Amanah is one of the few important values, attributes, and teachings that the Qur’an and Sunnah have emphasized very strongly, repeatedly, in different aspects and in various ways. And which is deeply related to all spheres of human life, whether it is social relations and family issues or political and economic issues. In English, it is usually translated as trust, and in modern socio-political sciences, it is seen as a necessary condition and a required basis for social harmony, political stability, and a peaceful society. According to John Lock, a great name in modern philosophy and political science, “Trust is the most essential foundation of successful politics and a peaceful society.” In this context, most of the political and social ideologies of the western and modern world seemed to be based on the concept of trustworthiness. However, there is a major fundamental difference in the basic philosophy and motivation between the Islamic and modern social concepts of trustworthiness, and the effects of which are clearly visible in the practice of maintaining trustworthiness. And a clear sign of this is a consensus analysis of current political and social experts that, despite all the focus and emphasis on trust, the attribute of trust is rapidly declining in the modern and western world. On the other hand, in the Muslim world, despite the extraordinary Quranic teachings and interpretations of the Sunnah regarding trustworthiness, there have been no major theoretical or practical efforts towards systematically institutionalizing it at the social and political level. The fact is that the concept of Amanah contains within itself a whole set of attributes that cover all matters of life. In his commentary (tafsir), Ibn Ashur discusses the verses related to Amanah quite proficiently, which will be very useful for understanding the all-encompassing uses and the universal aspects of Amanah. While on one end, Amanah is the name of fulfilling each other’s trust in individual matters, it is also an essential condition to have trust among people concerned with running and administration of the government. Along with this, trust is the primary requirement in trade and at the same time it is an essential requirement of trust to live in society according to the established principles of society. The success of any institution and party is also guaranteed by how trustworthy people are. The governance and management whether at the national level or at the level of any institution and organization, its real success lies in the fact that the relationship between them is established based on trust and confidence. This is the central thought that will be sought to be highlighted in some detail.
Definition of Amanah:
Amanah is an Arabic word whose origin is ا (a), م (m), ن (n) and its meaning includes the meaning of peace, security, trust, and honesty according to the dictionary. It also means contentment of heart and freedom from fears. It also includes an important meaning of strength and power, which actually gives a person the ability to perform efficiently with trust. In short, the word refers to three main meanings: to perform obligatory actions, to fulfill responsibilities effectively, and to eliminate fears. In light of all these definitions, it can be said that Amanah on one hand is the name of all the religious, family, social, economic, and political responsibilities and obligations that human beings are required to fulfill, and at the same time, Amanah is the name of the attribute of honesty for which one deserves to be entrusted with responsibilities.
Amanah and Holy Qur’an:
Amanah has been mentioned in the Qur’an, frequently. The interesting fact is that the word that deserves to be called the summary of the Holy Qur’an and become its keyword, i.e, faith, is also associated with Amanah in terms of its origin, i.e, the origin of both the words is ا (a), م (m), ن (n). Which means to believe and trust in God. Amanah has been mentioned in the Qur’an 23 times, directly as well with different expressions. Some verses are presented here:
وَاِنۡ كُنۡتُمۡ عَلٰى سَفَرٍ وَّلَمۡ تَجِدُوۡا كَاتِبًا فَرِهٰنٌ مَّقۡبُوۡضَةٌ ؕ فَاِنۡ اَمِنَ بَعۡضُكُمۡ بَعۡضًا فَلۡيُؤَدِّ الَّذِى اؤۡتُمِنَ اَمَانَـتَهٗ وَلۡيَتَّقِ اللّٰهَ رَبَّهٗؕ وَلَا تَكۡتُمُوا الشَّهَادَةَ ؕ وَمَنۡ يَّكۡتُمۡهَا فَاِنَّهٗۤ اٰثِمٌ قَلۡبُهٗؕ وَ اللّٰهُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ عَلِيۡمٌ
Translation: If you are on a journey and cannot find a scribe to write the document, then transact your business on the security of a pledge in hand. And, if anyone transacts a piece of business with another merely on trust, then the one who is trusted should fulfill his trust and fear Allah, his Lord And never conceal evidence for he who conceals it, has a sinful heart: Allah knows everything that you do.
