Ethics of Auto Repair

ethics of auto repair

On the Day of Judgement, every detail – be it a screw or a nut – will be accounted for.

It has been reported that Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “The happiness of a person in this world depends on four components: a righteous and obedient wife; a spacious and comfortable abode; good neighbours; practical and comfortable means of transportation.” (Ibn Hibban and Ahmad)

In this article, we will take a closer look at the fourth component or, more specifically, the technical servicing of a means of transportation.

Up until the twentieth century, animals were the most widely used means of transportation worldwide. When the first automobiles appeared, animals started losing their ground; they were eventually pushed aside completely as Europe and the US began the mass production of automobiles.

Due to global technical developments, the automobile, which was once a luxury, has now become a mere means of transportation. In some countries, the number of automobiles is roughly equivalent to the adult population. The number of cars per 1,000 persons is 508 in Europe, 540 in Japan, and 776 in the US.

With an increasing numbers of automobiles, there is also an increased need for specialists qualified to service cars. No driver can avoid seeking the help of an auto mechanic, even if it is just for changing a tyre or car oil. The frequency of seeking the help of a mechanic depends on various factors, such as the condition, year of manufacture, and brand of the car, as well as the driving capabilities of the car owner. The gentler you are towards your ‘steel horse’, the less frequent will be your visits to the auto service.

Sheikh Saeed Alfandi Al-Chirkavi and Imam Kuramuhammad-haji Ramazanov, two great contemporary Muslim scholars, have extensively discussed in their writings the ethics of driving and auto repair.

Selecting the Best Auto Mechanic

Good auto mechanics are always in great demand. Just like in any other field of work, Islam prescribes certain ethical norms and requirements for auto mechanics. The most important principle a mechanic should follow is: to service and repair any automobile as if it was his own, or, like a famous saying goes, “do the work, as if you are doing it for yourself.”

Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “None of you will truly believe until you wish for your brother what you wish for yourself.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Auto Repair Ethics

Although the above discussion should suffice, it is important to mention some ethical norms that must be observed by all auto mechanics:

  • Clear intention to help people and earn, through this, the pleasure of Allah (swt).
  • Aim to earn only by fair means, without deception.
  • Don’t miss Salah, no matter how much work is at hand.
  • Since cleanliness is half of faith, it is very much desired to keep the auto repair shop clean and neat. Clients will also feel good about visiting a well-maintained and clean car service.
  • During work hours, it is desirable to keep the radio tuned to an Islamic channel with the aim of acquiring Islamic knowledge.
  • In the course of work, car oil comes into contact with the skin of mechanics. For Wudhu to be valid, the body parts that need to be washed should not have any water resistant materials on them. Therefore, before making Wudhu, mechanics have to remove all traces of oil from their hands. It is recommended to work in gloves.

Professional Traits

  • First of all, the mechanic has to be well-versed in his trade and have a good understanding about the specialties of different types of transportation. He should continuously keep himself updated about the latest information on car repairs and should raise his qualifications by learning from more experienced mechanics.
  • After evaluating each individual case, the mechanic should not start fixing the auto if he does not have the required skills and knowledge for it.
  • The mechanic should keep in mind the safety of the owner of the car and others on the road. More specifically, he should consider how the auto might behave in traffic situations once he completes his work on it.
  • The mechanic should do honest work with the client’s best interests in mind.

What is Forbidden

Under no conditions should a mechanic cheat his client. Sometimes a sly and unfair mechanic may use the ignorance of his client regarding the technical specifics of his car and:

  • Deceive him by asking to pay for work which is not done;
  • Make the client buy new spare parts in his shop, although there was no need to replace the old ones;
  • Replace a well-functioning car part with a faulty one.

There are numerous ways of cheating through which the mechanic can earn considerable amounts of money. In Islam, such dealings are forbidden. Money earned by such means will not result in blessings. Moreover, such unlawful dealings may bring upon the mechanic severe illness, loss of property, and other afflictions, as it has been said: “Beware of the curse of the oppressed. There is no barrier between such Dua and the Most High.” Car mechanics should keep this in mind, as there is no other word than oppression for unethical practices.

What Should an Unfair Mechanic Do?

A mechanic, who earns his wealth through Haram ways, must know that on the Day of Judgement, he will experience severe difficulties. Every cheated client will come and ask from him his due share. Every smallest detail – be it a screw or a nut – will be accounted for on that day.

Compared with these difficulties on the Day of Judgement, is it not easier to earn your bread by Halal means? We will receive what has been decreed for us. However, ours is the choice by what means our Rizq (provision) will come to us.

So what should an unfair car mechanic do if he has realized his mistake? The answer is self-evident: repent, while there is still time. He should try to recall what he has done wrong, and set it right. Also, he should never cheat again! He should know that he must pay back all those from whom he has taken Haram money; he should find the wronged clients, pay them back, and ask forgiveness. It is easier to set things right in this world than to give to the wronged clients your good deeds on the Day of Judgement and take on yourself their sins.

