It has been narrated by Hazrat Sufyan ibn Usaid Hazrami (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Holy Prophet ﷺ said;

“This is great Khiyanah (breach of trust) that you tell your brother something which he believes to be true, but you are lying to him.”

This is an act which leads to animosity, discord and hatred between people. Telling a lie is a great sin anyway, but in this Hadith the Holy Prophet ﷺ is specifically mentioning that lie in which someone places their trust in you and believes that you will tell him the truth. But you breach his trust and tell him a lie. This act carries the sin of not just lying, but also of Khiyanah (breach of trust).

It is Khiyanah (breach of trust) because the person who is seeking your opinion is doing so because HE believes you to be trustworthy and truthful. In a Hadith, the Holy Prophet ﷺ said;

“The person whose opinion is sought, has been entrusted.”

It means that the person who is seeking your opinion and advice is trusting you to tell him the truth and what you consider to be the best option. But you have deliberately lied to him, and knowingly misguided him, therefore, you have also committed breach of his trust.

All the medical certificates that are issued in our society these days, come under the meaning of this Hadith. For example, if a person is sick and wants to take a day off his work because of sickness, has to submit a medical certificate to prove he is really sick. The doctor who is being asked to provide the certificate has been entrusted. It is because the department which is going to accept his certificate, is trusting the doctor to issue a certificate in genuine circumstances only, believing that he will issue a certificate only if the person is truly sick, and not if he is not. If that doctor issues a false certificate after taking some bribe from the person, or even if without taking a bribe but because that person is his friend, then that doctor is committing a great Khiyanah (breach of trust) in addition to lying.

As for the person who is asking the doctor to give that false certificate, he is committing a number of sins. He is telling a lie himself. He is also making the doctor tell a lie. If he is paying money to get that certificate, he is committing the sin of bribery. Then the sick leave he is taking would be Haraam (unlawful), the salary he gets for that day would be Haraam, and the food he buys from that salary would also be Haraam. So, this one act of submitting a false certificate incurs so many sins. May Allah Ta’ala protect us. Aameen

Today these practices have become common in our society. Even people who are overtly religious, knowledgeable, and regularly pray Salah, do not feel any harm in obtaining a false medical certificate when they feel they need one. We have excluded these practices of honesty and integrity from Deen.

Giving references for Madrassahs (seminaries) is a similar matter. People from different seminaries come to me asking me to endorse their seminary that it does exist, is doing a good job, and that if someone gives donates money to it, that donation will be used appropriately. This endorsement is like giving a witness statement. If someone tells someone to get an endorsement from me before they will give them a donation, then they have placed their trust in me. Now it is my duty that I do not give that reference until I am fully satisfied that this seminary is genuinely deserving of this donation. If I give a reference just because someone is my friend, or because I do not want to displease someone, then it would mean that other people are trusting me but I am lying to them. If I have not seen that seminary, I am not aware of the standard of teaching there, but I still give it a reference, then I would have committed the worst form of Khiyanah (breach of trust).

Now when people in charge of different seminaries come to me asking me to give them reference, and I excuse myself, then they complain that I am declining to do them a small favour. They think that refusing to give a good reference under these circumstances is discourteous. They do not realize that this is like bearing witness and the Holy Prophet ﷺ said that this is the worst form of Khiyanah that people have placed their trust in you believing that you will tell them the truth, and you lie to them.

These days, for some jobs there is a requirement of submitting moral certificates and character certificates. The person who is issuing the certificate writes something like, “I know this person for 5 or 10 years, I know him very well, and he is of a sound moral character,” while in reality many times the he has known the person he is giving the certificate to, for a few days only. He may think that he is doing a good deed for this person, but he does not realize that on the Day of Qiyamah (Doomsday) he will be asked to explain why he wrote that he knew the other person for five or ten years, while in reality he knew him for a few days only. This is one of the worst forms of Khiyanah (breach of trust) because people are trusting that person’s word, and he is lying to them.

Today, these kinds of practices have become the norm in our society. It is a result of that that no one believes such certificates anymore because people know that most of these certificates are lies. We have almost excluded these teachings of the Holy Prophet ﷺ from our lives, and we behave as if the Deen is limited only to Salah, Sawm (fasting) and reciting Tasbeeh. We are completely neglectful of how we are dealing with people in our worldly lives.

