Hypocrisy: The Most Serious Spiritual Diseases

Hypocrisy: The Most Serious Spiritual Diseases



Hypocrisy is the most serious spiritual disease of human beings. The hypocrites never realise that they are victims of such a fatal disease in this world, therefore they never think to control it. Moreover, there is an acute shortage of spiritual physicians and surgeons to treat this disease. Hypocrites utterly fail in this world, and in the Hereafter there will be no relief for them at any stage from death to onward journey – grave, resurrection from the grave, journey towards the plain, failure in the test and while crossing the bridge, they will be thrown at the lowest zones of Hell eternally. 

Hypocrisy has spread out in almost all aspects of life; and has been prevalent in almost all  cultures and at all levels in the human species, starting from individuals to communities, nations  and at global level as well. It is a hidden fatal poison; a state of inner darkness and a grave moral vice; a manifestation of a dead heart which is blind, hard, and sealed. It is a form of moral and behavioural deviations that can adversely affect the lives of  people in a number of ways. 

In this article, we intend to discuss the concept of hypocrisy, factors affecting it, hypocrisy as the most serious spiritual disease, and the characteristics of hypocrites.     


The term hypocrisy (Nifaq) has been derived from the Greek words ‘hupokrasis’ or ‘hypokrisis’ (acting a part), ‘hupokrinesthai’ (to act on a stage) and ‘hypokritai’ (stage actors). The actors are not what they claim to be, they are really not what they pretended to be, they are just acting a role on the stage. When the audiences have gone and there is no ‘on-looker’ they convert to their true self (1). Iqbal A. Khan and Hamza I. Malik 2021). Iqbal A. Khan and Hamza I. Malik. 2021. A Moral Hypocrisy: A Devastating Affliction of Diseased Heart. Clinical Psychology and Mental Health Care, 2(4). 

“No habit or quality is more easily acquired than hypocrisy, nor anything sooner learned than to deny the sentiments of our hearts and the principle we act from” (2).

The Arabic word ‘nifaq’ comes from the words ‘nafaqa’ or ‘nifaqan’ which has the meaning to hold, take part in, talk about something in a religious view. The munafiq is taken from the word nafiqa, which means the mouse holes, a kind of tunnel that has two holes where it comes in and out. If being pursued here it comes out there, and vice versa (3). Shihab, 2006.

The tunnel of the mouse has two holes: one apparent which it uses for going inside and going out of the tunnel and the other is a secret hole, which it uses under emergency situations or in cases of danger. 

Entering into religion from one door and coming out of it through another door is known as hypocrisy (4).

Allah (swt) is pleased with a heart which is not sullied by hypocrisy, because hypocrisy is the opposite of concord (wifaq), and the state of being well pleased (rida) is the essence of concord. There is no connection between hypocrisy and love, and love subsists in the state of being well pleased (with whatever is decreed by Allah Almighty). Therefore rida is a characteristic of Allah’s friends, while hypocrisy is a characteristic of His enemies (5).

Hypocrisy is a deep rooted and all-pervading spiritual disease. A person’s heart could be overflowing with it yet be oblivious of it due to its hidden and subtle nature; frequently does it lead a person to think one is acting rightly when in reality he is spreading corruption (6).

Despite frequent charges of ‘hypocrisy in the Church,’ the subject has been neglected in research on religion. Defined as simulating qualities in a false pretence of being holy or virtuous, hypocrisy is widespread in all domains of life. It has played a significant role in the history of bigotry, wars, persecution, church-state relationships, and ‘selective indignation’ of Christians accusing other Christians. The Bible and the Qur’an refer to it often. Jesus strongly condemned it and the projection which name – calling accusations often involve. Its impact is evident in the social and behavioural sciences. Scientific methodology aims to control it. Theoretical analyses can deal with defence mechanisms, the inconsistency of behaviour with ideals, motivational analysis, deception, dramaturgical face-work, self presentations, self-concepts, labelling, social control, social sources, extrinsic and intrinsic commitment, and its social functions and dysfunctions, to mention only a few potential approaches. Triangulation of disciplines, methods, researchers, theories, and value orientation is desirable in the scholarly and applied investigation of hypocrisy and related topics (7).

