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Monday 20th of May 2019
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Allah mentions the avoidance of 'uncleanness of the idols

 

According to the corpus of traditions false testimony is a Greater sin. It is also mentioned in the narration of Abdul Azeem quoted from Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s.). Similarly the tradition of Fazl Ibne Shazaan includes it in the list of Greater sins as mentioned by Imam Reza (a.s.). That it is a Greater sin is also proved by the hadith of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as quoted by Amash. We have already mentioned in the chapter on "lying" that falsehood is a Greater sin. False testimony obivously is also a branch of falsehood.

In the tradition narrated by Hazrat Abdul Azeem, Imam (a.s.) has proved the 'greatness' of not giving false testimony on the basis of the following verse of the Holy Quran:
"And they who do not bear witness to what is false...."
(Surah Furqan 25:72)

"...These shall be regarded with high places..."
(Surah Furqan 25:75)

In this verse the word 'false' signifies the action of proving a falsehood as though it were the truth.

Another verse says,
"...therefore avoid the uncleanness of the idols and avoid false words."
(Surah Hajj 22:30)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,
"To testify falsely tantamounts to polytheism."

It is mentioned in Tafseer Abdul Fath Razi that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) repeated this statement thrice and then quoted the above ayat (Surah Hajj 22:30)

A similar kind of tradition is recorded in Mustadrakul Wasael, from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.).

"In the Quran Allah has compared false testimony to polytheism."

Allah mentions the avoidance of 'uncleanness of the idols' and 'false words' in a single verse, one after the other.

'False words' imply sin and false testimony

From the traditions quoted above it becomes clear that whenever the term 'false words' etc. occurs in Quran it implies 'lying.' Similar verses have been quoted in the chapter of music and songs. Hence some traditions state that 'false words' refers to music or songs. Actually the word 'false' stands for every evil, wrong and undesirable thing. Music, songs and lies head the list of these things.

Punishment of hell for the false witness

Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says,
"Whenever a person testifies falsely to usurp the property of a Muslim, Allah writes at that very moment a punishment of the blazing fire for this man."
(Al Kafi)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"The false witness may not even have moved from his place but that the punishment of fire will have already become incumbent for him."
(Al Kafi)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"False testimony before an oppressive ruler is not yet complete when a place in the fire (Hell) is already decided (for the false witness)."
(Al Kafi)

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"One who testifies falsely against someone will be hung by his tongue with the hypocrites in the lowest portion of Hell.

And if one usurps the property of his believing brother, Allah does not give an increase in his sustenance till he repents for it."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) narrates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said,
"One who hides testimony before a just Islamic judge, or gives a false testimony to shed the blood of Muslims or intends to usurp a Muslim's property by it, he shall be raised on the Day of the Judgment in such a condition that there will be darkness before his eyes and his face will be scratched. The people shall recognise him by these signs (that he had testified falsely)."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) asked,
"Shall I inform you about the Greater of the Great sins?"

The companions said, "Why not, O! Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.)." The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"To make someone a partner of Allah, and disobedience to parents..." The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was resting his back against the wall. Now he sat up straight and continued in a more serious tone, "And beware! (Every) Falsehood!"

The narrators say that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has denounced falsehood so many times that we wished he had not done so.
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

Since we have already explained that 'falsehood' includes every type of lying it also includes false testimony. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also described 'falsehood' to be a Greater sin. False testimony is a manifold sin. Firstly because it is a lie which is a greater sin, secondly because it amounts to falsely accusing a Muslim which is also a greater sin and thirdly because it is instrumental in oppressing an innocent person which is still another greater sin. Also, through false testimony a person tries to acquire something which does not rightfully belong to him, thus making unlawful thing lawful, which is prohibited by Allah. Lastly usurping somebody else's property is also a greater sin. Thus we can say that many great sins constitute a single sin called, 'false testimony'.

One should testify only after knowing the facts
It does not make any difference whether one knowingly gives a false testimony or one testifies without being certain of the facts. Both of these are 'Greater sins'. It is wajib upon the witness not to testify till he is confident of the facts.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Do not testify till you are as certain as you are about the palm (of your hand)."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Someone inquired from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as to when it was allowed to testify as a witness. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him:
"Can you see the sun?"

"Yes," he said.
"Testify like it or do not." (Meaning you should testify only if you are absolutely certain, otherwise you must not do so).
(Wasaelush Shia)

Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says,
"The witness should testify only for that about which he is certain. He must fear Allah. To testify without having certainty or to testify against something without being certain is also falsehood. Allah (a.j.) says,
Refrain from falsehood! And remain upright for (the sake of) Allah and do not be among the polytheists.

So, Allah has equated false testimony to polytheism."
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

One who testifies falsely is soon exposed

If a person testifies in an Islamic court and later regrets for his testimony, then it is first determined whether he had knowingly and intentionally testified wrongly. If it was so, then that person is branded as a transgressor whose testimony is no more valid in the Shariat Court. But if he had been a victim of doubt and uncertainty he is not disqualified from testifying in the future. However, if due to the wrong testimony someone had to undergo undeserved punishment or suffer harm, it is wajib for this witness to make up the loss. The details of such laws could be obtained from the books of Jurisprudence.

One of the methods of disproving a testimony is that the witness himself confess it to be false. Another procedure for this is that two just witnesses may testify against him. This is known as 'Bayyana'. Finally, the judges may on the basis of some firm evidence falsify the testimony of a witness who had tried to mislead the court. Hence the judge is empowered to reject a witness if he is himself certain. If someone has suffered a loss the judge shall impose on the witness some exemplary punishment of a few lashes so that he may not repeat such a crime in future.

The judge should also announce in the city and the surrounding areas that such and such person is a false witness so that people may not be misled by him and may not rely upon his evidence. In this way, one who testifies falsely becomes notorious for his falsehood in the society, and the wellbeing of society is maintained. Both these actions i.e. exemplary punishments and warning the people against a false witness, are put into effect whether the judge has already passed his judgment (based upon that false testimony) or not.

They do not qualify as a witness

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is reported to have said,
"The false witness must be lashed, and the number of lashes is determined by the Imam (or the Islamic judge) and he should be paraded (in the city) till people know him (and may not rely on him in the future)."

The Imam (a.s.) recited the following verse of the Quran:
"...and do not admit any evidence from them ever; and these it is that are the transgressors, except those who repent after this and act aright, for surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Nur 24:4-5)

(It means that after he repents and reforms, his evidence again becomes valid)

The narrator says that he asked Imam (a.s.), "How do we know that he has repented?"

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"At the site where he is lashed, he must confess in public that he had given a false testimony. And he must seek the forgiveness of Allah. In this way it could be known that he has repented."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Compensation for the loss

If, due to a false testimony a Muslim has had to suffer some monetary loss or loss to one's life or property, the witness has to make good the loss. A narrator by the name of Jamil inquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the one who has testified falsely. Imam (a.s.) told him:
"If the disputed property is still intact it must be restored to the rightful owner. If it is not then the false witness is responsible to the extent of it's loss." (Masaalik)

This means that if it is not possible to return the property, the false witness will have to reimburse it by providing a thing similar to that property or pay a price for it. Detailed laws are discussed in the books of Islamic Jurisprudence.

Repentance for the sin

The method of repenting for the sin of giving false testimony has already been explained. The first important requirement is that the sinner must feel a deep remorse for the act committed by him. He must also seek the forgiveness of Allah for disobeying His command; and compensate the Musilm who suffered the loss. As Allah Himself says,
"…except those who repent after this and act aright, for surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Nur 24:4-5)

 

To refrain from testifying in an Islamic Court is clearly classified among the 'Greater sins' according to the authentic tradition narrated by Hazrat Abdul Azeem. There are some situations when it is Wajib to prove right what is right and to prove wrong that is wrong. In the narration mentioned in the previous discussion, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) states that to conceal evidence is a 'Greater sin'. He presents the following verse as the proof:
"...and do not conceal testimony, and whoever conceals it, his heart is surely sinful; and Allah knows what you do."
(Surah Baqarah 2:283)

This verse mentions the sinful heart (his heart is surely sinful). There are two noteworthy points in this. One: That the concealing of testimony is a sin of the heart. The heart alone commits it, and other organs are not apparently involved in it. The person hides the reality in his heart and does not speak out. Secondly, just as the heart is superior to all the organs of the body the sin associated with the heart is also greater than the sin performed with other organs. It is just like the obedience of Allah through ones heart is much superior than obeying Him in actions. It is this same heart that involves one in a great sin like polytheism. These sins of the heart are definitely more than sins associated with other organs. One of the sins of heart according to the ayat of Quran is concealing evidence. In order to emphasise, Allah says in the later portion of this ayat, "...Allah knows what you do", so that the sinner may realise that even though people may not be aware of Allah is aware of his sin and He will certainly punish him for it.

Allah the Almighty also says,
"...and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned."
(Surah Baqarah 2:282)

Similarly in another verse, Allah says,
"And who is more unjust than he who conceals a testimony that he has from Allah?"
(Surah Baqarah 2:140)

Such a person is like the Jews and the Christians, who had seen the characteristics of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the Torah and Injeel but deliberately concealed them.

Testify for the truth even if it harms you

In Surah Nisa, the Almighty Allah says,
"O you who believe! Be maintainers of justice, bearers of witness for Allah's sake, though it may be against your own selves or (your) parents or near relations; if he be rich or poor, Allah is nearer to them both in compassion; therefore do not follow (your) low desires, lest you deviate; and if you swerve or turn aside, then surely Allah is aware of what you do."
(Surah Nisa 4:135)

Thus one must not conceal testimony due to the fear of the rich or mercy for the poor. One must not feel undue compassion for the accused who is poor. One should neither pay heed to ones own interest nor care for any other person while giving testimony. The Divine command should always be respected in entirety.

