Praise be to Allaah.
Some people often confuse the meanings of hypocrisy,
politeness and flattery, and the reason for that is the failure to
understand the true meanings of brotherhood and sincere friendship. In their
minds they do not separate truth and falsehood, good conduct and bad.
The word hypocrisy usually indicates pure evil. Hypocrisy is
never something praiseworthy in any way whatsoever. The psychologists have
defined it as showing a good face in order to achieve something bad and
So the hypocrite is never seeking something good, rather he
is seeking to harm people and betray them and bring evil to them, and he
achieves that by showing a good face and appearing to be loving and
Allaah says, warning against keeping company with hypocrites
(interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Take not as (your) Bitaanah (advisors,
consultants, protectors, helpers, friends) those outside your religion
(pagans, Jews, Christians, and hypocrites) since they will not fail to do
their best to corrupt you. They desire to harm you severely. Hatred has
already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far
worse. Indeed We have made plain to you the Ayaat (proofs, evidences,
verses) if you understand.
119. Lo! You are the ones who love them but they love you
not, and you believe in all the Scriptures [i.e. you believe in the Tawraat
(Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel), while they disbelieve in your Book, the
Qur’aan]. And when they meet you, they say, ‘We believe.’ But when they are
alone, they bite the tips of their fingers at you in rage. Say: ‘Perish in
your rage. Certainly, Allaah knows what is in the breasts (all the
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:118-119]
The same applies to everyone who presents a friendly face to
people and appears loving, when in fact he is seeking to harm them and do
something bad to them.
As for the one who is polite, he does not wish ill to anyone
and he is not trying to harm anyone either outwardly or inwardly, but he may
show a friendly, cheerful and kind face in order to soften the heart of one
who has a bad attitude, or so as to ward off his harm from himself or
others, but without agreeing with him in his falsehood or supporting him in
any way, either by words or actions.
Ibn Muflih al-Hanbali (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
It was said to Ibn ‘Aqeel in al-Funoon: I hear the
command of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning): “Repel (the evil) with
one which is better (i.e. Allaah orders the faithful believers to be patient
at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly) then verily
he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a
close friend” [Fussilat 41:34], but I hear people regard those who show
something other than what they feel as hypocrites. How can I obey Allaah and
rid myself of hypocrisy?
Ibn ‘Aqeel said: Hypocrisy means showing a good face whilst
concealing bad intentions, and harbouring ill will whilst appearing good in
order to cause harm. What the verse refers to is showing a good attitude in
response to a bad one for the purpose of changing it to a good one.
From this it may be understood that hypocrisy means
concealing ill will whilst making a show of goodwill in order to cause harm
and evil. The one who shows a good attitude in response to bad treatment in
order to remove evil is not a hypocrite, rather he is trying to put things
right. Have you not heard the words of Allaah “then verily he, between
whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend”?
This is done in order to soften hearts, ward off enmity, extinguish the
flames of hatred, create love and correct beliefs. This is how one makes
friends and wins hearts.
Al-Adaab al-Shar’iyyah (1/50,
Hence politeness is part of a good attitude, and the scholars
said a great deal about it.
Ibn Battaal (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Politeness
is part of the attitude of the believers, and it is lowering the wing of
humility to people, speaking gently, and not speaking harshly to them, which
are among the best means of creating harmony.
Fath al-Baari (10/528).
In his Saheeh, al-Bukhaari included a chapter entitled
“Chapter on politeness with people” in which he said:
It was narrated from Abu’l-Darda’: We smile at people when
our hearts are cursing them.
He also included the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be
pleased with her) concerning this topic:
A man asked permission to enter upon the Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and he said: “Let him in, what a bad
son – or brother – of the clan he is.” When he entered he spoke kindly to
him. I said to him: O Messenger of Allaah, you said what you said then you
spoke kindly to him? He said: “O ‘Aa’ishah, the worst of people in status
before Allaah is the one whom people leave alone for fear of his foul
Ibn Muflih al-Hanbali (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
This attitude of Abu’l-Darda’ does not mean approving of
something haraam; rather it is politeness that may achieve some purpose.