Hypocrites are those who apply to others the standards that they refuse to accept for themselves (8).

Moral hypocrisy is the desire to behave morally while seeking opportunities to avoid adopting behaviours that actually result in morally good outcomes (9).

It is the desire to present oneself as moral while acting in one’s self-interest, in which a person violates one’s own moral standards. Hypocrites are persons whose actions are inconsistent with their words or who have word-deed misalignments. 

The only thing worse than a liar is a liar that is also hypocrite (Tennessee Williams, U.S. playwritter and screenwriter). An absolutely devastating ridicule of all that is false, primitive, and vicious in current American life: the abuses of power, hero worship, aimless violence, materialistic obsession, intolerance, and every form of hypocrisy (Terry Southern – U.S. novelist, and professor). A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation (Adlai E. Stevenson, U.S. politician and diplomat).

A hypocrite is a person who pretends to have firm faith in Allah, does pious deeds, and is sincere to believers but he does not in reality possess such characteristics. He basically practises dishonesty with self and with other fellow human beings who come in contact with him. He develops such an attitude of deceiving others keeping in view that other people will not be able to understand his nefarious designs. In other words, one believes he will be able to deceive believers and they will not be able to understand his conspiracies against Muslim community. 

The present justice system in the world is not in a position to punish hypocrites, but Divine Justice punishes them to some extent in this world, but complete justice will be done on the Day of Judgment; their all conspiracies will be disclosed and they will be thrown in the lowest level of Hell eternally. 

In this world, they live in a constant state of fear and trouble throughout their lives and have no peace of mind. With the passage of time they change their tactics and strategies to make people fool, but in reality they themselves are fools, but they do not understand this reality in this world.

A hypocrite claims oneself a monotheist, and hides polytheism or other ims, but monotheism is the only reality in the sight of Allah (swt) and His Messenger (pbuh); while, other isms are wrong, because those emerged as a result of deviation from Allah’s Commandments and teachings of the Prophets, especially that of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), therefore hypocrite may be considered as a disbeliever or nonbeliever. The hypocrite hides his disbelief in the heart and declares himself as true believers with his tongue. They use such double standards as opportunists in order to get benefits from both Muslims and disbelievers, but they are not sincere to any one. 

Hypocrisy is a heart disease or psyche that blossoms in the hearts of the people who are not strong in their faith yet; the people who play a dual role in religious life – by displaying good faith when meeting with believers, but keep the nature of revenge and envy in the heart. In short, hypocrisy is a serious mental illness or abnormality in humans; it resides in the hearts and badly affects the behaviour and conduct of a person. Hypocrisy is harmful for the hypocrite and also creates serious problems in the communities and nations. 


Those are the ones who purchased errors (in exchange) for guidance, so their transaction has brought no profit, nor were they guided (10). 2:16. 

Due to the disease of hypocrisy in their heart, they purchased errors in exchange for guidance. In other words they have bartered away Guidance for error, which is a harmful bargain in this world and even more harmful in the hereafter.

Indeed, those who have believed then disbelieved, then believed then disbelieved, and then increased in disbelief – never will Allah forgive them; nor will He guide them to a way. Give tidings to the hypocrites that there is for them a painful punishment (11).

And it has already come down to you in the Book (the Qur’an) that when you hear the verses of Allah (recited), they are denied (by them) and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation. Indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers in Hell all together (12). 

These are the people, who do not consider the question of Faith as a serious matter but play with it like a toy to gratify their whims and lusts. They adopt Islam, if and when they are swayed to it by some fanciful notion, and become disbelievers, if another notion moves them away to the opposite side. Or they become Mulims when their interests demand it and become disbelievers, without the least hesitation, if their interests lie in disbelief. Obviously, there is neither forgiveness nor guidance from Allah for such people. They do not stop at their own disbelief but go much further in it. They strive to run other Muslims away from Islam, conspire against it and make open designs to harm it so as to raise the standard of kufr high up and to pull down the standards of Islam. As this an addition to the sin of one’s personal disbelief, it deserves more punishment than the offence of the one who disbelieves in Islam but is not antagonistic to it  (13).