If you do not know the clients you have wronged and are unable to find them even after searching for them, give the amount you owed them in charity. Also, keep asking the Most High for forgiveness.

Source: Translated by Laila Brence.



To Be or Not To Be Ethical

Vol 5 - Issue 4   To be or not to be EthicalThis final article is by no means a conclusion on work ethics. There will still be many ethical dilemmas at work that will continue to trouble us. That in itself is a good sign. “Why?” you might ask. Because when these dilemmas stop troubling us, it means we no longer care about being ethical.

When our concern about being honest and truthful and the urge to control the waves of jealousy start to ebb, it is only the Quran and Hadeeth that bring us to our senses. Social pressures can be overwhelming at times, especially if you are living in a country which is regarded among the most corrupt in the world.

Whilst writing these articles, I have also learnt to identify the tugs of Nafs (desires) and ways to control it, Alhamdulillah. To be fair to others, to meet deadlines and to deliver good quality work seem to be contradictory goals most of the time. One is tempted to cut corners to quicken the pace of work – it is only in these very moments that the Quran and Hadeeth come to my rescue. Facts from our pious predecessors’ lives also keep us from floundering in the morass of confusion by making the right and the wrong very clear. Although we can barely reach the standards of God-consciousness (Taqwah) that they have set, their lives do tell us that you can be an ordinary human being and yet have high ethical standards.

Early Muslims and modern corporations

I am reminded of an incident from Mohammad Ibn Sirin’s (rta) life. He was a trader and a retailer, who once bought olive oil worth forty thousand Dirhams. On examination, he found a dead rat in one of the containers. He felt doubtful about the quality of oil in the entire consignment and chose to dump it, instead of risking people’s health. Consequently, he was unable to pay the forty thousand Dirhams and as a result, spent time behind bars. There were no case studies written on his level of honesty and the standards of business ethics he had set; yet, in his time, he was greatly trusted and admired, and we read about him to this day.

Ibn Sirin’s (rta) incident reminds me of the “Johnson and Johnson” “Tylenol” case. The company had aggressively marketed a brand of pain-relieving capsules (“Tylenol”), which accounted for 18% of the company’s income and had 37% percent of the market share. However, in 1982 after the death of seven people, it was found that the capsules were laced with cyanide. The company chose to recall ALL “Tylenol” bottles, facing a loss of up to $100 million (not including the damage to the brand and loss of public confidence). Nevertheless, this very decision put the company in the limelight, and it was hailed as an ethical firm. Within just six months, “Tylenol” regained its market share!

Another well-known personality from our pious predecessors is Imam Bukhari, who set such high standards of honesty that he did not even want to change his intention for greater worldly gains. Once, a group of traders offered to buy a consignment from him for a profit, which was double of what was offered to him by another trader the previous evening. He chose to forego the second offer in favour of the earlier one, because he had already intended to deal with them.

What do people say?

A young executive in his twenties, Murtaza, is of the opinion that truthfulness and success go together. According to him, if one is untruthful, word gets around which results in a bad reputation. At the same time, he believes that most people are myopic and prefer short-term gains over long term benefits. He names his father as one of the most ethical people he has come across.

The opinion voiced above reminded me once again of Muhammad Ibn Sirin (rta). Maimoon Ibn Mehran narrates that before completing a transaction, Ibn Sirin (rta) always asked his customer thrice, whether he was satisfied. He was so careful about his dealings that Maimoon exclusively purchased from him. While modern management would put this down as an excellent example of customer relationship management; it all boils down to plain honesty.

The head of research in a well-known Islamic financial services firm says that if you are unethical, you are definitely unsuccessful. He names one of his senior colleagues in the industry as ethical as well as successful. Still, he was also of the opinion that to reach the topmost level, one does have to compromise a little bit. This view was contrary to the opinion held by a chief executive of a business concern. When I asked him to name a few ethical and successful people, he immediately came up with three managing directors of local and multinational firms.

There are also people, who are ethical but have been unsuccessful monetarily. According to a female employee of an audit firm, even if people have managed to pull it off for some time using unethical practices, in the long-term they finally have to show performance, especially if they are chosen for an international assignment. Her role model is Syedah Aisha (rta), who was confident, full of energy and interacted with men within the limits set by Shariah.

Ayesha, who has worked in a part-time position, comes up with two people whom she believes to be ethical and successful. One of them is a scholar who was able to bring about positive change in a locality. Another person is a medical doctor as well as a Hakeem, who is charitable and closely follows the Sunnah. According to Ayesha, unethical people are often successful too, but their success is limited to this world only.