Justice for the enemy

The following verse of Surah Maidah states:
"O you who believe! Be upright for Allah, bearers of witness with justice, and let not hatred of a people invite you not to act equitably; act equitably, that is nearer to piety, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is aware of what you do."
(Surah Maidah 5:8)

According to this ayat testimony should be given only to seek the pleasure of Allah. No feeling of enmity should be allowed to come in the way of stating the truth. Allah (a.j.) says in another verse:
"...and give upright testimony for Allah."
(Surah Talaq 65:2)

Those who conceal evidence

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) remarks,
"On the Day of Qiyamat, Allah shall cut off the flesh of one who conceals evidence; then order him to eat it before all the creatures."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) also says that those who conceal evidence are described in the Quran as those whose hearts have sinned. 'Hearts have sinned' actually implied that 'hearts have disbelieved'," according to Imam (a.s.)

Another tradition recorded from Imam (a.s.) is thus:
"One who goes back upon his testimony or conceals it wholly, Allah shall cut off his flesh and force him to eat it before everyone. And when he will enter Hell he would be chewing at his own tongue."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Hazrat Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) says,
"When you are asked to give evidence, give it. For Allah (a.j.) says:
"Surely Allah commands you to make over trusts to their owners..."
(Surah Nisa 4:58)

Evidence is itself a trust. Allah (a.j.) also says,
"And who is more unjust than he who conceals a testimony that he has from Allah?"
(Surah Baqarah 2:140) (Wasaelush Shia)

The following tradition of Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) is recorded in Tafseer Ali Ibn Ibrahim Qummi:
"One who possesses some evidence, has to make it known. And when he is asked for it, he must give it. He should not fear anyone's criticism. He must fulfill his obligation of Amr bil Maroof (enjoining good) and Nahi Anil Munkar (forbidding evil)."

Is it wajib to testify?

Is it wajib to become a witness if one is requested to do so by a believer brother, in order he may achieve some benefit from the case he is pursuing in an Islamic Court? According to most of the Mujtahids it is wajib. Allah the Almighty Himself says:
".,.and call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other; and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned."
(Surah Baqarah 2:282)

Hisham says that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"And the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned."
(Surah Baqarah 2:282)

And in the succeeding ayat,
"...and do not conceal testimony", meaning concealing testimony from a Shariat judge."

Numerous traditions state that to be a witness is wajib (obligatory). For example, Muhammad Bin Fuzail asked Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) the meaning of the above ayat (Surah Baqarah 2:282)

"And the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned."

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"When someone calls you to give evidence in a matter of some debts or some right, then you do not have the choice to ignore it."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Of course the Quranic command in the verse 282 of Surah Baqarah asking the witness to testify before the Shariat judge implies that the person had in the first instance been a witness to the transaction etc.

The person who has witnessed the transaction etc. has to exercise extreme care and caution in this regard. He must memorise all the details or put them in writing, if necessary, so that there is no scope for doubt or misunderstanding in future. If this person is called upon to be a witness, it is wajib on him to comply, even if he has to roam some distance.

People whose supplications are not accepted

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Dua of four types of people is not answered:
1. A Person who sits idle at home and prays to Allah to provide him with sustenance is told, 'Have We not ordered you to make effort for obtaining your sustenance?'

2. The person who prays for some misfortune for his wife. He is told, 'Have We not given you the choice of giving her divorce if you do not want such a wife?'

3. One who had squandered the money and spent it in evil ways. Now if he prays for sustenance, he is told, 'Did We not order you to spend in moderation?'

4. One who gives a loan to someone but does not make anyone witness it. Hence if the borrower refuses and the creditor prays, he is informed, 'Had We not ordered you to have witnesses?'"
(Iddatud Dai)

Testifying is wajib and concealing evidence, haraam

There may be occasion when a person has not directly witnessed a transaction but has some information for having heard or seen something related to the issue. If the information he has can save a Muslim from harm or enable him to secure his right, it is wajib on this person to testify if he is summoned. If he is not summoned, it is wajib for him to volunteer to testify by approaching the Shariat judge with the information he has. If by not disclosing what he knows, a Muslim is harmed or loses his right, it is haraam to remain silent.

In short if a person is capable of helping the oppressed or prevent the oppressor from oppressing, it is wajib on him to do so.

It is not wajib to give evidence in a situation where not testifying does not cause any harm to a Muslim, nor does it deprive him of his right. In this case a person can even refuse to testify even if he is ordered to do so, because neither is he a direct witness to the dispute nor is his silence harmful in anyway.

Muhammad Ibne Muslim says, quoting an authentic tradition from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.): "If one hears an evidence (i.e. he becomes a witness) but he had not been made a witness, then if he likes he can testify or he can prefer to remain silent."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Testify only if you are certain

The witness is required to pay attention to all the aspects of the matter that he has witnessed and when he is testifying, he must only say that, about which he is certain. He must not mention those things, which he himself has not heard, or seen. It should be clear as the Sun, as mentioned in tradition.

When a true testimony will oppress someone

It should be known that a testimony should not endanger the life, property or honour of a Muslim. It should also not pose a threat to the life, property and honour of the witness. It is wajib to give evidence and haraam to conceal it so that justice is established in the society and injustice is eradicated. The oppressor ought to be punished and the right may be restored to its owner but if the testimony itself becomes the cause of oppression it is not wajib to testify. Rather it is haraam to do so and it is wajib to conceal evidence. For example if a person knows that if he testifies against a particular oppressor, the oppressor will take revenge on him or on his relatives or plunder his wealth, then it is wajib to conceal evidence. Similarly, there may be a situation where a debtor deep in debts is unable to clear his dues because of his poverty. At the same time he cannot prove his helplesness and the creditor is not prepared to spare him. In this case also it is wajib to conceal evidence, if the evidence given by a witness will cause the poor debtor to be oppressed.

The following traditions of our Masoomeen (a.s.) emphasise the justification of concealing evidence under special circumstances.

Hazrat Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) says:
"Give evidence for the sake of Allah even if you have to testify against yourself, your parents or your own relatives - But you must not cause harm to your believing brother by concealing evidence. However, if your believing brother is going to be oppressed, then do not testify."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Dawood Ibne Hasan says that he heard Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) saying:
"Give evidence for the sake of Allah, even if you have to testify against your parents or your own son. But do not give evidence to cause harm (Zaeer) to your believing brother."

The narrator says that, 'I asked, "What is Zaeer?" He (a.s.) said,
"It is when someone who has a right, and in order to obtain it he resorts to oppression, contrary to the order of Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). For example, a man is indebted to another, but the debtor is in straitened circumstances. In this situation, Allah has ordered that he must be given respite till he becomes self-sufficient. And (Allah) says,
...then let there be postponement until (he is in) ease…

Now if in spite of this the creditor summons you to testify, and you know the poverty of the debtor, then it is not permitted for you to testify (that he has taken the loan)."
(Wasaelush Shia)

A Tradition from Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.)

Muhammad Ibne Qasim Ibne Fuzail narrates a tradition from Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.). He says, "I asked Imam (a.s.), 'One of your devotees has taken a loan from an enemy of yours. The creditor wants to oppress him and have him captive. Allah knows that he has no money to repay the debt, neither is he capable to do so at present. He does not even have Bayyanah (two just witnesses) to prove his bankruptcy. Then is it allowed for him to take an oath so that he can prove his bankruptcy and obtain respite till the return of favourable conditions? And if from your Shias there are some witnesses who can testify against him, (that he has taken the loan) can they testify?'"

Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) replied,
"It is not permitted for them to testify. And it is not permitted for the creditor to oppress the debtor."
(Al Kafi)

When testifying harms

When we speak about haraam testimony that causes harm to a Muslim, we mean a wrongful harm or unjustified oppression but if the person deserves to be punished, it is wajib to give the evidence. For example a person commits a crime. The witness of this crime does not testify only because if he does so the one against whom he testifies will demand the debt which the witness owes him. This is not a valid excuse for withholding evidence. The criminal must be punished according to Shariat even if the witness has to suffer a monetary loss. However, if the hardship for the witness far outweighs the seriousness of the crime of the accused then the witness has a valid excuse to refrain from testifying.

Harm and being deprived of benefit

It must be mentioned that to be harmed is different from being deprived of some benefit. In the examples already mentioned, if a witness refrains from testifying due to fear that the accused will deprive him of some money, or that some benefit may not accrue to him; this does not amount to him being 'harmed'.

However if the accused is the employer of the witness and will fire him from his job thus causing untold hardship, then it is allowed for the witness to refrain from testifying as it could be regarded as 'harm' in common parlance.

Hence we can conclude that false oath, false testimony and concealing evidence, each of these are Greater sins if there is no risk of any harm. If there is any chance of any harm to a Muslim or an innocent witness, then they do not remain sins - they are permitted. Rather in some circumstances these actions become wajib as we have seen from the traditions of Masoomeen (a.s.). However as far as possible one must give priority to the more important alternative. 

The twenty-first of the Greater sins is 'Breaking of a promise.' There are authentic traditions to this effect from Abdul Azeem where he quotes that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has proved it to be a Greater sin with the help of the following verse of Holy Quran:
"And those who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut asunder that which Allah has ordered to be joined and make mischief in the land; (as for) those, upon them shall be curse and they shall have the evil (issue) of the abode."
(Surah Ra'd 13:25)

The Holy Quran denounces the breaking of promise in the following ayat too:
"Yea, whoever fulfills his promise and guards (against evil) - then surely Allah loves those who guard (against evil).

(As for) those who take a slender price for the covenant of Allah and their own oaths - surely they shall have no portion in the hereafter, and Allah will not speak to them, nor will He look upon them on the Day of Resurrection nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful chastisement."
(Surah Ale-Imraan 3:76-77)

Similarly we find another verse of the same connotation:
"Surely the vilest of animals in Allah's sight are those who disbelieve, then they would not believe.

Those with whom you make an agreement, then they break their agreement every time and they do not guard (against punishment)."
(Surah Anfal 8:55-56)

This ayat is critical of the Jews of Bani Qurayza, who did not honour the pact, which they had formed with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) regarding cooperation with the infidels. They supplied arms to the disbelievers of Mecca for the Battle of Badr and thus invalidated the pact. Later they justified their action saying they had forgotten the pact.

