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honesty a great moral virtue

IQBAL EBRAHIM

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

‘O you who believe be conscious of Allah and be with those who are true in word and deed. (Quran 9:119)

Truth and honesty are interlinked. What is honesty? Included in the package is: morality, trustworthiness, fairness, righteousness, honour, reliability and decency. This beautiful saying encapsulates what honesty is: ‘For honesty to be complete, it must exist in three things. It must exist in the heart as one’s faith, it must exist in the intentions behind one’s deeds, and it must be present in the words that one speaks.’

It goes further honesty covers a wide range of noble and desirable traits. These traits cover telling the truth, sincerity in what we say and what we do, and in our work, carrying out our duties, fulfilling one's word, not making judgements or conclusions on others without knowing the truth. It is the opposite of lying, of cheating, of hypocrisy, of favouritism, and of lies and deceit. Honesty comes in two forms one is external and the other is internal.

As Muslims, firstly, we have to be honest and sincere in our relationship with Allah. We must recognise the fact that Allah is ever watchful of what we do. We can achieve this by making it our main objective to attain Allah’s mercy. If we are constantly and consciously aware that Allah is ever watchful over us. This will make us feel too shy to willingly disobey the laws of Allah.

We must always be cognizant of the fact that Allah is ever watchful of what we do. We have to inculcate that internal honesty and always remember that we usually judge it ourselves, but we must always remember that the Almighty watches over us and knows all the secrets of the heart and is the final Judge. ‘..….for He knows well the secrets of all hearts…. And He knows all that you do……. for He is with His servants well acquainted and ever watchful. (Quran 42: 24- 28)  

There must be a sense of humility and shame that we must feel before Him. If we truly want to be honest in our relationship with Allah, we must become so fully sincere to Him that there remains in our hearts no other motive for what we do but to seek His pleasure and Blessings. We can achieve this by making our greatest concern the attainment of Allah’s mercy. We must be constantly aware that Allah is ever watchful over us. This will make us feel too shy to ever willingly disobey Allah.

Allah commands the believers, saying: “O you who believe, fear Allah and be among those who are honest.”‘If he be a liar on him is the sin of his lie….then will fall on you something of a calamity……Allah does not guide one who transgresses and lies’ (Quran 40: 28)
Taking it to another level we have to ensure that we are honest with other people is also of extreme importance. There are many aspects to this as well. First, we must be honest in our interaction and dealings with others. We should not behave deceptively and present a false face to people. Instead, we must be genuine and straightforward with people as much as possible.

We must be honest in what we say. This requires from us to be careful to ascertain the truth of the news that we hear before we go ahead and pass it on to others. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “It is enough to make a person a liar that he tells others everything that he hears.”
We must be honest in giving advice to people. We should be sincere in our advice and truly do our best to help people avoid misfortune and attain what is good for them.

We need to be even more honest with our spouses. We must be able to confide in them and speak freely to them about our concerns, our secrets, and our ambitions. A husband or wife is a life partner, a friend, a confidant. The more openly a husband and wife are able to communicate with each other in an atmosphere of trust and confidence, the stronger their relationship will be.

Honesty, without doubt creates inner strength on every level. On the personal level, it provides integrity, self-worth, and inner strength. On the social level, strengthens our dealings because it lends depth and substance to our relationships with other people. On the spiritual level, it brings about the sincerity to our Lord that is the key to our salvation.   

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Honesty leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man remains honest and concerned about honesty until he is recorded as an honest man with Allah. Lying leads to sinfulness and sinfulness leads to the Fire. A man keeps lying and remains partial to lies until he is recorded as a liar with Allah.”

Further he said: “There are four characteristics, whoever has all of them is a true hypocrite, and whoever has one of them has one of the qualities of a hypocrite until he gives it up: when he is trusted, he betrays (the trust); when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he disputes, he is vulgar.”

There are many verses from the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) that guide us: “And mix not truth with falsehood, nor conceal the truth while you know.”  (Quran 2: 42). And: “O you who believe, why do you say what you do not do? It is loathsome indeed with Allah that you say what you do not do.” (Quran 61: 3)

Truth in word is the most familiar and obvious kind of truth, since every statement that varies with reality could obviously a lie. Allah says: “Verily those who fabricate a lie against Allah will not find success.” Allah gives glad tidings to the believers who are honest. He says: “Allah will reward the honest people for their honesty.” Allah informs us that our honesty will bring us good even in this world: “And when a matter is resolved upon, it would be best for them if they were true to Allah.”

