On Falsehood and Breach of Trust

Falsehood and breach of trust are inimical to faith

(1) Abu UmamaBaahli relates that the Apostle of God said: “There is a place for any habit in the nature of a true Believer except falsehood and breach of faith.”

–   Musnad-i-Ahmad and Baihaqi


What it denotes is that Faith and the shameless habit of lying cannot co-exist. A true Muslim may have any other weakness, but he can never be a habitual liar and a false-hearted and untrustworthy person. Should, however, an evil like that be present in a Believer, it will show that the reality of Islam has not yet dawned upon him and he must cure himself of the vicious habit if he is not to rest content with the state of imperfection in Faith.

Filth of falsehood

(2) It is related by Abdullah bin Omar that the Apostle of God said: “When a bondsman tells a lie, the Angel goes a mile away (from him) owing to the stench.”

–              Tirmizi


Just as material things give out a pleasant or foul odour, good or evil words or deeds, too, have their own smell, though, generally, it is felt by the Angels alone. Sometimes, however, spiritually evolved men, also, can perceive it in this world.

A most serious form of perfidy

(3) Sufyan bin AseedHazrami related to us that he heard it directly from the lips of the Apostle of God that: “A most serious form of betrayal of faith is that you tell a lie to a brother while he believes that you are truthful in what you say.”

–              Abu Dawood


Lying is a sin, in any case, and a very grave one, indeed, but, in certain circumstances, its seriousness becomes even greater. One of these is that a person trusts you and regards you a truthful man, but you take advantage of his confidence and tell his a lie and play false by him.

Bearing false witness and swearing a false oath

To bear false witness in a court of law and take a false oath are among the worst kinds of falsehood and stern warnings of punishment in the life to come have been given on them.

Disguised or imperceptible falsehood

We have seen a few major and more serious forms of falsehood in the preceding sections. But there are some kinds of untruth which many people do not regard a lie. The sacred Prophet has enjoined upon us to abstain from them as well.

(4) It is related, on the authority of Abdullah bin ‘Aamir, that: “(One day), as the Apostle of God was present in our house, my mother said to me: ‘Come quickly, I will give you something.’ The Apostle of God, thereupon, asked my mother what she was going to give me. ‘A date,’ replied my mother. ‘Remember,’ observed, the Prophet, ‘If you had not given anything to the child after promising to do so, a lie would have been written down in your Scroll of Deeds.’”

–              Abu Dawood and Baihaqi


The moral of it is that a lie should not be uttered even to coax or cajole a child, for a Muslim’s tongue must always be free from the filthiness of falsehood. Another wisdom of it is that if parents will tell lies before their children, even to please them or make them do something, they, too, will develop the habit of lying.

(5) Bahz bin Hakeem related to us, saying: “My father, Muawiya, told me, on the authority of my grandfather, Haidah, that the Apostle of God said: ‘Fie upon him who tells lies for the amusement of people.’”

-MusnadAhmad, Tirmizi, Abu Dawood and Daarmi


It shows that it is forbidden to tell a lie even for entertainment.

(6) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “It is enough (to make a man guilty of falsehood) that he goes about circulating what he hears (from others).”

–              Muslim



It tells that to spread a report among the people, without confirmation, also, is a form of falsehood, and as a person with the habit of telling a deliberate lie is, commonly, treated as unreliable, in the same way, such a man, too, will not be worthy of trust.

Covert or concealed perfidy

(7) Abu Hurairah relates that the Apostle of God, once, said to AbulHaisam bin Taihan: “Whoever is consulted in a matter is a trustee in respect of it, and a trust, (thereby), is committed to his charge.”

–              Tirmizi


This remark was made by the Prophet when AbulHaisam had sought his advice on something. What it signifies is that when a person is consulted in a matter, he should realise that the man who had sought his advice had placed his confidence in him and it was his duty to prove worthy of the trust and give the best advice he could, and keep the whole thing to himself, otherwise he will, to an extent, be guilty of breach of faith.

(8) Jabir bin Abdullah relates that he heard the Apostle of God say: “When anyone says something and looks around, then it becomes a trust.”

