Loyalty to Covenants

Overall Meaning: Meaning of loyalty:
Wafa’ linguistically: It is the antonym of treachery. Awfa bi-`ahdihi wa awfa is said to mean one has fulfilled one’s promise and did not nullify it. [662] al-Mufradat, al-Raghib al-Asfahani (p. 878).
Wafa’ technically: It is being patient over what one expends of himself and has been tied down to with his tongue, leaving off what guarantees his wellness regardless if it is detrimental to him. [663] Tahdhib al-Akhlaq, al-Jahiz (p. 24).

Difference between loyalty and truthfulness (sidq):
It has been said that they are of two meanings, one general and the other specific. Every fidelity is a form of truthfulness, but not every form of truthfulness is fidelity, since fidelity may be through action but not speech. Truthfulness may only be through speech since it is a form of notification, and the latter is a statement. [664] al-Furuq al-Lughawiyyah, al-`Askari (p. 575).
It is also said that loyalty is the brother of truthfulness and justice, while treachery is the brother of lying and tyranny. Loyalty is truthfulness through deed and word, while treachery is lying in both, since it includes breaching pledges as well as lying. Loyalty is concerned with humanity, so whoever lacks it has seceded a form of his humanity, just like truthfulness. Allah, exalted, has made fulfilling contracts an element of faith and ordained that it be a way for the people’s affairs to be set right. People are in need of cooperation, and their cooperation is not complete unless it is based on fulfilling promises and being loyal. If not for that, people’s hearts would be repelled from one another and wouldn’t bear living together. [665] al-Dhari`ah ila Makarim al-Shari`ah, al-Raghib al-Asfahani (p. 292).

Commandments to be loyal to promises and covenants in the Qur’an and Sunnah:
Allah, exalted, says, “Honour your pledges: you will be questioned about your pledges.” (al-Isra’: 34)
He also says, most honourable, “Can someone who knows that the revelation from your Lord is the Truth be equal to someone who is blind? Only those with understanding will take it to heart; those who fulfil the agreements they make in God’s name and do not break their pledges.” (al-Ra`d: 19 - 20)
`Ubadah ibn al-Samit, Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Guarantee six for me and I will guarantee the garden for you: Be truthful when you speak, fulfill your pledges if you make them, return your trusts if you are entrusted, protect your privates, lower your gaze, and withhold your hands.” [666] Reported by Ahmad (22757), Ibn Hibban (271), and al-Hakim (8066). Al-Hakim authenticated its chain, and al-Dhahabi said in al-Muhadhdhab (5/2451): “Its chain is fine.” Ibn Kathir graded it as sound in Jami` al-Masanid (5807).

Quotes in loyalty:
Ibn Muflih said, “It used to be said, ‘Just as the trust is given to the trustworthy, likewise should good treatment be shown to the loyal and grateful.” [667] al-Adab al-Shar`iyyah, Ibn Muflih (p. 292).
Some sages said, “Whoever is disloyal to his brethren is considered of ill lineage.” [668] Adab al-`Ishrah, Badr al-Din al-Ghazzi (p. 52).
Ibn Hazm said, “Loyalty consists of justice, munificence, and deliverance. The loyal sees it as a form of tyranny that he does not uphold his dealing with those who trusted him or were good to him, so was just in this sense. He saw that he ought to allow himself to be swift in realising the outcome of being loyal, so was generous in this sense. He saw that he ought to bear whatever befalls him of consequences to being loyal, so was brave in this sense.” [669] al-Akhlaq wa al-Siyar, Ibn Hazm (p. 145).

Categories of covenants:
The first: The covenant one has with Allah, honoured and majestic. Allah, sanctified, says in His Book, “When your Lord took out the offspring from the loins of the Children of Adam and made them bear witness about themselves, He said, ‘Am I not your Lord?’ and they replied, ‘Yes, we bear witness.’” (al-A`raf: 172) Allah has taken a covenant from all His slaves that they worship Him and associate no partners with Him, as He alone is their lord and creator.
The second: The covenants one has with the slaves of Allah - the oaths and pledges between people, like between a Muslim and another Muslim, the Muslims and the disbelievers, and other known forms. Allah commanded that such covenants be fulfilled. He, honoured and majestic, says, “Honour your pledges: you will be questioned about your pledges.” (al-Isra’: 34) [670] Sharh Riyad al-Salihin, Ibn `Uthaymin (4/45).

Benefits of being loyal to covenants and its impact:
1- Piety. 
2- It is one of the consequences of fulfilling one's oath with Allah and adhering to his covenant with him. Allah, exalted, says, “Remember when We took your pledge, and made the mountain tower high above you, and said, ‘Hold fast to what We have given you and bear its contents in mind, so that you may be conscious of Allah.’” (al-Baqarah: 63) 
3- Love of Allah. 
4- Allah affirmed His love for those mindful of Him, adhering to their pledges, and fulfilling their promises and covenants even with their enemies as long as they adhere to them themselves. Allah, exalted, says, “So long as they remain true to you, be true to them; Allah loves those who are mindful of Him.” (al-Tawbah: 7) 
5- Security in this worldly life and preserving blood being spilt. 
6- Leading a pleasant, good life, and gaining a great reward from Allah.
7- Expiation of sins and admittance into the Garden. 

