The expression ‘fair play’ contains so much of meaning in it. To play fair with others is to leave their honour, their reputation, and their property in good state. Some people cause others great harm and grief; for example, because they are so careless in the way they talk about others. They are so careless about truthfulness, so indifferent and insensitive to the rights of others. You would feel sick, for instance, if your reputation were at the mercy of their sharp and uncontrolled tongues. Then again, there are people who refuse to play fair with the property rights of others. They refuse to play fair with their responsibilities and obligations. Your name and your possessions, hard-earned and perhaps badly needed, are not safe with such people. Public funds are not safe with them either.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) once came upon a stack of food. When he inserted his hand and his fingers reached something moist, he asked its owner, “What is this, O food-merchant?” “It has been affected by the weather, Messenger of Allah,” replied the food-merchant. Then the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Then why don’t you put it on top of the stack so that people can see it? He who deceives us is not of us.” (al-Bukhaaree)
He also once said, “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, if we appoint a man to a task with which Allah has charged us and he embezzles anything at all then surely he will bear it on his back on the Day of Resurrection, grunting if it be a camel, lowing if a cow and bleating if a sheep.” (Al-Bukhaaree) Then he raised his hands heavenwards and said, “O Allah! Have I spoken aright?” This he repeated twice or thrice.
Do these things happen in our societies? Are there people who do not hesitate to lie? Let us be realistic. There are. This is so because some people are inclined to be greedy, selfish and scornful of other people’s rights.
A good Muslim, therefore, must not allow himself to take things even if they are of a low value; otherwise, he may in no time at all develop into an expert thief. If a youngster practises stealing things from the cupboard or holding back change, for instance, he will soon become an expert in breaking windows, pulling down fences, cheating in school and filling his pockets with unpaid merchandise and articles.
When he becomes a man, what will prevent him from robbing a bank, falsifying documents, cheating his employer by wasting time, neglecting work or damaging property? Or if he becomes an employer himself, he may defraud his workers by not paying them a just wage, using false weights and measures, adulterating food and other products for sale and overcharging customers in order to make excessive profits.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said, “He who deceives us is not of us.”
Indeed, Islam forbids every type of dishonest dealings, such as cheating, unjustly keeping what belongs to others and accepting bribes, to mention but a few examples, The Prophet (pbuh) once cursed both the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker and even the person who acts as an intermediary between them.
If a Muslim finds lost goods, he must return them to their rightful owners. He must also repair damage he may have unjustly done to the property of others, or at least pay the amount of damage as far as he is able.
If hard times come our way, Allah’s help and the example of our Prophet (pbuh) should be our support and strength to bear trials courageously and patiently. Remember that one of the very best ways to ensure your future happiness is to form a habit of never being idle. Major achievements always result from productive work. Nothing good in life can be produced as a result of laziness and slothfulness. By getting into the habit of working hard and honestly, you will certainly gain much happiness and a promising future. Right now the most important work in your life is schoolwork. Your future depends on your high school record. So concentrate on your studies despite all the fascinating activities going about you. Study hard now and you will not be one of the many unfortunate ones who mourn the years and precious time they have wasted: “If only I had taken heed!