This lying to people who trust us also contributes significantly to conflicts, disharmony and discord between people. If you trust a person that he will tell you the truth and guide you properly, but he then lies to you and misleads you, then you are likely to develop resentment towards him that you trusted him but he deceived you.

Anyway, a major source of conflict and discord between people is lying. How will you get rid of differences and disharmony till you get rid of lying? Therefore, eliminate this lying. Every lie is Haraam (unlawful), but especially when someone else is trusting you and you deceive them by lying, that is a very dangerous lie.

The question that comes to one’s mind now is that, even if we start following the teachings of the Holy Prophet ﷺ about how to remove the causes of dispute and discord between people from today, then InshaAllah will our future life will become better, but how to atone for all the mistakes of the past? All of the people we have said bad things about in their absence, or said rude or harsh things to their face, all those people we have hurt, whose rights we have violated, what can we do now about how our book of deeds has been darkened as a result of all of these misdeeds?

If we think about the life we have lived as yet, then we can’t fail to notice that in the last so many years or so how many people did we come into contact with, how many people we would have had relationships with, how many people’s rights did we violate? There is no way we can measure any of these things, and there is no way of apologizing to all the people whose rights we have violated throughout our life. Even if we correct our behaviour from today, what will happen regarding our past life ad past misdeeds? How can we clean that slate? This is a very important question and all of us need to reflect on it.

We should thank Allah Ta’ala who blessed us with a guide like the Holy Prophet ﷺ who has provided us with solutions for all our problems through his own Sunnah. If a person comes to realize that he has made many mistakes and violated many people’s rights in his past life, and wants to atone for it, the Holy Prophet ﷺ has shown us the way how to do so. One day he stood in masjid Nabvi in front of a gathering of Sahabah (his companions) and said;

“If I have hurt anyone or have caused anyone harm in any way, then I present myself before him. If he wants to take revenge for the hurt I caused him, then I am prepared for him to hurt me in return, if he wants any compensation against it, then I am prepared to pay him that compensation, and if he wants to forgive me, then I request him to forgive me.”

This pronouncement was made by the perfect being about whom Allah Ta’ala has said in the Holy Quran;

“so that Allah may forgive you of your previous and subsequent faults…” (48:2)

And about whom it was said;

“So, never by your Lord! Never shall they become believers, unless they make you the judge in the disputes that arise between them, then find no discomfort in their hearts against what you have decided, and surrender to it in total submission.” (4:65)

So, he is the person about whom such statements have been made in the Noble Quran, and about whom it has been clearly declared that he cannot cause any unjust harm or hurt to anyone, but despite all this he is standing up in Masjid Nabvi and making this declaration in front of all his companions that if he has hurt someone unjustly, they should come and take their revenge from him.

It has been reported in traditions that after listening to this announcement by the Holy Prophet ﷺ, one companion stood up and said, “O Prophet of Allah ﷺ! I want to take revenge.” The Holy Prophet ﷺ asked, “what sort of revenge?” He replied, “One day you had hit me on my back. I want to take revenge for that.” The Holy Prophet ﷺ said, “I do not remember hitting you, but if you do remember, come and take your revenge.” The Holy Companion said, “O Prophet of Allah ﷺ. When you hit me, my back was not covered.” The Holy Prophet ﷺ removed his covering sheet from his back and the mark of Prophethood became visible. That Companion stepped forward, kissed the mark of Prophethood, and said, “O Prophet of Allah ﷺ! I had said this only to be able to kiss the mark of Prophethood.” Anyway, the Holy Prophet ﷺ presented himself before all his Companions so that they could take revenge from him if they wanted to.

By doing this, the Holy Prophet ﷺ has taught his Ummah (community) that if you want to get all your previous sins wiped clean, you should also offer your family members, friends, and acquaintances, that you want to apologize to them for any violation of their rights you may have carried out in your previous life, you are happy to make any reparations for violation of their rights, and ask them to forgive you.

