40 Hadith #66: Traits of Hypocrisy

With our brother Abu Arwa Ali


  • “When he speaks, he lies”
  • “When he promises, he breaks it”
  • “When he argues, he is immoral”
  • “When he makes an agreement, he is treacherous”

Hadith 48 (Ibn Rajab’s 6th addendum)

  • Abdullah bin ‘Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s messenger (ﷺ) said: “There are four traits; whoever has them is a munafiq (hypocrite) and if he possesses one trait of them, then he has one trait of nifaq (hypocrisy) in him until he abandons it. When he speaks, he lies. When he promises, he breaks it. When he argues, he is immoral. When he makes an agreement, he is treacherous.” [Recorded by Bukhari and Muslim]
  • The explanation of this hadith is divided into 6 parts

Part 1: The statement “There are four traits”

  • Why did the Prophet start the hadith like this?

Part 2: The four traits

First trait: “When he speaks, he lies”

  • If he or she Informs someone about something contrary to reality
  • The one who carries this blameworthy trait harms both himself and others
  • The danger of being someone who lies
  • It is importance of telling the truth

Second trait: “When he promises, he breaks it”

  • This refers specifically to when a person makes a promise with the intention not to keep it
  • However in contrast to this, if a person makes a promise, but then an unexpected obstacle occurs, and this prevents him from being able to fulfil his promise, then he is excused
  • The statement of Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (may Allah be pleased with him)
  • What if a parent promises a child they will give them something, but they only do so in order for the child to do something and he or she does not

Third trait: “When he argues, he is immoral”

  • The word “fuhoor” is translated as “immoral” 
  • “Fujoor” is defined fully by Ibn Hajar (may Allah be pleased with him) as this: To incline away from the truth and cunningly reject it
  • It can also be defined as: To become angry when arguing such that one exceeds the limits; from justice to injustice.
  • What did Allah say in the Qur’an? [Surah Maa’idah (The Table spread with Food) verse 8]
  • The statement of Ibn Rajab
    • “The ability (and enactment) while arguing to overpower for falsehood, portraying it as truth, while weakening the truth and disguising it as falsehood is the most vile of prohibitions and the most wicked traits of nifaq (hypocrisy)”

Fourth trait: “When he makes an agreement, he is treacherous”

  • This is something that is prohibited at all times whether it is to a Muslim or a non-Muslim, regardless of the time
  • A person is commanded to fulfil his agreements
  • The story of Hudhayfah Ibn Al-Yamaan, one of the noble companions) and how he and his father kept their agreements to the disbelievers even during a battle
  • Allah has commanded us to fulfil our agreements with the disbelievers as long as they do not breach them. This also applies to Muslims
  • The above applies to sales, marriages, vows made to Allah etc

Part 3: Summary of Benefits 

  1. A teacher mentioned the number of points to be explained before explaining them is an excellent teaching method. It has a greater impact on the learners mind (in focusing on and remembering the points).
  2. This hadith highlights the danger of a person possessing the traits of hypocrisy.
  3. Warning against lying.
  4. Warning against breaking promises.
  5. Warning against being immoral when arguing.
  6. Warning against treachery.