By: Samsul Nizar
Professor and Head of STAIN Bengkalis
There was a very wealthy businessman in the past. Sadly, he did not have any offspring to continue on his business. Therefore, he assembled all of the former corporate officials (under him). He described the purpose of the meeting throughout the meeting. In his later years, he desired to relax and prepare for his return to God.
But before he could do so, he had to find his successor as corporate boss. Despite their astonishment, everyone left with the optimism that this position could be theirs. Each member of the businessman’s staff was given a peanut seed. “Sow these bean seeds with affection. What you do as the company’s leader is a reflection of yourself. Whoever successfully cultivates these bean seeds will be selected.”
Everyone hurried home to sow the bean seeds as soon as they came. At the allotted time, everything is ready for harvesting the crops that have been planted. However, someone acquired a seed with a sorrowful expression. Because the sown seeds never germinate. Nonetheless, he had taken excellent care of it. It initially occurred to him to replace his seedling pots with thriving peanut plants. However, with the encouragement and support of his devout wife, he maintained his integrity. He gradually moved the container containing the sowed seeds, but no tree developed. Meanwhile, his other companions brought their flourishing plants with pride. Having brought nothing but a pot of dirt, he became an object of derision.
The director of the company evaluates every candidate who has been handed plant seeds. His attention was directed toward an employee who was carrying an empty planter. A few moments later, he questioned the employee who brought the most prolific plants about their exceptional fertility. A proud and assured man describes his actions. The employee whose plants did not thrive then described how he planted the peanut seeds such that they did not germinate. At the conclusion of his presentation, the owner of the company proclaimed, “Let’s welcome and congratulate the new director who will replace me.”
The employee carrying the empty pot attracted a great deal of attention. They had no way of believing what the company’s owner claimed. Instead of choosing employees who failed to plant the seeds they were given, choose those who did not. The business owner, upon observing this situation, remarked, “I am aware of your superior intellectual ability and performance. However, the only person who genuinely has an advantage over you is one who cannot plant seeds. This benefit is honesty. Meanwhile, you are all lacking in integrity. Because I have cooked all the seeds I have previously distributed. Therefore, it is difficult for the seeds to develop after boiling. Meanwhile, the seeds I supplied you previously have been substituted for the ones you brought. It is essential that the leadership be satisfied with the plants. In fact, the opposite is true. The only honest individual is one who carries empty flowerpots.” Everyone was hushed and bowing their heads.
It is a story filled with significance and satire of “ordinary” modern happenings. Human civilization is insulted by the actions of civilizations that claim to be modern but act barbaric (cheat and sell self-esteem). Throughout the preceding history, humanity could have learnt numerous lessons, including:
First, the typical leader (business owner) is a wise individual. Considering his successor to ensuring that what he has created will endure. To succeed him, he is searching for and developing a succession of qualified, trustworthy, and competent successors, as opposed to successors who carry “coffers in a bag,” are greedy, and may instead sell current assets in the future. By preparing successors who cultivate virtue and prioritise the interests of society, he is not seeking successors who can conceal past frauds and deceits. Then there are certain leaders who are unprepared for succession and unwilling to cede control. It is true that when future leaders are not well trained, they will be dishonest and harmful to the institutions of civilization.
Second, unlike dishonesty, which is more prevalent and real, only a small number of persons actually develop honesty. Despite everyone’s detest of hypocrisy, many people enjoy this type of hypocrisy. They have little regard for the repercussions. Is it feasible for the owner of honesty to pass through the solid line of dishonesty’s dominance by giving the owner of honesty an odd look? In addition, the Messenger of Allah declared that honesty gives goodness, that kindness leads to heaven, and that the most honest person is the one who speaks the truth. “Lying leads to evil, and bad leads to damnation, and Allah will record those who lie as the greatest liars” (Imam Bukhari).
The community of dishonesty generally looks down upon the possessor of honesty. If integrity is not observed, the owner will be bullied and despised. The majority’s evaluation of the minority determines whether a minority is honest or dishonest from an interests standpoint. Simple logic dictates that a minority will label a majority as insane. A majority of insane individuals (majority) will judge normal individuals (minority) to be insane. Similar considerations apply to both honesty and dishonesty. If the community that values honesty is in the minority in a sea of dishonesty, then its existence will be antagonised, eradicated, and “burnt to the ground.” This is revealed by God in His Word: “Indeed, we have tested those who came before them, so that God knows the truthful and the dishonest” (QS. Al Ankabut: 3).
God’s Word warns, however, that it is remarkable that humans “support liars” and kill those who possess integrity. The peculiarity of the attitude that transcends social strata, education, and ostentatious characteristics of zahir piety.