They once more entered into a pact with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) only to violate it at the time of the Battle of Khandaq (trench). They went against the pact and sided with Abu Sufyan.

In various places in the Holy Quran we find that fulfilling a promise has been made obligatory and highly emphasised.

For example,
"and fulfill the promise, surely (every) promise shall be questioned about."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:34)

Also,
"O you who believe! Fulfill the obligations."
(Surah Maidah 5:1)

Similarly in Surah Baqarah the ayat says,
"...and the performers of their promise when they make a promise..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:177)

We also find the following verse:
"O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do?

It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do."
(Surah Saff 61:2-3)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has explained this ayat in the following manner:
"A believer's promise to his believing brother is a vow that has no expiation (It cannot be broken). But one who goes back on his word declares his opposition and enmity to Allah, and invokes the anger of Allah."
(Wasaelush Shia)

After this the Imam (a.s.) recited the above-mentioned ayat.

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) advises Malik al-Ashtar regarding the honouring of promises:
"Breaking a promise causes the anger of Allah."
(Nahjul Balagha)

Ali (a.s.) also quotes the same verse after this.
Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) said:
"There are four types of sinners who are punished very soon:
a) The person who violates the pact that he has made with you, even though you have respected it.
b) One who inflicts harm upon you even though you caused him no harm.
c) One who has promised you something and you are faithful upon your agreement but he is unfaithful.
d) One who wants to severe relations even though the relative wishes to continue the relationship."
(Khisaal)

Abu Malik inquired from Imam Zainul Abedin (a.s.), "Inform me about all the rules of religion." Imam (a.s.) told him,
"To speak the truth, to judge with justice and to fulfill the promise."
(Khisaal)

Although a vast number of traditions and ayats denounce the breaking of promises. We shall quote some selected ones.

Types of Promises

There are three types of promises:
1. Promise of Allah to His creatures.
2. Promise of the creatures to Allah.
3. Promises of the people among themselves.

The promise of Allah to His creatures is that of the Aalam-e-Zar (in the spiritual plane). We come to know of this promise through the Quranic ayats as well as the traditions. According to this, Allah first created the souls of all human beings and made the following covenant: That they remain upon the right path, do not associate anyone or anything with Allah, obey the commands of their Prophet, and do not follow Shaitan, Allah shall recompense them by helping them, by keeping them forever in His mercy, and give them a place in Paradise but if they do not respect their covenant, Allah will also disregard His side of the promise. It is for this very fact, that Allah says.

"...and be faithful to (your) covenant with Me, I will fulfill (My) covenant with you."
(Surah Baqarah 2:40)

Allah also says,
"Did I not charge you, O children of Adam, that you should not serve the Shaitan?"
(Surah Yaseen 36:60)

The covenant that Allah took from the people in the spiritual plane also includes the oath with regard to the Wilayat (Mastership) of Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) and the Imams (a.s.). Numerous traditions mention this fact. It is even recorded in the various heavenly scriptures, and all the Prophets have conveyed the message of the Wilayat of the Fourteen Masoomeen (a.s.).

However, some scholars have rejected this concept of the Aalam-e-Arwah or Aalam-e-Zar. They give a different explanation to the traditions and ayats that deal with this subject. According to them Aalam-e-Arwah (the spiritual plane) is essentially the innate human nature, which is so designed by Allah (a.j.) that it is desirous of obeying Allah's command and does not desire to follow Shaitan. Of course the reasoning capacity of man directs him to follow his nature and accordingly obey Allahs orders. Hence if a man goes against Allah's command he goes against his own nature. These thinkers consider the covenant, to be the same as the innate nature given to us by Allah (a.j.). This book is not concerned with the detail of these two theories.

Anyway whether a man breaks the promise given in Aalam-e-Zar, or goes against his innate nature, he commits a greater sin. This fact has been emphasised in most ayats and traditions, and it is confirmed that honoring the covenant is wajib and not respecting it is haraam. It is also confirmed that the breaking of this first covenant can bring severe chastisement. The people are also warned of dire consequences in case of default. The traditions also inform us that serious retribution incured just for violating the first covenant, which is the greatest of the sins. Hence it is incumbent upon the people to fulfill their covenant so that Allah may also fulfill His promise.

Allah has promised to answer every prayer

One of the promises of Allah to His creatures is that He will answer every prayer, but this is only on condition that the supplicant honors this covenant with Allah (a.j.).

Jamil narrates from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) who said,
"When a man prays to Allah with a pure intention and a sincere heart, Allah answers (his prayer) after man has fulfilled his promise to Allah (a.j.). But if man prays to Allah without a pure intention and sincerity, Allah does not answer it. Has not Allah said, '...and be faithful to (your) covenant with Me, I will fulfill (My) covenant with you,' so the promise is kept only with one who keeps his own word.'
(Safinatul Behaar) 

Verbal expression of a promise

The second type of promise is one that the man himself gives to Allah, like a vow or an oath. For an oath to be binding, it is necessary that it be expressed verbally. For example, if someone wants to vow to Allah and state it in Arabic language he should say 'Aahadto Allah' (I have vowed to Allah) or 'Alayya Ahadollah' (The vow for Allah is upon me). The statement of promise, oath or the vow can be in any language but expressed verbally. A vow for example may consist of saying, "if I return safe and sound from the journey, I shall give such and such amount as charity in the way of Allah."

If an oath is intended mentally and not expressed verbally, it is not binding.

Vow or oath for a useless thing

It must be remembered that a vow, oath or a promise should not be taken for a useless object. That is, the object must not be undesirable from the Islamic point of view. An oath taken to carry out some makrooh or haraam action, a vow to abstain from a wajib or a mustahab act is invalid. An oath taken for an action which is wajib and its avoidence haraam in a prevailing set of conditions, automatically becomes invalid if the conditions change. For example, a man vows to give a thousand rupees in charity if he gets well, but after he is well be becomes so poor that it is hardly possible for him to maintain his family. In these circumstances the vow is considered invalid and it is not wajib on him to fulfill it.

Vow should be for a useful aim

In conclusion it can be said that an oath should be taken if it is acceptable from the Shariat point of view. In any case an oath should be taken when common sense dictates that the oath serves some useful purpose, either by carrying out an action or by abstaining from it. For example to walk and exercise etc. which are beneficient and Mubah (permitted) actions, and to abstain from smoking which is harmful to health although Mubah.

Conditional and absolute covenant

Just as in the case of oath and vow, a covenant is also either conditional or absolute. An example of an absolute covenant is when a man says, "I make covenant with Allah that I shall perform such and such good action." Then this shall become binding upon him. If he does not do so he would have committed a Greater sin. In addition he also has to pay the penalty. The conditional covenant is the one when the person attaches some conditions. For example, he may say, "If Allah gives me a son, I will perform such and such good deed." Then that good deed becomes wajib upon him only when he gets a son. Once the condition is fulfilled it will also be haraam for him to leave the deed undone and he will have to pay the additional penalty also.

Three types of covenant with Allah

Actually a vow and an oath is also a covenant with Almighty Allah. Therefore a covenant is of three types. One is the covenant itself and of the other two one is a vow and the other an oath. It is only due to Divine Mercy that man is given a choice of three kinds of covenants in case he wishes to avoid the risk of being liable for keeping sixty fasts etc. Hence, he can make a vow or take an Islamic oath.

Expiation of a vow or a covenant

Breaking of a covenant, whether absolute or conditional, is haraam. The expiation becomes wajib in case of default. It is the same penalty as that of breaking or omitting, without any reason, a fast of the month of Ramazan, i.e. feeding sixty poor people, keeping sixty fasts or freeing a slave.

If a vow is broken its kaffarah (expiation) is same as that of breaking an oath. That is, feeding, or clothing ten poor people or freeing a slave; but if he cannot do any of these then it is wajib for him to keep three fasts.

Breaking of promise and hypocrisy

Breaking of a promise is a very serious sin. It is a sin that sows the seed of hypocrisy in the heart of the person who commits it. The person dies in a state of disbelief and is raised with the hypocrites on the Day of Judgment. The Holy Quran says:
"And there are those of them who made a covenant with Allah: If He gives us out of His grace we will certainly give alms and we will certainly be of the good. But when He gave them out of His grace, they become niggardly of it and they turned back and they withdrew. So He made hypocrisy to follow as a consequence into their hearts till the day when they shall meet Him because they failed to perform towards Allah what they had promised Him and because they told lies."
(Surah Tauba 9:75-77)

The Shaan-e-Nuzool (circumstances of Revelation) of this ayat, according to Tafseer Minhaj us-sadeqeen is as follows: "Thulbe Ibne Khatib was a very staunch and a prominent Christian. One day he came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). He began to complain of his poverty, and requested the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) to pray for him. The Holy prophet (s.a.w.s.) advised him, "Do not emphasise upon this prayer of yours but be patient in your circumstances. Too much of wealth is dangerous for you. If you are grateful for this favour it is better than too much of wealth that makes you unthankful. By Allah if I pray that mountains become gold and silver and move with me, Allah shall cause it to be so but I know that an honourable hereafter is better, and those who are well provided in this world have a difficult hereafter. So, follow the Prophet of Allah (a.j.) and accept his advice."

But Thulbe the Christian did not follow the advice of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and again he came back to him with his entreaty and said: "O Prophet of Allah! I make a covenant to Allah that if He gives me abundant wealth I shall spend it upon the deserving ones and do good through it."

When he persisted in his request, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) prayed for the removal of his property.

Allah gave abundant increase in his livestock; and he became a Muslim. His animals multiplied and he became so busy in supervising them that he stopped praying behind the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the congregational prayers. He prayed only the morning and the evening prayers. Then his herd became so bulky that the surrounding area of Madinah was not sufficient any more. He took his animals to the outskirts of the town and settled there. Now he was deprived of praying the daily prayers behind the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Still he continued to come to Madinah for the Friday prayers. Then his business expanded beyond the valleys surrounding Madinah. Finally he could not even attend the Friday prayers.

