Source: Sharh Riyadh us-Saliheen by Sheikh Muhammad bin Salih al Uthaimeen.

Meaning and Types of Amanah:

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat an-Nisa’ (4:58) :

“Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those to whom they are due.”

The word “Amanah” (trust) is a very comprehensive term as it includes everything like adherence to Islamic injunctions, fairness in dealing, giving everybody his due, etc.

Whatever Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) has entrusted His slave with of acts of worship is considered Amanah.

Another example for the trust is the financial trusts, which are given to the person to give them for their owners.

All kinds of properties that are in the possession of the person for his benefit or the benefit of others are considered “Amanah”.

For example, the deposit which one keeps with someone else such as money, watch, gold, etc… and he asks him to keep it with him, this is considered a trust for the benefit of others.

Another example, if someone lends you something such as a car, a watch, a utensil, etc… this is considered a trust for your benefit.

Another example for the financial trusts is rented properties which their benefit is mutual; if you rented a car from me and you took it, so you will benefit from it in managing your affairs and I will benefit  the cab fare, similarly, the rented houses, shops, etc… all these are considered trusts.

The greatest Amanah is the rulership/guardianship or the leadership, which is of two kinds:

1- General guardianship/ leadership.

For example, the ruler or the president of the country is in charge of the whole Ummah (nation) and  responsible for its worldly as well as its religious affairs. In addition to this, he has the  responsibility for its finance house such that he will not waste it or spend it in other than what benefits the Muslim nation.

2- There are other trusts such as the trust of the minister in his ministry, the trust of the judge in his work, the trust of the man in his family, etc… Amanah is a broad gate; based on two matters:

First: Discharging the trust as regards the Rights of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala), which is mainly the performance of the worship.

Second: discharging the trust as regards the rights of the people, which are many and we have already mentioned some of it.

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) commands that the trusts be returned to their rightful owners.

The Messenger of Allah (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Return the trust to those who entrusted you, and do not betray those who betrayed you.” [Ahmed]

This command refers to all things that one is expected to look after, such as Allah’s Rights on His slaves: praying, Zakah, fasting, and penalties for sins, vows and so forth.

The command also includes the rights of the slaves on each other, such as what they entrust each other with.

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) commands that all types of trusts be fulfilled. Also this command includes preserving and keeping the trust without transgression or squandering (or losing it) until he returns it to its owner.

Bare in mind that fulfillment of trusts is one of the signs of faith of the person.

As the person is trustworthy, keeping the trusts that he is entrusted with, fulfilling them in the best way, know that he has strong faith, and as you find the person betraying the trust, know that he is of weak faith.

Another kind of trusts is secrets, which is between the man and his companion, which no one should know nor it is permissible for the person to reveal to others.

If someone entrusted you a secret and he said, “This is Amanah,” then it is not allowed for you to tell anyone about it, even your close friends, whether he told you not to tell anyone or you understood from his state that he doesn’t like anyone to know about it.

The scholars said: “If a man told you something, and during his talk he looked around him, then this is a trust (a secret). Why? Because he was looking around out of fear that one might listen to him. This indicates that he doesn’t like anyone to know about it.

This kind of trust includes what is between man and his wife of private matters.

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The worst position among all the human beings to Allah on the Day of Judgment will be the man who cohabits (consorts) with his wife and then makes the secret of this act public.” [Muslim]

Islam treats conjugal union as a sacred and secret act, both in social and moral terms. It is not permissible to relate the sexual experience to the friends or other people, which is considered moral indecency and incompatible with human dignity. This is considered a grave sin. The bed experience must be kept private by the married couple to the exclusion of a third person.

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat al-Ahzab (33:72)

“Truly, We did offer Al-Amanah (the trust or moral responsibility or honesty and all the duties which Allah has ordained) to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it (i.e., afraid of Allah’s torment). But man bore it. Verily, he was unjust (to himself) and ignorant (of its results).”

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) offered the Amanah (obligatory duties and obedience to Allah) to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it because of their respect for the religion of Allah, incase they could not fulfill the obligations involved.