Forms of loyalty:
1- The fidelity of the slave with his Lord. 
2- Loyalty in returning debts. 
3- Loyalty in adhering to a marital contract’s conditions. 
4- Fidelity between husband and wife. 
5- Fidelity of one with his work. 
6- Fulfilling religious vows (nadhr). 
7- Fulfilling whatever one has agreed to of selling and renting. 
8- Loyalty of rulers with what they agreed upon in terms of international treaties with other states. 

Examples of loyalty from the life of the Prophet ﷺ and Companions:
❖ From his fidelity ﷺ is that he would honour the friends of his wife Khadijah, Allah be pleased with her, after her death. Anas ibn Malik, Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Prophet ﷺ, when he was given something, would say, ‘Take it to the house of so-and-so, for she was a friend of Khadijah. Take it to the house of so-and-so, for she used to love Khadijah.” [671] Reported by al-Nukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad (232), Ibn Hibban (7007), and al-Hakim (7339). al-Hakim authenticated its chain, and Ibn Hajar graded it as sound in al-Futuhat al-Rabbaniyyah (4/107) and likewise al-Albani in Sahih al-Adab al-Mufrad (172).
❖ Abu Bakr’s loyalty, Allah be pleased with him, to the Prophet ﷺ and fulfilling his debts. Jabir ibn `Abdillah narrates, “Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said to me: ‘If the revenues of al-Bahrayn should come, I will give you so-much and so-much,’ repeating ‘so-much’ thrice. But Allah’s Messenger ﷺ had died before the revenue of al-Bahrayn came. When the revenue came during the rule of Abu Bakr, he ordered a man to announce: ‘Whoever had any debt or promise due upon the Prophet ﷺ should present himself to me. I came to Abu Bakr and informed him that the Prophet ﷺ had said to me: ‘If the revenue of al-Bahrayn should come, I will give you so-much and so-much,’ repeating ‘so-much’ thrice. So Abu Bakr gave me.” In another narration, Jabir details the incident, saying: “I met Abu Bakr after that and asked him for my due, but he did not give me. I again went to him but he did not give me. I again went to him for the third time but he did not give me. On that I said to him: ‘I came to you but you did not give me, then I came to you and you did not give me, and then again I came to you, but you did not give me; so you should either give me or else you are like a miserly to me.’ Upon that, Abu Bakr said: ‘Do you say, “You are like a miserly to me?” There is no worse disease than miserliness.’ Abu Bakr said it thrice and added: ‘I did not once refuse you except that I had the intention of giving you.’” [672] Reported by al-Bukhari (4383) and this is his wording, as well as by Muslim (2314).

States of breaking covenants and promises:
Firstly: Practically belying one’s oath or promise, carrying the lowliness of breaching a promise as well as that of lying. 
Secondly: breaching one’s oath one had initially agreed to, implying a weak will and a lack of steadfastness, as well as not respecting the honour of the word and others’ trust in it. This quality takes one out of the brink of the virtuous whose words and statements are trustworthy. 
Thirdly: turning to what is more virtuous and better with Allah, transitioning to that which is close to obedience to Allah. This does not take place in general oaths like state contracts, nor oaths which entail financial rights for others. As for one’s covenant with Allah in adhering to some matter, then a judgement call may be made as to what is the best course of action in choosing that which is most pleasing to Allah and in accordance with His obedience. 
Fourthly: not being able to fulfil a promise for some reason that is unrelated to one’s desire to do so. Whoever is unable to be loyal to his word while truly wishing he could be is excused due to a lack of means. 

Proverbs and Poetry in Loyalty: [673] al-Mahasin wa al-Addad, al-Jahiz (p. 47).
“More loyal than Fukayhah.” She is a woman from Abu Qays ibn Tha’labah. From her loyalty is the following account. Sulayk ibn Sulakah had fought the tribe of Bakr ibn Wa’il. He was unable to find a time to penetrate unnoticed. A group from Bakr went out and noticed wet footprints. They said, “These are footprints of one who has walked on water.” They followed the footsteps till they found Sulayk and attacked him. He fought back and retreated until he went to the dome of Fukayhah, seeking sanctuary therein, and she hid him in her armour. Chasing after him, they removed her veil, so she cried out for her brothers, who came a dozen and prevented them from getting to her.
“More loyal than Umm Jamil.” She is from the clan of Ibn Abi Burdah from Daws. From her loyalty is the following account. Hisham ibn al-Walid ibn al-Mughirah al-Makhzumi had killed a man from al-Azd. This reached his people in the day, and so they gathered to kill Dirar ibn al-Khattab al-Fihri. He fought back and retreated until he entered the house of Umm Jamil and sought refuge therein. She stood up to them and called her people who came to her aid.
The poet said,
“Fidelity is obligatory upon the noble,
While ignobility is tied with the infidel.
You find the noble candid with his kin,
While the ignoble, you find him fickle.” [674] Aab al-Dunya wa al-Din, al-Mawardi (p. 255).
❖ Another said,
“If you said to a matter: ‘Yes,’ then adhere to it -
Surely, ‘Yes’ is an obligatory debt upon the free.
Otherwise, say ‘No’ to rest yourself and others,
So that they may not say: ‘You are but a liar.’” [675] al-Mustatraf, al-Abshihi (p. 207).