–              Tirmizi and Abu Dawood



It shows that if a person tells us something and does not ask, in so many words, to keep it a secret, but byhis behaviour, it appears that he does not want others toknow it, it becomes a trust and should be guarded in that spirit.Nevertheless, in another Tradition, it is candidly stated that if a plot to kill anyone or to swindle or defraud him or cause him financial loss in any other way or injure his reputation comes to our knowledge, we should not keep it a secret, but inform the person concerned in due time and manner.

(9) It is related by Jabir that the Apostle of God said: “Meetings should be held with trust, (If a consultation is held at a meeting or a decision is taken in strict confidence, those who participate in it should hold themselves bound in trust not to disclose it). But the following meetings are excluded from it: one, in which it is conspired to shed any one’s blood unjustly; two, which is concerning the violation of anyone’s modesty; and, three, which is aimed at acquiring anyone’s property by force or fraud.”

–              Abu Dawood


The three conditions indicated above should be taken as an example. The object of the Tradition is to show that if some persons collect together with the purpose of committing an offence, and we, too, are present there, our duty will lie not in keeping it a secret, but in foiling it and informing whom it may be necessary to inform.

To say something on one’s own in order to bring a dispute or mischief to an end is not falsehood

(10) It is related by Umm-i-Kulsoom, (daughter of ‘Uqba bin Abi Mu’ait), that the Apostle of God said: “He is not a liar or a sinner who tries to make peace among people who are on bad terms with one another, and, with that end, carries reports of goodwill and well-wishing from one party to the other and says good things (that may have a conciliatory effect).”

–              Bukhari and Muslim


Sometimes it happens that there is a great deal of ill-will between two persons or groups which may even lead to bloodshed. When passions are aroused, each party, in fact, considers itself justified in causing as much loss and suffering to the other as possible. If, in these circumstances, someone strives to bring about reconciliation between them, and, with that object, conveys things of friendliness and amity from one party to another which it may not have, actually, said or done then this act of his will not amount to false hood.

Fulfilling a promise

To fulfil a promise is a practical form of trustworthiness while to break it is identical, in effect, to untruthfulness. The holy Prophet has, thus, stressed upon us the need to discharge every engagement and keep a promise when we make one.

(11) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “The signs of a Hypocrite are three: When he speaks, he is false; when he promises, he fails; and, when he is rusted, he betrays.”

–              Bukhari and Muslim


While commenting on an almost identical Tradition, related on the authority of Abdullah bin Omar, we have, already, indicated, at length, what is actually meant by these acts or habits being the signs of a Hypocrite. These practices, as we said, bear a close relationship with Hypocrisy and a sincere Believer should stay clear of them. Whoever possesses these habits is a Hypocrite, if not in the sphere of faith, at least in the sphere of conduct. In another version of the same Tradition, reproduced in Sahih Muslim, it is added that though such a person may be observing Salah andSawm, and he may, also, be professing to be a Muslim, he is a Hypocrite, all the same, owing to these habits.

(12) It is related, on the authority of Ali and Abdullah bin Masud, that the Apostle of God said: “Promise, too, is a kind of debt (and should, therefore, be repaid).”

– Tabrani


It denotes that if a person promises to give anything to anyone or do him some other favour or enters into an arrangement with him, he should fulfil it, as a matter of duty. Nevertheless, should the promise be relating to a thing which is forbidden by the Shariat or involves the violation of the rights of anyone, it will not be binding. The duty will, then, lie in ignoring it and there will be no sin on its non-fulfilment, but reward for compliance with the holy law.

(13) It is related by laid bin Arqan; he relates that the Apostle of God said: “If a person promises his brother to visit him, and it is, also, his intention to do so, but (owing to somereason), he cannot go at the appointed time then there is no sin on him.

–              Abu Dawood and Tirmizi


The emphasis in it is on intention. If the man really meant to fulfil the engagement, but could not do so on account of one thing or another, he will not be a defaulter in the sight of God. But if the intention was not there and it was only a deception then he would, doubtlessly, be called to account.

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