Ibn Umar reported that when Abdullah bin Ubay died, his son Abdullah came to the Prophet and said, “O Messenger of Allah, give me your clothes for my father and pray for him and ask forgiveness for him.” So, the Holy Prophet gave him his clothes and said, ‘Allow me to pray for him.’ When the Prophet wanted to pray, Umar bin Al-Khaththab suddenly came and said to the Prophet, ‘Did not Allah forbid you to pray to a hypocrite?’ The Holy Prophet said, ‘I have been given two choices from the Word of Allah (verse 9:80): Ask forgiveness for them (O Muhammad), or do not ask forgiveness for them. If you should ask forgiveness for them seventy times – never will Allah forgive them. That is because they disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger, and Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people. So the Holy Prophet does the praying. Then the verse 9:84 was revealed. And do not pray (the funeral prayer O Muhammad), over any of them who has died-ever-or stand at his grave. Indeed, they disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger and died while they were defiantly disobedient. 

Hypocrisy is the worst disease of the spiritual heart. Even in this world, hypocrites are considered the most degraded persons in the world. He may be called as a member of the evil web of Iblis. The punishment of the hypocrites shall be more severe than that of the polytheists. Hypocrisy is in reality the worst kind of disbelief.

This is not a curse but a declaration of the verdict about hypocrites by Allah that they had become worthy of His punishment and He will certainly inflict His punishment on them. It is also possible that Allah may not have used these worlds in their literal sense but in the meaning of a curse and condemnation according to Arabic idiom (14).

Hypocrisy is a deep rooted all-pervading spiritual disease, but the patient is unable to realise its seriousness because his heart is seriously sick and approaching spiritual death therefore his senses are not working properly. Generally, this disease may  lead the patient to think that one is acting rightly but in reality one may be  spreading corruption. Moreover, the disease makes one opportunistic and this trait leads him towards the wrong path. The disease of hypocrisy leads one towards many other spiritual diseases.  

In the beginning of Surah 2 of the Qur’an Allah has divided mankind into three groups: the believers, disbelievers and hypocrites. Four verses (2:2 to 2:5) about believers; two verses (2:6 to 2:7) concerning the disbelievers, and thirteen verses (2:8 to 2:20) give information about hypocrites. On this basis we can imagine the seriousness of this disease. 

In addition to Surah two hypocrites and hypocrisy have been mentioned in a large number of verses in different contexts, which indicates the seriousness of this spiritual disease.  The harm they cause to Islam is truly severe for they claim to be Muslims, they claim to aid and support Islam, whereas in reality they are spending their wealth and energies to harm Islam and Muslims from within, covertly spreading their corruption and ignorance such that the unwary thinks that what they are upon is knowledge and right action.

Allah abhors their obeying Him because of the filth of their hearts and impure intentions; as such He held them back and impeded them obeying Him. He hates to have them close to Him and in His vicinity due to their love of His enemies; as such He distanced them and discarded them. They turned away from His revelation so He turned away from them and decreed misery for them (15).

In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) has unveiled beliefs, the qualities, and  goals of hypocrites clearly so that the believers can be aware of their conspiracies and evil designs against them and make viable strategies to save Muslim community from them. 

The hypocrites are apprehensive lest a Surah be revealed about them, informing them of what is in their hearts. Say, “Mock (as you wish); indeed, Allah will expose that which you fear.” And if you ask them, they will surely say, “We were only conversing and playing.” Say, “Is it Allah and His verses and His Messenger that you were mocking?” (16). 

The disease of desires and doubts has consumed their hearts and destroyed them, and evil objectives have permeated their motivations and intentions and corrupted them. Their corruption is so severe that they are flung to prediction, and the doctors of the religion are unable to cure them.  By Allah! How many strongholds of Islam have they destroyed; how many fortresses have they rendered to ruin; how many sign-posts of Islam have they effaced; how many raised flags have they lowered; and how many seeds of doubt they have attempted to sow in order to uproot the religion! Islam and Muslims have always faced trial and tribulation from hypocrites, wave after wave, of doubt they assault at it, while thinking that they are doing right.  (17).

