Hadith No. 48

On the authority of Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (may Allah be pleased with them both) that the Prophet (sas) said:

"Four traits whoever possesses them is a hypocrite and whoever possesses some of them has an element of hypocrisy until he leaves it: the one who when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise, when he disputes he transgresses and when he makes an agreement he violates it.

Muslim and Bukhari

1. Other wordings of this same hadith:
"The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise and when he is entrusted he betrays the trust." (Bukhari and Muslim)

"…even if he prays and fasts and imagines that he is a Muslim" (Muslim)

"Among the signs of the hypocrite are three…" (Muslim)

2. Nifaaq (hypocrisy) in the Arabic language means the general category of deception, scheming and presenting an outward appearance of good while concealing its opposite.

3. In the Shari’a, nifaaq is of two types:

a) Greater (An-Nifaaq Al-Akbar): To present an outward appearance of belief in Allah, his Angels, his books, his messengers, the last day, etc. while concealing withing that which negates all or some of that. This is the hypocrisy which the Prophet (sas) confronted during his life and the ones who Allah said in the Qur’an that they are in "the lowest depth of hell-fire".

b) Lesser (An-Nifaaq Al-Asghar) or hypocrisy of action: To present an outward appearance of good and good deeds while concealing within that which negates that. This form of hypocrisy is built on the 5 things mentioned in the hadith at hand.

4. The actions in this hadith are all part of lesser hypocrisy. One who has these character traits in interaction with other people is most likely to have them with regard to Allah and his Prophet (sas). That is why the existence of them is a ‘sign’ of the existence of greater nifaaq.

5. Lying. Al-Hassan Al-Basri said: "Nifaaq is the difference between the inner and the appearance, between statement and action and between entering and leaving and it used to be said that the foundation of nifaaq upon which it is built is lying."

6. Breaking Promises. This falls into two categories:

a) Making a promise with no intention of keeping it. Al-Awzaa’iy said that one who says "I will do such-and-such isha Allah" without intending to do it has committed both lying and breaking a promise.

b) Making a promise intending to keep it and then later deciding to break it.

7. Transgression in Dispute. The main meaning of ‘transgression’ here is to intentionally speak other than truth making truth falsehood and vice versa. Lying ‘calls to’ this as in the hadith: "Beware of lying for lying guides to transgression and transgression leads to the fire." (Bukhari and Muslim). Also, the Prophet (sas) said: "The most hated of men to Allah is the one given to fierce and violent disputation." (Bukhari and Muslim) Also, the Prophet (sas) said about the one who takes what is not his through clever speech has only been given a piece of the fire.

8. Breaking Agreements. Allah said: {And fulfill your agreements for verily agreements will be asked about} Al-Israa’: 34. And: {And fulfill Allah’s agreement when you have made an agreement and don’t violate your oaths after they have been established and you have made Allah your guardian (therein)} An-Nahl: 91. Also: Aal-Imraan: 77. This applies to Muslim and non-Muslim alike. The Prophet (sas) said: "Whoever kills an individual protected by treaty without right will not even smell the scent of paradise and its scent can be found at a distance of forty years march." The most serious oath to dishonor is the oath of allegiance to the khalifa of the Muslims.

9. Betraying of Trusts. When a Muslim is entrusted with something, he must do his best to protect it and to render it back to its owner when the time comes. Allah said: {Verily, Allah orders you to render trusts to their rightful owners…} An-Nisaa: 58 Also: Al-Anfaal: 27.

10. These issues have all been connected to hypocrisy in the Qur’an:

a) Al-Munaafiqoon: 1-2 (Lying, breaking oaths)

b) At-Tauba: 73-77 (False oaths, breaking promises (to Allah), lying)

c) Al-Ahzaab: 72-73 (Betraying trusts)

11. Umar mentioned the hadith of the Prophet (sas): "The thing from which I fear for you the most is the knowledgeable hypocrite." Umar was then asked: "How can a hypocrite be knowledgeable?" To which Umar answered: "He speaks with wisdom but acts with injustice."

12. Ibn Umar was told: "We enter the presence of the ruler we speak to him other than what we say after we leave." Ibn Umar said: "We used to consider that hypocrisy." (Bukhari)

13. Ibn Abi Mulaika said: "I encountered thirty Companions of the Prophet (sas) every one of them fears hypocrisy for himself and Al-Hassan Al-Basri used to say about it: No one fears it but a believer and no one feels safe from it but a hypocrite." (Bukhari)

14. Another aspect of hypocrisy is to do apparently good deeds with wicked intentions. Allah said: {They set up a masjid for the purpose of harm, kufr, creating division among the Muslims and as an outpost for those making war against Allah and His Prophet before this and they will swear "We only intended good." And Allah bears witness that they are liars.} At-Tauba: 107

15. Also: {Do not imagine that those who are joyful with what they have done and love to be praised for that which they did not do – do not imagine them to be safe from punishment – and theirs is a painful punishment.} Aal-Imraan: 188

16. Consciousness will vary and this is not hypcrisy. The Prophet (sas) said to Handhala: "If you were to continue in the state which you achieved in my presence, the angels would greet you in your sittings and in the streets however, O Handhala, there are times and there are times."