Friday Sermon: Truth, Lies and Arrogance

June 16th, 2017

In the previous sermon I spoke about the relationship between good morals and righteousness; the Promised Messiah’s instructions that man can only become a righteous person when he possesses all good moral qualities. However, there are some aspects of morality, which if not present in a believer, his level of faith becomes questionable. Righteousness is a matter for later; first one must look after their faith. Among all the aspects of morality necessary for a believer, the most important is to remain truthful and to abstain from lying. God Almighty states in the Holy Quran: “Shun therefore the abomination of idols, and shun all words of untruth,”

Hence, having put worship of idols and lying together, God has clearly demonstrated that it is a sin paramount to idol-worship. So, this is a very clear and open warning for one who professes faith, that if you are a believer then you must also have a high standard of truthfulness. The Promised Messiah (as) has given vast and detailed discourses on the importance of truthfulness in our faith. The Promised Messiah (as) says, “The Holy Quran has deemed lying equal to idol-worship…Both are an abomination and both are vile, hence one should stay away from them.” “Avoid idol-worship and lying. In other words, lying too is an idol. The one who puts his trust in lies abandons his trust in God Almighty. So, in lying, one also loses God. When a person abandons his trust, God does not go near him.”

stressing that the lying is an abdominal practice, the Promised Messiah (as) instructed his followers to give up this practice. He states: “A great deal of effort is required for this, and for a long period of time one must make great endeavours. Only then will one instil in himself the habit speaking the truth.”

The Promised Messiah (as) writes: “The one who lies creates his own idol and considers it to be the means of their salvation.” He then states: “Remember that there is nothing more cursed than falsehood. Generally, worldly men say that the truthful get caught, but why should I accept this when I myself have been in 7 court cases and by the grace of Allah, not once have I had to utter a lie. Can anyone say that God Almighty made me suffer defeat in any one of them? God Almighty is Himself the protector and Helper of the truthful. Can it be that He gives a punishment to a pious person or a truthful person? If this ever happened then no one in the world would ever have the courage to speak the truth and true belief in God would disappear.”

The Promised Messiah (as) stated: “The reality is that those people, who endure punishments because of speaking the truth, their punishment is in fact not due to speaking the truth. Rather it is due to their subtle and concealed misdeeds.” Those mistakes and misdeeds are the reason for punishment. The punishment is the result of some other lie.. All the record of our deeds is securely kept with Allah the Almighty. Man may escape from worldly punishment through excuses but Allah the Almighty cannot be deceived.

This saying of the Promised Messiah(as) that ‘a worldly individual thinks that they cannot forsake lying as they could not survive without it’ is not only regarding greater interests, rather the state of worldly people is such that they lie about everything, even the smallest of matters. Thus, a large study on lying, containing many essays, was recently published in the latest National Geographic. The research was conducted on ‘Why we lie’? [The author] suggested that supposedly success is achieved through lying like the Promised Messiah(as) also said that people think that they achieve success due to lying. [The author] has written the same and has also tried to prove in the study that that it is ingrained in the human nature to lie. However, it is not [ingrained in] the human nature to lie, rather it is the environment which makes one a liar. In the same article, [the author] has formulated the idea or has tried to justify lying by saying that it becomes a habit since childhood, whereas even during childhood, it is the environment, which inculcates this habit. People lie to make their stories more colourful and attention grabbing. In that article, it is said about [people ranging from] children to politicians, from [usual] professionals to scientists, that their words contain lies. In this society, in this environment, there is so much lying that we observe lying everywhere. In their view, there is no way out of it. [They say,] ‘we are forced to lie. After reading this article, it seems that every matter of theirs is based on a lie. The initial survey which they conducted revealed that everyone tells three to four lies daily. Then, according to all this research, lies are told in order to establish a false image about one’s self, for the sake of self-impression. These lies are on a smaller scale. Among the ‘bigger’ lies, is the lying between spouses. If one analyses [the situation] among ourselves, domestic quarrels, separations and divorces take place because people rely on lies, whereas, after understanding this fundamental element of human psyche, one of the verses, we have been told to recite during the Nikah sermon is as follows: “O ye who believe! fear Allah, and say the right word.” It further states: “He will bless your works for you and forgive you your sins. And whoso obeys Allah and His Messenger, shall surely attain a mighty success.” Allah the Almighty has spoken about truthfulness with regards to a relationship between husband and wife to such a great extent so that there should be no bending [of truth], there should be a high standard of truthfulness. In this way, not only will your relationships become pleasant, your children will also be saved from many issues. Allah will also forgive your sins and grant you a great success. After such guidance, any lying in the marital relationship will become a grievous and a very worrying sin this is most alarming because they would be disobeying the commandments of Allah depriving themselves of the forgiveness of sins and of the divine promise of success.

