – explains that, “The true Saadiq is able to change many states in one day. In other words, he goes from one great state to the next. As for the liar or deceitful person, he remains in one state for the next forty years! The reason is that a person who (worships) his nafs or is involved in deceit, he will never even smell the scent of honesty.”
Hadrat Ebrahim Khawwas – may Allah be pleased with him – explains that, “Whenever you see a Siddeeq, you will find that he is either paying off some debt or he will be busy involved in some work for his Creator.”
Imam Abul Qasim Abdul Kareem bin Hawaazin Qushayri – may Allah be pleased with him – in his world famous treatise, “Risaalah Qushayriyyah”, explains that, “Allah sent Revelation to Nabi Daud – peace be upon him – which was, ‘O Daud! A person who sincerely believes in Me as the Truth, I will reveal his truthfulness among people.’”
Hadrat Sahl bin Abdullah – may Allah be pleased with him – explains that the deceit of a Siddeeq begins when he speaks to his nafs, in other words, he becomes lazy in fulfilling the rights of Allah Almighty.
The status of truthfulness and honesty in the Hadith Shareef
Hadrat Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Masud – may Allah be pleased with him – narrates that Sayyiduna Rasoolullah – may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – has stated that, “You should make truthfulness necessary upon yourself. The reason is that truthfulness leads to piety and piety reveals the path to Jannah. A person continues to speak the truth and continues to endeavour to speak the truth until that time when he is recorded in the (Divine Court) as a Siddeeq. And save yourself from lies, without doubt, lies leads to sin and sin leads to Hell. When a person continues to speak lies and finds opportunities to speak lies, (at) that time he is recorded in the (Divine Court) as a great liar.”
Searching for Halaal sustenance and being honest
Both these qualities have immense status and importance in Islam. Since we have already spoken a little about honesty, we will present a Hadith Shareef. This is presented from “Tafseer Qurtabi”. It is mentioned that the Allah Almighty has made equal, the person who earns a Halaal sustenance and the Mujaahid. We also come to realize from this, that earning and striving to earn a Halal livelihood is also a form of Jihad.
Hadrat Alqamah – may Allah be pleased with him – narrates that Sayyiduna Rasoolullah – may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – has stated that, “When a person brings food from one city to another and sells it at the price which (is applicable) on that day, his status with Allah is equal to those of the martyrs.”
An honest businessman!
There once lived a trader in the city of Waasit. He sent some grain to Basrah and instructed his agent in that city, that when the ship arrives in the city he should sell the grain immediately and not wait for the next day or save anything for the next day.
Coincidently, on the day the grain arrived in the city, the price was very low. The traders of grain also advised this agent that if he kept it for a week, he would earn a lot of money as the price of the grain would increase. He did so and did not sell it for one week. After the price increased, he then sold the grain. He then advised the owner of the grain of what he had done.
The owner of the grain then wrote back, “If our Imaan remains safe, then a little profit is sufficient. You have certainly performed a very unfair act. When you receive this letter, then I request that you take whatever you have earned and distribute it among the poor in Basrah. If you are able to save yourself from the consequences of (punishment) for what you have done, it would be enough. I also do not have any confidence that there will be any reward for our action even if we gave away this wealth in charity.” Such was the honesty displayed by business people in the past.
How to do Business Honestly
It is reported that at the beginning, the eminent Saint, Hadrat Sayyiduna Sirri Saqti – may Allah be pleased with him – used to have a little shop. At the same time, he had this policy that he will never make more than five percent profit on any item that he sold.
Once, Hadrat Sayyiduna Sirri Saqti – may Allah be pleased with him – bought almonds for sixty Dirhams and a few days later, the price of almonds became very high. One agent then approached him and asked him the price of his almonds. He said that it was about seventy-three Dirhams. However, the agent mentioned that the price of almond in the market were over ninety Dirhams.
However, the great Saint replied, “I have made a promise to Allah Almighty that I will never take more than five percent in profit.”
