Rahmatullah Khan Shakir (1901-2000), Former Assistant Editor and Manager of Al Fazl
Honesty and integrity are among the major traits of human beings. Those who have studied about the life of the Holy Prophetsa know well that honesty was his hallmark even before his ministry, so much so that he was called “Al-Ameen” – the trustworthy – by his countrymen. In Arabia, he was referred to as “Al-Sadiq”, the truthful, and “Al-Ameen”, the trustworthy. Even non-Muslims are greatly impressed by this trait of the Holy Prophetsa.
Mrs Annie Besant, a theosophical leader in India, and a renowned European lady, writes to the effect:
“A quality of the Holy Prophet which established his grandeur and nobility in my heart is one due to which his countrymen called him the trustworthy. No quality can be greater than this one. And nothing is worthier of emulation than this for both the Muslim and non-Muslim. Can there be any doubt in the nobility of a man who is truth incarnate? Such a man is worthy to receive the divine message.”
Where numerous other traits were generated among the Companionsra by keeping the company of the Holy Prophetsa, their honesty and integrity were also elevated. Even amid very hostile conditions, their honesty did not falter. Some accounts are given below:
Finding gold coins
During a battle with the Romans, a young Muslim found a jar full of gold coins. He could have kept it if he had desired, but he opted not to do so. He brought it to the commander-in-chief, who distributed it among the troops according to their proportionate share.
The commander was so impressed by his honesty that he said, “Had it not been the Islamic teaching not to gift anyone out of it before Khums (the fifth portion) I would have given the gold coins to you. But now, the most I can do most is to give you my own share, therefore I offer it you.”
Observe the independence of this companion who had found the jar, for he denied it saying that he did not need it. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Jihad)
Hazrat Ubayra bin Kaab once found a pouch containing a hundred gold coins. But it never occurred to him to keep it with himself, so he brought it to the Holy Prophetsa. He asked him to announce for a whole year to find its owner. He complied with the instruction.
After a year, he visited the Holy Prophetsa and submitted that he had failed to find the owner. He asked him again to do the same for another year and he tried to find the owner for yet another year, but failed to find its claimant.
The third year, he came once more to the Holy Prophetsa who allowed him to keep it and asked him to give it to the owner if he found him, otherwise he should spend it himself. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Luqtatah)
Searching and announcing for the rightful owner for a year
Once, Hazrat Sufyanra bin Abdullah Thaqfi found somebody’s meal container and brought it to Hazrat Umarra. He asked him to announce for its owner for as long as a year, and only if he failed to find the owner could he keep it.
After a year, he again came to Hazrat Umarra when he failed to find its owner. Only then did Hazrat Umarra declare it to be his. But Hazrat Sufyanra said he did not need it. Thus, Hazrat Umarra deposited it in the national treasury. (Sunan al-Darimi, Kitab al-Buyu‘, Bab al-Luqtatah)
Bringing lost property to the Prophetsa
Once, Hazrat Miqdadra was passing through an orchard when he saw a mouse bringing out from a hole some gold coins, which numbered eighteen. He brought all the coins to the Holy Prophetsa. The Prophetsa remarked that he could not have brought the coins out from that little hole, to which Hazrat Miqdadra concurred in the negative.
The Holy Prophetsa said, “May Allah bless you.” (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Khiraj, Bab ma ja‘a fir-rikaz)
Spending on others with integrity
As Hazrat Zubairra was a trustworthy man, people entrusted him with their valuables. But in case of the unlikely event of him losing the money, he considered it as a loan. The valuables of numerous Companionsra remained entrusted with him, and he was so honest that when the need arose, he would spend on their families from his own pocket but would not take anything out from their trust. (Al-Isabah, Vol. 2, p. 460)
Taking care of a camel in the absence of its rightful owner
Once, a companion lost his she-camel. He asked another companion to catch it in case he found it. By chance the latter found it, but its owner had departed for some place. The one who found the camel kept it with him and continued to search for the owner. But the owner was not to be found.
One day, the she-camel fell severely ill and his wife suggested that he slaughter it. The people of his household were starving in those days, but his honesty did not allow him to slaughter it and so, the she-camel died a natural death. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-At‘imah, Bab fil-Muztar ilal-Maitatah)
Searching for the owner for a year and then handing it to the original owner’s fellow tribesman
A companion had somebody’s trust secure with him, but its owner was not to be found. He came to the Holy Prophetsa and relayed the whole account to him. The Holy Prophetsa asked him to look for the owner for a year. But to his utmost effort, the owner was not to be found anywhere.
After a year, he again visited the Holy Prophetsa and apprised him about the non-availability of the owner. The Holy Prophetsa again asked him to look for the owner for another year.
After a year, he again told the Holy Prophetsa that the owner was not found. Then, the Holy Prophetsa directed him to hand it to anybody from the owner’s clan whom he met first. Thus, he followed the instruction. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Fara‘iz, Bab fil-mirath zil-arham)
Integrity in finding so much as a needle
When, after the Battle of Hunain, Hazrat Aqeelra bin Abi Talib returned home, his wife asked him if he had brought anything from the spoils of war. He replied that he had found a needle for sewing, which he handed to her. In the meantime, a crier called to submit to the treasury if anything was found from the spoils. Thus, he instantly took the needle back from his wife and deposited it in the national treasury. (Usdul-Ghabah, Vol. 6, p. 227, Zikr Fatimah bint Saudah)
Integrity towards one’s foes
After the fall of Khaybar, the Holy Prophetsa gave the local agricultural lands to the local cultivators for cultivation. After the harvest, he sent Hazrat Abdullahra bin Rawahah to collect their share of the proceeds. He divided the proceeds into two halves and allowed the Jewish cultivators to take a share of their liking. But the Jews wanted to take more than their share. They amassed the jewellery of their women to bribe him into giving them some favour. But he replied, “O Jews! I think you are the most accursed people in the sight of God. But even this hostility of mine towards you cannot incite me to do any injustice to you. As for the bribe, it is unlawful; therefore do not expect from me to accept it.” (Muwatta Imam Malik, Kitab al-Masaqat, Bab ma ja‘a fil-masaqat)
Integrity of Hazrat Abu Bakrra
Hazrat Abu Bakrra was a young man when he accepted Islam. The Holy Prophetsa proclaimed his prophethood at 40 years of age when Hazrat Abu Bakrra was two and a half years younger than him. He was an experienced businessman and his honesty and integrity were renowned. He was a very respectful man among the Quraish. In the days of ignorance, blood-money used to be entrusted to him, and the Quraish would not accept if it was entrusted to somebody else other than him. (Kanzul-Ummal, Vol. 6, p. 312)
Fighting and triumphing against the Persians, when the Muslim forces cooled down the fire-temple at Nahavand, one of its worshippers brought a trunkful of precious jewels to Hazrat Huzayfara bin Yaman, which had been entrusted to him as a palatial trust. These were not spoils of war, but something obtained personally. A person who overlooks the subtle ways of integrity may have made many interpretations to keep such a valuable thing with himself, but Hazrat Huzayfara deposited all of it to the national treasury.
(Translated by Shahid Mahmood Ahmad, Missionary in Ghana, from the original Urdu, Muslim Nau-jawanon kay Sunehri Karnamey)