The characteristics of faith are not to be found in their hearts  and hence they do not know them. Extinguished are the brilliant lights of its stars in their hearts and they do not try to relight them, and the darkness of their thoughts and beliefs has eclipsed the sun of faith such that they no longer see it. They have wretched the texts of revelation of their true status, they have detached them of their importance and definitiveness, and they have submerged them in the obscurity of false interpretations. They are of the view that sufficient for them is what they find the latter people upon for they were more knowledgeable than the Religious Predecessors, and former and more rightly guided in knowing the proofs and evidences! Their tongues are the tongues of Muslims but their hearts are the hearts of those fighting the Muslims. Their capital is deception and scheming, their merchandise is lies and treachery, and their intellect is one that is employed just for this world. Believers and disbelievers alike are happy with them and they live in security among both (18).

This verse describes their belittling the religion and those who follow it, and their foolishness. Hypocrites are true fools because they are not knowing what is for themselves and their pursuing that which would harm them. They have turned away from the Book and Sunnah, making mockery of those who follow them and looking down on them. They refuse to submit to the revelation. They ply their trade in oceans of darkness traversing vessels of doubts. Uncertainty and suspicion plagues them as they sail through waves of illusion. Strong winds play havoc with their boats and lead them to their destruction. The fire of faith alights for them and in its light they perceive guidance and misguidance, then that fire is extinguished and is left as red hot ashes. With that fire they are punished and in that darkness do they wander blindly. The hearing of their hearts is burdened by a heavy load and as such they are unable to hear the call to faith; the eyes of their spiritual sight are covered with a blinding wrapping such that they cannot see the realities of the Qur’an; and their tongues are mute to the truth such that they are unable to speak it (19).

They  are like a sheep that has strayed and finds itself between two flocks, it goes to one and then the other and does not stay with any of them. They are standing between two groups of people, all the while searching as to which is the stronger and nobler. 

The vileness of doubts and suspicion cling firmly to their hearts and they can find no way of absolution from them. May they perish! How distant they are from the reality of faith  and how false their claim to cognisance is! They are one thing and the followers of the Messenger are something totally different (20).

Indeed, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire – and never will you find for them a helper – except for those who repent, correct themselves, hold fast to Allah, and are sincere in their religion for Allah, for those will be with the believers. And Allah is going to give the believers a great reward (21).

Hypocrisy is not only a route to foolishness and away from wisdom, but also a hindrance to any one attempting to become wise (Socrates, Greek Philosopher). A hypocrite is like a pot of poisonous fluid whose neck and mouth are smeared with milk (22).

Hypocrisy is the most serious, destructive and dangerous spiritual disease, because it is either a cause or an effect of a number of other spiritual diseases such as lying, violation of promises, breaching of agreements, etc. Hypocrisy advances in these circumstances and ultimately becoming an acute disease results in a dangerous epidemic or pandemic form which threatens one’s honour and dignity; transforms one’s positive  personality traits into negative ones. In Abrahamic religions, hypocrisy is considered an ‘unforgivable sin.’ Hypocrites have terrible disease in their heart – betrayal, lying, deception, and disbelief; the soul of hypocrite is the most evil soul or the worst soul; the mind is the most heinous mind. 

Destruction caused by hypocrisy has an adverse impact on social life by preventing others from virtue such as by spreading negative issues, instilling hatred and breakdown of society (23).

In short, Allah will collect the hypocrites and disbelievers altogether in Hell (4:140). Hypocrites will be in the lowest depths (grade) of Fire (4:145). It is evident from the tradition that one who meets Muslims with a double tongue, on the Day of Judgment he will come with two tongues of fire. 

Hypocritical behaviour is hated by Allah and His Prophets, because this behaviour is more dangerous than disbelievers; his actions are inconsistent with his words; he has word-deed misalignment; contradiction between saying and doing, therefore he is not trusted. Hypocrisy is a matter of causing a corrupt personality toward youth characters in which their positive traits of personality may be transformed into negative ones. Hypocrisy is not hated by Allah, His Prophets, and true believers but it is disliked by every community, culture, and civilization; even it is disliked by atheists. 


Hypocrites possess a number of characteristics by which they can be identified to some extent, and the real knowledge of hypocrites is only with Allah (swt). However, by knowing their characteristics believers can protect themselves from their evil designs to some extent, but by coming under the protection of Allah Almighty against them. 