To be unethical is useless…

It is important not to be weighed down by what the cynics and skeptics say. Being unethical would not give us anything more than what has been destined for us. In a Hadeeth narrated by Jabir (rta), we learn that the Prophet (sa) addressed people saying that they should fear Allah (swt) and act decently in acquiring their livelihood, for no man would die until he obtains his provision, even if it involves some delay. The Prophet (sa) reiterated that people should fear Allah (swt), earn their livelihood by lawful means and stay away from the forbidden. (Ibn Majah)

Therefore, unethical dealings do not give us any more of the worldly gains that have been written for us. Such an attitude merely creates a ‘lose-lose’ situation: losing out in this world and, most definitely, losing out in the Hereafter. Now, who would want that?

Not Fair!

Vol 4-Issue 3 Not fairDid you know that a generation back in corporate America, CEOs made 40 times more than workers? Today they make 400 times more. Did you also know that in the US 44% of discrimination cases won by workers are reversed on appeal, while only 6% of cases won by employers are reversed? In all likelihood, the Pakistan scenario is much worse. Although laws requiring protection of workers’ rights are in place, enforcement is ineffective due to limited resources and corruption. It seems that whether it’s corporate America or a local company in Pakistan, fairness at the workplace is not really on the priority list of employers.

It’s mind-boggling to understand, why Muslim employers are unmindful about the importance of justice in Islam. Perhaps, they are unaware or may be they just need a reminder. So, let’s take a look at what Allah (swt) and Prophet Muhammad (sa) say about fairness.

Allah (swt) says:

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you avoid justice; and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do.” (An-Nisa 4:135)

“Verily, Allah enjoins Al-Adl (i.e., justice and worshipping none but Allah Alone—Islamic Monotheism).” (An-Nahl 16:90)

“Verily, Allah loves those who act justly.” (Al-Maidah 5:42)

Prophet (sa) says:

Abdullah Bin Umar (rta) narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: ‘Injustice will be darkness on the Day of Standing.’” (Bukhari)

Ibn Abbas (rta) narrated: “The Prophet (sa) sent Muadh (rta) to Yemen and said: ‘Fear the curse of the oppressed one, as there is no screen between his invocation and Allah.’” (Bukhari)

Rights Given to Workers

If Allah (swt) has placed so much importance on ensuring fairness, let’s look at some of the rights employees have been given.

Right to receive prompt payment

Abdullah Bin Umar (rta) reported Prophet Muhammad (sa) as saying: “Give the worker his wages before his sweat dries.” (Ibn Majah)

Right to considerate treatment

Anas (rta) said: “I served the Messenger of Allah (sa) for ten years, and he never said to me ‘Shame!’ or ‘Why did you do such and such?’ or ‘Why did you not do such and such?’” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Abu Hurairah (rta) reported Allah’s Messenger (sa) as saying: “A slave is entitled to his food and clothing, and he should have imposed on him only such work, as he is capable of doing.” (Muslim)

Right to equal treatment

Al-Marur (rta) has narrated: At Ar-Rabadha, I met Abu Dharr (rta), who was wearing a cloak, and also his slave was wearing a similar one. I asked about the reason for it. He replied: “I abused a person by calling his mother with bad names. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said to me: ‘O Abu Dharr! Did you abuse him by calling his mother with bad names? You still have some characteristics of ignorance. Your slaves are your brothers and Allah (swt) has put them under your command. So whoever has a brother under his command should feed him of what he eats and dress him of what he wears. Do not ask them (slaves) to do things beyond their capacity and if you do so, then help them.’”


According to Abu Hurairah (rta), Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Your servant brings your meals to you, then if someone does not let him sit and share the meals, then he should at least give him a mouthful or two mouthfuls of that meal or a meal or two meals, as he has prepared it.” (Bukhari)

Rights of the Employer

Demanding rights and not fulfilling duties would result in injustice to the employer. Among the rights awarded to employers is:

Right to be served with sincerity

Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated: “Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: ’Goodness and comfort are for him, who worships his Lord in a perfect manner and serves his Master sincerely.’” (Bukhari)

How can Employers Create a Fair Workplace?

1. Make Dua

The importance of praying to Allah (swt) should not be underestimated. The person seeking to enforce justice can say the following Quranic Dua: “My Lord! Bestow Hukm (religious knowledge and right judgment of the affairs) on me, and join me with the righteous.” (Ash-Shuara 26:83)

2. Have an open-door policy

Modern managers harp on and on about keeping an open-door policy. Yet, Caliph’s Umar’s (rta) open-door policy is enough to put such fancy talk to shame. Often foreign envoys and messengers sent to him by his generals found him resting under a palm tree or praying in the mosque among the people, and it was difficult for them to distinguish, which man was the Caliph. He also insisted that his appointed governors live simple lives, keep no guard at their doors and are accessible to the people at all times.

