Betrayal and lying – the qualities that contradict belief

Betrayal and lying - the qualities that contradict belief

Abu Umamah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of God (peace be upon him peace) said:

وأخرج ابن أبي شيبة وأحمد عن أبي أمامة قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم “يطبع المؤمن على الخلال كلها إلا الخيانة والكذب”.

“A believer may possess all qualities except betrayal and lying.” (Ibn Abi Shaybah and Ahmad)

In this hadith we see that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is saying that the fitrah of the believer – their innate nature – is pure. Though they might err or sin sometimes or exhibit weakness, they can have a myriad qualities, good or bad, however there are two qualities which contradict the essence of being a believer, and deviate from the inherent nature of being a believer. What are these? The first is the quality of ‘khiyana’ which means to betray and the second is lying.

Allah states in Surat al Anfal:

إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلْخَآئِنِينَ

Indeed Allah hates betrayers. (8:58)

The believer cannot have belief and at the same time the quality of treachery. These qualities are fundamentally at odds with each other. The quality of betrayal contradicts the very core of belief. The believer is not a betrayer (kha’in).

A wise man was once asked which quality will win in a human. The wise man replied, the quality you feed the most. If you feed the good quality it will overtake the bad and if you feed the bad it will overshadow the good.

This does not mean a believer will never lie. Without legitimising lying, there is a stark contrast between an occasional lapse or sporadic fib and perpetual lying and habitual deceit. There is a difference between the one off external act and an inbuilt, ingrained pattern of behaviour- an internal driver.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent to perfect good character and the two top qualities of good character are truthfulness and trustworthiness. Even before he received the revelation, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was known as As Sadiq Al Amin, the truthful and trustworthy. These are the primary qualities of a believer. This is why in the hadith the Prpohet (peace be upon him) said ‘alaykum bi sidq’ – you have to tell the truth, because telling the truth leads to good deeds (birr).

`Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ الصِّدْقَ يَهْدِي إِلَى الْبِرِّ، وَإِنَّ الْبِرَّ يَهْدِي إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ، وَإِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَصْدُقُ حَتَّى يَكُونَ صِدِّيقًا، وَإِنَّ الْكَذِبَ يَهْدِي إِلَى الْفُجُورِ، وَإِنَّ الْفُجُورَ يَهْدِي إِلَى النَّارِ، وَإِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَكْذِبُ، حَتَّى يُكْتَبَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ كَذَّابًا ‏”‏‏.

“Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. And a man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes a truthful person. Falsehood leads to Al-Fajur (i.e. wickedness, evil-doing), and Al-Fajur (wickedness) leads to the (Hell) Fire, and a man may keep on telling lies till he is written before Allah, a liar.” (Bukhari)

إِنَّمَا يَفْتَرِي الْكَذِبَ الَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللّهِ وَأُوْلـئِكَ هُمُ الْكَاذِبُون

It is the disbelievers in Allah’s verses who forge lies, and it is they who are the liars. (An-Naḥl, 16:105)

In another hadith, Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

وفي الصحيحين عن عبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: “عليكم بالصدق فإن الصدق يهدي إلى البر وإن البر يهدي إلى الجنة، وما يزال الرجل يصدق ويتحرى الصدق حتى يكتب عند الله صديقا، وإياكم والكذب فإن الكذب يهدي إلى الفجور وإن الفجور يهدي إلى النار، وما يزال الرجل يكذب ويتحرى الكذب حتى يكتب عند الله كذابا”.