Thus, in this survey there was a breakdown by percent of all the different types of liars. The four biggest categories are people that lie in order to conceal a mistake, in order to gain financial benefits, personal benefits beyond money and in order to escape or evade people. This is what the survey mentions. Thus, we must analyse the standards of our truthfulness and always be mindful of this. With regards to giving testimonies, God Almighty prohibits giving false testimonies. The Holy Quran says, “And those who bear not false witness”. Therefore, we should not give false statements for any financial gain or gaining any resource, nor should it be to gain any other advantage. If we wish to be counted amongst the servants of the Gracious God and progress in our faith then we must avoid these falsehoods.

Whilst highlighting the standards of our truthfulness and how to avoid falsehood, the Promised Messiah (as) states at one point: “…, I urge you not to remain stubborn upon injustice and spill the blood of truthfulness. Adopt the truth, even if you learn it from a child. Should you witness the truth from an adversary, then you should abandon your futile logic immediately…The truth will then prevail and [one should] always speak the truth, just as God Almighty states: ‘Shun therefore the abomination of idols, and shun all words of untruth’. The Promised Messiah (as) states: “Whatever turns one away from the direction of truthfulness and leads one away from truthfulness is an idol for you. Always speak the truth, regardless of whether that statement will go against ones’ father, brother or friend.

A Christian once raised an allegation that the Holy Prophet (sa) gave permission to lie on three occasions and in the Holy Qur’an there is a clear command that one can conceal their faith using falsehood. Whereas in the Bible there is no such command. In reply to this the Promised Messiah (as) stated: “It should be made clear that in regards to the emphasis placed by the Qur’an for upholding truthfulness and honesty, I do not believe that even a fraction of this has been mentioned in the Bible. The Holy Qur’an has declared lying akin to idolatry as it states: “Shun therefore the abomination of idols, and shun all words of untruth”. It then states: “O ye who believe! be strict in observing justice, and be witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or against parents and kindred.” This is the standard of truthfulness.

These are the standards that are vital for a believer. Further elaborating on this matter the Promised Messiah (as) states: “God Almighty has stated that justice cannot be established without truthfulness. God Almighty states: ‘Be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness.’ The Promised Messiah (as) states: “Many people can show love to their enemies and speak with them amicably, however, they usurp their rights. ..’ One brother appears to show love to another brother however he deceives him and under the guise of affection suppresses his rights.’ Love and affection are alien to dishonesty. It is impossible that one can hold true sympathy and affection towards another person, yet resorts to lying to them. True affection is something with stems instinctively. In short, we need to strive to achieve such standards.

The Promised Messiah (as) continues: ‘… a true believer carefully controls what he or she says (he or she refrains from uttering anything that is unrighteous). Thus, govern your tongues rather than allowing your tongues to govern you leading you to speaking excessively and beyond measure.’ One should keep their tongues in check, is what is meant by ‘governing’ them and not allowing yourself to blurting out whatever comes to mind, because this would only lead to exclaiming anything and everything, whether truthful or false. In turn, this creates disorder and strife. May Allah the Almighty enable every one of us to understand this fact

Then another trait that should be part of the etiquettes of a believer and is something that draws the nearness of God Almighty is humility and aversion from arrogance. With regards to those who are arrogant, God Almighty states: “And turn not thy cheek away from men in pride nor walk in the earth haughtily; Surely, Allah loves not any arrogant boaster

The Promised Messiah (as) has mentioned this in his writings on several occasions advising against arrogance in religious and worldly matters. Some people become arrogant after dedicated acts of worships or true dreams. The Promised Messiah (as) states: “Behold! Arrogance originates from Satan and can cause one to become Satan as well... One should not show arrogance over any trait; whether it is over their knowledge, their wealth, their credibility, their cast, their family status or rank. …. One cannot be bestowed this wisdom unless they eschew arrogance and adopt humility. The reason why it cannot be bestowed to man is because it arrogance is the part of Satan that God does not like.”