3. Be prepared to apologize

Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Whoever has wronged his brother should ask for pardon, as there will be neither Dinar nor Dirham (in the hereafter), for he should do this before some of his good deeds will be taken and given to his brother, and if he will have no good deeds, then some of the bad deeds of his brother will be loaded on him (in the hereafter).” (Bukhari)

4. Get out of your office and meet the workers face to face

Modern management calls this action ‘walk-arounds.’ Although fancy management literature did not exist at the time of the four rightly guided Caliphs, the Islamic principles were sufficient for motivating them to be fair and just. Once again we have Caliph’s Umar’s (rta) example – he spent many watchful night on the streets of Madinah to see whether anyone needed help.

5. Be ready to counsel someone, if you feel he/she is being unfair

Anas (rta) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Help your brother, whether he is the oppressor or the oppressed one.” People asked: “O Allah’s Messenger (sa)! We rightfully help the oppressed, but how can we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (sa) said: “By preventing his hands from oppressing others.” (Bukhari)

So, You’ve Been Quarrelling?

Vol 4- Issue 2 So you've been QuarrellingShipment deadlines are approaching, but the supply has been slack. It is likely that the consignment may be delayed and you’ll lose that foreign client you worked so hard to get. The supplier now calls requesting further delay. You’ve had it now, and refuse to take anymore, flaring up at the person on the other end of the line, (who’s been having a hard day too) you have the perfect ingredients for a boiling quarrel. What follows is an exchange of the choicest of words—but wait; did you wonder what’s that leading you to? Certainly not Allah’s (swt) pleasure!

An analysis of the above case would show that there are several reasons for the quarrel taking place: anger on both sides; increasing work pressure and other problems on both ends. So, is quarrelling the solution to the problem? Not at all, as we know from the following Ahadeeth:

The Prophet (sa) said: “The most hated person near Allah is the most quarrelsome” (Bukhari). And one of the characteristics of a hypocrite is that, “Whenever he quarrels he behaves in a very imprudent, evil and insulting manner.” (Bukhari)

The above are strong points for working towards resolving an argument.

Conflicts Can Be Costly

Negative responses to conflicts can result in quarrels, long winding disputes or even workplace violence. According to the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), Europe’s biggest alternative dispute resolution body, it is how you approach conflict that makes the difference. According to its calculations in the United Kingdom alone, conflict costs businesses ₤33 billion every year of which legal fees amount to ₤6 billion whilst the cost of the damages alone is ₤27 billion. If this sum were a country it would be the world’s fifty-seventh biggest economy! Moreover, disputes can go out of control resulting in workplace violence. Workplace Violence Research Institute reports that losses in 1995 from workplace violence in the United States alone amounted to approximately $35.4 billion. Therefore, it is important that conflicts be dealt with positively and prevented from flaring up into negative situations.

What types of quarrels exist in the workplace?

These can be broadly divided into two:

  • Task-related
  • Person-related

How do I Deal with Task-related quarrels?

Find the underlying reason for the quarrel

It’s easy to flare up at someone, and more difficult to find the underlying reason for the quarrel—but the more difficult approach is definitely more rewarding as it would help you to tackle the problem rather than flaring up at the symptoms. Underlying reasons could include system and environmental problems, or organizational problems.

Work towards a win-win solution

Instead of letting differences and difficulties build into heated arguments try negotiating a solution that eventually benefits both the parties.

A famous example from the Seerah is that of the placement of the sacred Black Stone during the rebuilding of Al-Kabah. The Prophet (sa) helped diffuse a tense moment and created a win-win solution by involving the different clans.

Another example is that of Allied Signal, a maker of auto parts and aerospace electronics. The company worked out win-win agreements with many of its suppliers. In 1993, it offered to double its orders from one of its suppliers, Mech-Tronics on the condition that the latter would cut its prices by 10%. This resulted in an initial elimination of Mech-Tronics’ profits, however with help from Allied Signal it improved its efficiency and the higher volume soon paid off.

Have someone arbitrate or make peace

Called a peacemaker or an arbitrator, such a person or an institution resolves disputes between two parties. However, it’s important that the arbitrator resort to the guidance of the Quran and Sunnah to solve the problem and be just so that both parties are willing to accept the proposed solution to the conflict.

The Prophet (sa) was the arbitrator in Medina. In fact, accepting solutions proposed by the Prophet (sa) was a sign of faith among the believers. Allah (swt) says, “But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you ( Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.” (Surah An-Nisa 4: 65)

How do I Deal with Personal Quarrels?

Find the underlying problem

Unlike a task-related quarrel, personal quarrels can be due to negative emotions, for instance, dissatisfaction, jealousy, a hot temper or simply personality differences. Controlling emotional reactions or the responses to these differences can stop the difference from escalating into a heated argument.

Understand the different personality types

Try understanding the different personality types and deal with them accordingly. Identify their comfort zones, and what ticks them off. You can do this through patient observation and listening. We have the Prophet (sa)’s example to emulate in this respect. His observation was so minute that he would speak to his guests using their own accents and dialects. He was quite eloquent at both Bedouin and town speech.

