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The Sealed Nectar

 The Sealed Nectar by Shaykh Safi ur-Rahman

Without a doubt, cheating and deception are despicable characteristics that are beneath the behaviour of any decent person. The intentional distortion of truth in order to misguide others is, naturally, a practice which contradicts the noble values taught by the Prophet (peace be upon him).

It is with great regret that lying and cheating have become widespread; sadly it even exists among those who ascribe themselves to Islam. Such actions, if undertaken by Muslims are all the more despicable for the Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited such practices and emphasised time and time again against their immorality.

When one claims to be a Muslim, that is when one affirms their belief or conviction in Islam, it implies that such a person live in truthfulness, i.e. that a person completely avoids dishonest characteristics since it is inconsistent with the behaviour of one who claims to follow prophetic guidance to persist in doing so, this is evidenced by the following hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) affirms that lying and betrayal are among the characteristics of the hypocrites:

“There are four characteristics, whoever has all of them is a true hypocrite, and whoever has one of them has one of the qualities of a hypocrite until he gives it up: when he is trusted, he betrays; when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he disputes, he resorts to slander.” [1]

In order to see a practical example of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) dislike of cheating and deception we may refer to one report wherein the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed by a pile of food in the marketplace. After placing his hand inside it, he felt dampness even though the surface was dry. He said: “What is this, O seller of the food?” The man said, “It was rained on, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “Why did you not put it (i.e. the part damaged by the rain) on top of the pile so that the people could see it? He who deceives does not belong to me.” According to other reports, “He who deceives us is not one of us,” or, “He is not one of us who deceives us.” [2]

As can be seen, Islam, as taught by the Prophet (peace be upon him) is based on sincerity and straightforwardness. The final remarks of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the aforementioned hadith, regardless of which report one refers to, also suggests that neglecting to fulfil a promise (without a valid reason) is also a despicable act. Making a promise with the deliberate intention of not fulfilling it is also cheating. Cheating and deception are concepts or characteristics so disapproved that the Prophet (peace be upon him) once explained to his followers:

“You must be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man will keep speaking the truth and striving to speak the truth until he will be recorded with Allah as a siddeeq (speaker of the truth). Beware of telling lies, for lying leads to immorality and immorality leads to Hellfire. A man will keep telling lies and striving to tell lies until he is recorded with Allah as a liar.” [3]

Thus, cheating and deception are no more than sources of shame for the Muslim, both in this world and the hereafter. In this hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him), as well as raising the status of truthfulness, emphasises the immorality of falsehood even further by excluding those that partake in it excessively from the blessing of paradise. The grave status of those that engage in cheating and deception is further expanded upon in another statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in which he explained that:

“Every traitor will have a banner on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said: This is the betrayer of so-and-so.” [4]

The insight gained from this hadith is that “every” traitor, whomsoever they may be in wealth or status, will be so immensely burdened in that they will be branded and exposed with shame they rightfully deserved whilst alive, even if their betrayal was a matter thought to be long forgotten by them.

Aside from facing a severe punishment in the hereafter, Muslims that believed in the Prophet (peace be upon him) but nevertheless persisted in cheating will find disgrace of a different nature when deprived the intercession of the Prophet (peace be upon him), who on that day, will take on the role of an intercessor for the sinners from his nation. Their corruption will be of such a nature that it will deny them of intercession and thus divine mercy. Such is explained by the Prophet (peace be upon him) who said:

“Allah said: There are three whom I will oppose on the Day of Resurrection: a man who gave his word and then betrayed it; a man who sold a free man into slavery and kept the money; and a man who hired someone, benefited from his labor then did not pay his wages.” [5]

In conclusion and after outlining the position of the Prophet (peace be upon him) regarding cheating and deception, one should try one’s utmost in steering clear of the various forms in which they may be presented in society even if they are widespread. It is illogical that one find an excuse to partake in them themselves by claiming that it is acceptable since ‘everyone else is doing it also,’ the Prophet Shuayb (peace be upon him) lived in a time and place wherein the practice of reducing the value of peoples’ property and cheating in weights and measures was widespread, rather than involving himself in such deceptive practices, he lived nobly and warned his people against them.

[1] Muslim

[2] Bukhari and Muslim

[3] Muslim

[4] Muslim

[5] Bukhari

[6] Bukhari

 

* Edited from the original

Sources:

http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/346

http://islam-qa.com/index.php?ref=2424&ln=eng&txt=prophet%20business

http://islam-qa.com/index.php?ref=22845&ln=eng&txt=cheat%20prophet

http://islam-qa.com/index.php?ref=22845&ln=eng&txt=cheating

http://islam-qa.com/index.php?ref=12387&ln=eng&txt=four%20characteristics%20hypocrite

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