Breaching Covenants

Overall Meaning: Meaning of breaching covenants:
Naqd linguistically: N-q-d is a sound root which implies the nullifying and undoing of a thing. [1251] Maqayis al-Lughah, Ibn Faris (5/470). One may say: Naqada al-bina' wa al-habla wa al-`ahd to mean one breaks a building, rope, or covenant. [1252] al-Sihah Taj al-Lughah, al-Jawhari (3/1110).
Naqd technically: It is destroying what was prepared and formulated, be it a building, piece of rope, or contract. [1253] Tafsir al-Qurtubi (1/246).
`Ahd linguistically: It is advice, security, vow, and trust. Through this definition, it is said to the combatant who visits peacefully, Dhu `ahd (owner of a covenant) and mu`ahad (contracted person). [1254] al-Sihah Taj al-Lughah, al-Jawhari (2/515); al-Misbah al-Munir, al-Fayyumi (2/435).
`Ahd technically: It is preserving a thing and taking care of it over time. This is its origin. It then got used for the covenant that needs to be kept. [1255] al-Ta`rifat, al-Jurjani (p. 159).

Difference between a covenant and a promise (wa`d):
A covenant may only be on behalf of two parties, and if it were solely from one, then it is a promise. Its opposite in that case would be breaching promise. [1256] Bariqah Mahmudiyyah, al-Khadimi (2/281).

Difference between breaching and betrayal (khiyanah):
Betrayal implies a secret breaking of a covenant, whereas breaching may be openly or secretly. In this sense, breaching is more general in meaning. Treachery is synonymous to it. The antonym of betrayal is trustworthiness, and the anonymous of breaching is formulating (ibram). [1257] Nadrat al-Na`im, a group of researchers (11/5633).

Dispraise of breaching covenants in the Qur’an and Sunnah:
❖ Allah, exalted, says, “Those who break their covenant with Allah after it has been confirmed.” (al-Baqarah: 27) Al-Sa`di said, “This encompasses the covenant they have with Him, as well as that between them and others of His slaves which He made incumbent and stringent upon them, obliging them to it.” [1258] Taysir al-Karim al-Rahman fi Tafsir Kalam al-Mannan (p. 47).
❖ The Messenger of Allah ﷺ says, “Five have been ordained for five.” It was said, “Messenger of Allah, what five for five?” He said, “No people breach their covenants but that Allah gives authority to their enemies over them. They do not rule by other than what Allah commanded but that poverty becomes rife among them. Obscenity does not spread between them but that death also spreads. They do not cheat people in their due amounts but that they are prevented from agricultural growth and are trialled by droughts. They do not withhold legal charity but that rainfall is withheld from them.” [1259] Reported by al-Tabarani (11/45) (10992). Graded as sound by al-Albani in Sahih al-Jami` (3240).

Quotes of the Predecessors and scholars on dispraising breaching covenants:
Ibn Hajar said, "The result of the Quraysh breaching their covenant with Khuza`ah, the allies of the Prophet ﷺ, was that the Muslims fought them till they took Makkah in conquest. They then needed to plead for security. After their honour and might, they became the pinnacle of impotence. This was until they entered Islam, despite many of them disliking that they do. [1260] Fath al-Bari, Ibn Hajar (7/285).

Impacts and harms of breaching covenants:
1- Breaching one's covenant with Allah is disbelief. 
2- Loss and defeat is the impending conclusion awaiting the one who nullified his covenant and breached his oath. 
3- Incurring Allah's curse, Him making one's heart cruel, and stealing it from truth. 
4- Being tempted to be hateful and aggressive to one another. 
5- Committing a felony against the self.

Forms of breaching covenants:
1- Breaching the covenant that Allah exhorted His creatures to uphold. Said covenant includes doing and saying what incurs His love and pleasure, leaving off that which displeased Him. Also, upkeeping what He ordained in His revealed Books and what His messengers, peace be upon them, delivered of exhortations. To breach this type of covenant is to not enact its tenants. 
2- Breaching the covenant between one and the ruler, or his representative, over the Muslims without due legal cause. This includes enjoining what is right and forbidding what is evil, giving victory to Allah’s religion. 
3- Breaching the covenant which the Wise Law-giver has passed onto non-combatant disbelievers without due legal cause. This includes non-Muslim citizens (ahl dhimmah), secured persons (musta’man), and contracted individuals (mu`ahad). He ﷺ said, “Indeed, whoever kills a contracted disbeliever that has a covenant from Allah and His Messenger ﷺ, then he has violated the covenant with Allah. He shall not smell the fragrance of the Garden; even though its fragrance can be sensed from the distance of seventy years’ travel.” [1261] Reported by al-Tirmidhi (1403) and Ibn Majah (2687).
4- Rulers and governors breaching the covenant of Allah by not establishing His Law and implementing His system.

Reasons for falling into breaching covenants:
1- Weak faith. 
2- Forgetfulness. 
3- Care for worldly benefit. 
4- Extensively prolonged periods, as was the case with the people of Musa, peace be upon him. 
5- The other party breaching it. 
6- One fearing and exalting other than his Creator.

Means to desisting from breaching covenants:
1- Sincere, strong faith in Allah, sanctified and exalted. 
2- Contemplating the evil individual and societal consequences of breaching covenants. 
3- Loyalty and fidelity to oaths being a societal norm. 
4- Reflecting over the Quranic verses that warned against breaching covenants. 
5- Desisting from covetousness and greed for the worldly life. 
6- Struggling against one’s ego and nurturing it to be adorned with loyalty.

Adages and poetry about breaching covenants: [1262] Nihayat al-Arab fi Funun al-Adab, al-Nuwayri (3/364).
❖ They say, “There is no good in he who breaches his covenant and withholds positive contribution.”
❖ They say, “The victor through treachery is parched, and he who breaches oaths is hated and deserted.”
❖ The poet said,
“The nullifier of oaths is lowly, breaching trusts,
Violating the sanctities of the Lord of Mercy.
You deliberately left loyalty and forbearance with us,
So we triumphed through this, we, Banu Marwan.
I wish that I were among them, in good livelihood,
Free of worry, hanging onto a rope of hope.
Every rebuke the nights shame me with,
I have incurred through my sword or tongue.”