Fourth, efforts to make leaders happy frequently involve deception and dishonesty. To fulfil his objective to attain or keep the position he now holds, he justifies any means. So powerful is the power magnet that compels “face seekers” to line up to excuse the wrong and blame the right, shout loudly despite it being average, make nothing exist, make something exist, or laugh in awe despite it being worthless. Such is the measure of contemporary human civilisation, which has lost its vertical compass due to the steady expansion of horizontal interests. In truth, Allah has forewarned against such deception through His word: “And they (disbelievers) planned, so Allah responded to trickery. And Allah is the most effective enemy of falsehood” (QS. Ali Imran: 54).
Fifth, only those who share the same honesty are capable of judging and observing it. Humans who lack honesty as a character trait will be unable of perceiving and evaluating it. Because honesty or dishonesty can only be discerned by the actions and qualities of character that are identical for each one who judges. The form of one’s appraisal of the universe will change as a result of inward reflection. Kindness will be reflected in the judgement of those with good character. Meanwhile, poor character will reflect poorly on others’ assessment. His existence is reflective. What is observed is either a mirrored reflection or mirrored surroundings.
Sixth, the trigger for honesty is having subordinates who are honest (people). Sincere subordinates “invite” the presence of trustworthy superiors. Similar to magnets and iron, leadership and subordinate attributes impact and compliment one another. To ensure the birth of civilization, a trustworthy leader must ensure the birth of justice. In the event that justice is implemented, wealth will result. If both leaders and followers are dishonest, then both will be dishonest. Allah describes this sort of causality in the Quran: “And thus We have made some of the wrongdoers into leaders for others based on what they earn” (Surah Al-‘An’m: 129).
The Prophet described the aforementioned scripture as follows: “As you are, so is your leader” (HR. Baihaqi).
According to Ibn Jarir, citing Sa’id, who recounted from Ibn Qatada regarding the interpretation of the preceding verse, “Indeed, Allah makes friends depending on deeds. In other words, believers have believers as friends and unbelievers have infidels as friends. Faith is neither wishful thinking nor an ornament; rather, it must be accompanied by deeds. In this instance, Allah advises humanity to maintain their honesty through conversing intelligently with other honest individuals. This is evident from the words of God: “Dear you who believe, fear Allah and associate with the truthful” (QS. at-Taubah: 119).
According to Quraish Shihab, the preceding verse is an exhortation from Allah to humanity to be prudent in their relationships. If a person want to keep his piety, religion, and integrity, he must always associate with those who share his faith, words, and actions. Meanwhile, choosing to be a part of a community that propagates lies pushes you to stray further from the truth. Because, if honesty interacts with the group that owns dishonesty, it is thought that honesty will be overcome by the trust-gaining dominance of dishonesty. Due to the fact that the degree of honesty is no longer a metric. The primary criterion is the predominance of a condition. In addition, if acting on behalf of the democratic constitution through voting, the dominant community will dominate regardless of whether the decisions made are correct or incorrect.
Perhaps in the 5.0 period, honesty is a “precious treasure,” but in the following era, it will be a “weird thing” that must be discarded (removed). The creation of this evaluation is (perhaps) owing to the peculiar rhythm of the movement of human-built society, which is no longer capable of recognising the great value of honesty. Consequently, honesty will be perceived as an impediment to civilisation and progress. When this era occurred, either the value of honesty was no longer desired in a society populated by unusual humans, or it had been obliterated by self-interest. What an era that is perplexing, disheartening, and a portent of the end of humanity!
Honestly, if you can keep your integrity when you have authority, you should also consider it when you do not. There will always be a high regard for the self. However, if dishonesty is more crucial when in power, then consider the outcomes when the power has been lost. Only insults and mockery will be tolerated. Consequently, the sunnatullah governs humanity and the universe. Even if dishonest attempts are made to distort the facts, they will fail. If successful, the outcome will be short-lived. At the conclusion of dishonesty’s consequences, the abyss of destruction, deceit, and the fruit of agony will gape. Because according to a Malay proverb, “gold and copper (pan) are not identical”. The gold hue will always be preserved. In the meantime, the copper (pan), although being gilded and polished with gold, will lose its colour with time, revealing its true value. According to the level of one’s genuine self-mirror, the decision rests with each individual.
Wa Allahua’lam bi al-Shawwab
Translated by Riska Saputra, S.Pd
Alumni of the English Education Study Program of STAIN Bengkalis.
Master Student at Graduate Institute of Network Learning Technology in National Central University, Taiwan.