The agent then refused to buy this almond because he also felt guilty of selling this more than people could afford. In this manner, he did not purchase it for this lesser price and Hadrat Sayyiduna Sirri Saqti – may Allah be pleased with him – did not sell it for more than the price which he had already marked.
This is the quality of the Saints and this is what the Holy Prophet – may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – has called “deen”. The name of religion is not to take a long tasbih and wear a long jubbah and walk around all the time pick-pocketing the people who come to buy. This should also be a lesson for those who claim to be Muslim business people, and it is also a lesson on how they should carry out their business. Even if they walk around their business with long tasbihs and kurtas all the while trying to cheat people, all this tasbih and kurtas will be of no benefit to them on the Day of Judgement.
(Kimiyaah Sa’aadat, 282; Taarike Baghdad, 9.189)
The Honesty of the Shepherd:
Hadrat Sayyiduna Naaf’e – may Allah be pleased with him – narrates:
I accompanied Hadrat Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn ‘Umar – may Allah be pleased with them – to one of the outlying valleys outside Madina Shareef. There were also others that had joined us as well. The sun was at its zenith and it was extremely hot. We then decided to take shelter under a certain tree and we all, placed our food on an eating cloth to eat together. A few minutes, we noticed a shepherd that was walking past.
Hadrat Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar – may Allah be pleased with them – said to him, “Come and join in this food.” The shepherd replied that he was fasting.
Hadrat Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn ‘Umar – may Allah be pleased with them – said to him. “You spend the entire day in this hot burning sun looking after the animals. Your job is extremely testing but you keep Nafil fast. Is it necessary for you to keep Nafil fast?”
When the shepherd heard this, he asked, “Has the Qur’an not stated in Surah Haaqah, verse 24 that:
کُلُوۡا وَ اشْرَبُوۡا ہَنِیۡٓــًٔۢا بِمَاۤ اَسْلَفْتُمْ فِی الْاَیَّامِ الْخَالِیَـۃِ ﴿۲۴﴾
“Eat and drink with pleasure – the reward of what you sent ahead, in the past days.”
When the eminent companion heard these words of the shepherd, he was very impressed and said to him, “Sell us one of your animals so that we can have it slaughtered and can also pay you a just price.”
When the shepherd heard this, he replied, “These animals do not belong to me. These are animals which belong to my master. I am merely a servant; how can I sell these animals.”
Obviously, the blessed companion was even more impressed by the honesty of this shepherd. He then turned to us and said, “It was also possible that this shepherd could have sold us this animal and if his owner would have asked, he would have said that the wild animals has eaten one of them. But look at the honesty of this shepherd.”
The shepherd heard all of these words and as he was walking away, he raised his finger towards the sky and said, “Even though my master is unable to see me, yet, my Creator is watching over me and is aware of everything I do.”
In fact, the blessed companion was extremely impressed by this simple shepherd and his immense honesty. He then approached the owner of this slave and decided to purchase him from his master. After he had purchased him, he freed him. He also purchased all the animals which were there and handed all those animals to the shepherd as a gift.
The Dishonest Fragrance Seller:
Allama ibn Jouzi – may Allah be pleased with him – in his famous “Kitaabul Azkiyah” writes:
I heard that once there was a person who arrived in Baghdad Shareef from Khuraasan. He was intending to go for Hajj. He also had a very expensive pearl necklace which was valued at about a thousand Dinaars. He tried to sell this necklace but failed.
He then heard about an honest person who used to sell fragrance and decided to approach him with the intention that this person safeguards his necklace while he went to Mecca Shareef to perform his Hajj.
While he was in Mecca Shareef, as a show of appreciation, he also purchased some gifts for this fragrance seller. He then presented these gifts to this person and asked for his necklace. However, the fragrance seller completely refused to acknowledge this person and insisted that he had never met him before. In fact, the fragrance seller was so rude that he rudely chased this person out of his shop and shouted that he was being accused without any basis. As this argument continued and their voices became louder, people began to gather. Someone then said to this Haji, “How can you accuse this fragrance seller without any proof. He is a famous person in this area noted for his honesty and there is no way that he can deceive you.”