This is what is meant by the report narrated in al-Saheehayn and
elsewhere from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her): “O ‘Aa’ishah, the
worst of people in status before Allaah is the one whom people leave alone
for fear of his foul mouth.”
It says in Sharh Muslim and elsewhere: Being polite to
one whose foul mouth you fear. The Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) did not praise him to his face or in his absence, rather
he sought to soften his heart by giving him some worldly thing and speaking
gently to him.
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr quoted the words of Abu’l-Darda’ with regard
to the virtues of good manners.
Al-Adaab al-Shar’iyyah (1/50).
The scholars wrote chapters on politeness, and Ibn
Abi’l-Dunya wrote an essay entitled Politeness towards people, in which
he said (p, 48, 50):
It was narrated that Humayd ibn Hilaal said: I met some
people who regarded politeness as an act of charity towards one another.
It was narrated that al-Hasan said: Being friendly towards
people is half of reason. End quote.
Hanbal said that he heard Abu ‘Abd-Allaah – i.e., Ahmad ibn
Hanbal – say:
People need politeness and kindness, and enjoining what is
good without harshness, except a man who does evil openly, who must be told
Al-Adaab al-Shar’iyyah (1/191).
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
In some cases politeness dictates that we should not say the
truth. Is this regarded as a kind of lying?
That depends. If the politeness will result in rights being
denied or falsehood being approved, then this politeness is not permissible.
But if the politeness will not result in any falsehood, and it is just kind
words that are general in meaning, and it does not involve testifying
falsely in anyone’s favour or denying anyone’s rights, then I do not think
there is anything wrong with it.
Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz
It is also important to differentiate between praiseworthy
politeness and blameworthy flattery. People mix them up because they are
confused about proper manners and attitudes nowadays.
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
Some of them think that politeness is flattery, but they are
mistaken, because politeness is recommended but flattery is haraam. The
difference is that flattery refers to the one who shows one thing whilst
concealing another. The scholars explained it as mixing with the evildoer
and showing approval of what he is doing without denouncing it, and
politeness is showing kindness to the ignorant whilst teaching him, and to
the evildoer whilst denouncing his action, and not being harsh towards him
when he is not committing evil openly, and rebuking him gently in word and
deed, especially if his heart needs to be softened and so on.
Fath al-Baari (10/528).
Many friends – and this happens a lot among women –
misunderstand the true nature of their friendship, and they tend to go to
extremes and develop strong feelings when the other person does not feel the
same way; rather the other side does not intend to form such a strong
friendship, rather the aim is just an ordinary friendship as dictated by
circumstances. In that case the one who felt the deeper attachment may feel
pain such as could not be borne by mountains. We need to guide this
friendship that could captivate our hearts because of people we love, so
that we will not be surprised one day and start imagining that everything
has started to collapse around us when a friendship was never like that in
the first place.
‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him) said:
Your love should not reach the point of infatuation and your hatred should
not reach the point of destruction.
At the same time we need to deepen our understanding of
brotherhood, which dictates loyalty, honesty and sincerity, where there is
no room for excessive politeness and courtesy. In the past they said: When
friendship is sincere there will be no pretence.
Undoubtedly such flattery is blameworthy and has no place in
brotherhood and true friendship. If there is some occasional flattery among
friends, it should be only what is dictated by circumstances, so as to ward
off fitnah or preserve love. But if flattery is the basis of that
friendship, then it is a distortion of all the meanings of true
‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The worst of
friends is the one who tries too hard to flatter you and the one who expects
too much courtesy from you and the one who makes you feel the need to
justify yourself constantly.
It was said to one of them: Who should we make friends with?
He said: The one who removes from you the burden of pretence and with whom
you feel no reservations.
Ja’far ibn Muhammad al-Saadiq (may Allaah be pleased with
him) used to say: The most burdensome of my brothers to me is the one who
flatters me too much and I feel reserved with him. Ihya’ ‘Uloom al-Deen
And Allaah knows best.