One day the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) asked his companions, "Why is Thulbe not attending the congregation?" The people replied, "He has so many goats and sheep that a single valley is unable to accommodate them. Now he has moved to such and such valley and settled there. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) upon hearing this said,
"Woe be upon Thulbe, Woe be upon Thulbe, Woe be upon Thulbe!"

Later when it was wajib to pay zakat due to the revelation of the verse of Zakat, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) summoned one of his followers and gave him this verse in writing and sent with him a tribesman of Bani Salim. The Prophet ordered, "After you have collected Zakat from Thulbe go to such and such good man and collect it from him too." Both of them went to Thulbe. They showed him the Quranic verse and also gave him the letter of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) containing the rules of Zakat. Thulbe had become so much attached to his wealth that he said, "Muhammad is collecting Jiziya from us! Go somewhere else! Meanwhile I shall think upon it."

The two men went to this righteous person (of the tribe of Bani Salim). When he saw the ayat and the letter of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), he said, "I hear and I obey the command of Allah and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.)."

He went among his camels and selected the best ones for Zakat and said, "Please take these for the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.)." The agents told him that it was not wajib to give the best of the camels. He said, "How can I not offer the best for Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.)?"

Then these two men came back to Thulbe. The wretched fellow repeated his previous objection and refused to pay Zakat.

When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) heard of this incident he said just once, "Woe be upon Thulbe!" Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) prayed for the well being of the one who had paid the Zakat willingly.

The companions used to wonder why Thulbe had not accepted the advice of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and saved himself from apostasy! (Zakat is one of the Dhururiyaat-e-Deen and one who says that Zakat is not wajib has apositisised and is no more a Muslim!) The ayats quoted before this discussion were revealed for Thulbe.

Mutual covenants and agreements

The third type of promise is when people form actual covenants and agreements. The ayats and the traditions state that it is wajib to fulfill this type of promise and it is haraam to go against them.

For example in Surah Bani Israel:
"...and fulfill the promise; Surely (every) promise shall be questioned about."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:34)

Similarly the Quran describes truthful and the pious people thus,
"...and those who fulfill their promise when they make a promise.."
(Surah Baqarah 2:177)

Also when describing those who shall be saved from Hell and earn Paradise, Allah says,
"And those who are keepers of their trusts and their covenant."
(Surah Momin 23:8)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"To keep your word to your believing brother is wajib like a vow, even though there is no expiation for going against it."

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"One who has belief in Allah and in last day (Qiyamat) must keep his word when he promises."
(Usool-e-Kafi)

Thus keeping a promise is a fulfillment for the belief in Allah and the Day of Qiyamat. Similarly, the beginning verses of Surah Saff have also denounced the breaking of promise and clearly prove that non-fulfillment of a promise (of every type) is haraam.

Hypocrites do not keep their words

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is reported to have said:
"Three traits make man a hypocrite even if he prays and fasts:
Betrayal of trust, lying and non-fulfillment of promise."
(Usool-e-Kafi)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"Those who are just in their dealing, those who do not lie and those who fulfill their promises are from those who have perfect morals. And it is haraam to criticise them behind their back. Their being just (Aadil) is obvious. To maintain brotherly relations with them is wajib."
(Usool-e-Kafi)

It follows from this tradition, that a person who is unjust, a liar and one who does not keep his word, does not possess morals. He is not a just person (Aadil) but a transgressor (Fasiq) and it is not wajib to fulfill the rights of brotherhood towards him.

No concession

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has also remarked:
"There are three obligations in fulfillment of which Allah does not give concession to any: To behave well with the parents, whether they are righteous or sinners; to fulfill ones promise; whether to a righteous person or a sinner; and to deliver a trust (to its owner) whether he is righteous or a sinner."
(Shaykh Sadooq: Khisaal)

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says:
"One must also fulfill that promise that he has made to his wife. For a Muslim is always wary of his promise except when it is for making a prohibited thing legal or prohibiting that which is permitted."
(Tahzeeb) 

Treaties with the polytheists

It is an established fact that there are numerous Quranic verses and traditions which prohibit the breaking of a promise, and makes obligatory the fulfillment of promise. The following verses are sufficient to prove this point:
"Surely the vilest of animals in Allah's sight are those who disbelieve, then they would not believe. Those with whom you make an agreement, then they break their agreement every time and they do not guard (against punishment)."
(Surah Anfal 8:55-56)

Thus those who do not fulfill their promises are the worst of creatures! They are worse than animals. It is also important to know that Allah has ordered us to honour and fulfill even the treaties and promises made with the disbelievers and polytheists. These promises cannot be disregarded.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) respected the treaty with the Polytheists of Mecca

When the power and glory of Islam was at its zenith a verse of Surah Baraat was revealed; ordering Jehad (holy war) against the polytheists. The Almighty Allah commanded the Prophet to purify the Holy Mecca from the filth of polytheism and idol worship but it was also ordered not to break the treaty with the polytheists if they did not break it. The ayat is as follows:
"Except those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement, they have not failed you in anything and have not backed up anyone against you, so fulfill their agreement to the end of their term; surely Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty)."
(Surah Tauba 9:4)

Abu Rafe says: "The Quraish sent me to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). When I met him, my heart became illuminated with his countenance. I said to him, "O Prophet of Allah! I do not wish to go back to the Quraish." He said, I would not act against the terms of treaty, and retain their messenger. Abu Rafe, go back to your people now and after this if you wish, you may accept Islam and join us."

Honoring the terms of the treaty with the Quraish

Huzaifa Yamani says that there was one thing that discouraged me from participating in the Battle of Badr. Abu Husael and I were going out when we came face to face with some men from the Quraish. They asked, "Do you love Muhammad?"

"We love Madinah," we replied.
They made us promise that after reaching Madinah we shall not accompany the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the battle. When we met the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and told him of this promise he said,
"Do not think of joining in the battle due to this oath of yours. We shall seek the Divine assistance!"

The above two traditions are recorded in the book, "Islam and World Peace" by Syed Qutb, Pg.264.

The Kafir father took away his son

During the treaty of Hudiabiya, Sohail Ibne Umer was representing the disbelievers in negotiating with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). When it was time for drawing up the treaty and the signatures were yet to be affixed, Jundal the son of Sohail left the pack of disbelievers and went to the Muslims. Seeing that he was attracted to the Muslims, the Quraish chained his legs but he escaped with the chains intact. He went away with the Muslims and began to behave like one. When his father saw this, he came to his son and gave him a resounding slap. Then he told the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), "O Muhammad! This (treaty) is the first step of reconciliation between you and us and as per its terms you have to surrender my son to me."

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) agreed to it and surrendered Jundal to his Kafir father, but upon the condition that he would be protected and not harmed. Sohail Ibne Umar agreed to this condition. When it was time to hand over Jundal to the disbelievers, Jundal protested, "O Muslims! I have become a Muslim! How will I return amongst the polytheists?"

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him,
"Go! But have patience. Allah will provide ease to you in this way only. We cannot go against the terms of the treaty."

Sohail caught his son's hand and led him away. He did not remain true to his promise and tortured his son very much.

This incident proves the importance of the fulfillment of a promise. The same incident is mentioned in the exegesis of Surah Fath in Tafseer Minhajus Sadeqeen.

I will stay here all my life

The following narration is recorded in Behaarul Anwaar:
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) promised a man that he would wait for him at an appointed place near a stone. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) waited there but the man did not turn up. Morning turned into afternoon while the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) stood in the blazing sun. Some of his followers saw him and said, "Please stand in some other place."

He (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"I cannot move away from here till that man returns."

The man arrived at last. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"If that man had not come, I would have continued to stand till death!"

Janab-e-Ismail and the fulfillment of the vow

The Holy Quran refers to Prophet Ismail as the "Truthful in Promise," in the following verse:
"And mention Ismail in the Book, surely he was truthful in (his) promise, and he was an apostle, a prophet."
(Surah Marium 19:54)

Hazrat Ismail (a.s.) had promised to wait for a person, who did not turn up. Three nights passed but he still kept waiting. However, according to most of the scholars and well-known tradition the period of his wait was a whole year. During this time he also had to bear untold difficulties and sometimes survived on leaves.

Violation of a promise is caused by disbelief

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) has mentioned that it is disbelief that causes one to go back on his word and break a vow. He says:
"By Allah, Muawiya is not more cunning than I am but he deceives and commits evil deeds. Had I not been hateful of deceit I would have been the most cunning of all men. But (the fact is that) every deceit is a sin and every sin is disobedience (of Allah), and every crafty person will have a banner by which he will be recognised on the Day of Judgment."
(Nahjul Balagha Sermon 200)

Allamah Majlisi says that the one who commits greater sins is also referred to as a disbeliever in traditions. Hence every type of a crafty person has been called a Kafir in this sermon. It is that disbelief which has its root in the heart and which takes the form of disobedience to Allah's commands.

A Muslim is never deceitful

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) has said:
"Surely fulfillment of pledge is the twin of truth. I do not know a better shield (against the assaults of sin) than it. One who realises the reality of return (to the next world) never betrays. We are in a period when most of the people regard betrayal as wisdom. In these days the ignorant call it excellence of cunning. What is the matter with them? Allah may destroy them. One who has been through thick and thin of life finds the excuses preventing him from orders and prohibitions of Allah, but he ignores them despite capability (to succumb to them and follows the command of Allah), while one who has no restraints of religion seizes the opportunity (and accepts the excuses for not following the commands of Allah)."
(Nahjul Balagha Sermon 42)

Violation of promise and falsehood

Some of the Mujtahids consider violation of a promise to be a kind of falsehood. Especially when at the time of promising, one has no intention of fulfilling it. Thus all the verses and tradition denouncing and prohibiting falsehood also apply here.

If there are some conditions

According to the Fatawa (religious decrees) of the leading Mujtahids, it is wajib to honour the terms and conditions of a transaction and it is obligatory to fulfill them. For example the buyer can put a condition that if the goods are defective he can return them within two months. Or the seller may put a condition that the buyer must not spoil the goods if he wishes to return them. In such situations it is wajib to honour the terms of agreement. Similarly if the landlord has restricted the use of his premises to any one except the tenant, the tenant has to observe the terms faithfully. Both the parties to a transaction have a right to lay down their terms and conditions.

