The series of articles on dealing with ethical dilemmas at workplace continue. This time, Sumaira Dada discusses the age-old habit of lying and ways of giving it up.
Want 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?
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.