Hazrat Thanvi (may Allah Ta’ala bless him) wrote a booklet on this topic, got it published, and then distributed it to everyone he knew. In this booklet he wrote, “Because I have come across and have been acquainted with numerous people in life, I do not know whether I violated someone’s rights, or did injustice to them. Today I present myself. If someone wants to take revenge from me for what wrong I did to them, then please do so. If I owe any financial rights to anyone, please remind me and I will pay it back. If I have caused any physical hurt or harm to anyone, then I am prepared for them to hurt me in kind. Otherwise, I request them to please forgive me.”

Along with this letter, Hazrat Thanvi RE also wrote this Hadith;

“The Holy Prophet ﷺ said that if a Muslim says sincerely to another Muslim that he had made a mistake and requests him to forgive him, then it is the duty of the other Muslim brother to forgive him. If he doesn’t forgive him, then in the Hereafter he should not harbour expectations towards Allah Ta’ala to forgive him.”

The rules for financial rights are different. If someone owes some money to another person, then the owner has the full right to ask for it to be paid back. However, in terms of other sorts of harms, for example, if someone had done backbiting against someone else, or had said something that hurt their feelings, then if the person who had had hurt them is asking for forgiveness now, they should forgive him.

When my father Hazrat Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi (may Allah bless him) suffered his first heart attack about 3 years before his death, he asked me to write a similar letter as Hazrat Thanvi’s letter mentioned above. He told me to name it “amends for some mistakes”. By the word ‘some’ he pointed to it that this is not a claim that through this he is making amends for all of his past mistakes, rather only some of them. He then got it published and also sent it as a letter to all his relatives and acquaintances.

Wise elders have taught us a sentence which they used to say when saying goodbye to someone;

“Please forgive me for anything hurtful I may have said”.

There is great wisdom behind this sentence. Even though people sometimes say it without thinking too deeply about what they are saying, but in reality this sentence is pointing to the fact that we are saying goodbye, who knows whether we would ever meet again or not, whether we would get an opportunity to apologize again or not, so I am saying sorry to you today for anything hurtful I may have said to you or about you, or if I harmed you in any way.

When we are going away somewhere, we should make a habit of saying this sentence to our family members, friends and acquaintances. If they say in reply, “I forgive you”, Insha’Allah (God willing) any violation of their rights we may have carried out would be forgiven.

The way of apologizing mentioned above that the Holy Prophet ﷺ has taught us, is applicable to those people who we are still in contact with. However, there are many people we have come across in our life with whom we are not in contact with anymore. For example, a number of us travel frequently in buses, trains, and airplanes. Who knows how many people we have hurt during these travels? Now we neither know their names, nor their addresses or contact details, therefore, we have no way of contacting them to apologize for any hurt we may have caused them. The Holy Prophet ﷺ has taught us an easy way to apologize to such people too.

For such people the Holy Prophet ﷺ made this prayer;

“O Allah. If I have ever hurt a Momin man or woman, or of I have every said something hurtful to someone, or if I have ever hit someone, or if I have ever cursed someone, or if I have ever made a bad prayer for someone, then O Allah! Make all of these acts of mine a blessing in favour of that person and make these a source of purification for him, and grant him closeness to You as a result of my actions.”

Therefore, wise elders have said that you should say the prayer above in favour of the people who you are unable to contact any more, and therefore there is no way of apologizing to them directly. When the hurt you caused them becomes a blessing in their favour Insha’Allah (God willing) they will forgive you. And do good deeds and pray to convey its thawab (reward) to them.

Some people seem to believe that thawab can only be conveyed to the deceased. This is not correct. Thawab can also be conveyed to the living. So, if you have hurt people unjustly, you should convey thawab to them after doing Ibadah, for example, doing Sadaqah or reciting the Holy Quran. This will Insha’Allah become a reparation for the hurt you caused them.

In addition, do a general Dua that “O Allah! Please shower Your blessings on whoever I have hurt through my actions, and whoever’s rights I have violated, and make this act of mine a means of blessings for them, and make them happy with me, and clear their hearts towards me so that they forgive me.”

وآخر دعوا ان الحمد ﷲ رب العالمين