Other Mujtahids state that not only is it wajib to honour the terms and conditions of a transaction but the one who has put them may enforce his rights and insist on the condition being fulfilled. For example if an employee has laid a condition that he shall be paid his salary on the first day of every month, then not only is it necessary to pay him as agreed but the employee has a right to demand it on that day, and he can even take it without the knowledge of his employer.

At times it may happen that the conditions agreed upon are quite irrelevant to the actual transaction and not directly related to it. Even in these cases it is necessary to fulfill the obligations.

In cases where the terms and conditions are such that the parties consider it better to observe them, these conditions do not contribute a right and it is not wajib to follow them to the letter.

Fulfillment of promise is a must

In all respects, fulfillment of a promise is so much emphasised in the Quranic Verses and the traditions, that one should be extremely cautious in honouring every type of agreement and pledge. If a person has to give a promise under compulsion and he does not wish to become a sinner, he can use words like, 'May be', 'If', or 'Insha-Allah' etc. For example he can say, "Insha-Allah (If Allah wills) I will do this."

To vow or pledge after saying Insha-Allah

It is the opinion of Allamah Hilli, and other Mujtahids agree, that every vow or pledge after uttering Insha-Allah (or its translation in any other language) makes the pledge conditional to the Divine will. Hence it is not strictly wajib to fulfill it. But if it is with regard to some promise or condition (of an agreement), that concerns a wajib act or it is for the avoidance of a haraam act, it has to be observed faithfully, even after uttering Insha-Allah.

It must however be understood that the promise which is made conditional by saying 'Insha-Allah' is not binding, only when the person intends the actual meaning of the term Insha-Allah. That is, he must really mean to subject the matter to Allah's will. If he utters Insha-Allah only for the sake of seeking divine blessings then it is binding upon him to remain firm upon his vows.

It should also be clear that it is not only permitted, to disregard a promise of abstaining from a wajib act or to perform a haraam act but it is infact haraam to fulfill it. For example if one vows to punish his wife or son if they did such and such thing, it is better to disregard such vows and forgive them instead.

The Quran says:
"And let not those of you who possess grace and abundance swear against giving to the near of kin and the poor and those who have fled in Allah's way, and they should pardon and turn away. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you?'
(Surah Nur 24:22)

It means that Allah forgives the sins of those who forgive the wrongdoings of others.

Prophet Ayyub (a.s.) and his oath of beating his wife a hundred strokes

In a situation where, one has taken an oath in utmost seriousness to inflict punishment, and one does not wish to go against it, it is better to carry out the oath in a manner that a token punishment is given and the oath is also not violated. For example, Prophet Ayyub (a.s.) saw his wife doing something against his will. He took a vow to hit her a hundred strokes after he recovered from the illness. When he recovered, Allah ordered him,
"And take in your hand a green branch (with a hundred twigs) and beat her (your wife) with it (once) and do not break your oath."
(Surah Saad 38:44 

The twenty-second greater sin, is defalcation or misappropriation of property. Misappropriation of property as a greater sin is stated in the Quran and the authentic tradition related by Abdul Azeem from Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) and also from the traditions of Imam Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Kazim (a.s.) and Imam Reza (a.s.).

Khayanat is itself an Arabic word. In the tradition of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as related by Amash the word 'Khayanat' is used in the list of the greater sins. Another Arabic word used for misappropriation is 'ghulul.' 'Ghulul' is used in the narration of Fazl Ibne Shazaan where he quotes Imam Reza (a.s.). According to some lexicographers 'ghul' denotes misappropriation of a property obtained as spoils of war against the disbelievers which is not yet been distributed among the Muslims. However other scholars maintain that 'ghulul' applies to every kind of embezzlement.

The punishment of misappropriation according to the Holy Quran

The Almighty Allah says "...and he who eats unfaithfully shall bring that in respect of which he has acted unfaithfully on the Day of Resurrection; then every soul be paid fully what it has earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly. Is then he who follows the pleasure of Allah like him who has made himself deserving of displeasure from Allah, and his abode is hell; and it is an evil destination."
(Surah Aale Imraan 3:161-162)

In Surah Tahrim we find the verse:
"Allah sets forth an example to those who disbelieve, the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut: they were both under two of Our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards them so they availed them naught against Allah, and it was said: Enter both the fire with those who enter."
(Surah Tahrim 66:10)

Also Allah (a.j.) says:
"… Surely Allah does not love the treacherous."
(Surah Anfal 8:58)

and
"O you who believe! Be not unfaithful to Allah and the Apostle, nor be unfaithful to your trusts while you know."
(Surah Anfal 8:27)

Similarly the Quran says,
"…but if one of you trusts another, then he who is trusted should deliver his trusts, and let him be careful (of his duty to) Allah, his Lord..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:283)

At another place the Divine Book states,
"Surely Allah commands you to make over trusts to their owners..."
(Surah Nisa 4:58)

Breach of trust denounced in the traditions

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who embezzles a property in his charge and does not deliver it to its owner and dies in such a condition, then he does not die in my community (he does not die a Muslim). When such a person meets Allah, He shall be infuriated with him. And one who purchases an embezzled property knowing that it is embezzled is just like the (actual) embezzler."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Another tradition states,
"And it will be ordered to throw him in the fire; he will remain in the deep pit of Hell forever."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is also reported to have remarked,
"If one is Muslim, he must not practice deceit and defalcation. For I have heard from Jibraeel that deceit and cheating belong to hell."

Then he (s.a.w.s.) continued,
"One who cheats a Muslim is not from us, and one who embezzles the believers is (also) not from us."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The following tradition is recorded in the book Al Kafi:
"There are three qualities that are the sign of a hypocrite even if he prays and fasts and calls himself a Muslim: lying, violating promises and defalcation."

This tradition had already been mentioned in the previous discussion.

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says;
"There are four things and even if one of them enters a house it causes economic catastrophe and it never remains blessed: defalcation, thievery, wine and adultery.
(Wasaelush Shia)

Thus if one or more members of a household indulge in one of these sins, such a household is deprived from divine blessings. It brings about an economic ruin. It must also be clarified, however, that the house of the thief is deprived of 'barakat' (divine blessings) and not the site where robbery occurs.

Misappropriation causes misfortune

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) remarks,
"Trustworthiness causes one to be self sufficient (financially) and misappropriation causes poverty."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The narrator says that I said to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.),
"There is a lady in Madinah, with whom people leave their daughters for training (and education). We have observed that she could maintain herself with so less, but we have never known her to have any financial problem."

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) remarked,
"It is because she is truthful and trustworthy. These two qualities increase sustenance."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Another tradition from the same Imam (a.s.) is as follows:
"Do not be deceived by the prolonged sajda and rukoo of a man, they may be a part of his habits (that he could not avoid). See his truth and trustworthiness."

Thus it is these qualities that prove righteousness and piety.

Anyone could be the owner of the entrusted property

We have numerous traditions dealing with this subject. They emphatically state that it is wajib to guard the trust and haraam to misappropriate it, whether the one who entrusts it, is a Muslim or a Kafir. It is even wajib to protect the goods entrusted by a Nasibi (those are openly inimical to Ahlul Bayt a.s.) in spite of the fact that the Nasibi are the worst kind of people.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Fear Allah! And return the entrusted thing to the owner. Even if the murderer of Ali (a.s.) entrusts me with something, I shall deliver it to him (when he desires)."

Imam (a.s.) also says,
"Then fear Allah! And guard the trusts (placed by) the white as well as the black (people). Even if the one who entrusts is from the Khwarij or a Syrian (those who hate Ali [a.s.])." That is, even if he is a confirmed enemy of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).

A man inquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.),
"Is it allowed to misappropriate the property of a Nasibi?"

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Honour the trust of every person who entrusts you with it, or seeks your advice. Even if it is the killer of Imam Husain (a.s.)."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Another similar narration is as follows:
Husain Shabani says that he asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "One of your followers considers the property and blood of Bani Umayya permissible for himself. He is also in possession of some property entrusted to him by the Bani Umayya?"

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Restore the entrusted property to its owner even if they are Majoos (fireworshippers)."

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is also reported to have said,
"Allah has not sent any messenger but with (the order to propagate) truth and restoring of trust, whether of a righteous man or a sinner."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Muhammad Bin Qasim says that he mentioned to Abul Hasan, Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) regarding the person who had entrusted someone with something valuable. "The trustee is an Arab and he is competent enough not to return the trust. Whereas the one who entrusts is a wretched Khariji (enemy of Ahlul Bayt)?"

Imam (a.s.) said,
"Tell him to return the trust; because it is a divine trust that he is entrusted with." (Meaning that it is a trust, which is to be restored according to divine command).

Hazrat Imam Zainul Abedin (a.s.) advises his Shias:
"You must return the trusts when required. By the One who has sent Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) as a messenger with trust, even if the killer of my father Husain (a.s.) had entrusted me with the sword with which he had slain him, I would have delivered it back to him."

The Satan instigates

The greater the importance of a duty in Islamic law, the greater is the effect put in by Shaitan to deviate a person from fulfilling it.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"If a person makes good the trust in his possession, he unties a thousand knots that had tied him to Hell. So, do not be sluggish in delivering trusts. When one becomes a trustee, Iblees orders a hundred of his assistants to follow him so that they may deviate him and suggest him to defalcate. They continue to pursue him till he is doomed. Except the one who is saved by Allah (a.j.)."

Ameen (Trustworthy) - A Title of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)

Every historian has recorded that even prior to the declaration of his prophethood, the disbelievers of Quraish addressed the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) by the title of 'Ameen'. The disbelievers trusted him to the extent that even though they did not heed his call and did not profess Islam, they deposited their valuables with him. The trust in the Prophet's trustworthiness was not restricted to the Quraish tribe, but was shared by the people of other tribes and areas as well. When these people came to Mecca during the Hajj season they used to put their belongings in the safe custody of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). This continued after the declaration of prophethood. When the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) migrated to Madinah he gave all the things that were in his custody to Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and said:
"Proclaim loudly, every morning and evening in Mecca that whoever had kept anything with Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) may collect it." 

