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DOUBLE MEASUREMENT

The chapter of the Qur’an entitled Al-Mutaffifin (Those who Give Short Measure) deals with hypocritical behavior. The Qur’an calls it ‘double measurement’. The relevant verses are as follows: Woe to those who give short measure, who demand of other people full measure for themselves, but when they give by measurement or weight to others, they give them less. Do such people not realize that they will be raised up, on a fateful day. The Day when mankind will stand before the Lord of the Universe? (83:1-6) ‘Double measurement’—giving less to others and taking more from them—applies not only to giving short measure or short weight in commercial terms but also to all other social activities. Not only does it vitiate commercial dealings, but it also undermines social and moral relationships. All things considered, it is a reprehensible practice, and those who stoop to it are evil in character.

The next verses of this chapter make it clear that what is, in fact, being condemned is the spirit of injustice, that is, giving too little and asking too much. This appears in commercial dealings, where a person exacts a higher standard in his own favor than he is willing to concede to others. In domestic or social matters an individual or group may ask for the honor, respect, or services, which for their part he or they are not willing to give in similar circumstances. It is worse than one-sided selfishness: for it is double injustice. But its worst manifestation is in religion or spiritual life: how can a man have the effrontery to ask for mercy or love from God when he grudges giving either to his fellow-men? There is a golden rule which should be borne in mind: ‘Do as you would be done by.’ To give this more complete expression—you must give in full measure what is due from you, whether you expect or wish to receive full consideration from the other party or not.

The integrity of one who is engaged in such double practice is highly dubious. It is almost inhuman. There is not even any animal on the earth that is reported to involve itself in such a practice. It is the only man who behaves in this way out of pure self-interest. Self-interest is a decidedly human phenomenon; in the animal dictionary there is no such word as self-interest. A true believer is one who never stoops to ‘double measurement’.

All animals are predictable in character; it is the only man who fails to behave in a predictable manner. The reason for this difference is that animals have no freedom of choice. But man has freedom of choice. It is this unlimited freedom that creates the problem. A true believer is one who never stoops to ‘double measurement’. One who is not flawed by this evil is a predictable character. You can trust him. You can live in his neighborhood with the certain knowledge that he is not going to create any problems for you.

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