His Truthfulness (Sidk) and Straightforwardness (Istiqamah)

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How was the truthfulness of prophet muhammad? How was the straightforwardness of prophet muhammad? What is the sidk in islam? What is the istiqamah in islam?

The Arabic word sidk means righteousness, trustworthiness, straightforwardness, and being within the limits of reason and religion. Sidk means compliance of the words with the mind and compliance of the information with the informed. Truthfulness must not only be in words but in intention, will, determination, and action as well. Straightforwardness (istiqamah), on the other hand, is to stay on the right path and to live according to the commands. Kidhb or falsehood is the opposite of sidk. While opposite of istiqamah is crookedness, which means to leave the truth, to violate justice and what is right, and not to keep one’s word.

Truthfulness is the most important basis of Islam and one of the loftiest characteristics of a believer. It is the strongest handle to hold for salvation. Therefore, we need to revive truthfulness in our inner worlds, which is the foundation of our social life, and treat our spiritual illnesses through it.

Islam gives an exceptional importance for being righteous, not telling lies, and being straightforward. Truthfulness is the first and foremost characteristic of a righteous believer.

“Truthfulness” and “straightforwardness” are two spiritual qualities that combine other moral qualities. Those who believe in Allah, His angels, and His scriptures; and those who spend their possessions on their relatives, orphans, the poor, wayfarers, beggars, slaves and captives; and those who perform their ritual prayers, give their alms, keep their promises, and be patient are characterized as God-fearing and devout believers. They are also mentioned as the straightforward believers’ common characteristic. (al-Baqara 2; 177 – al-Ahzab 33; 35) A believers’ greatest ideal is also mentioned in the Qur’an as “sirat al-mustaqim” or being on the straight path.

Allah the Almighty informed His Messenger (pbuh) which religion He had chosen for His servants and warned them in the following verse:

“Therefore stand firm (in the straight path) as you are commanded, you and those who with you turn (unto Allah); and transgress not (from the path): for he sees well all that you do.” (Hud 11; 112) In other words, Allah the Almighty says: “O Prophet! You need to be a paradigm on the straight path for your ummah by living in accordance with the Qur’anic ethics and regulations so that there should remain no doubts about you. Do not listen to what infidels and polytheists say about you. Leave them to your Lord. Be straight in your actions, be they personal or public. No matter how hard performing your duty might be do not be afraid of the obstacles before conveying, applying, and executing your duty. Your Lord is your Helper.” (Elmalılı, IV, 2829-2830)

Living a trustworthy life within the prescribed limits requires great seriousness, sensibility and effort. This is not an easy thing to do. In fact, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said in respect to the above mentioned verse: “Surat Hud (chapter 11) made me older.” (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 56/6; Qurtubi, IX, 107)

Abdullah b. Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) said in regards to this prophetic saying:

“There is no other commandment to the Prophet in the Qur’an harder than this one.” (Nawawi, Sharhu Sahih-i Muslim, II, 9)

Even though this verse is addressed to the Prophet (pbuh), he was not worried about his own straightforwardness; because his straightforwardness was divinely confirmed in the verse: “(O Prophet) You are on a straight path.” (Yasin 36; 4) What made him grow older was his worry about his ummah because the command in the verse comprised all the believers. As Esad Efendi explained:

“Those who are not on the straight path will perish, be they scholars or sufi masters. If your back did not become crooked from the weight of the straight path, would the arrow of desire hit the target of Divine nearness?” (Diwan, p. 27)

In another verse, Allah the Almighty warns His servants as follows:

“Verily, this is my way, leading straight: follow it: follow not (other) paths: they will scatter you about from his (great) path: thus does He command you, that you may be righteous.” (al-An’am 6; 153) Because regret felt in old ages might not be enough to clear a life full of mistakes. Life is a period of time long enough only to live a straight life.

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was the most straightforward of all people. Even his most ferocious enemies, such as Abu Jahl, Ahnas b. Sharik, Nadr b. Harith, and Abu Sufyan, who later converted to Islam, had to confess this reality.[1] Never a word other than truth came out of his mouth. Even when he was telling a joke, he did not lie.

Allah’s Apostle (pbuh), who lived his entire life on the straight path as commanded by Allah the Almighty, asked his ummah to be on the straight path and often emphasized the significance of this matter. He (pbuh) said that “even if you will not be able to achieve fully, try to be straight as much as you can.”

