Beware of Hypocrisy and it’s Manifestation

And of mankind, there are some (hypocrites) who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day while in fact they believe not. They (think to) deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not! In their hearts is a disease (of doubt and hypocrisy) and Allah has increased their disease. A painful torment is theirs because they used to tell lies. And when it is said to them: “Make not mischief on the earth,” they say: “We are only peacemakers.” — Qur’an 2[Al-Baqarah]:8–11

Photo by Oliver Shou on unsplash

The companions of the prophet ﷺ were the best of people raised up for the mission of establishing the veracity of Islam. We found amidst them people of faith, courage and steadfastness. Their belief was firmly rooted in Allah’s supremacy and obedience to the messenger ﷺ. Yet, they feared hypocrisy as much as they feared to be thrown into the fire. This is not the case with the Muslims of this day. An-Nifaq is an Arabic term which literally means hypocrisy and it’s used to describe a two-faced person whose non-verbal or verbal behavior contradicts the inner beliefs. It’s a psychological state equivalent to insincerity and forms a bedrock disease in the heart. One who possesses this trait is called a hypocrite. In a nutshell, (s)he is one who puts on a false appearance of virtue.

Imam Al-Hasan Al-Basri said of hypocrisy: “No one fears it but a believer, and no one feels safe from it but a hypocrite.

It is a fact that many of the most sincere companions of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ feared hypocrisy for themselves, and were extremely conscious of their words and actions because of this fear. There’s need to be cautious of this canker because it eats up good deeds the way the woodpecker destroys the tree. Umar ibn Khattab would often go to meet Hudhayfah ibn Yaman (Radhiallahu Anhum) after the demise of the Rasul ﷺ to ask him if he was one of the hypocrites. Allah’s apostle ﷺ had entrusted him with the name of the hypocrites during his lifetime. He didn’t reveal any name to anyone, but he assured Umar that he wasn’t one of them. Until then did Umar feel a bit relief. This is how we all ought to feel unsafe from the ills of An-Nifaq.

Having Mixed-feelings isn’t Hypocrisy

The scholars have explained that the state of eeman rises and falls. This does not in anyway depict a fault in ones belief. It occurred during the lifetime of the prophetﷺ and here’s an excerpt of the scenario:

Hanzalah Al-Usayyidi, who was a scribe for the Messenger of Allah, ﷺ reported: I met Abu Bakr and he said, “How are you, O Hanzalah?” I said, “Hanzalah has become a hypocrite.” He said, “Glory be to Allah, what are you saying?” I said, “When we are in the presence of the Messenger of Allah and he reminds us of Hellfire and Paradise, we feel as if we are seeing them with our very eyes, but when we are away from the Messenger of Allahﷺ attending to our wives, our children, and our business, most of these things slip from our minds.” Abu Bakr said, “By Allah, I have experienced the same thing.” So Abu Bakr and I went to the Messenger of Allah and I said to him, “O Messenger of Allah, Hanzalah has become a hypocrite.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “What has happened to you?” I said, “O Messenger of Allah, when we are in your presence and are reminded of Hellfire and Paradise, we feel as if we are seeing them with our very eyes, but when we leave you and attend to our wives, our children, and our business, most of these things slip from our minds.” The Prophet ﷺ said:

By Him in whose hand is my soul, if your state of mind remains the same as it is in my presence and you are always occupied with the remembrance of Allah, the angels will shake your hands in your beds and roads. But Hanzalah, time should be devoted to this and time should be devoted to that. (Muslim)

Types and Aspects of Hypocrisy

There are basically two types of hypocrisy namely:

  1. Hypocrisy in belief
  2. Hypocrisy in deed and actions

Hypocrisy in Belief: This form of hypocrisy often lies in what a person believes in the heart and sometime professes with the tongue. There are six aspects to this vis-a-vis;

  • To belie the Prophet ﷺ
  • To belie some of all that was brought by the Prophet ﷺ
  • To hate the Prophet ﷺ
  • To hate some or all that was brought by the Prophet ﷺ
  • To feel happy at the disgrace or becoming low of the deen of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ
  • To dislike that the religion of Allah’s Messenger becomes victorious

A person having these six traits will be in the lowest depths of the fire as described thus:

Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths (grade) of the Fire; no helper will you find for them. — Qur’an 4[Nisa]:145
Two-faced caricature from Google Images

Hypocrisy in Deeds and Actions: This form of hypocrisy can be seen in the manner which a person acts or reacts to situations. It was made manifest in the statement of the noble messenger. There are five aspects to this as derived from the popular ahadith:

Abdullah bin ‘Amr narrated that The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whoever has the following four (characteristics) will be a hypocrite and whoever has one of the following four characteristics will have one characteristic of hypocrisy unless and until he gives it up. 1. Whenever he is entrusted, he betrays. 2. Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie. 3. Whenever he makes a covenant, he proves treacherous. 4. Whenever he quarrels, he behaves in a very imprudent, evil and insulting manner.” (Bukhari)
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “The signs of a hypocrite are three: When he speaks he lies, when he makes a promise he breaks it, and when he is given a trust he breaches it.” (Bukhari)
In sum, the five aspects of hypocrisy in deeds and actions are;
  • Whenever he speaks he lies
  • Whenever he promises, he always breaks it
  • If you trust him, he proves to be dishonest
  • Whenever he quarrels, he behaves in a very imprudent, evil and insulting manner
  • Whenever he makes a covenant, he proves treacherous

Ten Antidotes to Hypocrisy

  1. Make du’a and beg Allah to protect you from hypocrisy “Allahumma inni a’udhu bika minal shak wan-nifaq wal-kufri wa fujoor” — Oh Allah! I seek refuge in You from doubts, hypocrisy, disbelief and immoral conduct. You may also recite: Recite: “Allahumma tahhir qalbee min an-nifaq wa lisaani min al-kadhib” — Oh Allah! Cleanse my heart from hypocrisy, and my tongue from falsehood.”
  2. Always endeavor to speak the truth and eschew falsehood.
  3. Ensure you uphold the obligations of Islam, especially the five daily salaawat — prayers.
  4. Under-promise and over deliver. Remember talk is cheap, so talk less and do more! If you can’t keep it, don’t make it. It’s not an obligation to displease yourself in order to please others.
  5. Endeavor to keep the amaanah — whatever you are entrusted with, do not betray that trust.
  6. Always remember that the hypocrites have a guaranteed spot in the fire. In fact, they will be fuel for the blazing flame. Would you love to be such? Reflect over this punishment and distance yourself.
  7. Increase in patience, control your anger and fight your desires.
  8. Purify your intention in whatever you want to do. So long as it pleases Allah and it’s in line with the sunnah, go ahead. Beware of showing-off!
  9. Make taubah and continue to increase in repentance.
  10. Remain consistent and steadfast upon points 1–9.

It is incumbent upon us to fear hypocrisy for our soul. We should constantly check ourselves and ask if we are not exhibiting traits of hypocrisy. For this ugly trait creeps into the heart unconsciously bit-by-bit. We ask Allah to cleanse our hearts from nifaq and safeguard us from its manifestations.

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