Types of misappropriations

Defalcation the opposite of safekeeping is of three types: Breach of trust with Allah, with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and with people.

1. The trust of Allah

"Surely We offered the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to be unfaithful to it and feared from it, and man has turned unfaithful to it; surely he is unjust, ignorant."
(Surah Ahzaab 33:72)

What is meant by Divine trust? The scholars have a variety of opinions in this regard. Some opine that it denotes the grace of intellect given by Allah (a.j.). The safeguarding of this trust (intellect) means that man should employ it to recognise and obey his Creator. According to other scholars this trust consists of the laws of Islam that Allah has sent through His Prophet (s.a.w.s.). These laws are a Divine trust. To guard these laws means to obey them faithfully. It is obvious that the heaven, the earth and the mountains did not possess the ability to protect these trusts and hence they refrained from accepting them. Man was competent to obey the command of his creator and therefore he accepted the trust. But he allows his emotions to subvert his intellect and permits his desires to override reason. He therefore ignores the laws he had agreed to obey oblivious of divine retribution. This is breach of trust with Allah (a.j.).

The blessings of intellect and trustworthiness

Intellect or the faculty of reasoning is one of the greatest trusts that Allah has bestowed upon man and this trust demands that man continually honours it. We must not say or do anything that is against reason. If we allow our desire to conquer reason we would have committed a breach of trust with Allah (a.j.).

As regards the safekeeping of trust with reference to the rules of Shariat,
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) says:
"Misappropriating the trust of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is their disobedience. As far as the breach of trust is concerned, every person is the trustee of the laws revealed by Allah."
(Tafseer Safi)

It is clear from this tradition that the Divine laws promulgated for men are Allah's trust. The safekeeping of these trusts means the acceptance of these laws and implicit obedience to them. Every individual is expected to study these rules of Shariat and not to remain ignorant of these. Every individual has to make a point to learn and understand the obligations and be fully conversant with all the laws governing every aspect of his or her life. After learning these laws the individual is further obliged to accept them and follow them in all sincerity.

It is said that when it was the time for prayers, Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) became fearful and restless and his face became pale. People were dazed to see him thus, and asked him the reason for it. He replied,
"It is the time for prayers! It is the time of delivering the trust that Allah had offered to the heavens, the earth and the mountains, which they had refused. This is what I fear!"

However, this is not restricted to prayers. All the laws of Shariat are the trust of Allah and prayers occupy a lofty position among them.

Propagating the laws of religion

It is pathetic that most of the people of our time are committing breach of Divine trust. People are so engrossed in the materialistic world that they have no time to learn the basic laws of religion, or to act upon them. Day by day religion is given less and less importance although more than before, the need of the day is that people should learn about religion and propagate it to others. We must ourselves act upon the laws of Shariat faithfully and also exhort others to do the same.

2. Trust of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)

Both Shias as well as Sunnis agree that before his passing away the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) had said,
"I leave among you two weighty things, the Book of Allah and my Progeny."

The Prophet's words after this, according to history are,
"On the Day of Qiyamat I will question you concerning them (as to how you have safeguarded them)"

According to Tafseer Majmaul Bayan: The Quran and the Progeny have been referred to as "two weighty things" because to follow them is a very difficult task indeed. A true Muslim is one who is able to carry the weight of this responsibility. A Muslim must obey the Quranic orders and follow the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). Alas! The followers of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) did not safeguard the important trusts.

"And the Apostle cried out: O my Lord! Surely my people have treated this Quran as a forsaken thing."
(Surah Furqan 25:30)

May Allah not include us in that majority of people about whom the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) shall complain to Allah.

Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are the Trust of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)

Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are themselves a trust that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has left with us. To honour this trust is to love them (Ahlul Bayt), and believe in their truth with sincerity. We must obey their commands because their orders are the commands of Allah (a.j.) and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). They are the Hujjat (proof) of Allah. By sending them to us Allah has completed His proof, so we cannot say that there was no one to lead us after the death of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). The Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are the link between Allah and us. We must also respect the Sadaat (the sayyeds) as they are from the Progeny of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), and fulfill their needs, for in this way we would be safeguarding the trust of their ancestors. On one hand the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are the trustees of Divine laws from the time of the Prophet's death till the Day of Judgement, on the other hand they themselves (a.s.) are a valuable trust of the Prophet with us, like the Holy Quran. One of their rights upon us is that we consider their grief and sorrow as our own, rejoice in their happiness and joy and honour them by going for Ziarat to their holy shrines.

3. Trust of the people

Trust of the people is divided into two categories:
(1) Trust of Property and
(2) Trust of the Shariat.

The first one denotes any goods or property that a person keeps with someone for safe custody. This can be in various forms. Sometimes one keeps a valuable with another person solely for its safekeeping. Sometimes a thing is given for use but it must be returned after the use is over. This is also known as Ariya or Musta'ar. Another form of trust is when a particular thing is given on hire and its rent is collected, for example a house.

A loan is also a trust. Sometimes a valuable is pledged as the surety for some loan. If the loan taken against this surety is not repaid this item is sold to recover the dues. In the same way in transactions of Mudarabba (partnership) the property given out for trading is also a trust.

Trusts of Shariat

By trust of Shariat we mean property which is in possession of a person who is not its actual owner. This property may not have been handed over to him by the owner, but he may come to acquire it through circumstances. For example, a strong wind blows a cloth from a house to the neighbours, or someone's lost domestic animal may stray into somebody's house, or one may buy something and find later that the seller has given an extra item by mistake, or the client may pay the seller more than the prescribed rate, or one may find some money on the way, or one may come to acquire some stolen goods or those belonging to someone else. All these things are considered as trusts according to Shariat. It is wajib to restore them to the rightful owners, those who have them in their possession should not use such items. Another example of such a trust is a letter addressed to another person. It is wajib upon the person to send it to its rightful addressee. It is haraam to open or read a letter addressed to someone else.

Misappropriating other's property

If one is in possession of a person's property through circumstances, it is haraam to embezzle it. As we have already stated, misappropriation is a greater sin.

Misappropriation is a compound of three sins:
(1) Injustice
(2) Disregard of an obligatory act and
(3) Illegally using someone's property

Illegally using someone's property

It is a sort of injustice to use the property or a thing belonging to someone else without his permission. It is haraam even to borrow something without the permission of the owner. It is haraam to use the thing even for a moment. In fact, even displacing a thing without permission is haraam when there is no valid excuse.

A person using an article without the owner's permission has to give it back immediately or ask permission for its use. If any damage has occurred to the property the user has to make good the loss.

If one expects that the owner will permit the use of his property, then its use without permission is allowed. But the user will have to compensate in case there is any damage to the property.

A user is not accountable if a property is damaged despite his best toil to safeguard it, but he will be responsible if the damage is the result of his carelessness.

The 91st verse of Surah Tauba says,
"…there is no way (to blame) against the doers of good..."

According to this ayat the trustee who has done a good deed by guarding a property will not be liable for any loss or damage. The one who entrusts has no lawful recourse against the trustee.

Carelessness in guarding the trust

A trustee shall be made to pay for any loss or damage that occurs to the good entrusted to him, if he has not taken reasonable take of the goods or has kept them in an unsafe place. It is also not allowed to hand over the property in ones trust to someone else for safekeeping without the owner's permission. If the trust is transferred to another person and a loss occurs, then the first trustee shall be held responsible. It will amount to a sort of carelessness on his part. Even if he considers someone else to be a better trustee he cannot move the goods to him without the permission of the owner. In the same way the trustee cannot carry the trust with him when he goes on a journey. The owner's permission has to be sought in this case also. If the trustee intends to travel, he can keep the property in a safe place, or he can hand it over to another person only with the permission of the owner. However if there is a risk of loss or damage in his absence he must return the trust to its owner or his representatives. If the owner or his representatives are not available, he can surrender the trust property to the Mujtahid or the religious judge or he may avoid travel altogether. But if the journey is more important than the safe-keeping of this trust, and the owner nor representative nor a Mujtahid is available then he can, to ensure its security keep it with someone reliable. He may even carry it with himself on the journey in such circumstances.

If one is sure that he will not be able to take care of the trust, it is wajib for him to refuse to accept it. If such a person has already taken it, it is wajib for him to return it but if in spite of his inability to safeguard the trust property, the owner insists on handing it to him he is allowed to accept it. In this case the trustee cannot be held responsible, and the owner would bear the loss in the event of the goods being lost or damaged. Even if one is compelled to be a trustee against one wishes, it is better to take care of the goods entrusted, as a moral obligation.

It is apparent that this transaction (of one who entrusts and the trustee) is a legal transaction. Either party may terminate the agreement whenever he or she desires. That is, the owner may ask for his property whenever he likes. In the same way the trustee can return the goods in his trust to the owner whenever he wishes. However, it is wajib for the trustee to return the trust when the owner demands it and the one who entrusts cannot insist upon the trustee to continue to safeguard his goods when he (the trustee) wishes to relieve himself of the responsibility.

Delay in returning the trust

Under special circumstances it is permitted to appropriate the property of a Kafir, not living under the protection of Islamic government. But if such a person gives his property as a trust, it is not permitted to misappropriate this property. If the property to be entrusted is stolen or acquired by illegal means, it is wajib to accept it and restore it to its rightful owner.

As we have already mentioned, anything that is maintained as trust must be restored to the owner or his representative; like some responsible member of his family, if they are not available, the trust could be given in charge of a Mujtahid or his representative. If even these are not available the trust must be handed over to a reliable person. Especially when one perceives the approach of death one should immediately arrange to return the trusts. If none of the above persons are available then it is wajib upon the dying person to make a will and provide the address of the owner so that the property may be restored to him.