It is narrated on the authority of Sufyan b. Abdullah al-Thaqafi that he said:

“I asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) to tell me one thing about Islam which might dispense with the necessity of my asking anybody other than you. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) remarked:

“Say I affirm my faith in Allah and then remain steadfast to it.” (Muslim, Iman, 62)

One should first be honest with Allah the Almighty and be on the straight path. Before everything else he should be loyal to his covenant with Allah and be sincere in his feelings, thoughts, intentions, and words. We should also be very careful about our vows, words, and actions done in His name. In this respect, the Prophet (pbuh) taught and directed his companions. The following mentioned incident is related to this issue:

“Aisha (r.a.) departed with some women from Medina to find out what had happened at Uhud. She met Hind b. Amr at a place called Harra. Hind was taking her husband Amr b. Jamuh, her son Khallad, and her brother Abdullah’s bodies loaded on a camel. Aisha (r.a.) asked:

“How is the situation back at the battlefield?” She replied:

“Well. Allah’s Messenger is fine. When he is fine, all troubles mean nothing to us.” Pointing at the bodies on the camel, Aisha (r.a.) asked:

“Who are these?” Hind said:

“My brother Abdullah, my son Khallad, and my husband Amr.” Aisha asked again:

“Where are you taking them?

“To Medina. I will bury them there.” When she forced her camel to walk, the camel knelt down. Aisha (r.a.) asked:

“Did it kneel down because of its load?” Hind (r.a.) answered:

“I do not know. It could carry twice as much as this. But I feel there is something different with it.” She forced the camel to get t up, but it knelt down when they turned towards Medina. When it was directed to Uhud it began to run. Later Hind (r.a.) narrated the incident to the Prophet (pbuh). Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) asked her:

“Your camel is a servant. Has Amr had any bequest?” Hind replied:

“When Amr wanted to go Uhud, he turned towards Qiblah and prayed: O Allah! Bless me with martyrdom. Do not let me come back to my family sad and destitute.” Emphasizing the significance of loyalty to Allah the Almighty Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said that:

“This was why your camel was not walking. O People of Ansar! Whoever among you vows to Allah should fulfill the requirements of his promise. O Hind! Your husband Amr was a faithful servant. When he was martyred angels shaded him with their wings and looked at where he was going to be buried. O Hind! Amr b. Jamuh, your son Hallad, and your brother Abdullah will come together and be friends in Paradise.” Hearing this good news Hind (r.a.) requested from Allah’s Messenger (pbuh):

“O Messenger of Allah! Please pray Allah for me to make me join them.” (Waqidi, I, 264-265; Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, III, 216; Ibn Abdilbarr, III, 1168)

Allah the Almighty gives the following good news to such faithful servants: “In the case of those who say, Our Lord is Allah, and, further, stand straight and steadfast, the angels descend on them (from time to time): Fear you not! (They suggest), nor grieve! But receive the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), which you were promised! We are your protectors in this life and in the Hereafter: therein shall you have all that your souls shall desire; therein shall you have all that you ask for! A hospitable gift from One Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!” (Fussilat 41; 30-32)

They will neither be afraid nor worried in the horror of the doomsday. This state is asserted by Allah the Almighty in the Qur’an as follows:

“Verily those who say, Our Lord is Allah, and remain firm (on that Path), on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. Such shall be Companions of the Garden, dwelling therein (for aye): a recompense for their (good) deeds.” (al-Ahkaf 46; 13-14)

Honesty of tongue and heart occupy a very important place in truthfulness. The heart is the ruler of all the other limbs of the body. A body, which owns a heart believing in One God, is a place of peace and happiness. If one’s heart is straight then all his other organs will be straight, too. The tongue is the interpreter of the heart. Its straightness and crookedness affects other parts of the body. In a prophetic saying it is stated that:

“When a person wakes up in the morning, all the limbs goes to the tongue and say: Fear Allah in regards to protect our rights. We will only get punished because of the things that you have said. We are bound up to you. If you are straight we become straight, too. And if you are crooked and go astray, we follow you and become just like you.” (Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 61) In another saying in this respect the Prophet (pbuh) said that:

“A servant’s faith cannot be right unless his heart is straight. His heart cannot be straight unless his tongue is straight.” (Ibn Hanbal, III, 198)

