The Command to Return the Trusts to Whomever They are Due
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala begins ayah 58 by saying,
“Verily, Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due…”
As to who is the addressee of this command, there are two probabilities: It could have been addressed to the general body of Muslims, or it could have been addressed particularly to those in authority. What is more obvious here is that the ayah is addressed to everyone who holds anything in trust. This includes the masses and also those in authority.
The Emphasis Laid on Fulfilling Trust Obligations
The functional outcome of the command in the ayah is that everyone who holds anything in trust with him is duty-bound to see that trust obligations are faithfully fulfilled and that the rightful recipients have in their hands what is their due. The Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam has laid great stress on the fulfillment of trust obligations. Anas radhiAllahu anhu says: It must have been a rare sermon indeed in which the Prophet may not have said the following words,
“One who does not fulfill trust obligations has no Faith (emaan) with him; and one who does not stand by his word of promise has no religion with him.” [Reported by al-Baihaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman]
Breach of Trust is a Sign of Hypocrisy
According to narrations from Abu Hurairah and Ibn Umar radhiAllahu anhum appearing in al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam while describing the signs of hypocrisy on a certain day, pointed out to a particular sign which was:
“Give him an amanah and he will do khiyanah.”
It means when a hypocrite is charged with a trust obligation, he will commit a breach of trust.
Kinds of Trust Obligations
Here, worth pondering is the Qur’anic use of the word, Amanat which is in the plural form. This is to hint that amanah (trust obligation) is not simply limited to cash or kind which someone may have entrusted to someone else for safe-keeping until demanded, which is the most prevailing and commonly understood form of amanah. The cue is that there are other kinds of amanah as well. For example, the incident mentioned earlier under the background of the revelation of this ayah does not have financial aspect to it. The key to the Baytullah was not a financial asset. Instead, this key was a symbol of the office of the serving keeper of the Baytullah.