I imagine sometimes an individual appearing for judgment in the Divine Court. The angels in charge praise all his different forms of ibadat, and then, at the end, they inform him that he was a person that was unfair and unjust when it came to certain relationships. Do we think that there are any of our actions that are not going to be recorded and that we will not be reminded of them on the Day of Judgment, and that it will not have a negative effect on the eventual Divine Decision with regard to us? We must think hard about this.
A large part of the teachings of Islam covers our relationships. This involves our relationship with Allah Almighty, with His Messenger (ﷺ), the inheritors of the Prophets (a.s.) and all the multifarious relationships that many of us fall short in, because we favour people and distort the truth because of personal relationships that we have with some persons. And so, we defend or stand by an individual not because of truth, but because of favouritism. I remember reading with some consternation at the time, how Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) indicated to Sayyidatuna Fatimah (r.a.) that she was not going to receive anything special or be excused from anything, because he was her father. He was busy with a principle that we all have to follow, and that is, that in these relationships where decisions have to be made, they have to be made in terms of the truth and not in terms of the individual.
We have come across so many cases of almost disgusting unfairness on the side of certain people when it came to matters that arose within these relationships. One lady told me, for example, that her husband said that his mother was right whatever she said. Another man complained to me how unfairly his parents treated him in relation to his brother and there are so many stories like these.
We who are in Tariqah, where do we stand? In Islam, for example, there is no child that is favoured above any other one. Although this is part of the social traditions, and if one gives one child something, the same or similar thing must be given to all the children. Presents during one’s living days must be given on the basis of equality. Of course, one might love one child more than the other. This is very normal and natural. Love cannot be quantified. But this must not be shown openly. When it comes to other matters, especially material things, one must treat all one’s children on the basis of equality.
In Tariqah, not standing by the truth can be a major stumbling block in one’s spiritual development. Do you think that your prayers and your adhkar are enough to balance the Scale in your favour? Allah Almighty is Most Fair and Most Just, and in imitating these Attributes of our Lord, we must also try to be fair and just. And when one causes others to cry because of one’s unfairness, what then? Do you think that the Most Fair and the Most Just will favour anyone who is not fair and not just? Can you mention one example of the unfairness of Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ)? If you cannot then it means that being fair and just is part of the Prophetic Practice. It is thus part of the Divine Attributes and of the Prophetic Practice.
You see, when in a decision-making process you take the side of somebody because of that person’s relationship with you; then it means that you are not standing by the truth. Do you know why Mawlana is referred to as haqqani? This is because he speaks the truth and stands by it. We as his murids, must imitate this and also be people of the truth.
It is our reactions within relationships that test the level of our Islam. Private or even congregational ibadat, of course, test the nature of one’s relationship with one’s Creator and His Messenger (ﷺ). But one’s reaction within family or other social relationships in which the level or the strength of one’s Islam is measured, is a totally different matter. Let me repeat what I had said earlier, because this statement has to be repeated; the quality of one’s iman and the place of truth in that iman are reflected to a large degree in how one handles decision-making processes in family and social relationships. One sometimes feels very upset when one comes across individuals who wreck their spirituality, because they are unable to stand by the truth, and they are unable to apply the truth without any prejudice in family relationships. I am trying to make you understand that even if those that are closest to you are wrong, then you, as a Muslim in Tariqah, must be able to say so and not to defend the wrong, because of the special relationship that you have with your son, for example. This applies to all members of one’s family. I do not say that I am always capable of doing this. I do not say that, but I have already had numerous blow-ups in my home when those closest to me broke the rules of truth. Some members of my family are very close to me, but that has never stopped me from giving them a dressing down when the need arose. Again, I am not saying that I am the best example with regard to this matter, but I am just saying that we should all try very hard to set limits to our behaviour when it comes to the truth. How would you like to be recognised as an unfair person, because it does not matter what your daughter does, you condone it? How would you like to be considered an unjust individual, because whatever your wife does is condoned?
I think back today to all the incidences in my life when I had to stand by the truth, and I even left a principal post at Crestway Secondary School, because of this. We should not dilly-dally in our religion when it comes to certain matters. There should develop in us as we walk this path of spirituality, to come to be recognised as an individual who gives expression to the upkeep of truthfulness in all family and social relationships. We must plead for this and I hope that no murid ever comes to me in the future again to complain to me about the lack of fairness on the side of a close family member. We ask help from our Lord with regard to this matter, amin.
[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]