In the same way if the owner learns that the trustee is dead, it is wajib for him to go and collect the things that he had deposited as trust. If the heirs of the deceased do not recognise him he can describe the distinguishing features of the trust property and obtain it from them. Similarly if the owner dies, the trustee is under obligation to return the trust to the heirs of the deceased.

Transactions of hire, ariya (free loan), mortgage and partnership

As we have already mentioned, all the goods that are the basis of the above transactions constitute a trust. Whenever the owner demands the property, it has to be restored immediately. However, if a period has been agreed upon, the owner cannot demand his property before the end of the stipulated period. For example, the landlord cannot expel his tenant before the expiry of the agreement of tenancy. Similarly the pledged article cannot be taken back without the repayment of loan. The same is the case with a loaned article.

At the end of the stipulated period the trustees are obliged to return the property that had been in their possession even if the owner has not demanded it back, but if the owner extends the period the trustees can continue to retain the property.

However, 'Ariya' is a transaction where the owner is at liberty to demand back his property whenever he likes. For example, someone has borrowed a book for a week but the owner demands it the same day. The borrower, in this case, is obliged to return the book immediately. 'Ariya' is just like the keeping of some trust. The owner can ask for it whenever he wants. Even though he may have given it for sometime, he can demand it whenever he likes.

Search for the owner - Sadaqah on his behalf

The above discussion was regarding the property trusts. If someone is in possession of a Sharaii trust and the owner is not known, the finder of a property has to search for him for one whole year. He must publicise it from masjids etc. If the owner is still unlocated he must give all of the found property in charity on behalf of the owner.

The one who entrusts and the trustee should be adults

A transaction of trust is valid only when both the parties are sane and adult. So a child or an insane person cannot entrust their property nor can they act as trustees. However, if the guardian of a child or an insane person permits, the property can be held in trust. Whether the guardian permits or not, if the property of a minor or an insane person held in trust suffer some loss or damage, the trustee has to make good the loss. He has to return it to the guardian and not directly to the minor or insane person. If one finds a minor child or an insane person in possession of something and there is a risk of it being lost or damaged, he can take it from him and deliver it to his guardian.

These are thus some laws regarding trusts. For detailed laws one can refer to the books of jurisprudence. The important thing is to understand the significance of trusts and to avoid the pitfalls of a sin like misappropriation. We shall present one more ayat and a few traditions before closing this chapter.

Trustworthy people praised in the Quran

It is mentioned in Surah Aale Imraan:
"And among the followers of the Book there are some such that if you entrust one (of them) with a heap of wealth, he shall pay it back to you; and among them there are some such that if you entrust one (of them) with a dinaar he shall not pay it back to you except so long as you remain firm in demanding it; this is because they say: There is not upon us in the matter of the unlearned people any way (reproach); and they tell a lie against Allah while they know."
(Surah Aale Imraan 3:75)

This verse praises those Christians who do not embezzle when non-Christians entrust something to them and it denounces the Jews who consider it permissible to misappropriate the property of anyone who is not a Jew. They falsely claim that they have been given a licence by Allah to do so.

When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) recited this ayat, he said:
"The enemies of Allah lie! I have corrected every custom and belief of the age of Jahilya (ignorance) but (the matter of) trust is as it was. Whether the trust belongs to a righteous person or an evil one, it has to be returned."
(Tafseer Majmaul Bayan).

According to the ayat the embezzlers are like those Jews who defalcated and if a Muslim considers embezzlement to be permissible, he is included among the enemies of Allah.

Recovery of damages from a property in trust

The Quran and Hadith clearly state that under no circumstances is it allowed to pilfer a property held in trust. Shaykh Tusi in his book, Nihaya and other Mujtahids have also mentioned this fact.

Narrators of traditions have mentioned the following from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"One person sends another with money to purchase a cloth. When the latter goes to the market he sees that he already has the same type of cloth at home. So can he come back and without saying anything give him the cloth that he was already having and retain the money?"

Imam (a.s.) continued, "He should not even think of doing this and make himself contaminated with such a sin." Then Imam (a.s.) recited the 72nd ayat of Surah Ahzaab:
"Surely We offered the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to be unfaithful to it and feared from it, and man has turned unfaithful to it; Surely he is unjust, ignorant."

Then the Imam (a.s.) further said:
"Even if this man has something better than what is available in the market, he must not give it to the buyer without informing him of the fact."
(Tafseer Safi)

This is because the actual transaction consisted of taking the person's money to the market and purchasing a cloth. Anything contrary to this is 'Khayanat'.

Sulayman Bin Khalid says,
I inquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "A man had borrowed some money from me. Not only did he not repay the loan but he also took an oath that he did not owe me anything. Later he kept some of his money with me as a trust. Can I recover my debt from this money?"

Imam (a.s.) replied, "Certainly that person has betrayed you but you should not betray trust. You must not commit the same sin."
(Nihaya of Shaykh Tusi)

As we have already mentioned, Shaykh Tusi and the other great Mujtahids have given a clear verdict in the light of the Quranic verses and clear ahadith, that Khayanat is totally prohibited.

But in the book Milhiqat Urwatul Wuthqa, the late Kazim Tabatabai says, "It is commonly believed by the Mujtahids that to recover one's legal dues from a property held in trust is permitted."

The fatwa of Late Kazim Tabatabai was also to this effect, but precaution dictates that one must refrain from such a course of action.

If a person is given money on the undertaking that he should give it to a poor Sadaat, he cannot keep this money, even if he himself happens to be a poor Sadaat, without informing the owner. But if it is certain that the owner will agree to his keeping it for himself then doing so is not breach of trust.

The burden of Khayanat and the Day of Judgement

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has said,
"Beware! One should not commit Khayanat of even one camel! Otherwise, he will be summoned on the Day of Qiyamat riding the same camel and bleating like a camel.

Beware! One should not commit Khayanat of even one horse! Otherwise he will be summoned on the Day of Qiyamat riding the same horse and neighing like a horse.

He will be calling me for help, 'O Muhammad! O Muhammad!' I will tell him that I had already warned him. Now I have no responsibility concerning him against Allah."
(Al Kafi)

Allamah Majlisi has recorded a tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.):
"You must return even a needle and thread. For Khayanat will cause untold degradation and exposure of defects on the Day of Qiyamat."

A man came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) with a needle that he had taken without permission. He said, "I had taken this needle to sew a pack saddle for my camel."

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him,
"If this needle belongs to me I have forgiven you. However, if it belongs to the other Muslims you must pay for it so that it could be included in the public treasury for equal distribution."

"I was not aware that it was such a serious matter," the Arab remarked, "If it is so, I will not keep the needle with me." He handed over the needle to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and went away.

The guilty shall be recognised by their marks

According to Allamah Majlisi, on the Day of Qiyamat the sinner shall carry the pilfered property on his shoulders. Every type of sinner will have specific distinguishing marks, by which everyone will know what sin the sinner had committed. One who commits a greater sin and dies without repenting for it, the Almighty Allah will deal with him with justice on the Day of Qiyamat. So much so that the mark of the sin that he committed most will be attached to him. For example, the drunkard will be holding a wine bottle, the terrible stench of which will cause discomfort to the people. Similarly, the musician will have the instrument stuck to his hands. The gamblers will be having the instrument of gambling with them. The same thing is alluded to in the verse:
"The guilty shall be recognised by their marks."
(Surah Rahman 55:41)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and his trustworthiness

One day a poor man came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and told him of his poverty. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"Sit down! Allah is most Powerful."

Another beggar came and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him to sit down too. Then a third destitute arrived and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him also to sit down. After some time a person came and presented four saa (approximately 12 kilos) of wheat as Zakat to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) distributed one saa (3kilos) of wheat to each of the poor men. One saa of it remained. After the Maghrib and Isha prayers the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) announced that a saa of wheat is remaining with him. Any needy person can come and collect it from him; but no one came forward. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was compelled to take this trust home. Ayesha says that, that night the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was very restless. When she inquired the reason of his restlessness he replied,
"I am fearful of the consequences in case I die today and this trust is not delivered to a deserving person."

It is also mentioned that when the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was on his deathbed, he had an amount of six or seven dinars for the poor and the needy, remaining with him. He sent for the money and after counting it, said,
"It is possible that Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) may reach the presence of his Lord while these dinars are still in his custody!"

Then he (s.a.w.s.) summoned Amirul Momineen Hazrat Ali (a.s.), and gave him the dinars for the poor and the destitutes and then said,
"Now I can rest in peace."
(Naaseekhut Tawarikh Vol.3, Pg544)

Secrets are also trusts

Sometimes a person is told a secret and asked not to divulge it to others. This secret is also a kind of trust. It may also be that one learns of a secret regarding another person and is sure that that person would prefer that it is not made known to others. This secret is a trust according to Shariat. To divulge a secret that one has come to know is Khayanat. The following saying of Ali (a.s.) is present in Ghurarul Hikam:
"To divulge a secret that you are supposed to guard is Khayanat and betrayal."

It is absolutely haraam to betray a secret which is a trust, whether of a friend or an enemy, of a righteous person or an evil one.

Private discussion is also a trust

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) mentions that:
"People who sit together must be careful of safe-guarding the trust. It is not permitted for a believer to disclose a secret of his believing brother."
(Behaarul Anwaar Vol.16)

Abu Zar has related from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"O Abu Zar, one who sits in company must be cautious of safeguarding trust. For if you expose a secret of your believing brother, you would have committed Khayanat. So, keep away from such things."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Whatever is discussed in a meeting is also a trust with the participants. Anything that is to be kept confidential must not be divulged. It is recorded in the traditions:
"One who sits in company must be wary of maintaining the trust but it is not haraam to expose the secret of three kinds of meetings: One, where an unlawful murder is planned; two, where fornication is planned; three, where it is planned to loot someone's property. The facts of such meetings could be presented in the court for proving someone's right. In some cases it assumes such importance that it becomes necessary to disclose a secret."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

In Surah Tahrim the Almighty Allah flays some of the Prophet's wives (Ayesha and Hafasa) for betraying a secret of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Allah has advised them to repent.