Be well-mannered

Allah (swt) praised the Prophet’s (sa) conduct in the Quran, “And verily, you (O Muhammad (sa) SAW) are on an exalted (standard of) character.” (Al Qalam 68: 4) and also said: “And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you” (Aal Imran 3: 159)

Politeness pays enormous dividends both in this world and the hereafter. The Prophet (sa) said: “Nothing will be placed in the balance heavier than good conduct, and a person with good conduct will attain the rank of one who fasts and prays.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Dua is a Must

No matter how hard we try to turn away from resorting to quarrelling as the sole solution, we can’t do much without Allah’s (swt) help. So let each one of us pray that, O Allah “guide me to the best character for no one can guide to the best (character) except you, and turn away bad conduct from me for no one can turn it away from me except you.” (Muslim) Ameen.

Can I Trust You?

In this article, the third in a series of articles on work ethics, Sumaira Dada discusses the importance of honesty in the workplace

A Pakistani bank executive wrote about his experience of the Far East work ethics. He noticed, how there people slogged at work, finished assignments within office hours and left work at 5 pm. In Pakistan, however, he was used to tea breaks, friendly chit chats, and long hours at the office. And at the end of the day, the amount of work done was much less compared to the number of work hours. Are you wondering about the reason for such inefficiency?

Take another case: a textile company has shipment deadlines to meet for its foreign client. Cutting corners, the company purchases low quality material, but manages to deliver on time. The consignment is rejected for not meeting specifications, and both the company and the country earn a bad name. Sound familiar?

Why is it that talk about honesty and trustworthiness are disdained? Let’s look at what Allah (swt) and the Prophet (sa) have to say about it.

Allah (swt) says: “Verily, Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due.” (An-Nisa 4:58)

“O you who believe! Betray not Allah and His Messenger, nor betray knowingly your Amanat (things entrusted to you, and all the duties which Allah has ordained for you).” (Al-Anfal 8:27)

Prophet (sa) says:

Anas bin Malik (rta) narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) addressed us and said in his sermon: ‘He has no Iman, who is not trustworthy, and he has no Deen, who does not keep promises.’” (Ibn Hibban)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “The signs of a hypocrite are three: whenever he speaks, he tells a lie; and whenever he promises, he breaks his promise; and whenever he is entrusted, he betrays (proves to be dishonest).’” (Bukhari)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: ‘Return the trust to one, who has entrusted you, and do not be treacherous to one, who was treacherous to you.’” (Abu Dawood)

Safeguarding your trust is important

It is clear that in the light of the Quran and the Ahadeeth, one cannot afford to slack about building up honesty and trustworthiness in oneself. First, we must understand the meaning of trust (Amanah).

What is Trust (Amanah)?

A simple definition is that every entrusted thing is an Amanah. This covers not only office duties, but also office hours, your skills and abilities, your clients, and even your own health – physical and spiritual.

The opposite of Amanah is Khiyanah, which means lessening or decreasing, in short, betrayal.

Does honesty pay off?

Most people would consider honesty as being another word for stupidity. But research shows that honesty does pay off. A study of the US market found that the three-year total return to shareholders was almost three times higher at companies with high trust levels. However, most employees did believe that trustworthiness in the workplace has seriously declined. In one study, more than half of those polled said that they considered hypocrisy as the biggest problem in corporate America today, and that the upper levels of management are to blame.

Although facts and figures have their importance, yet risking Allah’s (swt) dislike is really not worth it. Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Certainly Allah likes not the treacherous.” (Al-Anfal 8:58)

Is being trustworthy an unachievable goal?

If Allah (swt) and the Prophet (sa) have emphasized the importance of trustworthiness, then it is an achievable goal. In Muslim history, we will find the example of Umar Bin Abdul Aziz, the celebrated Umayyad Caliph, whose empire stretched from the shores of the Atlantic to the highlands of Pamir. His short rule is regarded as the brightest period in the 91-year Caliphate of the Umayyads. He was once sitting in his private chamber, examining a pile of state documents. When his wife sought to discuss a private matter with him, he asked her to put off the state lamp and put on their own lamp, as he did not want to burn the state oil for private purposes! According to “Tabaqat Ibni Sa’ad”, Umar bin Abdul Aziz never performed his private work in the light of a lamp, which burned the state oil.

Another incident also shows the utter honesty of the Caliph. Every Friday, Farat Bin Muslama brought state papers for his perusal and orders. One Friday, the Caliph brought a small piece of state paper in his private use. Muslama, who was aware of the exceptional honesty of the Caliph, thought that he had done it out of sheer forgetfulness. But the following Friday, when he brought back home the state papers, he found in them exactly the same size paper as used by the Caliph.

