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Originally published November 15, 2013 at 5:07 PM | Page modified November 15, 2013 at 9:42 PM

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Time to restore a simple principle: trust

People seemed to trust each other more when he was growing up, Aziz Junejo recalls, but now as email, cellphones, texting and the like make other people seem more remote, distrust can spread like a virus.

Special to The Seattle Times

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I distrust the president. I don't think I am alone. MORE


Faith & Values

What does trust mean to you, and do you consider yourself trustworthy?

How often we think about trust and trustworthiness may be a measure of how well they’re working for us.

Trust is a worthy moral principle that can give our society a sense of security. For me, it’s about my interpersonal life — about relationships, family, marriage, friendships, neighbors and co-workers.

When I grew up, my parents naturally trusted folks: Believing in trust was part of our teachings as Muslims and expected of us as Americans. It was pretty simple: You trusted until someone earned your distrust.

Back then, we spoke more to one another in person. We had relationships. We didn’t communicate through computers, email, cellphones, texting or tweeting, and there couldn’t have been anything better than being known as trustworthy.

In the 1970s, my Boy Scout Troop 284 met once a week at Fauntleroy Elementary School in West Seattle. We began each meeting by standing and reciting aloud the Scout Law, which began with the words, “A Scout is trustworthy.” As a Scout, I was morally straight and prided myself on my good deeds.

All Scouts were also expected to “do a good turn daily,” and I took that literally, keeping the trust of others always on my radar.

It gave me a sense of security, self-assurance and an optimistic framework from which to view our society. I felt an inner happiness, strength and vitality. Trust is an amazing feeling.

I remember being asked to watch neighbors’ homes during the summer while they were on vacation, to water the lawns of others and to take care of their pets. It was an honor to be trusted.

Today, trust seems to be in short supply, and technology plays a part in this. Its remote and impersonal nature allows distrust to materialize and spread like a virus, infecting us with suspicion and friction and upsetting friendships, relationships and workplaces.

I believe trust among Americans is essential for us to be a great nation. We should want to trust — to believe in and have confidence in one another as fellow citizens while embracing diversity.

For Muslims, trust revolves around the basic concept of accountability before God for all our actions. The fulfillment of that trust and of having regard for one another is based on behavior, not appearance.

Long before Muhammad’s prophethood, he was called “the trustworthy one” and is reported to have said: “Do not look at how much they fast or pray ... but look instead at their truthfulness and trustworthiness.”

God expects us to be trustworthy and to exhibit trust in everything we do. To do so is not illogical or illusive, but rather a part of our true nature, one that transcends race, ethnicity, marital status, politics and spoken language.

The benefits of being trustworthy are numerous, and building trust begins within each of us. Only then can we respond to it through our relationships and actions in our own lives, with those around us, and ultimately our society.

Aziz Junejo is host of “Focus on Islam,” a weekly cable-television show, and a frequent speaker on Islam. Readers may send feedback to

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About Mr. Aziz Junejo

Aziz Junejo is host of "Focus on Islam," a weekly cable-television show, and a frequent speaker on Islam.

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