"If you both turn to Allah, then indeed your hearts are already inclined (to this)."
(Surah Tahrim 66:4)

The same chapter also mentions the wives of Hazrat Lut (a.s.) and Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) in the following words:
"Allah sets forth an example to those who disbelieve the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut; they were both under two of Our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards them so they availed them naught against Allah, and it was said: Enter both the Fire with those who enter."
(Surah Tahrim 66:10) 

Divulging secrets is Khayanat

Abdullah Ibne Sinan says that he inquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "Is it haraam for a believer to expose some things of another believer that deserve to be kept secret?"

"Yes," the Imam (a.s.) replied.
The narrator further asked, "Do you mean by this the 'private parts'?"

Imam (a.s.) explained, "It is not what you think, (Though it is also haraam to view the private parts), what I meant were the confidential matters."
(Al Kafi)

Imam (a.s.) has also said:
"One who washes a dead body of a believer and observes caution with regard to the trust is absolved of all his sins."

Someone asked, "How can one maintain secrecy with regard to the washing of a believer's corpse?"

The Imam (a.s.) answered,
"He must not tell anyone of the deformities that he might see in the dead body."
(Amaali)

From this discussion we can be certain that exposing a secret amounts to committing Khayanat. Under all circumstances a secret is a trust, whether the person concerned himself takes you in confidence or you come to know of the secrets by yourself, it is haraam to betray it. If the one whom the secret concerns does not wish his secret to be divulged, then it is haraam and a kind of Khayanat to expose it. Such types of trusts that involve secrets have various grades and are of different types. Certain types of Khayanat are termed as tale telling and others are called backbiting. Each of these shall be elaborated ahead.

Informing disbelievers about the military secrets of the Muslims

Khayanat can be with Allah (a.j.), the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and Muslims. One can also commit Khayanat with ones own self. When a person reveals the political secrets or the military stategies of the Muslims to the disbelieving opponents, he commits Khayanat which includes all the above. He is the cause of strengthening the enemy and responsible for the defeat of the Muslims. Perhaps it is this type of Khayanat that is alluded too in the following ayat:
"O you who believe! Be not unfaithful to Allah and the Apostle, nor be unfaithful to your trusts while you know."
(Surah Anfal 8:27)

In the Shaane Nuzool (circumstances of revelation) of this verse Jabir Ibne Abdullah Ansari says: One day Jibraeel (a.s.) informed the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) of the fact that Abu Sufyan was camping at a particular place with an army of polytheists. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) made preparation to fight with him and kept this secret so that the enemies would be taken by surprise. However, one of the hypocrites wrote to Abu Sufyan and informed him of the Muslim plan. The explanation of the verse (8:27) mentions the Khayanat of Abu Lababa and his subsequent repenting.

Divine mercy upon those who maintain trusts

Maintaining a secret is however, a formidable task. Only those with a high sense of honour are unflinching, and succeed in strictly maintaining secrets. It is a morality with which very few good actions can compare and is deserving of high rewards and Divine blessings. The person is protected from fear on the Day of Qiyamat. On the day when all the people will be gathered for accounting, the trustworthy people shall be placed at the safest and the best place under the shade of Divine mercy.

Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) says,
"Three types of people will be under the shade of Divine mercy when there will be no other shade:
(One), the person who arranges the marriage of his believing brother. (Two), the person who procures a servant for his believing brother. (Three), the person who has maintained a secret of his believing brother."

Restrain from divulging your own secrets

According to the traditions we must not inform anyone of our own secrets. Even if those people are our closest relatives or friends. It is possible that their friendship may not last forever. They might become our enemies in the future. It is very scarce for an enemy not to expose the secrets of his opponent.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has advised one of his followers:
"Do not tell your secrets even to your friend. But only tell him those things that will not cause any harm even if your enemy comes to know of it. Because even a friend could become your enemy one day."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

A reliable and pious person has related that when he intended to divorce his wife, he was asked about her defect; that had made him take such a decision. He replied, "An intelligent person never exposes his wife and never reveals her secrets."

Subsequently the divorce was completed and even the Iddah came to an end. Again some people asked him, "Now she is no more your wife. What was the actual defect in her, that you had to divorce?" He said, "I am not concerned with other women." It means that it is the right of a wife upon her husband that he maintains her secrets even after separation and divorce.

Revealing a secret is a kind of Khayanat and all types of people consider it to be evil. It is mentioned in the book Uqudul Farid that even a filthy man like Ziyad (May Allah's curse be upon him) had criticised Umar Ibne Saad (May Allah's curse be upon him too) for revealing the last wishes and the secret of Hazrat Muslim Ibne Aqeel. Ibne Ziyad (l.a.) had written to Umar Ibne Saad. "O Umar Ibne Saad! Because you yourself have revealed the secret of Husain's coming towards Kufa, you would have to go and fight against him."

The detail of this incident are from the book Nafasul Mahmoom and other books of Islamic history, and are as follows.

When Ibne Ziyad had Muslim Ibne Aqeel arrested, Muslim asked, "Would you murder me?"

"Yes," replied Ibne Ziyad.
"Give me some time so that I can express my last wishes to a relative of mine."

The accursed Ibne Ziyad permitted him to do so. Muslim searched among the people present in the court and saw Umar Ibne Saad. He told Umar Ibne Saad, "O Umar! We are related to each other. I wish something from you. It is obligatory for you to fulfill it and it is a secret that I cannot reveal to everyone."

Umar Ibne Saad tried to shirk the responsibility but Ibne Ziyad told him, "Do not try to avoid this. Listen to what your cousin wishes." So Umar Ibne Saad and Muslim Ibne Aqeel went into a corner.

Muslim said, "There is debt upon my neck. When I had reached Kufa, I had borrowed seven hundred Dirhams. Please sell my armour and repay the loan. When I am killed take my last remains from Ibne Ziyad and perform a proper funeral and bury me. You must also send someone to Imam Husain (a.s.) so that he can stop him from coming to Kufa. I had myself invited him to Kufa and written that the people of Kufa are on his side. So he must have started his journey towards Kufa. Inform him of my arrest and execution so that he may turn back."

Umar Ibne Saad immediately told Ibne Ziyad all the three things (the debt of Muslim, the burying of his corpse and the warning for Imam Husain (a.s.). Ibne Ziyad (l.a.) said to Muslim Ibne Aqeel, "A trustworthy person can never betray you but the thing is that you have considered a betrayer to be your confidant."

An exemplary confidant

It is appropriate to mention an exemplary trustworthiness at this point. When Hazrat Imam Husain (a.s.) reached a spot called, 'Haajiz' he wrote a letter to Muslim Ibne Aqeel and the Shias of Kufa. He wrote:
"From Husain Ibne Ali (a.s.) to his Muslim and momin brothers. Peace be upon you all. Praise be to Allah besides Him there is no deity. I have received Muslim's letter. He has informed me of the glad news that you all are united to support me and prepared to fight for my right. I pray to Allah for your favourable consequences. May He reward you for this stand of yours. I have left Mecca on Tuesday the eighth of Zilhajj and started moving towards you. When my messenger reaches you, you must become serious and concerned in your mission. I shall come to you within a few days, InshaAllah. Peace be upon you and the Divine Mercy."

Imam Husain (a.s.) gave this letter to Qays Ibne Musher Saidawi who set out immediately and soon reached the outskirts of Kufa. An officer of Ibne Ziyad, by the name of Haseen Ibne Tamim tried to arrest him there. He at once tore up the letter of Imam Husain (a.s.). He was then taken to Ibne Ziyad. When Ibne Ziyad told him to surrender the letter he said, "I have torn it into pieces."

"Why?" asked Ibne Ziyad.
"So that you may not come to know what was written in it."

"To whom was it addressed?"
"To some people I am not familiar with."

Ibne Ziyad ordered, "If you do not reveal the name, you shall have to mount the pulpit and invoke curse upon the liars." [Ibne Ziyad was actually referring to Imam Husain (a.s.).]

Qays Ibne Musher went to the pulpit and announced, "O people! Husain Ibne Ali is the best creature of Allah, and the son of Fatemah (s.a.) the daughter of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). I am his messenger. I have left him at a place called 'Haajiz'. I have come to you so that you may respond to his call and support him wholeheartedly."

Then Qays invoked curse upon Ibne Ziyad and his father. He then showered praises upon Amirul Momineen Hazrat Ali (a.s.).

Ibne Ziyad ordered that Qays be taken to the wall of the palace and then thrown down. When Qays was thrown from such a height, his bones shattered but he was alive when Abdul Malik Ibne Amir beheaded him.

When Imam Husain (a.s.) learnt of Qays' murder, his eyes were filled with tears. He recited the following ayat of the Quran:
"Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah: so of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet waits, and they have not changed in the least."
(Surah Ahzaab 33:23)

An interesting incident of trustworthiness is also recorded in the book, Riyazul Hikayaat:
A man had one thousand Tumans in a bag. He was going to the public bath, early in the morning. On the way he met a friend who was also heading towards the public bath. When they came to a junction this person separated without informing his companion. Perchance a robber was pursuing them with the intention of stealing the moneybag. When this man reached the bath the robber followed suit. The man deposited the moneybag with the bath keeper and went inside to take a bath. The bath-keeper himself thought of taking a bath. He thought that the robber who had followed the man was the latter's friend. So he handed him the money bag and said,
"Keep this in your custody till I return after taking a bath."

The thief remained sitting till the bath-keeper returned. Then he gave back the moneybag to him. When the bath-keeper learnt that he was not a friend of the first person he asked, "Then who are you?"

He replied, "I am a thief."
"Then why did you not steal the money bag?"

The thief answered, "I may be a thief, but betraying trust is against manliness. While safeguarding this trust I have also remained aloof from robbery."

This nobility impressed the owner of the moneybag, and he opened the bag and gave some money to the robber as a reward.

However, stealing is also haraam and it shall be discussed in the forthcoming chapter. An object may be expensive or worthless, but stealing it is absolutely haraam.

 

 

 

 

 


source : GREATER SINS/Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)
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