Truthfulness was once a cherished trait. Such was its awe that people would hide their lies and would never dare disclose them. However, today people seldom feel ashamed of telling lies; in fact, many a time they are not even aware that what they are doing comes under its ambit. They proudly mention their feats – some of them falling under shameless lies, at times without realizing their horrible nature. Even more alarming is the fact that people do not even seem to have the courage to point out such things and nor do they make an effort to play a prudent role in correcting and reforming near ones in this regard.
At times, we misquote the opinions of others and at times, we transmit negative information about a person without checking it out; we chat and gossip and dwell on un-researched facts; We make lame excuses knowing full well that we have no excuse; we sell defective and counterfeit goods without disclosing the reality behind them; we seldom have any qualms in forging the signatures of a friend thinking that the application is merely a sick leave. We even bear false witness to show "faithfulness" to a friend. False birth certificates to admit our children to school, false medical certificates to cover an absence from job, false certificates to make someone a mahram to offer as noble a ritual as hajj, false degrees to qualify for a position, false identity cards and passports seem to have become an everyday affair. We summarily make commitments and promises about which we are quite sure at the time of making them that we will never be able to honour them. Often we find lawyers proving the innocence of their client about whom they are sure that he is downright guilty. Students plagiarize their assignments and theses and merrily proxy the presence of their friends. Wrong opinions are given to please friends and flatter bosses. Polytheism is a falsehood imputed to God. What is more, people have concocted Hadith narratives to inject force in their views. And the list is unending …!
In these dismal times, when the difference between truth and falsehood has become blurred and the call of one's conscience has been lulled to sleep, speaking the truth is no less than the jihad of the tongue. Some tips may help us in being more truthful, more honest and more upright:
1. We should try to become true seekers of the truth – and cherish it whenever and wherever we find it. If truth becomes our prized possession, we will also always like being truthful.
2. We should stop thinking what others will say or think of us. This is because at times we lie to give others a false impression.
3. We should accept the fact that as human beings we can falter. One of the greatest things that induces us to lie is that we should not falter.
4. We should develop respect for blunt people because truth is seldom sweet. If we can bear unpleasant situations, we can bear the brunt of the truth.
5. When we lie to people we should confess before God and also apologize to the aggrieved party.
6. Whenever we lie, we should impose a fine on ourselves and gradually increase this fine if the habit becomes more pronounced so that a fear of heavy penalty may impede us.
7. We should avoid situations which tempt us to lie and misstate. We are the best judge of our own selves and know our weaknesses. We best know when situations can arise which may lure us to lie.
8. We should prize the state of guilt-consciousness whenever it arises for it is an impediment and a hindrance to lying.
9. Speaking the truth requires courage, and this courage can only be attained when fear we God alone.
10. Fasting is a very good training for telling the truth. A person however much of a liar he is will never be dishonest to God while fasting by secretively eating or drinking.
Finally, the words "I shall speak the truth and nothing but the truth" should be the motto of our life instead of being an undertaking while testifying in a court.
(Dr Shehzad Saleem)