Despite this, he kept on asking for his necklace and the fragrance seller kept on insisting that he had no such necklace in his possession.
Someone then suggested to this Haji to go to the leader of the Muslims, Addud Daulah, and present his case in his court. There was also a great possibility that he would be able to help and assist in this regard. This Haji then wrote a long note and tying it to a piece of stick, he took this into the court of this ruler. When Addud Daulah saw him, he called him forward and asked him what his problem was. He then mentioned his entire story and presented his written story to Addud Daulah.
When the leader of the Muslims heard this, he said to him, “There is no problem, tomorrow, you must go and sit next to the shop of this fragrance seller. Even if this person stops you from sitting near his shop, do not be bothered about him. If you find another shop near his shop, you can also sit at this shop as well. You must sit like this from the morning till the evening and do not speak to anyone. You must continue doing this for three days. On the fourth day, I will travel past that area and I will stop for a few minutes in front of you. I will then greet you, but you must not greet me in return. In fact, you must act like you do not even know me. After that, you must approach the fragrance seller and ask for your necklace. Whatever he tells you after this, you must come back to my court again and explain whatever he had mentioned. Even if he returns the necklace to you, still, you must come back and inform me about this.”
For the next three days, this Haji sat in front of the shop of this fragrance seller without speaking to anyone. On the fourth day, Addud Daulah, with his royal entourage and army went past this shop. When he noticed this Haji from Khuraasan, he shouted his Salaam to him. The Haji merely sat and greeted the ruler softly and did not say another word.
The ruler also said, “Why is it that you do not visit me any longer and also present your needs to me.”
This was said in such a manner that everyone in the near vicinity heard these words. However, the Haji remained silent and did not say a word. At the same time, the fragrance seller was already beginning to panic when he saw what was happening in front of him. He then approached the Haji and said to him, “It is quite surprising that I cannot remember keeping your necklace, however, if you can describe it a little, maybe it will help me remember”.
The Haji then described the necklace to this person and like magic, he went into his shop and retrieved the same necklace insisting that he had completely forgotten about it.
When the Haji received this necklace, obviously he was extremely pleased and questioned whether he should return to the court of Addud Daulah. However, he felt that since this ruler had performed a great favour to him, it was only right that he obeyed his command. He also felt that maybe the ruler was interested in purchasing this necklace or had some other work for him.
He then approached the court of Addud Daulah. When the ruler saw him with the necklace, he immediately ordered the arrest of the fragrance seller.
When the fragrance seller was brought into court, the ruler instructed that the necklace be placed around his neck and he be hanged in front of his shop so that he becomes a lesson for others.
This was done and a royal decree was issued that this would be an end of those who displayed distrust when it came to the property of others. In the evening, this necklace was once again returned to the Haji and he returned home a happy man.
The actual name of the ruler mentioned in this incident is Khusroe bin Hasan. The title given to him was “Addud Daulah.” He was born in 324 A.H. and died in 372 A.H. He was among those who had captured the city of Baghdad. He ruled Mosul, Iran, etc. This is the first person in Islamic history who was given the title of “Shahen Shah”. He was considered a very powerful and mighty individual and took a great interest in constructing new buildings. He had also built a large hospital which was named after him. He had many bridges built and had also built a large wall around the blessed city of Madina Shareef.
(Al ‘Alaam, Al Kamil ibn Atheer, Sayr ‘Alaam al-Nubala, Taarikh Ibn Kallakan, Bidaayah wan Nihaayah.)
- Generally, people do not think it permissible to cancel the bargain after it has been settled even though both parties are present there, but this is not correct.
- Truthfulness is a means of blessings in the business while falsehood and hiding of any defect of the merchandise detract from its blessings.