A hypocrite is a false pretender and dissembler to virtue or piety. In the Islamic terminology, the word Hypocrisy is a substitute for ‘Nifaq’. This word Nifaq has been mentioned in the Qur’an thirty-one (31) times in different forms such as: Nifaq; Munafiqoon; Munafiqat; Munafiqeen, and Nifaqan. Allah hates those people who acquire this fault, and He therefore warns them that their punishment is indeed hell.
Hypocrisy in simple dictionary meanings is pretence of virtue or simulation of virtue or goodness. It is the act or practice of simulating or feigning feelings or beliefs, especially the false appearance of piety or virtue. Hypocrisy is, in fact, concealment of true character or belief, a feigning to be what one is not. Hypocrite is a person who practices hypocrisy. Synonyms of hypocrisy are deceitfulness, dissembling, duplicity, imposture, pretence, deception, two – facedness; whereas synonyms of hypocrite are charlatan, deceiver, dissembler, fraud, imposter, pretender, Holy Willie, phoney.
Allah says in Sura At-Tauba:
“God hath promised the hypocrites, men and women, and the rejecters of Faith, the fire of Hell; therein shall they dwell; sufficient is it for them: for them is the curse of God, and an enduring punishment.” (9:68)
Allah has promised the hypocrites a heavy penalty by saying in Sura Nisa:
“To the hypocrites give the glad tidings that there is for them but a grievous penalty. Yea, to those who take the unbelievers as their leaders rather than the believers” (4:138-139)
One may ask why a person should act as a hypocrite? Or why he should be a hypocrite? The answer could be any of the following:
1. A person who has no faith in Allah, His Messenger, and the Day of Judgment may act as a hypocrite.
2. A person who has a weak faith may be trapped in his daily life to play the role of a hypocrite.
3. A person who lacks confidence in himself/herself may become a hypocrite.
4. A person who lacks security, morally, psychologically, or financially, may be led to be a hypocrite.
5. A person who is conceited, selfish, and who likes himself above all others, may play the game of hypocrisy so as to achieve his personal gains and to satisfy his ego.
6. A person who is not a man unto himself, and whatever he does is seeking assurance of success and gain. Hence, he plays the dirty game of hypocrite.
7. A person who seeks to please everybody even if it demands his cheating, lying or stealing.
Allah says in this regard in Sura Al-Munafiqun: “When the hypocrites come to thee, they say, ‘We bear witness that thou art indeed the Apostle of God.’ Yea, God knoweth that thou art indeed His Apostle, and God beareth witness that the hypocrites are indeed liars.” (63:1)
The signs of a hypocrite are many among which are the following three signs:
1. He lies whenever he talks.
2. He does not fulfill his commitment.
3. He betrays the trust that he takes.
In this regard Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “The signs of a hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies; when he gives an agreement, he does not fulfill his commitment; and when he is entrusted, he betrays the trust.” (Reported by Abu Hurayrah - Agreed.)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says: “Don’t give the title of Sir or Mr. to a hypocrite if he becomes master, or you will displease your Lord the Almighty.” (From Abu Dawud and Al-Nisai.)
According to the Qur’an, the revealed book of Islam, the hypocrites are those who say: We believe in Allah and the Last Day, when they believe not; they utter with their mouths a thing which is not in their hearts. When they stand up to worship they perform it languidly and to be seen of men, and remember Allah but little; swaying between this and that belonging neither to these nor to those. The likeness of a hypocrite in the view of Qur’an is that of one who worships Allah upon a narrow marge so that if good befalls him he is happy, but if a trial befalls him he falls away. Thus the tongue and the mind of a hypocrite or what he says and what he does is not one. A believer, on the other hand, is one in mind and tongue as he believes in Allah and His apostle in heart and utters the same from his tongue.
During the early period of a revolutionary or reform or religious movement, there emerges a class who joins hands with the revolutionaries and reformers and apparently acts and speaks like them. But actually it is a class of hypocrites who are in their heart of hearts, deadly opposed to the movement being agents of the old order. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his followers also faced such a class when they migrated to Mdinah and were trying to establish themselves there. A group of Madinites apparently embraced Islam, professed allegiance to the Prophet, performed acts of Islamic faith like Muslims, but secretly connived with the enemies of Islam and missed no opportunity to harm the Muslims and their cause. This group of people was led by Abdullah bin Ubbey, the chief of the tribe of Banu Khazrij. They joined hands with the Jews of Madinah and pagan Quraish of Makkah and left no stone unturned to ruin Islam and the Muslims. Therefore they were called hypocrites. The Prophet and the believers were warned to be vigilant about their activities. They were condemned by Allah as disbelievers and were threatened with a painful doom.
Islam condemns hypocrisy in the severest possible terms. According to the Qur’an, the hypocrites will be in the lowest deep of the Hell. The Holy Prophet was exhorted to fight against the hypocrites as against the disbelievers. The Prophet was forbidden to seek forgiveness for the hypocrites as Allah would not forgive them even if the forgiveness for them is sought seventy times. The Prophet and the believers were also forbidden to offer the funeral prayer on the death of hypocrite. Thus the sin of hypocrisy, according to Islam, is bigger than that of disbelief.