Note:

If someone asked, hour would Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) offer the Aamanh (the trust) to the senseless in animate heavens, earth and mountains.

The answer to this question is that every inanimate in regard to Allah is considered rational endowed with reason and feeling, understands and responds.

The evidence for that is what Prophet Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) had informed us about that: “Verily, when Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) created the pen, He said to it, “write!” Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said: “Write everything that will happen till the Day of Judgment.” [At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawoud].

Accordingly the pen obeyed and responded and wrote by Allah’s command everything that is going to happen till the Day of Judgement.”

Similarly, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat Fussilat (41:11)

There He directed towards the heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth: ‘Come both of you willingly or unwillingly.’ They both said: ‘We come, willingly.’

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) commanded both the heavens and the earth, and they both understand the speech of Allah(Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) to them, therefore they responded and acted upon the command. Whereas the sinners among the sons of Adam say. “We hear and we disobey.”

Man took the Amanah (trust) and bore it. Hour did he bear it?  With two matters:

  1. With mind and 2. The Messengers
  2. The mind which Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) has favored human beings with over many of His creation and the Messengers whom Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) sent to man to show him the right from wrong in order not to have any excuse.

In spite of all that, man is attributed with injustice and ignorance.

The scholars differed whether the word “man” here in this verse is a general word or it is specific to the disbelievers.

Some of the scholars said that it is specific to the disbelievers that he is the unjust and ignorant, while the believer is just attributed with knowledge, wisdom and guidance.

Other groups of scholars said that the word “man”, is general and it is according to his nature. However, whoever fulfils the trust then he is attributed with injustice and ignorance.

One of the signs of hypocrisy is to betray the trust:

Narrated Abu Hurairah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) that Allah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “There are three signs of a hypocrite: When he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is trusted, he betrays his trust.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

A hypocrite is the one who professes Islam before the Muslims but conceals hatred and enmity in his heart against them. This double-dealing is worse than Kufr. This is the reason the Noble Qur’an has declared about them that they will be in the lowest depths of the Hell.

This hadith highlights the traits of the hypocrites, which are very common among the present-day Muslims. Their conduct bears the signs of hypocrisy. This practical hypocrisy is, however, not Kufr as in the case with the hypocrisy of faith.

The hypocrites have signs, which Prophet Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) has mentioned in this Hadith. Of you see a man tells lies then you should know that this person has a characteristic of hypocrisy in his heart.

Also the one who promises and breaks it such as he says, “I will come tomorrow to meet you at 7:00am, and he doesn’t come,” or he promises to give you something and then he doesn’t give you. This person has the character of the hypocrites.

The third matter is betrayed when the hypocrite is entrusted, he betrays his trust. If you entrust him a secret, he doesn’t keep it; if you entrust him in your family, he betrays you; if you entrust him a transaction (selling or buying), he betrays you, this indicates that hypocrisy is in his heart.

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) warned us and informed us about this matter for two reasons:

1-      To be aware of the dispraised characters, because this is one of the signs of hypocrisy. It is feared that this practical hypocrisy leads to hypocrisy of faith, which brings him out of the fold of Islam without him being aware of that.

2-      To be cautious of those who are attributed with these characters and deceive people with his utterance or action.

The signs of Faith are contrary to these characters. When the believer promises, he keeps them, and if he is trusted, he fulfils his trusts and if he speaks, he is truthful in his speech.

The Amanah will be taken away near the Judgment Day:

Narrated Hudhaifa bin al-Yaman (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu)” Allah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) narrated to us two ahadith, one of which I have seen (prediction fulfilled), and I am waiting for the other. He (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) told us, “Amanah (the trust) descended in innermost (root) of the hearts of people (that is, it was deeply rooted in the heart of men by Fitrah or by pure human nature). Then the Qur’an was revealed from the Sunnah. “ Then the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) told us about the removal of Amanah. He (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: ‘The man may sleep and Amanah will be taken from his heart, leaving nothing but a trace like a blister left by coal if you were to roll it over your leg – you will see it protruding but there is nothing inside.”

