“Your greatest liability is your lie-ability.”
‘Lying leads on to foulness, and foulness leads on to the Fire’ (Hadith). Even a small child is outraged by a lie. Human perfection is found in prophecy, which cannot lie and instead reassures us with constant trust and openness; corruption finds its ultimate expression in the Devil, the shadowy trickster, who ‘promises them and gives them hope, but promises them only delusion’ (4:120).
Forcing ourselves to speak truthfully makes our souls and self-awareness flexible and alert. The stiff, fixed heart does not wish to change, or acknowledge error or weakness, and thus it adjusts reality, not itself, by telling a lie. Imam al-Junayd says: ‘A faithful and truthful person changes states at least forty times a day, while a hypocrite remains the same for forty years.’ When we force ourselves to be honest, we gain two further gifts: a fear of disclosure that discourages us from sin, and a humbling of the self in the eyes of others. Such a person will be victorious in his inward strife, and his religious effect will be luminous.
Say: my Lord, bring me in by an entrance of truthfulness, and bring me out by an exit of truthfulness, and appoint for me a victorious power from Your presence’ (17:80).
‘Truly the people of taqwa are in gardens and rivers, in a seat of truthfulness in the presence of a Sovereign Omnipotent’ (54:55).
Both these verses link truthfulness, sidq, with the Divine Presence. It was this Presence which consoled Joseph, al-Siddiq, in his cell, and led him to a humble yet conspicuous glory.
The shaykhs teach that the one who lies is displeased with the Divine decree. The truthful person’s ‘victory’ is the power of his intentions and his prayers. Adam’s ‘victory’ was the honesty of his prayer: ‘Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves’; and by the power of this sincere admission Allah forgave his fault.
Abu Yazid was once asked which was Allah’s Greatest Name, and he replied: ‘If you can show me His Least Name, then I can show you His Greatest Name! There is something just as effective as the Greatest Name, and this is truthfulness. Any Name pronounced with truthfulness is like the Greatest Name.’
(Source: Commentary on the Eleventh Contentions, Contention No. 87, Pgs. 12-13)