O! Ye Faithfuls! Be conscious of the Almighty and be in company of the righteous (Quran 9:119)
Brethren, how many times have you told lies while hiding behind your hand-phones? Before we explore this, let me remind you that one feature of the Muslims’ life is the constant companion they establish with the Quran. They are expected to listen to the Almighty through this important medium, the Quran. They do this by reading and re-readng the Glorious Book. Every reading of the Quran, no matter the number of times such is carried out often leads to, and should occasion, new discoveries. Every reading and re-reading of the Quran should equally lead to the purification of the most important element in the human physiology – the soul. The latter is that subtle and sacred feature which humans share with their creator: the soul. Each time you read the Qur’an, you get to know where you are spiritually and where you should be; Each time you disconnect yourself from the Quran, you become a pawn in the hands of Shaytan.
Reading the Quran some days ago, I became attentive to a very subtle but sublime aspect of human life which perhaps represents the genus of contemporary ills plaguing all spheres of our life. This has to do with the evil of lying. Lying is an effect, the cause lies in spiritual ailment. Once the human soul is plagued, once the soul is sick, the human agent becomes susceptible to the evil plans of Shaytan. The man who is sick in spirit may be strong physically; the man who is ill spiritually, may be the most popular politician in town; the man who is ill in spirit might be the best speaker in town. Such men and women would, however, prefer the specious to the solid, the plausible to the truth, the ephemeral to the eternal, the profane to the sacred. The man or woman who is sick in spirit would be a compulsive liar; he would always tell and act lie. Such men and women would want people to praise them for things they have not done; They would want people to adulate them for jobs they have been paid to do, they would want their others to respect their wishes for, in their own estimation, they represent the crème-de-la-creme of the society.
Men and women liars abound in the political arena; They are found in the corridors of government offices. Every drop of blood in their veins has eyes, which look downwards, tongues, which tell lies, and hears which are attuned only to sycophancy. But why do people tell and act lies?
People often resort to lies out of fear; fear of the truth, fear of punishment for evil they have done, fear of the loss of some privileges and rewards. Our politicians tell lies a lot because lying has become an important regalia.
To be truthful and honest in politics appears to be the exact antithesis of the political game. Nicolo Machiavelli has even said that it is important for the Prince to be like fox. In his estimation, public office makes lying an obligation and honesty an impossibility. Tad Williams says: “We tell lies when we are afraid… afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.
Further, people tell lies in order to beguile and lead their fellow men and women to perdition and misery. Those who travel this pathway are actually following in the footsteps of Shaytan who deceived Prophet Adam and his wife (upon them be peace of Allah). They eventually transgressed the bounds and limits set for them by their creator.
Brethren, people tell and act lies in order to enjoy temporary and ephemeral pleasures and gains of this world. They tell and act lies in order to cover up their inadequacies, in order to measure up to a standard, which is higher than that which Allah, has placed them. For example, Nigerians who refer to public office holders as “Your Excellences” are liars telling those acting lies what the latter prefer to hear.
Perhaps one of the most heinous ways people tell lies today is through their hand phones. The man in Sokoto would tell his wife that he is Shangisa in Lagos State. This form of lying mirrors our failure to live in the presence of our Creator. In other words, whenever we tell lies, we deny our Creator; we ignore His presence: that He hears without ears; that He sees without eyes and that He “walks” with us without legs- Subhanah!!!! Before you tell the next lie, remember, He is there with you listening without ears!!!
(08122465111 for text messages only)
Afis Ayinde Oladosu Ph.D
Professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies,
Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies,
University of Ibadan, Nigeria