- Trustworthiness: an Obligation with no Exceptions
- The Real Criteria for Belief
As discussed in Part 1, the rules of socialisation in Islam are as important, if not more important, than the rules of jurisprudence and worship. This is proven by many narrations some of which equate an act of social goodness (e.g. making a believer happy) to seventy acts of worship (e.g. Hajj). This shows the importance of social rules in Islam. It is through practising these social laws that we can attract non-Muslim towards Islam and become good examples and a source of pride for our Aimmah.
Islam is a religion which does not only legislate acts of worship. Rather, Islam has laws and rules for all aspects of life, especially the social aspects.
One common theme among the narrations we have about social rules is that one of the most important of these social rules is trustworthiness. This trait is always one of the first and foremost important traits that a believer is encouraged to practice. Of all the recommendations of our Imams (a.s) three traits are repeatedly mentioned as the core of Islam: “Piety, worshipping especial prostration, and be trustworthy.” (Wasaelu-Shi’a vol.12 p.8)
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهَا وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُمْ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَنْ تَحْكُمُوا بِالْعَدْلِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ نِعِمَّا يَعِظُكُمْ بِهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا
[ 4:58] Surely Allah commands you to make over trusts to their owners and that when you judge between people you judge with justice; surely Allah (SWT) admonishes you with what is excellent; surely Allah (SWT) is Seeing, Hearing.
Trustworthiness as mentioned in Surah 4 Ayah 58 has several meanings in different contexts. It can mean faith in the Unity of Allah, because this is fulfilling the trust of Allah, the Exalted. It can also mean belief in Imamah, because this is fulfilling the trust of the Imam, peace be upon him.
Trustworthiness also has a meaning in the social context, where it means to fulfil the trust that a person has been given. This trust may be wealth, such as when a person’s friend leaves money with them, or a bank lends money to a person. The trust may be a person’s health, such as when a doctor is looking after a patient. It can also means a student’s education for a teacher. There are many other examples of trust in everyday life, and in each case, the person who is expected to fulfil the trust is obligated to fulfil it in all circumstances.
Trustworthiness: an Obligation with no Exceptions
Certain social and jurisprudential rules may change due to emergency conditions. For instance, transaction of non-Halal meat is forbidden in Islam. However, some jurists allow selling a non-Halal beef to non-Muslims. Similarly lying is a mortal sin but not when necessary for a reconciliation.
Trustworthiness is an obligation without exceptions or limitations. When Muslims collect a trust they are bound to deliver it to its owner irrespectively. The following narrations are just a few evidence to this law:
Imam al-Sadiq (as) said: “Allah, the Glorified and Exalted, did not depute any prophet except with (teachings of) truthful speech and fulfilling the trusts, whether it is the trust of a good person or an evil person”.
[al-Kaafi vol2 p.104]
In another occasion it is narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (as): “There are three situations where Allah (swt) did not make any exceptions: respect to parents, keeping promises and fulfilling trusts”.
[al-Kaafi vol.2 p. 162]
In fact, in one narration narrated by Abu Hamza al-Thumali, Imam al-Sajjad (a.s) says that even if the killer of his father, Imam Husain (as), were to leave the sword with which he killed Imam Husain in Imam al-Sajjad’s trust, the Imam would give it back to him and fulfil the trust. A similar narration is narrated from Imam Hassan regarding the killer of Imam Ali, the Commander of the Faithful. [Beharul-anwaar vol.75 p.114]
In another example of the inclusiveness of this obligation, the Prophet (P) even returned a trust to a direct enemy. When the Muslims were fighting against the polytheists in Arabia, the Prophet (P) went to a polytheist called Safwan ibn Umayyah, whose business was to sell shields. The Prophet (P) asked him if he would lend him 70 shields to use in the war against the polytheists. Safwan, who knew the holy Prophet as Al-Amin (trustworthy) since the time of Jahiliyyah, said: ‘will I really get these shields back from you?’ The Prophet (P) answered: ‘It is a trust, which I guarantee’. After the war against the polytheists ended, the Prophet (P) returned all of the shields to Safwan ibn Umayyah. [Wasa’elu-Shi’a vol.19 p.92]
Taking these narrations into consideration, it becomes very clear that there is no excuse for the scams and tricks that some people use in order to obtain money by illegal means. People who take loans and leave the country or who use similar tricks to cheat banks or the government of people out of money have absolutely no excuse. These actions cannot be justified by saying that this is reclaiming booty for the Muslims or any other weak justification. There is absolutely no excuse for such actions and such actions are considered to be stealing in Islam.
Trustworthiness: the Real Criteria for Belief
The Ahlul Bayt (a.s) have taught us that if a person wants to be known as their real follower, they must be known within their community to be the most trustworthy person.
In another narration, Imam al-Sadiq (as) clearly states that believers should not be judged solely on their prayers, fasting and other ritualistic deeds. Rather, they should be judged according to their truthfulness and trustworthiness.
Ishaq ibn Ammar and others narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (as): “do not be deceived by their prayers and their fasting. A man may become so habituated to praying and fasting that he would feel strange if he did not perform them. Rather, examine them when it comes to truthfulness in speech and the fulfilling of trusts”.
[al-Kaafi vol.2 p.104]
We should keep their criteria in mind when it comes to making decisions in our lives and the lives of our family members. When someone proposes to ones daughter one needs to check his trustworthiness and truthfulness. Our child will be a trust in that person’s hands and we need to make sure that this person is trustworthy. Our criteria should not be family relations or country of origin, but real trustworthiness.