You know that awful feeling when you find out a friend has broken your trust and revealed something personal about you to someone else? We’ve all experienced the hurt of betrayal at one point of our lives or another.
Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. Once trust breaks down, it is extremely difficult to repair it. So often we make light of the personal details someone may share with us in confidence, disclosing them to another person the moment the conversation is over.
What we fail to realize is that anything personal someone shares with us is an Amanah, it’s a trust that must be kept. Betraying that Amanah is not only a grave sin, it is also one of the signs of hypocrisy.
The Prophet (saw) said: “When a man tells something and then departs, it is a trust.”[Sunan Abi Dawud]
Consciously safeguarding the secrets mentioned below will strengthen your relationship with the important people in your life, i.e. your spouse, relatives, in-laws, and friends.
1. Information about your in-laws and your own family.
A secret isn’t always explicitly stated. In some cases, it can be related to a person’s private behavior inside the comfort of their home, their idiosyncrasies and quirks that emerge only when they are truly being themselves.
Think about it – how would you feel if someone revealed your odd little habits and mannerisms to outsiders? If your sister-in-law went to her parents’ house and told her mother all about the way you raise your child or leave the kitchen messy? How would you feel if your brother’s wife told her relatives about your family’s activities?
Just as you would hate for others to know these intimate details about your life, don’t be that person who reveals such information about others.
These are relationships where we need to be extra careful in maintaining other people’s trust and confidence.
There is no benefit whatsoever in revealing the private details of your in-laws to your own family or vice versa.
We may find it harmless to reveal such information to others but what we’re actually doing is increasing our burden of bad deeds. While our tongue is busy narrating trivial stories to others, our angels are busy writing down every word we utter.
مَّا يَلْفِظُ مِن قَوْلٍ إِلَّا لَدَيْهِ رَقِيبٌ عَتِيدٌ
Not a single word is uttered by one but there is a watcher near him, ready (to record). [50:18]
If you remember the reward mentioned in this Hadith, it will be much easier to restrain yourself from revealing anyone’s faults:
It is reported that some people visited Uqbah ibn Amir, a companion of the Prophet (saw), and said, “We have neighbors who drink and do other deeds: should we report them to the governor?” He said, “No. I heard God’s Messenger (saw) saying, ‘Whoever sees a defect in a Muslim and overlooks it is like one who saves a young girl who has been buried alive.'” [Bukhari]
2. Privacy in a marriage.
Allah (swt) states in the Quran that, “Your spouse is a garment for you.” One reason for this comparison is that a husband and wife safeguard each other’s secrets and don’t disclose their private matters to others.
The Prophet (saw) said: “Among the most evil of people before Allaah on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who is intimate with his wife and she with him, then he spreads her secret.”[Muslim]
Aside from a serious issue or any type of abuse, don’t reveal what goes on inside your marriage to outsiders. Especially don’t share your arguments or fights with your mom or sisters – they will remember long after you both have patched up, causing them to harbor ill feelings in their heart against your spouse.
If there is something that you and your husband are finding it difficult to work through, consult a wise third party or marital counselor/coach. You will emerge from the experience with a clearer understanding of what it is you both want from your marriage, learn healthy conflict resolution and coping skills.
3. Any gathering you attend.
In a famous Hadith, the Prophet (saw) said:
Gatherings are a place of trust. [Sunan Abi Dawud]
Even two people sitting together constitute a Majlis. Pay attention to the other person’s nonverbal cues and body language. You can easily gauge when someone is disclosing something private from the way they look around or lower their voice.
The Prophet (saw) said: “If a man tells you something then looks around, it is a trust.”[Tirmidhi]
If something is shared during the course of a conversation that the speaker doesn’t specifically tell you to keep a secret, ask yourself the following questions before you disclose it to another person:
- Does knowing this about X bring any kind of benefit to Y?
- If X heard me saying this about her, would she be okay with it?
- If X shared something similar to this about me with someone else, would I be okay with it?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, don’t say it.
What do you think is the most important element for maintaining trust in a relationship? Comment below to let me know!