The Promised Messiah (as) stated: “This is the very secret behind the incident when Jesus was addressed by saying: ‘O virtuous teacher’, to which Jesus replied, ‘Why do you call me pious?’ The Promised Messiah (as) states: “The ignorant Christians of today say that the real meaning behind this statement is ‘why do you not call me God?’ even though Prophet Jesus replied in the most subtle of manners, which was inherent in his nature. He was fully aware that true piety can only be bestowed by God Almighty.

Regarding how to purify oneself, the Promised Messiah(as) states: ‘In my view, this is the best way for one to acquire purification, although it is possible that there could be a better method, and that is to not display any kind of arrogance or pride. If one wishes to be purified then one should not show any kind of arrogance or pride – whether it is over their knowledge, family status or wealth. … Man is forever in need of heavenly light. The eye cannot see unless there is light from the sun which falls from the skies. Similarly, the intrinsic light removes all forms of darkness and instead develops the spiritual glow of Taqwa [righteousness] and purity. I tell you truly that one’s righteousness, faith, worship and purification comes from the heavens and this is dependent upon the grace of Allah the Almighty. If He desires, He may cause it to remain and equally He may remove it if he desires.’

The Promised Messiah(as) further states:

‘Acquiring true comprehension [of the Divine] is in fact to quash one’s own ego and give no importance to oneself. And to fall at the threshold of Allah the Almighty with utmost humility and meekness and seek His grace and the spiritual enlightenment which burns away one’s inner passions and illumines one internally and develops the strength and passion to perform virtuous deeds.’

In order for one to become free of arrogance it is essential to attribute every quality to Allah the Almighty. Every good quality should be attributed to Allah the Almighty. Further expounding on this, the Promised Messiah(as) states: The truth of the matter is that the impurity which is borne out of the passions of the inner self and manifests in the form of immoral practises, arrogance, conceit, etc. cannot be exterminated unless there is the grace of God Almighty and these immoral blemishes cannot be reduced to ashes until they are not burnt by the fire of true insight. When one begins to develop this vigour of true insight, then he gradually becomes free from the deficiencies he suffers in his morals and despite being of high repute, he considers himself as low … In fact, he believes that it is purely due to the grace of Allah the Almighty and His mercy just as a wall becomes bright when the rays of the sunlight fall upon it, however the wall itself cannot take pride over this.’

The rays of light from the sun fall on the wall and as a result it becomes bright, however the wall itself cannot take pride over this due its own inherent qualities. The Promised Messiah further states: ‘Furthermore, the cleaner the wall, the more clearer the light.’ If the wall is clean and shiny then the light reflected from it will be even brighter. The Promised Messiah further states: ‘The Prophets never attribute any ability or strength to themselves. They receive it from God and only proclaim His name.’ Thus, if this is the state [of humility] of those who are very dear to God Almighty then what should be the level of humility displayed by an ordinary Ahmadi and how much should he lower himself out of humbleness while being grateful to Allah the Almighty for His blessings?

Arrogance brings about a spiritual death and one becomes distant from God Almighty. Expounding about arrigance, the Promised Messiah states: I firmly know that this ailment is far worse than murder. An arrogant person becomes the brother of Satan because it was arrogance that spelt the ruin for Satan. Therefore, one of the conditions for a believer is that he should not have any arrogance, in fact he should be humble, modest and meek and this is the hallmark of the prophets of God Almighty.

Advising the community regarding this, the Promised Messiah states: ‘Arrogance has become widespread in the world. The Ulema [scholars] have fallen prey to showing off their knowledge and becoming arrogant. … Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to focus on the true reformation. Therefore, if Allah the Almighty desires this from this Community then the member of the Community need to pay heed towards true reformation. The Promised Messiah further states:You should focus on the true reformation as taught by the Holy Prophet(sa).

May Allah enable us to stay away from all immoral acts and instil excellent morals within us by following the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet(sa). May the standards of our truthfulness be those that grant us the nearness of God Almighty and enable us to adopt that humility that God Almighty likes. May we become members of the Promised Messiahs community, the likes of which he wished us to become.