Once the Caliph’s servant burnt the firewood in the guest house (funded by the state treasury) to heat water for ablution. He had the same quantity of firewood deposited in its place. On another occasion, he refused to use the water heated from the state charcoal. Skeptics might frown at these incidents as being fictitious; nevertheless, they are facts on the deeds of our pious predecessors, enough to bring us to shame.

How do I become trustworthy?

The following tips might be helpful:

  • Remind yourself that Allah (swt) does not love those who betray (Al-Anfal 8:58). Keep constant reminders that you will be questioned about whatever you are entrusted with.
  • Make prayer for help from Allah (swt). Read the Quran regularly and study Ahadeeth to develop trustworthiness. We learn from the following Hadeeth:
  • Hudhaifah (rta) has narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) said to us: ‘Certainly, Al-Amanah descended from the heavens and settled in the roots of the hearts of men (faithful believers), and then the Quran was revealed, and the people read the Quran, and also learnt it from the Sunnah.’” (Bukhari)
  • Realistically assess, whether you are able to handle the task given to you. Discuss your apprehensions with your supervisor.
  • Don’t be afraid to say ‘no,’ when you feel that you cannot realistically meet a deadline.

The Truth about Lying

bsr005Want to take a day off from the office? Lie that you are not well. Want to miss that deadline? Lie that you had forgotten. Want to be late for work? Make the excuse that there was a traffic jam. These thoughts, which translate into actions, show that Satan will not spare us at all.

As survey shows, lying at the workplace is very acceptable. According to the Aziz Management Communications Index, more than a third (37%) of British bosses believe that it is acceptable for their employees to tell white lies to customers, while nearly half (46%) think that telling untruths is acceptable to safeguard the company. Although the survey is limited to the UK, it would be safe to presume that the situation would not be much different in this part of the world. This certainly rings some alarm bells for all of us.

What the Quran and Ahadeeth tell us

When reality is put side by side with the teachings of Islam, one is taken aback by the intensity of the warning from Allah (swt). Allah (swt), the Exalted, says: “Truly, Allah guides not him, who is a liar and disbeliever.” (Az-Zumar 39:3)

In another verse, Allah (swt) states: “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).” (At-Taubah 9:119)

The words of the Prophet (sa) also show that lying will never lead to salvation. The Prophet (sa) said: “Indeed, truthfulness leads to Al Birr (righteousness, and Al-Birr leads to Paradise. A man keeps on telling the truth, until he becomes a Siddiq (truthful person). Lying leads to Al-Fujur (wickedness), and Al-Fujr leads to the Hellfire, and a man keeps on telling lies, till he is written as a liar before Allah.” (Bukhari)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “The signs of a hypocrite are three: whenever he speaks, he tells a lie, whenever he promises, he breaks it, and whenever he is entrusted, he betrays.” (Bukhari)

Truth leads to success

Honestly – who doesn’t know that lying is a sin? We all confess that we have lied to get out of a tight situation to the extent that we have got used to it and do not believe that there is a way out. If this is an echo of your mind, then you are probably taking a defeatist approach. It is possible to be truthful as well as successful.

Our dearest Prophet Muhammad (sa) was an honest man to the extent that he was known As-Sadiq (the truthful) and Amin (the trustworthy). When Khadijah (rta), a successful businesswoman of Makkah, assigned Prophet Muhammad (sa) to do some business for her, she found more profits and blessings than she was used to. Her servant also told her about the good manners and honesty of the Prophet (sa).

New research by the Institute of Business Ethics shows a relation between success and ethical environment. UK companies with an explicit commitment to ethical business were found to have produced profits an average of 18% higher than those that did not.

So how do we break the lying habit?

1. Reexamine your level of Iman (faith)

Is it important to you that you stop lying? Do you believe that truthfulness will benefit you in this world and in the Hereafter? Are you convinced that lying eventually leads to Hellfire? These are just some of the questions that you can ask yourself.

2. Make prayer

The earnestness of doing something is reflected in the kind of prayers that we make. One of the prayers of the Prophet (sa) was: “O Allah! Purify my heart from hypocrisy, my deed from any kind of showoff, my tongue from lying.” (Baihiqi)

3. Fix your own penalty for lying

This penalty can be in cash or in kind. Give something to charity or keep reminding yourself that you did something wrong today.

4. Read up on examples of people, who were ethical and successful

Reading about the Companions of the Prophet (sa) and modern day success stories of ethical companies will provide you with the much-needed encouragement and guidance.

5. Assess the consequences of lying

Draw up or think of all the direct and indirect, long term and short term consequences of lying. If you can logically figure out the disastrous effects of lying in this world and the Hereafter, it may be enough to control the ‘fibbing habit,’ Insha’Allah.

