God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was trustworthy and encouraged trustworthiness. Once, during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan, his wife Safiyya visited him while he confined himself in mosque for constant prayer. As he escorted her home, two of his Companions happened to pass by. The Messenger stopped them and, unveiling the face of his wife Safiyya, said to them, Look, this is my wife, Safiyya!
They said: ‘God forbid any evil thought about you, O Messenger of God!’ The Messenger had wanted to warn them against any evil suspicion about him, which might cause them to lose their faith and thereby condemn them to eternal Hellfire. He gave them and us a lesson, saying, Satan continuously circulates within man in his blood vessels. 3
God’s Messenger was the embodiment of trustworthiness. The Makkans called him ‘the Trustworthy One.’ Even after the declaration of his Prophethood, they continued to entrust their precious goods to him although they regarded him as an enemy.
He warned his people against lying, breaking one’s word and breach of trust. Like breaching a trust and breaking one’s word, lying was also, in his words, ‘a sign of hypocrisy’.4 He was so meticulous in this matter that once he saw a woman call her child saying, ‘Come on, I’ll give you something!’ He asked her whether she would really give the child something. When the woman replied that she would give him a date, God’s Messenger warned: If you were not to give something that would be a lie!
He was not only against deceiving humans, but even warned people against deceiving animals. Once, annoyed at seeing one of his Companions call his horse using deception, he said: You should give up deceiving animals. You should be trustworthy even in your treatment of them! 5
Once, on the way home from a military campaign, a few Companions took the chicks of a bird from the nest to pet them. The mother-bird returned after a short while and on finding the chicks gone, began to fly around in distress. When God’s Messenger was informed of this, he was so grieved that he ordered the chicks to be returned immediately. By this he demonstrated that it was not befitting for those who should be representatives of trustworthiness to hurt any living creatures.6
His Companions, those of the generation of Islam who imbibed his Message, were each an embodiment of trustworthiness. By virtue of this and other laudable virtues, cities and states were submitted to the Message they conveyed. During the caliphate of ‘Umar, the embodiment of justice, Abu ‘Ubayda was the commander of the Muslim armies in Syria. When the emperor of Byzantium set out to recapture Hims with a large army, Abu ‘Ubayda decided to evacuate the city since there were only a handful of soldiers in his company. He gathered the people of Hims in the city quarter and announced:
We collected the protection tax from you because we had to defend you. Now we are too weak to defend you against the assault of the emperor of Byzantium. In this case, we return the tax we collected.7
All the taxes collected were returned to the non-Muslim people of Hims. Pleased with the Muslim administration, Christian priests and Jewish rabbis flocked to the churches and synagogues and prayed for God to grant the Muslims victory against the armies of the Byzantine emperor.
Such was the attitude of Muslim conquerors and administrators in the lands they ruled. Muslims stayed in Spain for eight centuries. If there were left in that land Christians in sufficient numbers and with sufficient power to recapture it after eight centuries, this was due to the religious tolerance of the Muslim administration. Muslim rulers, whether in Europe or Asia or Africa, did not interfere with the religion, language or native culture of the conquered peoples. If they had done so, there would have been no Christians or Jews left to recapture Spain or the Balkan countries or Palestine to carry out genocides therein, or to destroy peoples, cultures and languages almost all over the world.
Islam emphasizes trustworthiness and security between people to the extent of condemning and forbidding suspicion and backbiting. The Qur’an declares:
O you who believe! Avoid much of suspicion for suspicion in some cases is a grave sin. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would abhor it. And fear God, verily God is the Acceptor of repentance, the Most Merciful. (al-Hujurat, 49.12)
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was so sensitive on this point that when once ‘A’isha said of a woman, ‘How long the neck of that woman is!’ he commented:
You have backbitten against her and thereby eaten of her flesh! 8
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, always prayed to God as follows:
O God! I seek refuge in You from hunger, for how bad a companion it is! I also seek refuge in You from betrayal, for what an evil confidant it is! 9
The following is also one of his severe admonitions against betrayal and disloyalty:
When God gathers together on the Day of Judgement all the people preceding and to come, a banner will be raised on behalf of every man of disloyalty and it will be announced: This is because of the disloyalty of so and so! 10
The heart of God’s Messenger was utterly closed to all kinds of evil, but open to all sorts of good. He lived in a climate of security, faithfulness and trustworthiness. He never cheated, lied, betrayed, spoke behind anyone’s back or slandered anyone. He never harboured evil suspicion of anyone. In return, people relied on him, and confided in him. His enemies spoke all kinds of slander against him but no one ever accused him of lying and disloyalty. Those who turned their backs on him were deceived and dragged along into wrong ways.
3. Bukhari, I’tiqaf, 8; I. Ma’ja, Siyam, 65.
4. Abu Dawud, Adab, 80; I. Hanbal, 3.447.
5. Bukhari, Iman, 24; Muslim, Iman, 107.
6. Abu Davud, Jihad, 112, Adab, 164; I. Hanbal, 1.404.
7. Abu Dawud, Adab, 164; I. Hanbal, 1.404.
8. Ibn Kathir, Tafsir, 7.359; al-Targhib ve l-Tarhib, 4.285.
9. Abu Dawud, Witr, 32; Nasa’i, Isti’adha, 19,20; Ibn Ma’ja, At’ima, 53.
10. Muslim, Jihad, 9.