One of the repeating themes in our weekly reminders is on the mannerisms that exemplify a Muslim. As mentioned in previous reminders, there is one thing performing the acts of worship such as prayers and fasting for example, and then there is the every day behaviours, mannerisms and action which distinguish a Muslim from others.
One of these is the integrity that a Muslim demonstrates in their everyday actions. This is demonstrated through honesty, trustworthiness and keeping of promises or pledges that we make.
The imam outlined two types of pledges or promises that we make. There is the first one which is the pledge we make with Allah SWT and then the pledge we make in our everyday dealings with other people.
In regards to the first pledge, the imam reminded us of the 40th ayat of Sura Al-Baqara which is translated to say:
O children of Israel! Remember My favours upon you. Fulfil your covenant and I will fulfil Mine, and stand in awe of Me ˹alone˺.
And he reminded us of Al-Ahzab, ayat 23 which is translated to say:
Among the believers are men who have proven true to what they pledged to Allah.1 Some of them have fulfilled their pledge ˹with their lives˺, others are waiting ˹their turn˺. They have never changed ˹their commitment˺ in the least.
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to be mindful that any promise or pledge we make is one that needs to be upheld, but especially when we implore Allah SWT for His help and we make promises to do something in return or to perform some act of worship or gratitude, we should be especially careful to do our part of the pledge or promise.
The second type of pledge or promise is that we make to one another. The imam reminded us of ayat 8 from Sura Al-Muminoon which is translated to say:
˹the believers are also˺ those who are true to their trusts and covenants;
And the imam also reminded us of a hadith in reference to this. It is translated to say:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie; and whenever he promises, he breaks his promise; and whenever he is entrusted, he betrays (proves to be dishonest)”.
Dear brothers and sisters, we conclude then with a breakdown of the 3 characteristics mentioned in the hadith with reminders on how each can be avoided.
The first was the mention of being entrusted with something and betraying that trust. The dictionary defines this as ‘to do something very bad and hurtful to someone that causes loss of respect.”
This can range from the obvious such as stealing from somebody but most of us here may think we are in the clear with this one. However, other dangers that fall into this category, as mentioned last week, are causing hurt from the tongue in what is said about one another. We live in a time and a place where gossip, backbiting and slander is seen as the norm in society.
We need to remind ourselves that if we are going behind someone’s back and speaking ill of them then this is a betrayal of that persons trust and thus we are in danger of falling into this category.
The second point is when someone speaks, he tells a lie. Dear brothers and sisters, we have had reminders in the past about this point as it is an important reminder. However, it is worth mentioning here that in the current time and place, we often convince ourselves to lie because the pressure of conforming to the norms of society means that we lie to fit in.
This is a difficult one, for example, if a friend approaches us and is wearing something new and asks our opinion. We may think that the item is inappropriate for a Muslim to be wearing but for fear of hurting their feeling or sounding uncool, we will say what they want to hear.
This is a test of our times. Our opinion may not be the popular ones in todays time and place. However, we cannot sell ourselves short in the pursuit of being popular or the same as the majority because we are at risk of hypocrisy if we do.
The third example, to prove treacherous when making a covenant is a reminder for those of us who deal in business. Unfortunately, it is a fact that when people speak of those in countries from where our heritage lies, it is normally synonymous with scams, fraud and deception.
This is a shame because Muslims ought to be the beacon of trust, honour and a promise being kept true at all times. Therefore, we need to be resolute in business here and ensure that we do not wrong anyone in business and that those who do business with Muslims do so in the confidence that they will never be short-changed in any way.
Dear brothers and sisters, our mannerisms and our conduct is what defines us as Muslim in the eyes of others. Let us use todays’ reminder to bring integrity and honesty in the pledges and promises we make to one another so that we are known for this trait and Islam is synonymous with integrity and truthfulness.