“Adhere (you people) to truth, for truth leads to good deeds and good deeds lead to Paradise, and if a man continues to speak the truth and makes truth his object he will be recorded as truthful before Allah. Avoid (you people) falsehood, for falsehood leads to wickedness and wickedness leads to Hell, and if a man continues to speak falsehood and makes falsehood his object he will be recorded as a liar before Allah.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

A believer cannot be a liar

وأخرج مالك والبيهقي عَنْ صَفْوَانَ بْنِ سُلَيْمٍ، أَنَّهُ قَالَ قِيلَ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَيَكُونُ الْمُؤْمِنُ جَبَانًا فَقَالَ ‏”‏ نَعَمْ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَقِيلَ لَهُ أَيَكُونُ الْمُؤْمِنُ بَخِيلاً فَقَالَ ‏”‏ نَعَمْ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَقِيلَ لَهُ أَيَكُونُ الْمُؤْمِنُ كَذَّابًا فَقَالَ ‏”‏ لاَ ‏”‏ ‏.

Safwan ibn Sulaym (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was asked, ‘Can the mumin be a coward?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He was asked, ‘Can the mumin be a miser?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He was asked, ‘Can the mumin be a liar?’ He said, ‘No.’ ” (Malik and Bayhaqi)

Lies, lies, lies

Yet all around us we are surrounded by lies online and offline. Big lies, small lies, red lies, white lies. We have the proliferation of fake news, misinformation and deep fakes. We are so immersed in lies by politicians and the media, that objective facts are rejected outright, that academics refer to this culture as post-truth. Lying has been normalised and people buy are deceived by them. For some lying has become a habit. This is wrong. The Prophet (peace be upon him) warned us that lying is not acceptable. Lying, by its very definition, changes the truth. And a believer has to pursue and spread and believe in the truth.

The mountain is more likely to move than the disposition of a man will change

Abud Darda’ may Allah be pleased with him said:

وَعَنْ أَبِي الدَّرْدَاءِ قَالَ بَيْنَمَا نَحْنُ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ نَتَذَاكَرُ مَا يَكُونُ إِذْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: إِذَا سَمِعْتُمْ بِجَبَلٍ زَالَ عَن مَكَانَهُ فصدقوا وَإِذَا سَمِعْتُمْ بِرَجُلٍ تَغَيَّرَ عَنْ خُلُقِهِ فَلَا تصدقوا بِهِ وَإنَّهُ يَصِيرُ إِلَى مَا جُبِلَ عَلَيْهِ “. رَوَاهُ أَحْمَدُ.

While we were with God’s messenger ﷺ discussing what would come to pass, God’s Messenger ﷺ said,

“When you hear that a mountain has moved from its place believe it; but when you hear that a man’s nature has changed do not believe it, for he will remain true to his inborn disposition.” (Ahmad)

“The mountain is more likely to move than the disposition of a man will change” is a metaphorical expression emphasising the stability and consistency of human nature compared to the perceived impossibility of a mountain moving. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) advises that it is more believable that a mountain has moved than a person has significantly changed in their character,  because individuals tend to remain true to their inherent nature.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) is warning us against deviating from truthfulness and trustworthiness as fundamental qualities inherent in human nature. Repeated dishonesty and betrayal can lead to a transformation in a person’s character, making them prone to lying and deceit.

Though some scholars question this hadith, Ibn Hajar al Asqalani, the great muhaddith, said that this is an authentic hadith. The cream of the best qualities are truthfulness and trustworthiness. Every human is born with these qualities. However if someone keeps going against their nature, lying and practicing deceit, and betraying trust, they will become a person of betrayal and liar. This is very dangerous not only for themselves personally but because lies destroy families, businesses and communities. Keep away from these qualities.

Do not spread fake news or lies

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said these qualities would exist, but as a believer we need to understand that this is not a quality of faith but disbelief, so avoid falsehoods and do not promote falsehood in any form. These days it is easy to promote fake news and spread false rumours. As a believer, stick to the pure fitrah that Allah instilled in you. Be careful which side you choose, because you will be called forth that quality on the Day of Judgement – O Liar come forward or ‘O truthful one, come forward’. It is a choice. We ask Allah to make us among al Sadiqeen and al Umana, the truthful and the trustworthy. Ameen

Based on the Khutbah of Shaykh Haytham Tamim 29th Dec 2023


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.