And of course, honesty will be of doubtless benefit to us in the Hereafter. Allah says: “This is the day that the honest and truthful people will benefit from their honesty.” (Quran 5; 119)
Nowadays there is a great deal of dishonesty; be it in our own lives, in the lives of others, in the world of business and in politics both internationally and locally.  Honesty penetrates to the innermost fibre of a society and of a person; when our inner being is in harmony with our outer self. A person’s deeds are honest only when he practices what he sincerely believes in. Dishonesty in deed is more shameful than dishonesty in word, for it is nothing but a false display of sincerity

The bottom line is if we truly want to be honest in our relationship with Allah, we must become so fully sincere to Him that there remains in our hearts no other motive for what we do but to seek His pleasure. This must create an inner sense of humility and shame that we must feel before Him. Quran says: ‘Therefore do I warn you of a fire blazing fiercely; none shall reach it but those unfortunate ones who give lie to truth and turn their backs. But those devoted to Allah shall be removed far from it’. (Quran 92: 14 – 17)   

Even the Bible says: “He that speaketh truth showeth forth righteousness.” Proverbs 12: 17
Remember: If you plant honesty, you will reap trust; if you plant goodness, you will reap friends. If you plant humility, you will reap greatness. If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment; If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective; If you plant hard work, you will reap success; If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation; If you plant faith in Allah, you will reap a harvest; So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later. Whatever You Give To Life, Life Gives You Back.

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DIS Parley Committee selection disingenuous 

25th November 2020

Intelligence and Security Service Act, which is a law that establishes the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DIS), provides for establishment of a Parliamentary Committee. Recently, the President announced nine names of Members of Parliament he had appointed to the Committee.

This announcement was preceded by a meeting the President held with the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition. Following the announcement of Committee MPs by the President, the opposition, through its leader, made it clear that it will not participate in the Committee unless certain conditions that would ensure effective oversight are met. The opposition acted on the non-participation threat through resignation of its three MPs from the Committee.

The Act at Section 38 provides for the establishment of the Committee to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Directorate. The law provides that the Parliamentary Committee shall have the same powers and privileges set out under the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act.

On composition, the Committee shall consist of nine members who shall not be members of Cabinet and its quorum shall be five members.  The MPs in the Committee elect a chairperson from among their number at their first meeting.

The Members of the Committee are appointed by the President after consultation with the Speaker of the National Assembly and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. It is the provision of the law that the Committee, relative to its size, reflect the numerical strengths of the political parties represented in the National Assembly.

The Act provides that that a member of the Committee holds office for the duration of the Parliament in which he or she is appointed.  The Committee is mandated to make an annual report on the discharge of their functions to the President and may at any time report to him or her on any matter relating to the discharge of those functions.

The Minister responsible for intelligence and security is obliged to lay before the National Assembly a copy of each annual report made by the Committee together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of the provision of the Act.

If it appears to the Minister, after consultation with the Parliamentary Committee, that the publication of any matter in a report would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions of the Directorate, the Minister may exclude that matter from the copy of the report as laid before the National Assembly.

So, what are the specific demands of the Opposition and why are they not participating in the Committee? What should happen as a way forward? The Opposition demanded that there be a forensic audit of the Directorate. The DIS has never been audited since it was set up in 2008, more than a decade ago.

The institution has been a law unto itself for a longtime, feared by all oversight bodies. The Auditor General, who had no security of tenure, could not audit the DIS. The Directorate’s personnel, especially at a high level, have been implicated in corruption.  Some of its operatives are in courts of law defending corruption charges preferred against them. Some of the corruption cases which appeared in the media have not made it to the courts.

The DIS has been accused of non-accountability and unethical practices as well as of being a burden on the fiscus.  So, the Opposition demanded, from the President, a forensic audit for the purpose of cleaning up the DIS.  They demand a start from a clean slate.

The second demand by the Opposition is that the law be reviewed to ensure greater accountability of the DIS to Parliament. What are some of the issues that the opposition think should be reviewed? The contention is that the executive cannot appoint a Committee of Parliament to scrutinize an executive institution.

Already, it is argued, Parliament is less independent and it is dominated by the executive. It is contended that the Committee should be established by the Standing Orders and be appointed by a Select Committee of Parliament. There is also an argument that the Committee should report to Parliament and not to the President and that the Minister should not have any role in the Committee.

Democratic and Parliamentary oversight of the intelligence is relatively a new phenomenon across the World. Even developed democracies are still grappling with some of these issues. However, there are acceptable standards or what might be called international best practices which have evolved over the past two or so decades.

In the UK for instance, MPs of the Intelligence and Security Committee are appointed by the Houses of Parliament, having been nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. This is a good balancing exercise of involvement of both the executive and the legislature. Consultation is taken for granted in Botswana context in the sense that it has been reduced to just informing the Leader of Opposition without much regard to his or her ideas; they are never taken seriously.

Furthermore, the current Committee in the UK has four Members of the ruling party and five MPs from the opposition. It is a fairly balanced Committee in terms of Parliamentary representation. However, as said above, the President of Botswana appointed six ruling party MPs and three from the opposition.

The imbalance is preposterous and more pronounced with clear intentions of getting the executive way through the ruling party representatives in the Committee. The intention to avoid scrutiny is clear from the numbers of the ruling party MPs in the Committee.

There is also an international standard of removing sensitive parts which may harm national security from the report before it is tabled in the legislature. The previous and current reluctance of the executive arms to open up on Defence and Security matters emanate from this very reason of preserving and protecting national security.

But national security should be balanced with public interest and other democratic principles. The decision to expunge certain information which may be prejudicial to national security should not be an arbitrary and exclusive decision of the executive but a collective decision of a well fairly balanced Committee in consultation with the Speaker and the minister responsible.