(Surah Al Baqarah, Ayah: 283)
اِنَّ اللّٰهَ يَاۡمُرُكُمۡ اَنۡ تُؤَدُّوا الۡاَمٰنٰتِ اِلٰٓى اَهۡلِهَا ۙ وَاِذَا حَكَمۡتُمۡ بَيۡنَ النَّاسِ اَنۡ تَحۡكُمُوۡا بِالۡعَدۡلِ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ نِعِمَّا يَعِظُكُمۡ بِهٖ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ كَانَ سَمِيۡعًۢا بَصِيۡرًا
Translation: Allah commands you to deliver trusts to those worthy of them; and when you judge between people, to judge with justice. Excellent is the admonition Allah gives you. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.
(Surah An Nisa, Ayah: 58)
يٰۤـاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا لَا تَخُوۡنُوا اللّٰهَ وَالرَّسُوۡلَ وَتَخُوۡنُوۡۤا اَمٰنٰتِكُمۡ وَاَنۡـتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ
Translation: Believers! Do not be unfaithful to Allah and the Messenger, nor be knowingly unfaithful to your trusts.
(Surah Al Anfal, Ayah: 27)
وَالَّذِيۡنَ هُمۡ لِاَمٰنٰتِهِمۡ وَعَهۡدِهِمۡ رَاعُوۡنَ
Translation: who are true to their trusts and their covenants.
(Surah Al Mu’minoon, Ayah: 8)
The word Amin, which means endowed with the attribute of Amanah and is the embodiment of the term Amanah has been mentioned fourteen times in the Qur’an. It is mentioned as; the basic attribute of the prophets several times, once as the basic attribute needed to run the government and oversee the financial management of the country; similarly, in order to carry out any business or deal, it is necessary for a concerned person to possess the attribute of trust; or regarding the need to possess the attribute of trust to entrust someone with a task or to take an important task from someone, etc. Once, this word has also been used as an adjective of place, with the meaning of how peaceful and tranquil a place can be if the attribute of Amanah prevails there. However, it is used as an attribute of Makkah in the Holy Quran. Apart from this, there are two other words whose meanings are almost the same as those of trust (Amanah) and which are emphasized in the Qur’an, عقود (contract) and عہد (promise).
“یا أَیهَا الَّذِینَ آمَنُوا أَوْفُوا بِالْعُقُودِ.”
Translation: “O believers! Fulfill your commitments.“
وَأَوْفُوا بِالْعَهْدِ إِنَّ الْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْئُولًا
Translation: “And fulfill the promise that there will surely be a question about the promise.“
By considering all these verses, it is clear that the Holy Quran mentions trust on two levels. Firstly, trust is between humans and their Creator. Therefore, this entire universe is Amanah and the responsibility to fully repay this Amanah is the caliphate for which man has been created. Therefore, it is necessary for human beings to fully pay their Amanah to their Creator as well as beware and avoid any kind of betrayal. Secondly, Amanah is related to the affairs between human beings, and the fact is that all matters among humans can be satisfactory and pleasant only if all the proceedings are carried out on the basis of trust and honesty from both sides.
