It is stated in hadiths that amanah (honesty/trust) settled in the roots of men's hearts. What is this amanah? What is the reason why amanah is taken away from hearts?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The translation of the full text of the hadith in question is as follows:

"Amanah (honesty/trust) settled in the roots of men's hearts. Then, the Quran was sent down. Thus, people learned amanah from the Quran and Sunnah."

Then, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) told us about its disappearance as follows:

"A man will go to sleep whereupon amanah will be taken away from his heart, and only its trace will remain. He then will sleep whereupon the remainder of the amanah will also be taken away from his heart and its trace will resemble a blister which is raised over the surface of skin, when an ember touches one's foot; and in fact, this blister does not contain anything."

Then, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) picked some pebbles and rolled them on his feet. He said,

"So, there will come a day when people will deal in business with each other but there will hardly be any trustworthy people among them. The following will be said,

"In such-and-such a tribe there is person who is amin (trustable)." The following will be said for another person: "What a brave, elegant and intelligent man!" However, he does not have belief equal to a mustard seed in his heart."

"There came upon me a time when I did not mind dealing with anyone of you, for if he was a Muslim, his religion would prevent him from cheating; and if he was a Christian, his Muslim ruler would prevent him from cheating; but today I cannot deal except with a few people." (Bukhari, Riqaq 35, Fitan 13; Muslim, Iman 230)

Hz. Hudhayfa, the narrator of the hadith, was the person who knew the most about what the Prophet (pbuh) said about fitans, that is, some incidents that will take place before the Day of Judgment, among the Companions. Hadith books include many hadiths from him regarding the issue.

What Hz. Hudhayfa mentions here is the two hadiths he heard from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh): One of them is related to "amanah settling in the roots of hearts" and the second one is "the disappearance of amanah." The amanah mentioned here is the rights of Allah and people, deeds of worship that Allah rendered fard for His slaves, in short, the religion itself. When they are all considered, it will be seen how importance the concept amanah is.

Different interpretations were made on the concept “amanah” mentioned in hadith. We can summarize those interpretations as follows:

Amanah is belief; they are the secret things of people who are held responsible religiously – that nobody but Allah sees; it is the vow (promise) Allah took from His slaves; they are all of the religious responsibilities. It is absolute obedience to Allah. (see Ibn Hajar, the explanation of the hadith in question)

It is understood from the expressions of the hadith that what is meant by amanah here is the consciousness of amanah a person takes from his belief. For, belief suggests safety, amanah and reliability. The safety and reliability of a person will get strong based on the strength of the consciousness of his belief. The reliability in business, etc. is related to the safety in belief. 

To sum up, a period of time when safety in social life will be lost as belief will be lost or weakened at a certain time in future / a fitnah from the time of the period of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs to time when the fitnah of the end of time will occur is mentioned. However, this lack of safety started when Hz. Hudhayfa was alive, though it was very little.

What is meant by “sleep” in the statement “A man will go to sleep whereupon amanah will be taken away from his heart” in the hadith is the sleep of heedlessness. It means to go to sleep of heedlessness by being deprived of belief, consciousness of belief and responsibility.

When man is heedless of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, he will indulge in haram things, commit sins and consequently his belief will weaken. They are regarded as signs of the disappearance of amanah, lack of belief and blackening of the heart. The heart is illuminated with the light of belief. Sins blacken the heart.

As man’s heedlessness increases, his belief weakens, his reliability disappears, his religious sensitiveness and his respect to rights are eliminated. Thus, the black stains in the heart increase and the heart becomes jet black. Then, man becomes dishonest. The number of the people who do not cheat in business and shopping, that is, honest people, decreases. It is even said in astonishment, "There is a very reliable person among such and such people.” However, he does not have belief equal to a mustard seed in his heart.

“Amanah being removed from the heart” means its leaving the heart and expressing it with tongue as an apparent sign of it. (see Ibn Hajar, ibid)

This hadith informs us that man will be spoiled in terms of religion and belief in the course of time, that amanah will disappear gradually and that people will not trust in one another.

Some hadiths regarding the issue:

“I am leaving you something. If you hold onto it, you will never go astray. It is the book of Allah.” [Muslim, Hajj 147, hadith no: 1218; Ibn Majah, Manasik 84, hadith no: 3074; Bukhari, (Tajrid, 1654); Ibn Hisham, IV//251]

It is stated in another narration that he left to his ummah the rope of Allah (the Quran) and his Ahl al-Bayt) as amanah. (Muslim, Fadailus-Sahaba 36, Hadith no: 2408; Ahmad b. Hanbal, 5/181).

"When amanah is lost, that is, when authority comes in the hands of unfit persons, wait for Doomsday." (Bukhari, Ilm 2)

"A person who does not have amanah has no real and perfect belief." (Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad, III/135)

When Abu Dharr al-Ghifari asked the Prophet (pbuh) to appoint him as a tax official, he said,

“You are weak and this is amanah. On the Day of Judgment, it is a cause of humiliation and repentance for the one who does not fulfil its obligations.” (Muslim, Imarah 16)

"The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie. Whenever he promises, he breaks his promise. If he is entrusted something, he proves to be dishonest." (Bukhari, Iman 24; Muslim, Iman 107, 108)

Abu Hurayra narrates: "The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) prayed as follows:

"O Allah! I take refuge in you from shiqaq (breaking asunder), nifaq (hypocrisy) and low ethics." (Abu Dawud, Salah 367, hadith no: 1546; Nasai, Istiadha 21)

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