Honesty and fulfillment of Trusts
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
Honesty and trustworthiness are the most distinctive features that act as excellent examples and directly relate to social relations. Before he was commissioned as prophet, the Holy Prophet (S) had been well-known for his honesty and trustworthiness—two features that greatly and positively influenced the movement of the Islamic promulgation.
Giving much emphasis to these two features and showing their significance, the Holy Qur'an enjoined Muslims to be characterized by them, warned against violating them, described, on more than one occasion, the faithful believers as carrying them, and even described the Prophets as carrying them. It has thus said: Those who faithfully observe their trusts and their covenants. (23:8)
Also mention in the Book the story of Isma’il. He was strictly true to what he promised and he was a messenger and a prophet. (19:54)
For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast and deny themselves, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. (33:35)
Shaykh al-Kulayni, in al-Kafi, has reported through a valid chain of authority that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said: Verily, Almighty Allah has never sent any prophet except that he be honest and fulfill the trusts of all people, be they righteous or sinful.1
Ishaq ibn ‘Ammar and others have reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying: Do not be deceived by their prayers and fasting, for they have habituated themselves to performing prayers and observing fasting so customarily that they will feel desolate if they neglect them. Yet, you should test them through honesty and fulfillment of trusts.¯2
‘Amr ibn Abi’l-Miqdam has reported that in his first visit to him, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said to him, Learn how to be honest before you study hadith.¯3
Abu-Kahmas has reported that when he conveyed the greetings of ‘Abdullah ibn Abi-Ya’fur to Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), the Imam (‘a) said: Peace be upon you and him. When you visit ‘Abdullah, convey my greetings and say to him, “Ja’far ibn Muhammad says, ‘Consider the matters due to which ‘Ali (‘a) attained such a supreme position with the Messenger of Allah (S) and then commit yourselves to them. In fact, ‘Ali (‘a) attained the position that he attained with the Messenger of Allah (S) due to two things: honesty and fulfillment of trusts.’”¯4
‘Abdullah ibn Abi-Ya’fur has reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying: Act as heralds to goodness in the milieus of people by other means than your tongues (i.e. speech) so that they can become aware of your diligence, honesty, and piety.¯5
To be straightforward, steadfast, and resolute in work is one of the features of those who play the role of excellent examples in society, because it has a big bearing on the building of man’s personality and the development and establishment of good social relations with others.
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have called the attentions to this feature when they advised their followers to endure and continue on a certain work for one year at least so that the others would not think of them as unsteady and irregular. Besides, the results of any deed cannot come to sight in a short period; therefore, it is necessary to be patient and wait so that one can learn with certainty whether this deed is valid or invalid.
In al-Kafi, Shaykh al-Kulayni, through a valid chain of authority, has reported Imam al-Baqir (‘a) as saying: The most cherished deed in the sight of Almighty Allah is the work in which a servant persists, no matter how little it may be.¯6
Through another valid chain of authority, Shaykh al-Kulayni has reported Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (‘a) to have said: I do love to keep doing a certain work, no matter how little it may be.7
I surely would love that when I meet my Lord, I will have been constant in my work.¯8
Through their guidelines and advice, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have aimed at building a virtuous community and excellent examples in Muslim society. They have sometimes directed their partisans towards the necessity of adorning themselves with the highest Islamic moral standards that represent this excellent example and, on other occasions, condemned them for showing vicious traits.
Let us now refer to some pieces of discourse in which the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have depicted the picture of true Shi’ah and sublime excellent examples in the virtuous community.
Hamran ibn A’yun has quoted Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as narrating the following account: Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (‘a) was sitting in his house when the door was knocked. He asked one of his bondmaids to open the door. “We are a group of your Shi’ah,” they shouted from behind the door.
As soon as he heard this statement, the Imam (‘a) jumped so hurriedly that he was about to fall down. When he opened the door, he moved back and said: You are lying. Where are the marks on the faces? Where are the signs of worship? Where are the features of prostration? Our Shi’ah are only those who are characterized by much worship and shagginess. Their noses are impaired due to worshipping, and their foreheads, as well as the other organs of prostration, are effaced. Their stomachs are atrophied and their lips are withered. Worship has changed their faces, staying up at nights has fatigued them, and hot weather has affected their bodies. They praise Almighty Allah when other people are silent, offer prayers when other people are asleep, and are sad when other people are happy. Their distinctive feature is asceticism, their wording is mercy and their main concern is (how to win) Paradise.¯9
Jabir (ibn ‘Abdullah) has reported Imam al-Baqir (‘a) as saying to him, O Jabir, the true Shi’ah of ‘Ali (‘a) are only those whose voices do not exceed their hearings and detestations do not exceed their bodies. They neither praise those who detest us, nor have regard for those who hate us, nor associate with those who revile us. The true Shi’ah of ‘Ali (‘a) do not bark like dogs, covet like crows, or beg people openly even if they starve. Their earnings are hardly sufficient. Their dwellings are roving. When they are present, they are not recognized. When they are absent, they are not missed. When they are sick, nobody visits them. When they die, nobody participates in their funeral ceremonies. They exchange visits in their graves.