There is no doubt that the DIS has been a rogue institution. The reluctance by the President to commit to democratic-parliamentary oversight reforms presupposes a lack of commitment to democratization. The President has no interest in seeing a reformed DIS with effective oversight of the agency.

He is insincere. This is because the President loathes the idea losing an iota of power and sharing it with any other democratic institution. He sees the agency as his power lever to sustain his stay in the high office. He thought he could sanitize himself with an ineffective DIS Committee that would dance to his tune.

The non-participation of the opposition MPs renders the Committee dysfunctional; it cannot function as this would be unlawful. Participation of the opposition is a legal requirement. Even if it can meet, it would lack legitimacy; it cannot be taken seriously. The President should therefore act on the oversight demands and reform the DIS if he is to be taken seriously.

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The Maccabean Uprising

25th November 2020
Jewish freedom fighters

 Jews drive away occupying power under the command of guerrilla leader Judas Maccabees but only just

Although it was the Desolation Sacrilege act, General Atiku, that officially sparked the Maccabean revolt, it in truth simply stoked the fires of an already simmering revolution. How so General?

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Atomic (CON)Fusion

25th November 2020

For years I have trained people about paradigm shifts – those light-bulb-switch-on moments – where there is a seismic change from the usual way of thinking about something to a newer, better way. 

I like to refer to them as ‘aha’ moments because of the sudden understanding of something which was previously incomprehensible. However,  the topic of today’s article is the complete antithesis of ‘aha’.  Though I’d love to tell you I’d had a ‘eureka ‘, ‘problem solved’ moment, I am faced with the complete opposite – an ‘oh-no’ moment or Lost Leader Syndrome.

No matter how well prepared or capable a leader is. they often find themselves facing perplexing events, confounding information, or puzzling situations. Confused by developments of which they can’t make sense and by challenges that they don’t know how to solve they become confused, sometimes lost and completely clueless about what to do.

I am told by Jentz and Murphy (JM) in ‘What leaders do when they don’t know what to do’ that this is normal, and that rapid change is making confusion a defining feature of management in the 21st century.  Now doesn’t that sound like the story of 2020 summed up in a single sentence?

The basic premise of their writing is that “confusion is not a weakness to be ashamed of but a regular and inevitable condition of leadership. By learning to embrace their confusion, managers are able to set in motion a constructive process for addressing baffling issues.

In fact, confusion turns out to be a fruitful environment in which the best managers thrive by using the instability around them to open up better lines of communication, test their old assumptions and values against changing realities, and develop more creative approaches to problem solving.”

The problem with this ideology however is that it doesn’t help my overwhelming feelings of fear and panic which is exacerbated by a tape playing on a loop in my head saying  ‘you’re supposed to know what to do, do something’. My angst is compounded by annoying motivational phrases also unhelpfully playing in my head like.

  • Nothing happens until something moves
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started

and

  • Act or be acted upon

All these platitudes are urging me to pull something out of the bag, but I know that this is a trap. This need to forge ahead is nothing but a coping mechanism and disguise. Instead of owning the fact that I haven’t got a foggy about what to do, part of me worries that I’ll lose authority if I acknowledge that I can’t provide direction – I’m supposed to know the answers, I’m the MD!  This feeling of not being in control is common for managers in ‘oh no’ situations and as a result they often start reflexively and unilaterally attempting to impose quick fixes to restore equilibrium because, lets be honest, sometimes we find it hard to resist hiding our confusion.

To admit that I am lost in an “Oh, No!” moment opens the door not only to the fear of losing authority but also to a plethora of other troubling emotions and thoughts:  *Shame and loss of face: “You’ll look like a fool!” * Panic and loss of control: “You’ve let this get out of hand!” * Incompetence and incapacitation: “You don’t know what you’re doing!”

As if by saying “I’m at a loss here” is tantamount to declaring “I am not fit to lead.” Of course the real problem for me and any other leader is if they don’t admit when they are disoriented, it sends a signal to others in the organisation stating it’s not cool to be lost and that, by its very nature encourages them to hide.  What’s the saying about ‘a real man never asks for direction. ..so they end up driving around in circles’.

As managers we need to embrace the confusion, show vulnerability (remember that’s not a bad word) and accept that leadership is not about pretending to have all the answers but about having the courage to search with others to discover a solution.

JM point out that “being confused, however, does not mean being incapacitated.  Indeed, one of the most liberating truths of leadership is that confusion is not quicksand from which to escape but rather the potter’s clay of leadership – the very stuff with which managers can work.”

2020 has certainly been a year to remember and all indications are that the confusion which has characterised this year will still follow us into the New Year, thereby making confusion a defining characteristic of the new normal and how managers need to manage. Our competence as leaders will then surely be measured not only by ‘what I know’ but increasingly by ‘how I behave when I accept, I don’t know, lose my sense of direction and become confused.

.I guess the message for all organizational cultures going forward is that sticking with the belief that we need all-knowing, omni-competent executives will cost them dearly and send a message to managers that it is better to hide their confusion than to address it openly and constructively.

Take comfort in these wise words ‘Confusion is a word we have invented for an order not yet understood’!

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