Among the signs of truthfulness is tranquility in the heart. And among the signs of falsehood or a lie is the restlessness (reeba; which also means doubt) of the heart. As reported in Tirmidhi: Al-Hasan ibn 'Ali reported that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: "Truthfulness is tranquility, and lying is restlessness" (Tirmidhi, graded hasan sahih).

The two sound collections report on the authority of Abdallah ibn Mas'ud that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: "Verily, truthfulness leads to righteousness (birr), and righteousness leads to the Garden. A man speaks truths until he is written with Allah as a truthful person (siddiq). Lying leads to wickedness (fujur), and wickedness to the Fire. A man lies until he is written with Allah as a liar" (Bukhari, Muslim).

Hakim ibn Hizam, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: "The buyer and the seller have the choice (to revoke the deal) until they part. If they were truthful (while making the deal) and clear, they are blessed, and if they Bed and concealed, the blessing of their transaction is eliminated" (Bukhari, Muslim).

The Essence of Truthfulness

'Abdalwahid ibn Zayd said: "Truthfulness is to be loyal to Allah in deed." Another said: "It is the agreement of the inside with one's words." It has also been said: "It is the identity of the secret and the evident.The outside of a disbeliever or a hypocrite is better than his inside." It has also been said: "Truthfulness is to proclaim the truth even at occasions of great harm."

Al-Junayd said: "The truthful person changes (his state) 40 times a day, while an ostentatious person stays on the same state for 40 years." These words need explanation, for it appears to contradict commonsense. But what Al-Shaykh Abu'l-Qasim [al-Junayd] means is different, and is correct. For the thoughts and objections that occur to the truthful do not occur to the liar. Even Shaytan does not interfere with the liar too much, for there is no good inside of a liar to begin with which he would want to corrupt. The truthful is challenged by these objections or threats, and moves from one action to another, one state to the next, fearing complacency and losing his ultimate goal, Allah. This is the state of the one truthful in seeking Allah. Similar is the case with one who is truthful in seeking knowledge, or this world, and so on. Anyone who is truthful in his search is never stationary at the same state.

Al-Sadiq, truthful, is one whose goal truly is the pleasure of his Lord, fulfillment of His commands, and the following of the path that He loves. He follows these aims no matter where they take him. You will find him now in remembrance of Allah, now in battle, now in performance of Hajj, now in benefiting people through teaching and other ways, now in commanding good and forbidding wrong, now in establishing some cause which helps the Deen of Allah as well as this-worldly benefit, now in visiting the sick or following a funeral, now in helping the oppressed if possible, and so on. Such a person is constantly in a state of separation (tafarruq) while also being in the state of concentration (jam 'iyyah). They are not owned by any formalities, customs, or forms in worshipping God. They have no one place where they will pray to the exclusion of any other; no one clothing that they will wear to the exclusion of any other (wool or cotton or any particular robe). They have no one particular form of worship that they will do to the exclusion of others. For in such formalities (that many people have invented) there is calamity, ostentation, artificiality, worshipping of one's own self rather than God, and preference of one's one desire rather than God's command. These ailments have obstructed those who adopt these limitations from their journey to Allah, the Most High. They become prisoners of their forms, and consider it below their level to perform certain acts of worship, and fear that people will look down upon them, neglecting their downfall in the eyes of God.

Among them (such Sufis or worshippers), there are those who sense this sickness in their state, yet the prison of their formalities, outer forms, and outfits never permits them to correct this sickness. This is the case with the liar and the ostentatious, who shows to people other than what he knows of himself before God. This is the very essence of hypocrisy. Were he to work for God's pleasure and be truthful, those formalities and limits would become unbearable for him. Thus, the statement of Abu'l-Qasim al-Junayd is correct and grounded in truth, for he knew the depth of the soul and its afflictions and the ways in which truth becomes confused with falsehood. The bearing of truth is like the bearing of a huge mountain-none but those given determination and strength can manage it.They stand under it unsettled) like one who is lifting a heavy load. While the ostentatious liars carry nothing and thus sense no burden.

[On the essence of truthfulness] another said: "One who flatters oneself or another person cannot so much as smell truthfulness."

Ibrahim al-Khawwas (d. 292 AH) said: "A truthful person is one whom you see not except performing an obligation or seeking higher status through a supererogatory act."

Al-Junayd said: "The essence of truthfulness is that you tell the truth at the occasion where nothing but lying would have saved you."

It has also been said: "Three things never part a truthful person: Sweetness [of being truthful], saltiness [of consequences], and awe [of the Truth-God]." One divine report (athar ilaahi) has it: "Whoever is truthful to Me in his secrecy, I am truthful to him [about My promise of support and honor] in public before My creation."

Sahl ibn 'Abdullah al-Tustari (d. 283 AH) said: "The first dishonesty of a truthful person is their inner conversation." [Presumably, he means inner conversation that involved some falsehood.]

Yusuf ibn Isbaat said: "That I spend one night in which I am truthful toward Allah is dearer to me than wielding my sword in God's way."

Al-Harith al-Muhasabi said: "Truthful is one whose heart is so sound that he cares not to lose any and all regard in people's hearts. Nor does he care to make known to people even the lightest of his righteous deeds. Nor does he dislike that people come to know his shortcomings, for that dislike would suggest that he loves to gain regard in their eyes, and that is not a sign of the truthful." [Ibn al-Qayyim comments:] This assertion is questionable, however, for one's dislike that people know of one's evils is similar to one's dislike for illness or other calamities-it is natural, and does not negate one's truthfulness, especially if one is a role model for others.

A righteous person can dislike publicizing his shortcomings for two harms:

  1. Because that may lead people to no longer have a righteous role model which would be a loss if one is a role model in righteousness.
  2. Because the ignorant among those who look up to him as a role model may follow him even in his errors if they come to know of it.

What negates truthfulness is if one dislikes publicizing his errors due to self-aggrandizement. If one's dislike is due to his love for God's commands, to spread [knowledge] of His path, and the commanding of good and forbidding of wrong, such a person is indeed truthful and God alone knows the secrets of hearts and their true aims. I think that this is, indeed, the meaning of Al-Muhasabi's statement.

One of them said: "If one does not observe the timeless obligation, timed obligations are not accepted from him." When asked what the "timeless obligation" was, he said: "Truthfulness."

It has been said: "Whoever asks Allah for truthfulness is given a mirror whereby he is shown truth and falsehood."

It has also been said: "You must be truthful when you fear that it will hurt you, for it really will benefit. And you must desist from lying when you think that it will harm you, for it will not."


Article provided by Al Jumuah Magazine, a monthly Muslim lifestyle publication, which addresses the religious concerns of Muslim families across the world.

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  Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured  Values: Honesty, Integrity, Trustworthiness, Truthfulness
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