Honesty is a virtue coming to exist in the wake of harmonising of thoughts with the truth. Yes, most of us, my brothers and sisters, confuse the virtue of honesty and the notion of truth. First of all I have to state that honesty is a holy virtue of life that comes into existence when people live their life based on truth. Here comes the separation: As long as people hold the truth in the center of their life they manage to be honest. Whenever they move away from the truth, they move away from honesty. Well, what are the factors that lead people to lie by moving them away from the truth?
As you know, according to Islam every human being is born with a pure nature and with a good character which we call “fitrah”. So, we should try to think of ways to maintain our honesty rather than making the effort to attain honesty and to get others adopt honesty. Instead we should determine where the lie comes into our lives for the first time. Unfortunately every child learns his first lie in the family which is the most important educational establishment. For instance, a mother calls out to her three-year-old daughter “Honey, come here, please. I’ll give you something.’’ But when she comes, her mother gives nothing and seats her beside herself. Much as we do not realise it, maybe that child has learnt her first lie from her mother and it sticks in her mind that “I can deceive the people in order to get something I want done, that’s a correct behaviour” and unfortunately she gets one step further away from the virtue of honesty.
Let’s look at the second example.
A father not wanting to go somewhere he promised because of his busy schedule makes up an excuse, which is actually a lie, and in front of his child’s eyes he tells the lie to the man whom he promised to meet: “Today I became so sick” or “The child got sick’’. This leaves its imprint on the mind of that 7-year-old child. He gets the idea that “I can lie to the people who call me to account when I do not fulfill a duty that I have to do.’’
A child with this mindset, whenever he does not do his homework he can easily invent lies like “Sir, I forgot it”, “I was sick’’, and what’s worse he can make a habit of it. The child moves one more step away from honesty. This case, -including his relationship with his wife and children in future- gets worse or gets better in respect of his honesty level in his social relationships.
Let’s have a look at the most important factor of our life after family; it is society and media. I am sorry to say, we clearly see the virtue of honesty in our human affairs in the social life is being destroyed considerably. Even though we are the ummah (community) of a Prophet commanding “Do not lie even if it is a joke!’’, the sense of humour in our modern society is established on lies to a large extent. Unfortunately, the worst reflection of this state confronts us on April Fools’ Day (April 1). This is the most serious symptom of the paradox experienced by humanity that they are detesting lie so much but at the same time they are also so close to it. A sense of humour combined with lie is widely accepted in the society and personalities who tell good jokes by lying are presented to people appealingly. As a result, our children who have clean and pure nature are seriously influenced by them.
In fact and unfortunately, they see these liars, whose sole capital are but lies, as their role models. For sure this situation is another cause ruining the virtue of honesty.
In addition, deception and telling lies are used as part of the scenarios in the series. Those lies are made cute under the name of white or even pink lies. This is imbedded in our sub-conscience even if we are not aware of it; and it leads us to tell ‘white’ lies in our daily life. As the followers of a religion which commands “The one who deceive is not from us’’, many, unfortunately, fall to make this mistake at several points of their lives. May Allah protect us from being trapped into this. Amin!
What to do then?
You can find it bizarre but we should certainly look over our reactions to lies. First, the virtue of honesty must be essential in our homes. First of all we do know that our children are what we are! Firstly we should not tell lies. We should be truthful. From now on, for example, if we react to their lies just as we react to their low marks on their exam; if parents make the same effort to make them well-behaved with good manners just as they spread on effort to help them pass the university exams, of course we are going to see that the problems are solved.
Please note that there is a person who closely follows our example and memorizes every word we utter and who sees us as role models.
And also, if we completely comprehended our sacred things and the truths of our beliefs, we would protect the virtue of honesty. Pay attention, our religion orders that “So remain on a right course as you have been commanded” (Qur’an, 11:112) and our Prophet (p.b.u.h) says that “a Muslim may make any mistake but never ever tell a lie”.
If we really want to gain the virtue of honesty to which our religion attach massive importance, first of all in our social life we should judge people not by their clothes or their physical appearance but by the righteousness of their words that they utter. Then only the people would display the same sensitivity they show for their looks to their thoughts and words.
Remember that honesty is one of the holiest virtues which is in our pure nature in the first place. Thus, we should manage to keep it as it is rather than to attempt to gain it afterwards.
Peace be with you.