Following are the verses of the Holy Qur’an and Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which explain hypocrisy, highlight the traits of hypocrites and discuss the consequences of this evil of hypocrisy:
VERSES OF THE HOLY QURAN
1. And of mankind are some who say: We believe in Allah and the last Day when they believe not. They think to beguile Allah and those who believe, and they beguile none save themselves; but they perceive not. In their hearts is a disease, and Allah increaseth their disease. A painful doom is theirs because they lie. Al-Baqarah :8-10
2. And that He might know the hypocrite unto whom it was said: Come, fight in the way of Allah, or defend yourselves. They answered: If we knew aught of fighting we would follow you. On that day they were nearer disbelief than faith. They utter with their mouths a thing which is not in their hearts. Allah is best aware of what they hide. Those who, while they sat at home, said of their brethren (who were fighting for the cause of Allah): If they had been guided by us they would not have been slain. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Then avert death from yourselves if ye are truthful. Al-lmran:167-168
3. Bear unto the hypocrites the tidings that for them there is a painful doom; Those who choose disbelievers for their friends instead of believers! Do they look for power at their hands? Lo! all power appertaineth to Allah. An-Nisa: 138-139
4. Lo! the hypocrites seek to beguile Allah, but it is Allah Who beguileth them. When they stand up to worship they perform it languidly and to be seen of men, and are mindful of Allah but little; Swaying between this (and that), (belonging) neither to these nor to those. He whom Allah causeth to go astray thou (O Muhammad) will not find a way for him. An-Nisa: 142 – 143
5. Lo! the hypocrites (will be) in the lowest deep of the fire, and thou wilt find no helper for them; An-Nisa: 145
6. The hypocrites, both men and women proceed one from another. They enjoin the wrong and they forbid the right and they withhold their hands (from spending for the cause of Allah). They forget Allah, so He hath forgotten them. Lo! the hypocrites, they are the transgressors. Allah promiseth the hypocrites, both men and women, and the disbelievers fire of Hell for their abode. It will suffice them. Allah curseth them, and theirs is the lasting torment. At-Taubah:67-68
7. O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them. Their ultimate abode is hell, a hapless journey’s end. At-Taubah: 73
8. Ask forgiveness for them (O Muhammad), or ask not forgiveness for them; though thou ask forgiveness for them seventy times, Allah will not forgive them. That is because they disbelieved in Allah and His messenger, and Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. At-Taubah: 80
9. And never (O Muhammad) pray for one of them who dieth, not stand by his grave, Lo! they disbelieved in Allah and His messenger, and they died while they were evil-doers. Let not their wealth nor their children astonish thee! Allah purposeth only to punish them thereby in the world, and that their souls shall pass away while they are disbelievers. At-Taubah: 84 – 85
10. And among mankind is he who worshippeth Allah upon a narrow marge so that if good befalleth him he is content therewith, but if a trial befalleth him, he falleth away utterly. He loseth both the world and the Hereafter. That is the sheer loss. Al-Hajj: 11
11. Of mankind is he who saith: we believe in Allah, but, if he be made to suffer for the sake of Allah, he mistaketh the persecution of mankind for Allah’s punishment; and then, if victory cometh from Lord, will say: Lo! we were with you (all the while). Is not Allah best aware of what is in the bosoms of (His) creatures? Verily Allah knoweth those who believe, and verily He knoweth the hypocrites. Al-Ankabut: 10-11
12. When the hypocrites come unto thee (O Muhammad), they say: we bear witness that thou art indeed Allah’s Messenger. And Allah knowth that thou art indeed His messenger and Allah beareth witness that the Hypocrites are speaking falsely. They make their faith a pretext so that they may turn (men) from the way of Allah. Verily evil is that which they are wont to do. That is because they believed, then disbelieved, therefore, their hearts are sealed so that they understand not. Al-Munafiqun: 1-3
AHADITH OF HOLY PROPHET MOHAMMAD (PBUH)
1. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The signs of a hypocrite are three. When he talks, he speaks falsehood; and when he promises, he breaks and when he is entrusted, commits treachery. (Bukhari and Muslim)
(And Muslim add: Even though he keeps fasts, prays and thinks that he is a Muslim).
2. Abdullah-b-Amr reported: That the Messenger of Allah said: Whoso has got four things in him is a true hypocrite, and whoso has got a habit therefrom in him has got in him a habit of hypocrisy till he gives it up; when he is trusted, he is unfaithful; and when he speaks, he speaks falsehood; and when he makes promise, he proves treacherous, and when he quarrels, he commits sin. (Bukhari and Muslim)
3. Ibn Omar reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The parable of a hypocrite is as a goat roaming between two goats going once unto this and once unto that. (Muslim)
4. Huzaifa reported: Hypocrisy existed at the time of the Messenger of Allah. As for now, it is either infidelity or faith. (Bukhari)5. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Two traits cannot unite in a hypocrite-good conduct and knowledge of religion. (Tirmizi)