Practice integrity between speech and action

In Sura Saff (61:2), Allah says: O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do?

Reflection: One of the qualities of the faithful is that there is integrity and harmony between their speech and their actions. This means that they can be counted on to tell the truth and to carry out what they promise or intend to do. Scholars explain that to promise a thing which one intends not to do is a sign of hypocrisy whilst to promise and intend an action but be unable to carry it out is a sign of weakness.

Being your word, that is carrying out what you pledge and promise to do is considered in Islam to be a hallmark of the faithful. Imam Ali (as) in one of his letters to Malik Ashtar commands him to be true to his word, even it be to the enemy. He writes, "If you conclude an agreement between yourself and your enemy or enter into a pledge with him then fulfil your agreement and discharge your pledge faithfully. Place yourself as a shield against whatever you have pledged because among the obligations of Allah there is nothing on which people are more strongly united, despite the difference of their ideas and variation of their views, than respect for fulfilling pledges. Besides Muslims, even unbelievers have abided by agreements because they realized the dangers which would come in the wake of violation (thereof)". (Nahjul Balāgha, Letter 53)

Why? When we say what we mean and mean what we say, people can count on us. Trust is increased and relationships, work related, social and personal, all thrive.

On the other hand, when we do not keep our word, it causes upset, disappointment and distrust and our credibility suffers. Since our experience in life with others greatly depends upon the credibility and goodwill that we enjoy amongst our people, this ends up costing us dearly in the long run.

How? Think of all the promises and pledges that you have made, implicit and explicit. The vow of being a faithful spouse, a parent who is available and responsive, a colleague who is trustworthy, a community member who is engaged. There are people counting on you to fulfill these pledges, even if they are not overtly spoken.

Practice being unreasonable with your word. When you come up with reasons why you do not need to fulfill a vow, a promise or a pledge, do not succumb to the reasons.

We can practice doing this in small and big ways.

This verse in action: If we were living this verse, our word would be as good as gold. People could count on us to tell the truth, to mean what we say and to do what we promised. Our relationships would be based on trust and would thrive.

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