What did you do with ‘Amanah’?
Abdullah ibnu Mubarak (May Allah have mercy upon him) was a profound scholar. Once he visited Syria and people gathered around him. In the midst of people’s questions and requests to him, one person requested that a supplication be given in writing. Abdullah Ibn Mubarak borrowed a pen from the person standing nearby and wrote down the supplication. Afterwards, he started back to his native. Only reaching upon a city so afar called ‘Marw’ (in Turkmenistan), he realized that the pen he borrowed was not returned to its owner. He did not think twice, walked many miles back to Syria, found the owner of the pen and handed it over with an apology. (Incident mentioned in book Sifat-us-Safwah by Ibn Jauzi)
Through this incident, Abdulla Bin Mubarak portrays an exemplar of the vigilance we must exhort regarding the things entrusted on to us.
Islam teaches us a great lesson that we should exert the same vigilance in guarding others’ assets as much as we put into guard our own. This vigilance is the symbol of prudent piety (Taqwa) and etiquette of a virtuous heart. Life of a believer is devoid of any desires for things that he doesn’t deserve. It’s when our hearts do not find contentment in what we already possess, we start desiring for others’. Thereby, our minds would slip into the pitfalls of immorality.
It’s an utmost necessity that we should guard the things entrusted on us, carefully, and hand it over to the deserved. Our character blemishes when we lack this quality. Qur’an uses the word Amanah to denote the entrusted matters. A severe punishment awaits those who impair ‘Amanahs’. This is enough to adulterate our ‘Imman’ (faith) with the tinge of hypocrisy. Even in his Speech of Arafa (the last sermon), which is considered as a summary of prophetic teachings, prophet (PBUH) gave a strong warning regarding Amanah. He said “Return the goods entrusted on you to their respective owners”. Betraying people on things that are entrusted is counted as a sign of hypocrisy by Prophet (PBUH) (Sahih al-Bukhari - Book 78, Hadith 6162)
‘Secret’ is an Amanah that we often do not consider seriously. Secret is equivalent to blood. Blood is inside the body and when it comes out, there will be a wound in the body. Similarly, a wound would be created when we let a secret that was entrusted to us, leak out. It is mentioned in a Hadith that we should keep the secrets shared with us, treating them as Amanah even if latter did not request it specifically. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “When someone hears a discussion from a person who does not want his name to be released, it is considered to be a private conversation. It is a trust, even if he did not ask it to be kept private” [Ahamed].
Prophet (PBUH) teaches us that the greatest Amanah is the secrets between spouses. It is mentioned in a hadith reported from Ahmed that “Among those who will occupy the worst position in the Sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection is the man who has intercourse with his wife and then spreads her secrets” [Sunan Abi Dawud 4870].
Prophet (PBUH) taught in another Hadith that “The best of you (people) are my generation, and the second best will be those who will follow us, and then those who will follow the second generation.” `Imran added, “I do not remember whether he mentioned two or three (generations) after his generation. Prophet added, ‘Then will come some people who will make vows but will not fulfill them; and they will be dishonest and will not be trustworthy, and they will give their witness without being asked to give their witness, and fatness will appear among them” (Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 81, Hadith No: 6778).
Prophet (PBUH) reminds in a Hadith reported by Ahmed that even though all the sins of a martyr will be forgiven by Allah, his debts (that is considered as a misappropriation of trust) will remain. (Riyadussaliheen – Book 12, Hadith 1312).
Allah describes four qualities of a believer in Quran: “Those who fulfill the covenant of Allah and do not break the contract, And those who join that which Allah has ordered to be joined and fear their Lord and are afraid of the evil of [their] account, And those who are patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord, and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them secretly and publicly and prevent evil with good – those will have the good consequence of [this] home (Qura’n Chapter 13, verses 20-22)
Now, let’s lean back and introspect. How many Amanahs are there with us that were not properly guarded? How did we treat Amanah? Wouldn’t these come back to us tomorrow when we are questioned in front of Allah?
We must inscribe the following teaching of Prophet (PBUH) in our minds: “He has little faith the one who has no trust, and there is no religion for the one who does not fulfill his promise” [Ahmad]. Others should be able to trust us and their Amanahs should be safe with us. We should never create a history of cheating anyone. Prophet (PBUH) advises us “Pay the deposit to him who deposited it with you, and do not betray him who betrayed you.” [Sunan Abi Dawud Hadith No: 3535].
It is a very serious thing if we keep others’ wealth, possessions or secrets. That itself is more than enough to decide our fate on the Day of judgement. Leadership, Trade, our jobs… we deal with lots of Amanahs in our life and we must handle all these with due seriousness.
All that we entrusted and being entrusted were with our tongue; but on the Day of Judgement, when our tongues are sealed and hands and legs are asked to speak out, would we be judged sinners? Turn to ourselves; think about it!