Jabir asked, “Where can I find such people?”
The Imam (‘a) answered, You will find them living in the outskirts among the marts. They are those intended in Allah’s saying, “They are humble towards the believers and dignified before the unbelievers. (5:54)”¯10
Ab-Basir has reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying: Our Shi’ah are the people of piety, diligence, faithfulness, and honesty. They are also the people of asceticism and worship. They offer fifty-one units of prayer in a single day and night. They pass their nights with worship and their days with fasting. They purify their wealth, go on pilgrimage to the House of God, and refrain from committing any forbidden act.¯11
Ibn Abi-Najran has reported that he heard Imam al-Ridha (‘a) saying: Whoever antagonizes our Shi’ah is antagonizing us and whoever shows loyalty to them is showing loyalty to us, because they are part of us. They were created from the same clay from which we were created. He who loves them is one of us, but he who hates them does not belong to us. Our Shi’ah see through the light of Almighty Allah, move about in the mercy of Him, and will win the dignity of Him. We feel the same pains that any one of our Shi’ah feels during ailment, we become grieved whenever any of them becomes grieved, and we feel happy whenever any of them feels happy. No one of our Shi’ah can be out of our auspices, whether he was in the east or the west of the earth. The debt that is left by any one of our Shi’ah is in our responsibility while the estate is his heirs’.
Our Shi’ah are those who perform the prayers, defray the zakat tax, go on the Hajj Pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah, observe fasting during the month of Ramadhan, declare their loyalty to the Prophet’s household, and declare their disavowal of the enemies of them.
Those are the people of faith and God-fearing, and the people of piety and devoutness. He who rejects them is rejecting Allah, and he who defames them is speaking ill of Allah, because they are the true servants and the genuine disciples of Him. By Allah I swear, each individual of them will be granted (on the Day of Resurrection) the right to intercede for as many people as the individuals of the tribes of Rabi’ah and Mudhar. This is Almighty Allah’s honor to them.¯12
To end, let us present this admirably superb discourse, known as the description of the God-fearing, in which Imam ‘Ali (‘a) describes the partisans of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). A few paragraphs of this discourse have been previously cited within the particularities of the virtuous community.¯13
Now then, Allah the Glorified, the Sublime, created (the things of) creation. He created them without any need for their obedience or harm from their sinning, because the sin of anyone who sins does not harm Him nor does the obedience of anyone who obeys Him benefit Him. He has distributed among them their livelihood, and has assigned them their positions in the world. Thus, the God-fearing in it are the people of distinction. Their speech is to the point, their dress is moderate and their gait is humble. They keep their eyes closed to what Allah has made unlawful for them, and they put their ears to that knowledge which is beneficial to them. They remain in the time of trials as though they remain in comfort. If there had not been fixed periods (of life) ordained for each, their spirits would not have remained in their bodies even for the twinkling of an eye because of (their) eagerness for the reward and fear of chastisement. The greatness of the Creator is seated in their heart, and, so, everything else appears small in their eyes.
Thus to them Paradise is as though they see it and are enjoying its favors.1 To them, Hell is also as if they see it and are suffering punishment in it. Their hearts are sorrowful, they are protected against evils, their bodies are thin, their needs are scanty, and their souls are chaste. They endured (hardship) for a short while, and in consequence they secured comfort for a long time. It is a beneficial transaction that Allah made easy for them. The world aimed at them, but they did not aim at it. It captured them, but they freed themselves from it by a ransom. During a night they are upstanding on their feet reading portions of the Qur'an and reciting it in a well-measured way, creating through it grief for themselves and seeking by it the cure for their ailments.
If they come across a verse creating eagerness (for Paradise) they pursue it avidly, their spirits turn towards it eagerly, and they feel as if it is in front of them. And when they come across a verse, which contains fear (of Hell), they bend the ears of their hearts towards it, and feel as though the sound of Hell and its cries are reaching their ears. They bend themselves from their backs, prostrate themselves on their foreheads, their palms, their knees and their toes, and beseech Allah, the Sublime, for their deliverance. During the day, they are enduring, learned, virtuous and God-fearing.
Fear (of Allah) has made them thin like arrows. If any one looks at them, he believes they are sick, although they are not sick, and he says that they have gone mad. In fact, great concern (i.e., fear) has made them mad. They are not satisfied with their meager good acts, and do not regard their major acts as great. They always blame themselves and are afraid of their deeds. When anyone of them is spoken of highly, he says: “I know myself better than others, and my Lord knows me better than I know. O Allah do not deal with me according to what they say, and make me better than they think of me and forgive me (those shortcomings) which they do not know.