6. Remember that truth leads to peace of mind

According to a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa): “Leave what appears doubtful to you and adopt that which is not doubtful to you, for truth is peace of mind and the lie is a means of doubt.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Advantages of telling the truth over lying

  • Telling the truth reduces medical expenses by keeping your blood pressure in the normal range.
  • If you tell the truth, you don’t have to worry about what to say, when you get caught.
  • If you tell the truth, you don’t have to learn any fancy ambiguous words to mislead people.
  • If you tell the truth, you get practice telling the truth, which can pay off, when telling the truth is really hard.
  • If you tell the truth, people have a chance to find out about problems, while there’s still time to do something about them.
  • If you tell the truth, it’s easier to sleep at night.
  • If you’re known as a straight shooter, fewer people will ask you to shoot crooked.
  • If you tell the truth often enough, when you say something, people are more likely to actually believe you.

Personality Ethics vs. Character Ethics


Reaping benefits out of the Quran and Seerah, I always notice, how they place absolutely uncompromising emphasis on the value of character integrity. But what really took me by surprise was reading Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The book was so much in line with the core Islamic values. The author narrates his personal experience of the middle seventies, when he was required to review 200 years of success literature published in the USA as part of a doctoral program.

He scanned hundreds of books on self-improvement, popular psychology, and self-help. A startling pattern emerging in the content of the literature was noticed. Much of the success literature of the past 50 years was superficial. It was filled with social image consciousness, techniques and quick fixes with social band-aids and aspirin that addressed acute problems and sometimes even appeared to solve them temporarily, but left the underlying chronic troubles untouched to fester and resurface later on.

It was after the World War I that the trend of focusing on the personality ethics emerged. According to Covey, “success became more a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques that lubricate the processes of human interaction. Some of this philosophy was expressed in inspiring and sometimes valid maxims such as ‘Your attitude determines your altitude,’ ‘Smiling wins more friends than frowning,’ and ‘Whatever the mind of man conceives and believes, it can achieve.'”

It also focused on clearly manipulative, even deceptive tactics, such as using techniques to make others like us and to fake interest in the hobbies of others for achieving what we want. The personality ethic approved of intimidating others and wearing the ‘power look.’

However, some elements of the personality ethics are essential for success, such as personality growth, communication skill training, and education in the field of influence strategies and positive thinking. But they are secondary in greatness. It is like constructing a building, whose foundation is the character ethics, or reaping a harvest, whose seeds lie in our character strength.

Now, let us have a look at the character ethics. In 1776, thinkers and social scientists of United States believed that the foundation of success lied in such values as integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the golden rule. Everything that the Quran has ever taught us – that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can experience true success and enduring happiness only as they integrate these principles into their characters. These are the principles of character ethics.

If we were to use human influence strategies and tactics to get work done, to be more motivated, or to make others like us, while our character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity, then in the long run, we cannot be successful. Once the charm disappears and the real face appears, all techniques will cave in. Frustration will build, relationships will become sour, and in spite of efforts, results will be far from desirable.

Lessons to Learn

As the West compartmentalized the character ethics, rather than recognizing it as a foundational and catalytic ingredient of success, they have paid the price. It gave birth to a ruthless and self-centered perception of life. This can be very blatantly observed in the media campaigns they broadcast and through the behaviors of an entire generation, which skipped the core values to cram in quick-fix solutions into their lives.

But as the saying goes, it is not a pity to sight someone making a mistake but to experience others repeating that mistake, rather than learning from it. Pakistan regretfully is treading the same path.

Last year, when I experienced the ordeal of getting my 3 and ½ year old son into school, my shock knew no bounds. Every reputed school was interested in an extrovert and outspoken child. Every mother wanted her kid to be the most eloquent voice box in town, mainly because that was in demand. God forbid, if the child failed the school entrance test – the parents went into mourning, self-pity, and envy.

I wondered if ever any of these parents went to that length to teach their children the significance of honesty, compassion, or other basic values in life. Instead, at this tender age of learning, they were being conditioned to a whole set of superficial traits, which would mould their mindsets into believing that this is the ultimate key to achievement. Later in life when they fail, they would be left devastated and confused.

Steven Covey has presented his case with a strong example of the law of harvest. If we forget to sow in the spring, play all summer and try to cram in the harvest in autumn, what will happen? Can we expect a shortcut? No. It is a natural system. The price must be paid and process must be followed. This also works for human relationships, whether at work or at home. If marriages are contracted on the pretext of false pretence and a flimsy veneer bringing two families together, when the charming tactics and techniques begin to crack up, relationships will break up, too.

There is an extremely powerful and critical lesson to be learnt here, something that every single one of us can relate to. We need to develop, change, and even train ourselves inside-out. Basic goodness gives life to technique. Once the values are in place, additional tactics can lead us to success. In Islamic terms, we can relate this to Tazkiyah-e-Nafs (self-accountability). Attempting to correct our own faults and constantly trying to improve ourselves by following the primary values (character ethics) and then developing the secondary principles (personality ethics). Once we have sown the seeds of a strong character upholding core values, success is bound to follow in our personal and professional lives and even beyond – in our lives in the Hereafter.