Truthfulness causes improvement of the person’s state and his/her sins to be pardoned. Oft-Forgiving and Most Benevolent Allah the Almighty orders in the Qur’an:

“O you who believe fear Allah, and (always) say a word directed to the Right: That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins: he that obeys Allah and His Messenger, has already attained the highest Achievement.” (al-Ahzab 33; 70-71)

Ka’b b. Malik, who was forgiven by Allah the Almighty because of his truthfulness, said that:

“By Allah, Allah has never bestowed upon me, apart from His guiding me to Islam, a Greater blessing than the fact that I did not tell a lie to Allah’s Apostle which would have caused me to perish as those who have told a lie perished, for Allah described those who told lies with the worst description He ever attributed to anybody else. Allah said:

“They will swear to you by Allah, when you return to them, that you may leave them alone. So leave them alone: for they are an abomination, and Hell is their dwelling place, a fitting recompense for the (evil) that they did. They will swear unto you, that you may be pleased with them. But if you are pleased with them, Allah is not pleased with those who disobey.” (al-Tawba 9; 95-96)” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 79)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) stated that truthfulness is one of the principles which determines a person’s end as follows:

“Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. And a man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes a truthful person. Falsehood leads to Al-Fajur (i.e. wickedness, evil-doing), and Al-Fajur (wickedness) leads to the (Hell) Fire, and a man may keep on telling lies till he is written before Allah, a liar.” (Bukhari, Adab, 69)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) emphasized the importance of the tongue and speech and warned his companions about its disasters. When Sufyan b. Abdullah (r.a.) asked:

“O Messenger of Allah! What is the worst thing you worried about me?” He (pbuh) held his tongue and said:

“This is.” (Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 61)

A believer should live on the straight path and never give up telling the truth. If he lives according to this principle, he will be freed from worries and tension and will be truthful even in his dreams. This is stated by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) as follows: “…And the truest vision will be of one who is himself the most truthful in speech…” (Muslim, Ru’ya, 6)

Jalal al-Din Rumi (q.s.) states that a person should be like a mirror and be balanced in regards to truthfulness and says:

“How shall mirror and scales stop their breath (suppress the truth) for fear of hurting and shaming someone? Mirror and scales are such noble touchstones that if you do service to them for two hundred years and then say to the mirror, ‘I served you so much, so please do not display my ugliness” and say to the scales “I am begging you, please conceal the truth for my sake, display the surplus and do not display the deficiency,’ They will say to you,

‘O pathetic! Do not make everyone laugh at you and ridicule yourself. Since Allah has raised us up in order that by means of us it may be possible to know the truth, If this do not happen (if we fail to display the truth), what worth have we, O young man? How shall we become a standard for the face of the fair?’” (Mathnawi, I, verses: 3546-3551)

Truthfulness occupies an important place in our social life, too. Its significant place in commercial transactions should especially be emphasized. It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) happened to pass by a heap of wheat. He thrust his hand in that heap and his fingers were moistened. He asked the owner:

“What is this?” He replied:

“O Messenger of Allah! These have been drenched by rainfall. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) remarked:

“Why did you not place the drenched part of the heap over so that the people could see it? He who deceives is not of me (is not my follower).” (Muslim, Iman, 164)

In the following verse, Allah the Almighty commands the believers to deal with the disbelievers justly especially if they are truthful:

“…So long as they are true to you, be true to them…” (al-Tawba 9; 7)

Being faithful and living on the straight path is a really difficult task to do. Our Lord Almighty shows us the method to alleviate the difficulty of this task as follows: “…be with the truthful.” (al-Tawba 9; 119) In order to learn truthfulness, a believer should be with the truthful. As long as their togetherness continues, the believer begins to resemble them. Even if he cannot be completely like them, at least he could protect himself from evil.

One could achieve high ranks by being with the truthful. Even the dog of the fellows of the cave (Ashab al-Kahf) is mentioned in the Qur’an and its name is eternalized for its loyalty. It is also impossible to achieve salvation just by one’s own actions. However, if one’s intention is honest, Allah’s endless mercy will reach him/her and then he/she can prosper.

[1] Bukhari, Bad’ul Wahy, 6; Muslim, Jihad, 74; Tabari, Tafsir, VII, 240; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya, III, 113.

Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş,  Erkam Publications

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