He (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) then took up a pebble and rolled it over his leg, then he  (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Then the people will start buying and selling, and hardly anyone will be paying attention to Amanah, until it will be said that among the tribe of so and so there is a trustworthy man, and it will be said of a man, “How prudent (strong) he is, how nice and how wise, and there is not even a mustard seed of faith in his heart.”

Hudhaifa (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) added: “No doubt, there came upon me a time when I did not mind dealing (bargaining) with anyone of you, for if he was a Muslim, his Islam would compel him to pay me what is due to me, and if he was a Christian, or Jew, his (Muslim) guardian or surety would compel him to discharge his obligation to me. But today, I would not enter a transaction except with so-and-so.” [Muslim]

According to this Hadith, with decline in moral values the true sense of Amanah will gradually go on diminishing and eventually a stage will come which has been explained in the text of this Hadith. Amanah has already become scarce and is reducing further with every passing day, which is an evidence of the veracity of the prophecy of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam).

Such that hardly you can find a man discharging the Amanah as it should be towards Allah and towards the people. You may find a man who is keeping his trust towards Allah’s; offers prayers, zakat, fast and remembers Allah profusely; but he is not trustworthy in financial affairs. If he is working in any governmental work he does not attend to his work except late, or he leaves before the stated time, he spends most days in his private affairs, and he doesn’t care; although you may see him hastening to offer the salat in the masjid and to be in the first row.

Another person who keeps also his duties towards Allah; but he violates the laws set by the government or by his work without him taking care of this matter (he may lie, take unlawful money, betrays, etc.)

The Messenger of Allah (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “O people, Allah, the Glorious and Exalted, is Pure and He accepts only that which is pure. And Allah has commanded the believers as He commanded the Messengers by saying: “O Messengers, eat of the pure things, and do good deeds; verily, I am aware of what you do.” (23:51) And He (تعالع) says: “O you who believe, eat of the pure things that We provide you.” (2:172) He then mentioned a man who takes a lone tri with shaggy hair and dusty clothes. He raises his hands towards the sky supplicating: “O my Rubb, O my Rubb, “while his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful and his nourishment is unlawful. How can his supplication be responded to? [Muslim]

Whoever does not keep his duty or discharge the trust at his work, then his earning is unlawful and his supplication will not be responded to by Allah عزوجل

The Merit of the Amanah in the Hereafter:

Muslim reported a Hadith on the authority of Hudhaifa (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Amanah and ties of relationship (with kith and kin) will be sent forth and will stand on the sides of the Sirat (that is the Bridge set over Hell-fire) right and left, and the first of you will pass like lightening…”

This Hadith highlights the distinctive merits of Amanh and compassion along with the dexription of crossing the Bridge (sirat). The sirat is a bridge set over Hell-fire. The scholars differed regarding its width; is it a wide bridge or a narrow bridge. In some narration, the sirat is mentioned to be finer than the hair and sharper than the sword, but the people will pass over it, and Allah is Able to do everything.

On the bridge there are long hooks, they snatch the people according to their deeds. There are people who will be seized and thrown into Hell and there are some who will cross the bridge like the lightning, next group will pass like the passing of the breeze, next like the passing of a bird, and the next with the speed of a running man, according to their deeds.

As the person was more quickly to act upon the sirat of Allah and follow His Laws, as he will cross the Bridge quicker; and whoever was reluctant to follow the command of Allah in this life, as his passing over the Bridge will be slower. / Subsequently his passing over the bridge will be slower

The situation is very hard and severe. All people will be in awe of fear until the Muslims pass the Bridge to Paradise.

The disbeliever will not be allowed to cross the Bridge; however they will be taken to Hell before they ascend the Bridge. Only the believer’s will cross the Bridge; but whoever has sins that not been forgiven, they will fall into Hell and will be punished according to his deeds. And Allah Knows Best.

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) warned us against betraying the trusts in Surat al-Anfal (8:27)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تَخُونُواْ اللّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ وَتَخُونُواْ أَمَانَاتِكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُون

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