Is it a Luxury?

bsr005This article is the first part of a new series about ethical dilemmas at work.

A young business executive complained bitterly about gender discrimination at work. A wife was griping about the fact that her husband had to spend his Sunday at the office to compensate for the hours lost because of Eid vacations. A marketing student was having difficulty reconciling marketing principles with her knowledge of Islam. A businessman expressed how difficult it was to get work done without resorting to bribery. The list can go on and on. Do our prayers and fasting in Ramadan help us become better Muslims? Or is it just fine to leave Islam at home, when you come to work?

Allah (swt) says: “And I (Allah) created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).” (Al-Dhariyat 51:56) Therefore, it’s important to realize that the purpose of our life is to submit to Allah’s (swt) will; in short – to be Muslims.

Before committing to a code of ethics, clarify your intention and remind yourself that as a Muslim you ought to pay heed to what your Creator tells you. He knows best; therefore, you ought to give yourself up to Him.

An eye-opening Hadeeth emphasizes the importance of safeguarding our faith, whether at home or at work. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Hasten in good deeds before calamities, which will come like portions of a dark night. A man will get up a believer in the morning and an unbeliever at dusk, and a believer at dusk and an unbeliever in the morning. He will sell his religion in exchange for the frail goods of this world.” (Muslim)

Keep in mind the last words of the Hadeeth. Most of us believe that a step towards ethics means a step towards economic loss. The two, however, do not connect. We have no less than our own Prophet’s (sa) example, who had worked as a trader. When Khadijah (rta) employed him to go to Syria for trade, he returned with more profits and blessings than before. Khadijah (rta) was informed by her servant about Muhammad’s (sa) good manners, honesty, deep thought, sincerity, and faith.

We also have other examples, such as Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (rta), who was a wealthy trader, and Muhammad ibn Ismail Bukhari (better known as Imam Bukhari), who also was a wealthy trader and a Muhaddith (Hadith scholar). On the flip side of the coin, we have today’s examples of such as Enron and Worldcom, which had to suffer because of unethical decisions at the executive level.

Before proceeding with issues regarding work ethics, it’s important to do self-check for assessing, whether we have the level of Iman for taking a principled stand in dealing with ethical dilemmas at work.

Check your Taqwa Level

As Muslims we need to check our level of Taqwa (consciousness about Allah (swt)), for it has a direct bearing on our compliance with the Islamic code of ethics. How to do this is a question many wonder about.

Check the state of your heart in three situations: (1) when listening to the Quran, (2) in gatherings, where Allah’s (swt) Dhikr is done, and (3) in solitude. Check how you feel in such situations. Do you feel that Allah (swt) is watching you? If not, then pray to Allah (swt) for a sound heart (Qalb-e-saleem).

Keep in Mind the Hereafter

Belief in the fact that life in this world is temporary and whatever we do here has a bearing on life in the Hereafter is an important component of faith. Reading the Quran, keeping in mind death, and doing Dhikr help us to remain conscious about life after death. We should not merely believe in the Hereafter but have the highest level of conviction that we will have to give an account of our deeds, for which we will be justly recompensed. Describing the qualities of the Muttaqin (the pious), Allah (swt) says: “…and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter.” (Al-Baqarah 2:4)

Offer Salah and Make Duas

It’s important that as a practicing Muslim, you should offer your five daily mandatory prayers. You should also try to offer voluntary prayers (Nafl), whenever you can. Allah (swt) says: “O you who believe! Seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly, Allah (swt) is with As-Sabirun (the patient).” (Al-Baqarah 2:153)

Dua (supplication) is also an important form of contact with Allah (swt). A very comforting verse of the Quran is: “And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant, when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor)…” (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

Pray to Allah (swt) to grant you piety and to purify your soul. A beautiful supplication of the Prophet (sa) is as follows: “O Allah! Grant my soul (Nafs) its piety and purify it, for You are the Best of the ones to purify it, (as) You are its Guardian and Master.”

Don’t be Sad

Don’t despair, if your self-assessment does not come out excellent. Allah (swt) says: “Say: ‘O Ibadi (My slaves), who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah (swt): verily, Allah (swt) forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Az-Zumar 39:53)

Also, try to look for friends inside and outside the organization, who may help you stick to your principles, when faced with ethical issues. Above all, remain committed and pray for help to Allah (swt). May He reward your efforts. Ameen.

How to decide, whether your act was ethical or not?

Ask yourself the following

1.   Did this act bring you closer to Allah (swt)?

2.   Did this act move you away from Satan?

3.   Did this act bring you closer to Paradise?

4.   Did this act move you away from Hell?

Interesting Fact

Xerox Corporation has a 15 page ethical code, one section of which states:

“We’re honest with our customers. No deals, no bribes, no secrets, no fooling around with prices. A kickback in any form kicks anybody out. Anybody.”