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The Four Characteristics of the Hypocrite

Al-ʿAllāmah ʿAbd Al-Raḥmān ibn Nāṣir Al-Saʿdī

A discussion regarding the characteristics of the hypocrites and the way of Ahl al-Sunnah regarding them.

Narrated by ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿAmr [رضي الله عنهما] who said: The Messenger of Allāh [ﷺ] said: ‘Four [attributes] together describe an unadulterated hypocrite. Whomsoever possesses but one of these characteristics indeed possesses a trait of hypocrisy until he is able to abandon it: if he is entrusted with something, he breaks that trust. If he speaks, he lies. If he enters into an agreement, he violates its terms. If he has a disagreement with someone, he behaves immorally.’ Narrated by Al-Bukhārī and Muslim.


Shaykh ʿAbd Al-Raḥmān ibn Nāṣir Al-Saʿdī [d. 1376 AH] said:

The telling of lies in discourse is comprehensive of lying regarding that which is relayed from Allāh and His Messenger [ﷺ]. For the one who intentionally lies in what they narrate from either [Allāh or His Messenger] should be ready to take their rightful seat in the Fire, [Allāh says:]

مَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ ‎﴿٧﴾‏

‘And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allah untruth.’
[Al-Ṣaff, 61:7]

The ḥadīth is also comprehensive of relaying partial or complete events. So whomsoever [is a liar] in either shares one of the specific characteristics of the hypocrites. It is the narration of untruths concerning which the Prophet [ﷺ] said: ‘I caution you from lies, for indeed lies lead to immorality and immorality leads to the Fire. A man lies continuously, secretly and habitually housing fabrication until he is written with Allāh from among the liars.’ Likewise, whomever when they are entrusted with the money, rights, or the secrets [of people] they behave treacherously and disloyally, not fulfilling the rights of this trust. Where is the īmān [of such a person]? Where is the reality of his Islām? This applies also to the one who breaks the covenant between himself and Allāh, or between himself and the creation [of Allāh]. He is also described by a detestable attribute from the characteristics of the hypocrites. Also, the ones who do not behave piously when dealing with the finances of the people; they take it as an opportunity to seize those finances, arguing with falsehood to attain and confirm that which is not theirs, or to deprive others of their right. These characteristics together will almost never be found within an individual who possesses a sufficient or permissible weight of īmān. For it holds abhorrent and loathsome contradiction to [true] īmān.

Then know that from among the base principles of Ahl al-Sunnah wa-al-Jamāʿah is that a servant of Allāh may house attributes of goodness and of evil; characteristics of īmān and of disbelief and hypocrisy [at the same time]. He is deserving of either reward or punishment in correlation with his actions in light of either as proven by a great multitude of passages from the Book [of Allāh] and the Sunnah. It is obligatory to act in accordance with all of these actionable passages, and to believe in them.

Al-ʿAllāmah ʿAbd Al-Raḥmān ibn Nāṣir Al-Saʿdī

We must also declare ourselves innocent from the way of the Khawārij who reject the passages that prove that one’s īmān and dīn can remain intact, even if a servant [of Allāh] engages in acts of disobedience so long as he does not take part in that which is considered disbelief th̨at removes one from the sphere of īmān. The Khawārij reject all of these passages entirely, claiming that one who commits a major sin, or a characteristic of disbelief or hypocrisy is outside of this dīn, and will forever be a denizen of the Fire. This is a false way of thinking according to the Book [of Allāh], the Sunnah, and the consensus of the [pious] predecessors of this ummah.

Source: Bahjah Qulūb Al-Abrār: 27-29
Translated by: Riyāḍ Al-Kanadī

Published: August 21, 2022
Edited: April 3, 2023

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