The Importance of Amanah
Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatu allahi wa barakatu
This month I would like to talk about ‘Amanah’, what it is and its importance as I find this to be a major issue in the Ummah salla allahu alayhi wa salam.
What is Amanah?
Amanah originates from the word Aminah and defines as security, peace and safety. Literally, amanah means reliability, faithfulness and trust. Trustworthiness enhances the integrity and sound moral conduct that is inherent in the notion of honesty. It means to be fair, punctual and keeping promises and commitments. It is an important aspect of a Muslim character. Peace in society is achieved through individual faith. The concept of amanah binds individuals with society. The opposite of amanah is betrayal which is to fail in keeping the trust in the way the person who left it as expected or wanted it to occur.
The concept of Amanah in Islam.
The phrase ‘Amanah’ appears 6 times in the Quran; 4 times in Madinah revelations and twice in Makkan revelations. Allah subhanahu wa taala said about the believers:
‘truthful to their trusts (amanah) and to their pledges’
(Surah Al-Mu’minoon 23:8 and Surah Al-Miraaj 70:32)
This emphasises the importance of amanah and prepares the believers to take trusts seriously and be accountable to their own lives, families, societies and environment itself. Every woman and every man has rights and responsibilities. Everything given to us by Allah subhnahu wa taala is amanah itself and should be managed with care and according to the Shariah (Islamic law).
Amongst the Amanah given to us from Allah subhanahu wa taala is to obey His commandments and holding on to our deen; Islam. Allah has given us the rational power and mental faculty in which we have been given a free choice to differentiate what is right from what is wrong. To worship Allah and submit to His will, or to worship mankind and submit to them.
‘O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam’ (Surah Al-Imran, 3:102)
‘O you, who believe, do not betray God and His Messenger, and do not knowingly violate your trusts’ (Surah al-Anfal, 8:27).
Even our blessings given to us by Allah subhanahu wa taala such as our health, our five senses, money, homes etc. This is why we will be questioned about them, how we cared and utilized in His way. Our own beloved Prophet salla allahu alayhi wa salam, who was known even before his Prophethood as Al-Amin (the trustworthy one) stressed its importance:
On the authority of Ibn Mas'ud radia allahu anhu said that Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam said
"The two feet of the son of Adam will not move from near his Lord on the Day of Judgement until he is asked about five (matters) about his life - how he spent it; about his youth - how he took care of it; about his wealth - how he earned it; and where he spent it and about that which he acted upon from the knowledge he acquired."
Allah subhanahu wa taala says:
‘Then on that day you shall most certainly be questioned about the bounties’ (Surah al-Takathur, 102:8).
‘The hearing, sight and hearts will all be questioned’ (Surah al-Isra’, 17:36).
‘If you trust one another, then let him who is trusted fulfill his trust, and let him be conscious of God, his Sustainer’ (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:283).
Even at work or volunteering for a charity or organisation, your role is Amanah. Today, there is lack of commitment and honesty. It is important that you have a good relation with your manager or the person who is head or organising an event, where if you cannot perform a role due to other commitments, it is better for you to be open about it where the role can then be given to someone else who is able to perform the task. Apologising on the day or night before can cause tension. Indeed no one is perfect, but Allah has given each of us a brain (Aql) and heart (qalb). Thus it is better for one to be honest and this will cause less fusion. In many scenarios and real life situations, lack of communication is the root cause and can lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary arguments.
Allah subhanahu wa taala says:
‘And he who misappropriates shall come on the Day of Judgement with what he misappropriated’
(Surah Al Imran, 3:161).
Our Beloved Prophet salla allahu alayhi wa salam said that Allah subhanahu wa taala said:
‘There are three people whom I shall be their opponent on the Day of Judgment: A man who was given something in My Name and then betrays; A man who sells-off a free man (as a slave) and consumes the price; and A man who hires a labourer, makes use of his service then does not give him his wages.’ (Sahih Al-Bukhari).
Another hadith, Hudhaifah bin Al-Yaman radia allahu anhu reported that Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam foretold to us two Hadiths. I have seen one (being fulfilled), and I am waiting for the other.
He Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam told us
"Amanah (the trust) descended in the innermost (root) of the hearts of men (that is, it was in their heart innately, by Fitrah, or pure human nature). Then the Qur'an was revealed and they learnt from the Quran and they learned from the Sunnah.''
Then the Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam told us about the removal of Amanah. He said,
"The man would have some sleep, and Amanah would be taken away from his heart leaving the impression of a faint mark. He would again sleep, and Amanah would be taken away from his heart leaving an impression of a blister, as if you rolled down an ember on your foot and it was vesicled. He would see a swelling having nothing in it.''
Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam then took up a pebble and rolled it over his foot and said,
"The people would enter into transactions with one another and hardly a person would be left who would return (things) entrusted to him (and there would look like an honest person) till it would be said: `In such and such tribe there is a trustworthy man.' And they would also say about a person: `How prudent he is! How handsome he is and how intelligent he is!' whereas in his heart there would be no grain of Faith.''