Ibn ‘Ashur, while discussing the verses about Amanah, presents the meaning of Amanah in its broader sense. Basically, the term Amanah is used for two purports. Firstly, in the sense of the attribute of trustworthiness, due to which one deserves to be called trustworthy by being equipped. Secondly, a valuable thing that is kept with someone is also called Amanah. Explaining the second meaning further, he says that when the term Amanah is used for something, it means both. One is a material thing given to someone as a trust and at the same time non-material things are also included in the meaning of Amanah. Just as someone tells someone a secret of his own, it is also Amanah. In this context, knowledge and wisdom should also be considered. Therefore, if Allah bestows knowledge and wisdom on someone, then it is an individual’s duty to convey it to others as Amanah, failing which he will commit treachery. Ibn Ashur further says that Amanah is a necessary condition for any society to be successful and peaceful. An important aspect of trustworthiness is the presence of attributes of Amanah in the rulers. Therefore, in the Islamic view, the most important and fundamental attribute for any social and political leader is trustworthiness.
Amanah and the Sunnah of Messenger ﷺ:
The Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ has repeatedly emphasized Amanah and treachery in Amanah has been strictly prohibited. Like the Qur’an, Sunnah of the Prophet used it in a very broad sense and presented it as the most vital foundation of a successful person as well as society. Before the commencement of prophethood, the Prophet ﷺ himself was known as “amin” which means, a trustworthy icon. Among other aspects, one of the most important characteristics mentioned in the Qur’an regarding Amanah, which the Prophet ﷺ emphasized, is that the attribute of Amanah is actually the criterion that distinguishes between a believer and a non-believer or a true Muslim and a nominal Muslim and a hypocrite Muslim. The Prophet ﷺ said: “There are three signs of a hypocrite: he lies whenever he speaks, betrays whenever entrusted, and when he makes a promise, he breaks his promise.” In another hadith, there was a strong warning regarding the betrayal of trust. It was said that treachery in the trust will not be forgiven by Allah under any circumstances, and even martyrdom will not be able to compensate for it. In another hadith, it was also said that the faith of a person who does not have the attribute of trust will not be acceptable. Imam Malik narrated from Hakeem Luqman that he was asked, “What helped you reach great heights?” Luqman replied: to speak the truth, to return the Amanah, and refrain from the nonsensical talk. It was narrated from Hazrat Ali that the Prophet ﷺ said that If a person governs you in accordance with the order of Allah and respects and takes care of Amanah, then it is obligatory for the people to obey him. It also indicates that if a ruler is not endowed with the attribute of trust, then he has absolutely no right to rule. Considering all these hadiths and relics, it is quite clear that trust is not only a condition for an individual to become a Muslim and be successful, but it is also necessary for each and every individual to take care of Amanah for the success of a government and for a society to be stable and beautiful.
Amanah and Social Stability:
It is very important to develop a relationship of trust among people for the prosperity, peace, and tranquility of any society. In modern sociology, it is called “social trust”. According to famous sociologist George Simmel, one of the most important factors that bind any society together is trust. Another sociologist says that the most important element of social assets is trust and having social assets is the foremost condition for the social welfare, economic development, and political stability of any society. The Holy Qur’an has presented this aspect of trust very clearly, which Ibn Ashur mentions in his tafsir explaining: “Amanah (Trust) has an extraordinary role in settling all matters of Muslim society”. Society relies on this trust in all its affairs and operations. The existence of trust is the root cause for the development of a society, the elevation of their nature, and moderation in their actions. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ has warned us thoroughly that lack of trust will bring our entire society to the brink of destruction. Interestingly, this is exactly what a famous sociologist of the 20th century, Sissela Bok says in these words: Trust is a social asset, and if it is abolished, societies destroy and their links shatter.
Amanah and Political Administration:
The indispensability of the attribute of trust in political leaders and government officials is clear in Islamic teachings as well as in modern political science experts. In sociology, this aspect of trust is referred to as political trust. As mentioned earlier, according to John Locke, at any place, the relationship between the government and its citizens should be established on the basis of trust. Putnam, a renowned political scientist, says that trust is essential for political and economic stability. Modern social research proves that the more satisfaction a government develops among the public regarding its trustworthiness, the more that government paves its way for the next term, as well as receives the full cooperation of the citizens in the administration of the government. Ibn Ashur, while discussing the above-mentioned verse of Surah Al-Nisa, says:
“Here the command of trust comes in the context of those who are entrusted with the responsibility of running the government and their job is to protect the rights of the people, and to manage proper administration. Such people are enjoined to be faithful to their responsibilities, confess the truth, and perform their tasks proficiently.”
