False or exaggerated testimonies are surprisingly not uncommon in the area of marriage. If it’s not the parents of the sister exaggerating about how good and obedient she is, it’s the family or friends of the brother exaggerating about how just and generous he is. We should all be reminded that exaggeration is tantamount to a lie. To say that someone is always praying in the Mosque paints pictures of righteousness and determination to please Allah. If the person in actual fact is only visiting the Mosque for the Jummah and the occasional congregational prayer, this can lead to serious trust issues regarding any testimonies given about other elements of the person’s life. Likewise if the parents of the sister talk about how she loves to maintain the home and is also very respectful, when in actual fact these things are rare occurrences, and at other times she is unruly and unhelpful in the home, again this can be tantamount to a lie.
Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:
O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His messenger (saw), he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the hellfire and will be admitted to paradise)
May Allah forgive us. It has become so easy to exaggerate. The pious companions of our beloved Prophet salallahu alaihi wa salaam were so filled with uncompromising integrity. Through immense fear of Allah they would never dream of lying but beside this they viewed lying as a breach of honour. Many of us have lost sight of this honour, and indeed the fear of Allah. Honour and integrity were precious gifts of those that came before us. Look at the story of the woman who after committing zinnah (fornication), went to the messenger of Allah to be purified. She approached him and revealed her sin. He turned his back on her but she went around him to face him again. She declared that she should be punished. He turned away from her again but she was adamant. This time he acknowledged her and declared her punishment. She was stoned to death. Subhanallah! None of the beloved Muslims of that time would have dreamt of giving a false testimony knowing full well that Allah would be watching them.
A wali’s character should be strong. Even if he is normally a soft natured person, in the face of justice he must put that softness to one side. If in the event of an arbitration he knows something about the sister he is representing, or he knows that she is lying he must speak out against her. As a father, uncle or brother of the sister, it may seem like an unnatural thing to do and may earn her displeasure, but ultimately it will help to bring everything out into the open to be dealt with properly inshallah. As for the wakeel if he is representing a sister, he knows is lying, he should not be afraid to speak the truth. Remember his intentions are to help reconcile a broken marriage. This cannot be done sincerely by siding with someone who is lying in order to make the other party appear to be in the wrong. As a wakeel you would have been appointed to protect her. Assisting in an untruth is not an example of this. She may decide to dismiss you but you should not be concerned with that because alternatively you could end up as an accomplice in a sin against her husband. If she respects justice and honour she will appreciate your actions, but if she doesn’t you’d be better off somewhere else.
Unfortunately our imaan doesn’t stay the same, so we have to gauge ourselves daily to ensure we haven’t compromised or changed for the worse. If left too long we may no longer be able to recognize our weakness and could end up being completely corrupted by the people we are dealing with or acting on behalf of. Again for the wakeel, he must remember that all eyes are on him. Aspersions could easily be cast against him if he is believed to be helping a sister in her lies. As a non-mahram (non blood relative) he could be accused of having some personal interest in the sister. If indeed he is helping her in this sin, he will only have himself to blame if exposed. It’s a shame how easy it actually is for us to lie. A good personal test for us is to make a mental note of how many times we consciously tell lies in a day, even the little white ones. You may amaze yourself. Sometimes the smallest little lies roll effortlessly off the tongue. How many times have you been seated in a gathering where food is served unexpectedly of which you have no desire to eat? How many of you use the most common excuse claiming to have eaten earlier when what you actually meant was you’re not too keen on that dish? A good wali/wakeel is someone who can look a person in the eyes and tell them they are in the wrong. He also has to understand that a person may lie because they are embarrassed and he should know how to deal with that to keep the situation calm and civil.
We have some very beautiful examples of honesty and integrity. Another beautiful story I’d like to share with you is that of the sahaaba Suhaib ibn Sinaan, may Allah be pleased with him, who was hunted by the Quraish during his flight to Medina. As they closed in on him he shouted from a distance, warning them that he was a keen marksman and could find his target long before they could reach him. Then he said, ‘If you like I will tell you where my money is so leave me alone.’ They agreed to this and he disclosed the location of his wealth back in Mecca. They left him and returned without question. They believed his words without doubt and did not ask him to prove his honesty. Many of us preoccupy ourselves fearing the consequences of telling the truth. We worry that people won’t like us and won’t like being in our company for fear of criticism. Truth is a shield that protects us from many things in this life, but more than that, telling the truth the way our prophet and his companions did can win you Allah’s favour.
Marital discord is like a cataract in the eye of marriage, which once removed (by arbitration or counselling) allows the couple to see clearly again and be reminded of why they married each other in the first place.
Now we turn our attention to testimonies given about a brother wishing to marry a sister. Brothers, how many times have you exaggerated or lied about someone you know who is wishing to get married? This is far more a regular occurrence than you can imagine. I hear it all the time. Perhaps you may feel that you have gotten away with it because the brother is a friend so you feel you know him to a certain degree. Perhaps. However brothers you must now beware as there is a new phenomenon in our community. The evil phenomenon of the marriage predator or marriage bandit. If you don’t already know what a marriage predator is, please read this article written by Shaikh Haitham Al Haddad may Allah reward him ameen http://www.islam21c.com/islamic-thought/propagation/beware-of-the-marriage-bandits-part-1/
Brothers if you exaggerate or lie about a brother you know, or think you know, be ready for the wrath of Allah because your act could potentially destroy lives. The life of the poor sister and your life in the aakhira. When a brother wishing to get married talks about his expectations, this usually gives an indication of what type of person he is and by this I don’t mean that he could just be after one thing. It can well be argued that there is nothing wrong with someone wanting to get married purely to feed his/her physical desires. We know that the young men are encouraged to fast if they are not married and we know that if a married man is affected after seeing an attractive woman on the street, he should go home to his wife as described in a hadith from our beloved prophet (SAW). From this we can say that if someone needs to get married to avoid haraam, then it is something which becomes fard on them. These are not the dangers I’m talking about. I’m talking about the instances where a brother refers to sisters in derogatory ways and may be perhaps too explicit about his desires. There is now a danger that he does not value his sisters and that they are just objects of desire. When a brother like this is a friend, or someone you know and someone approaches you for a character reference, subhanallah! The test is certainly on you.
Our sisters need protecting and sadly the modern Muslim man has become soft. He feels that he cannot be the new age Mu’tasim who went to war in order to protect the honour of one woman, so instead he sits back and allows his sisters to be preyed upon. The first steps towards regaining one’s honour begin with truth. Say it like it is. If a brother you know has spoken badly about sisters or has been known to have many short marriages, you have to say something when asked about him and stay far from lies or exaggeration. Then and only then can we force the bandits out of the woodwork and Allah knows best.