Our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was known in Arabia, long before he preached the message of Islam, as Al-Sadiq Al-Amin. The honest, the trustworthy. This is the singular most solid characteristic of our Prophet. It stemmed from his childhood through adulthood and until his death. Even while he was spreading the message of Islam and the Meccans were fighting against him, disputes aside, they would leave their belongings with him when they travelled on a far journey. He was so trustworthy and honest that even his enemies relied on him.
If any of us are to follow one characteristic of the Prophet, then let it be this.
A truthful person is a respectable person. A truthful person is a strong person. A truthful person is an emotionally and intellectually intelligent person.
Dishonesty, untruthfulness, and untrustworthiness are all constructs of our character based on the need to please others. We lie to free ourselves of blame. We succumb to what is expected of us and paint our lives with a lie. We weaken in the face of life’s pressures and society’s expectations. We lie and take ourselves away from the best version of ourselves to a lowly one.
If religion did one thing right, if Islam did one thing right, that was to highlight the importance of truth and standing up for truth.
Hussain, the beloved grandson of the Prophet, stood for this. His famous lines echo through the centuries:
‘If you do not believe in any religion, and do not fear the Day of Resurrection, then at least be free in this world’.
To be free in this world means to negate falsehood in all its forms, and it means to stand up for truth and justice in all its forms. A true follower of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is one who identifies injustice everywhere and vocalises their support. To follow in Hussain’s footsteps is to say no to playground bullies, to say no to corporate bullies, to say no to government bullies, to say no to media bullies and to stand strong and free for what you believe in and what you know is right.
On the day of Ashura, two camps stood up for prayer. One was significantly smaller than the other. One was significantly more humble than the other. One had the family of the Prophet and seventy-two of their followers, while the other was a camp of monstrous size and demeanor, the camp of Yazid. One truthful, the other the epitome of falsehood. Falsehood can decorate itself with the rituals of religion, but falsehood can only wear its costume for so long.
The tragedy in Karbala on the day of Ashura was recorded by many. People who were there, bystanders who saw the atrocities unfold and did nothing. They saw the six-month-old baby killed by a deadly arrow and did nothing. They saw Hussain’s camp denied water for three days in the scorching heat of Iraq and did nothing. They saw a plethora of inhumane murders and told themselves it was okay… they lied to themselves. They lied that it was okay.
They were promised wealth, you see, money, you see, position, you see. But don’t you see?
It isn’t okay. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says it isn’t okay. It’s never okay to lie to yourself about what is right and what is wrong.
Don’t weaken. Stay strong. For God is with the righteous.
We learn bravery from a man who saw thousands of arrows flying towards him but still stood with the truth. So be truthful, to yourself before anyone else.
Hurr ibn Yazid Al-Riyahi, one of the key members of Yazid’s army, was brave enough to make this stand. He abandoned his position and joined Imam Hussain’s army saying,
‘I see myself choosing between heaven and hell’.
He saw the right and wrong and chose the right. He lost his position and life by standing for the truth.
If he can do it, so can you.