Regarding the importance of trust in politics, the hadith in which the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to Hazrat Abuzar: “O Abuzar! You are less powerful, and this responsibility is Amanah.” When Hazrat Yusuf (as) was given the responsibility of the most important sector of government, i.e., finance, in this context, the Qur’an mentions two characteristics of him, one of which is to be the embodiment of the attribute of trust. According to Imam Ibn Taymiyah, the two most essential conditions for any ruler are the attributes of trust and justice. In one narration, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ exhorted Umar to choose him as ameer (leader) for some purpose, saying: “If you choose Umar as your Ameer (leader), you will see that he is very powerful and trustworthy.” It is important to mention here that a political trust cannot be created unless a social trust has developed. And that is because it is not possible for the government to develop trust unless people develop trust in those in their fellow who live together.
Amanah and Economic Development:
In the case of Hazrat Yusuf (AS), where the lesson of the importance of trust in politics emerges, the importance of trust is also highlighted in terms of economic development.
Similarly, in verse 76 of Surah Al-Imran, maintaining the trust and fulfilling one’s promise in financial matters is defined as taqwa (consciousness), which is one of the highest qualities of human beings. As if turning away from the attitude of trust in financial matters will be considered contrary to taqwa. At the same time, a lack of trust in financial matters becomes a cause of destruction and corruption for the entire society. Modern sociologists believe that the economic aspect of trust, which they call economic trust, actually results from the combination of political trust and social trust. A good example to illustrate this situation is the income tax given by schools. That is, if the tax laws are made by gaining the trust of the people and the taxpayers are fully satisfied with the performance of the government, along with this both of them need trust at the political and social level, then it will result in economic trust and the tax will be paid very easily and in a large amount. And this is a proven situation in the field investigation.
Motives of Amanah:
Experts examining trust in Western society agree that the graph of trust is rapidly declining. Putnam, for example, clearly expresses his suspicion that the level of trust in Western societies is constantly decreasing. Another sociologist says that trust is related to the attribute of trustworthiness and this thing is completely uncertain. Therefore, it is difficult for anyone to trust another person and establish a relationship with him based on trust. This is because in Western society, the absence of strong motivation and reason, is required to maintain trust. That’s why they call it an uncertain and vulnerable relationship. On the contrary, there is a great religious and moral motivation behind trust in Islamic teachings, due to which no one will dare to betray the trust despite considering himself a conscious Muslim. Therefore, it was clearly stated in the Hadith of the Prophet ﷺ that whoever does not fulfill the trust, his faith will not be accepted. Similarly, whoever betrays the trust is called a hypocrite. In the Qur’an, basic conditions of success were also mentioned, and it was that they should abide by their promises.
Amanah is a significant and comprehensive concept of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Its effects are so widespread and multifaceted that without it one cannot imagine a successful individual or a prosperous society. One of the strongest, most reliable, and most enduring relationships between human beings is a relationship of trust. But this relationship can be truly fruitful and successful only when it is first established with the Creator of the universe. This omnipotence of trust is lacking in Muslim society, and many problems in Muslim society are the result of this scarcity. Whether it is a successful family, an institution, an organization, or even a government, the success of all of them depends on the extent of trust among them at different levels.
 John Lock, Second Treatise of Government
 Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone
 George Simmel, The Sociology of George Simmel
 Kenneth Newton, Trust, Social Capital, Civil Society, and Democracy
 Sissela Bok, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life
 Robert Putnam, Turning in, Turning out: The Strange Disappearance of Social Capital in America
 John Scholz, Trust, Taxes and Compliance in Trust and Government
 Michael Bacharach and Diego Gambetta, Trust in Signs