The peculiarity of anyone of them is that you will see that he has strength in religion, determination along with leniency, faith with conviction, eagerness in (seeking) knowledge, with forbearance, moderation in riches, devotion in worship, gracefulness in starvation, endurance in hardship, desire for the lawful, pleasure in guidance and hatred from greed. He performs virtuous deeds but still feels afraid. In the evening, he is anxious to offer thanks (to Allah). In the morning, his anxiety is to remember (Allah). He passes the night in fear and rises in the morning in joy — fear lest night is passed in forgetfulness, and joy over the favor and mercy received by him. If his self refuses to endure a thing that it does not like, he does not grant its request towards what it likes. The coolness of his eye lies in what is to last forever, while from the things (of this world) that will not last he keeps aloof. He transfuses knowledge with forbearance, and speech with action.
You will see his hopes simple, his shortcomings few, his heart fearing, his spirit contented, his meal small and simple, his religion safe, his desires dead and his anger suppressed. Good alone is expected from him. Evil from him is not to be feared. Even if he is found among those who forget (Allah) he is counted among those who remember (Him), but if he is among the rememberers he is not counted among the forgetful. He forgives him who is unjust to him, and he gives to him who deprives him.
He behaves well with him who behaves ill with him. Indecent speech is far from him, his utterance is lenient, his evils are non-existent his virtues are ever present, his good is ahead and mischief has turned its face (from him). He is dignified during calamities, patient in distresses, and thankful during ease. He does not commit excess over him whom he hates, and does not commit sin for the sake of him whom he loves. He admits truth before evidence is brought against him. He does not misappropriate what is placed in his custody, and does not forget what he is required to remember.
He does not call others bad names, he does not cause harm to his neighbor, he does not feel happy at others misfortunes, he does not enter into wrong and does not go out of right. If he is silent, his silence does not grieve him, if he laughs, he does not raise his voice, and if he is wronged, he endures until Allah takes revenge on his behalf. His own self is in distress because of him, while the people are in ease from him. He puts himself in hardship for the sake of his next life, and makes people feel safe from himself. His keeping away from others is by way of asceticism and purification, and his nearness to those to whom he is near is by way of leniency and mercifulness. His keeping away is not by way of vanity or feeling of greatness, nor his nearness by way of deceit and cheating.¯14
1. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:104, H. 1.
2. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:104, H. 2.
3. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:104, H. 4.
4. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:104, H. 5.
5. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:513, H. 1.
6. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:82, H. 2.
7. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:82, H. 4.
8. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:82, H. 5.
9. - ‘Allamah ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 65:169, H. 30.
10. - ‘Allamah ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 65:168, H. 28.
11. - Shaykh al-Saduq, Sifat al-Shi’ah, pp. 2; ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:167, H. 33 as quoted from the previous reference book.
12. - ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 65:167, H. 25.
13. - Al-Karachaki in his book of Kanz al-Fawa'id has reported on the authority of Abu-Hamzah al-Thumali on the authority of Yahya ibn Ummi’l-Tawil that Nawf al-Bakkali said:
I have had some requests to be granted by the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib (‘a). Therefore, I sent to him Jundab ibn Zuhayr, al-Rabi’ ibn Khuthaym, and his nephew Hammam ibn ‘Abadah ibn Khuthaym, who was well-known for asceticism and devoutness. We all thus came to meet Imam ‘Ali (‘a) who was about to leave to lead a congregational prayer in the mosque. Followed by us, he directed towards a group of people, who seemed to be indulging in luxury, exchanging jokes and amusing each other. When they knew that Imam ‘Ali (‘a) was approaching them, they stood up hurriedly and greeted him. The Imam (‘a) responded to their greeting and asked, “Who are you?” “We are a group from your Shi’ah,” they answered. “O group,” the Imam (‘a) said, “Why can I see neither the marks of Shi’ism nor the adornment of bearing love for us—the Ahl al-Bayt—on your appearances?” Embarrassed, they could not find any answer.
Then Jundab and al-Rabi’ approached the Imam (‘a) and asked, “O Commander of the Faithful, what are the marks and specifications of your Shi’ah?” Showing no desire to answer them, the Imam (‘a) said, “O two men, fear Allah and do good deeds, for Allah is with those who fear Him and those who do good deeds.”
Hammam ibn ‘Abadah, who was diligently devoted to worship, said to him “O Commander of the Faithful, I beseech you in the Name of Him Who has conferred honor upon all of you—the Ahl al-Bayt—and given you exclusively and endowed you with special favors, please tell us about the specifications of your Shi’ah.”
“Do not put me under an oath,” the Imam (‘a) said, “I will tell you all about these specifications.”
The Imam then took Hammam from the hand and led him to the mosque where he (‘a) offered a two-unit short prayer, sat down, turned his face towards us, and, encompassed by people from all sides, praised and thanked Almighty Allah and said,… (quoted from ‘Allamah al-Majlisi’s Bihar al-Anwar 65:192, H. 48).
14. - Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon No. 193.