Hudhaifah bin Al-Yaman radia allahu anhu added: I had a time when I did not care with whom amongst you I did business, I entered into a transaction, for if he were a Muslim, his Faith would compel him to discharge his obligation to me; and if he were a Christian or a Jew, his guardian (surety) would compel him to discharge his obligation to me. But today I would not enter into a transaction except with so-and-so. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
In Riyad Al Saliheen 200, it says that the word `Amanah' (trust) is a very comprehensive term which includes everything like adherence to Islamic injunctions, fairness in dealing, giving everybody his due, etc. According to this Hadith, with decline in moral values the true sense of Amanah will gradually go on diminishing and eventually a stage will come which has been elucidated in the text of this Hadith.
Furthermore, even maintaining secrecy and confidentiality of what is required to be confidential is considered in Islam as Amanah and breaching it is a sign of hypocrisy.
On the authority of Abdullah ibn ‘Amr radia allahu anhu that the Prophet salla allahu alayhi wa salam said:
"Four traits whoever possesses them is a hypocrite and whoever possesses some of them has an element of hypocrisy until he leaves it: the one who when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise, when he disputes he transgresses and when he makes an agreement he violates it.’’ [Muslim and Bukhari]
Another Hadith, Jabir bin Abdullah radia allahu anhu said that the Prophet salla allahu alayhi wa salam said:
“If a man tells you something then looks around it is a trust.” [Al-Tirmidhi 1959, Shaykh Al-Albani declared it to be Hassan)
Ibn Raslan said that because his looking around is the signal to the one to whom he is speaking that he is afraid that someone may overhear him, and that he has chosen him to tell his secret to. His looking around takes the place of his saying, ‘Listen to this and keep quiet about it because it is a trust.
Excellent examples of some prominent individuals
When Yusuf alayhi salam was given his role by the Pharoah of Egypt at the time, it was not due to being a prophet nor was it due to his piety, rather it is was due to his skills in being able to complete the duties of the role and his knowledge. Yusuf alayhi salam said:
‘Place me in authority over the treasures of the land; surely I am a good custodian, a knowledgeable one." (Yusuf, 12:55).
Thus my dear brothers and sisters, when given positions it should be handed over to the right people in relation to skill, trust and reliability as faith and piety alone is not enough for one to be able to complete a task given especially if they do not have the skill.
Another example is Shuaib alayhi salam who warned the people of Madyan who developed unfair practices in business and so forth.
“He said, “O my people! Worship God, you have no other god but Him, and give not short measure or weight, I see you in prosperity; and verily I fear for you the torment of a Day encompassing. And O my people! Give full measure and weight in justice and reduce not the things that are due to the people, and do not commit mischief in the land, causing corruption. That which is left by God for you (after giving the rights of the people) is better for you, if you are believers.” (11:85-86)
However, they did not listen and they were indeed punished as Allah subhanahu wa taala is the One who can be relied upon to fulfil His promises.
“And when Our Commandment came, We saved Shuaib and those who believed with him by a Mercy from Us. And a torment (or awful cry) seized the wrongdoers, and they lay (dead) prostrate in their homes.” (11:94)
Furthermore Abu Ubayda radia allahu anhu was the commander of the Muslim armies in Syria. The King of Byzantium which was the ancient Greek city whose name later changed to Constantinople which is Istanbul today, he sent an large army to capture him, and he decided to evacuate the city as he only had a small army with him. He entered the middle of the city and stated
‘We collected the protection tax from you because we planned to defend you. Now we are too weak. In this case, we return the tax we collected.”
All the taxes collected were returned to the people. Look at the importance of trust my dear brothers and sisters. They knew and understood the depth of their obligations towards Allah subhanahu wa taala and importance of those protected under the Muslim armies.
Another prominent individual is Al-Hasan ibn Arafah rahimulllah who said:
Ibn al-Mubarak said to me, “I borrowed a pen in the land of Shaam and then went to return it. However, when I approached Marw (after leaving Shaam), I noticed it was still with me [he must have forgotten]. So I returned to Shaam until I returned it to its owner.” [Al-Siyar of al-Dhahabi (8/395)]
The Ummah salla allahu alayhi wa salam should be one unit, where they should stand before Allah knowing that they are safe after Allah subhanahu wa taala, in a trustworthy company, no matter what their socioeconomic status is, poor or rich. We are all equal regardless of race, and the only thing that makes us better than the other is our righteousness and piety in which Amanah itself is part of and blends in.
The Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam said amongst in his last sermon on 9th day of Dhul al Hijjah, 10 A.H. in the 'Uranah valley of Mount Arafah.
‘All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.’
Thus my dear brothers and sisters, take care in your duties on a personal and professional basis.
May Allah enable us to fullfill the amanah entrusted to us, our families and societies in sha Allah ameen.
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