The hypocrite men and hypocrite women are one another. They enjoin what is wrong and forbid what is right and close their hands. They have forgotten Allah, so He has forgotten them (accordingly). Indeed, the hypocrites – it is they who are the defiantly disobedient. The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger.  (24).

Allah has promised the hypocrite men and hypocrite women and the disbelievers  the fire of Hell, wherein they will abide eternally. It is sufficient for them. And Allah has cursed them, and for them is an enduring punishment (25).

These are the common characteristics of all hypocrites. All of them are interested in evil and inimical to good. If someone undertakes to do an evil thing, they would dedicate all their sympathies, counsels, encouragement, contribution, good wishes, praises and their approvals to such a one. They would join hands to accomplish that evil thing and persuade others to take part in it and encourage the doer in every way. Moreover, they would show in every way their hearty pleasure if they perceived that that evil thing was progressing satisfactorily. On the other hand, if someone undertakes to do a good thing, they are shocked to hear the very news of it for it pains their hearts; nay, they do not even like that such a thing should be undertaken at all. THen if they see someone coming forward to help it, they feel uncomfortable and try their worst to hinder him from it and if he does not give it up, they would wish that he should fail in it. Then all of them have this common characteristic that they do not spend anything at all for good ends irrespective of the fact whether they are otherwise parsimonious or generous. At any rate, their wealth is either for hoarding or for evil deeds. As a matter of fact, they would spend large sums on evil works generously but would not be willing to spend a farthing for good things  (26).

The contrast between the characteristics of the hypocrites (9:67) and of the true Believers (9:71) clearly shows that the two are entirely different from each other, in spite of their outwardly similar profession of faith in Islam and obedience to it. The difference lies in their morals, conducts, habits, attitudes and ways of thinking. On the one hand are the hypocrites whose tongues are never tired of professing faith in Islam, but who are void of sincere faith, and whose whole conduct belies their profession. They are, as it were, like bottles which have labels of ‘musk.’ but contain rotten material which may easily be recognized from its appearance and unpleasant odour. On the other hand are the true believers who are like those bottles which contain musk which may be tested in any way – by its appearance, its smell, and other characteristics – to be musk. Likewise, the outward label of Islam apparently makes both of them one Community of Muslims, the real characteristics of the hypocritical Muslims are so different from those of the true Muslims that they have, in fact, become two different communities. The hypocritical Muslims men and women, from a separate community with those who have similar characteristics. They all are neglectful of Allah (swt), take interest in evil things and deviate from all that is good and never cooperate with true Believers and, in short, they are allies to one another and practically disassociate themselves from true Believers and from a group of their own. In contrast to them, the true Believers, men and women, have practically become one Community. All of them take interest in what is dood, and abhor what is evil: they remember Allah day and night and cannot think of life without the constant remembrance of Allah; they are very generous in spending in the Way of Allah, and obey Him and His Messenger without any mental reservations. These common characteristics have dissociated them from the hypocrites and united them in one Community and made them allies to one another (27).

Whoever falls prey to the claws of their doubts will have his faith shredded to pieces; whoever allows his heart to open to their vile tribulations will find himself in a burning furnace; and whoever lends an ear to their deceptions will find them coming between and firm belief. Indeed the corruption they cause on earth is great but most people are unaware  (28).

They have characteristic signs by which they can be known, explained in the Book and the Sunnah, and clear for all those who are enriched  with faith to see. They are people, by Allah, given to ostentation, and this is the worst station that man can reach. They are people prone to laziness and laxity in fulfilling the orders of the All-Merciful, and because of this they find sincerity burdensome  (29).

The plant of hypocrisy grows from two stems: lying and ostentation. It grows out of two sources: weakness of spiritual insight and weakness of resolution. When these four factors exist, the plant of hypocrisy flourishes and grows firm. However, it grows by the side of waters on the brink of a crumbling precipice, so when they see the flood of reality on the Day when all secrets are disclosed, and the graves are emptied out, and the heart’s contents are brought to light, the one whose capital was hypocrisy will discover that all one attained was a mirage  (30).

In one tradition of the Holy Prophet three signs of hypocrisy are mentioned: If one speaks he lies, if promises he reneges and if given the mandate, he will betray. In another hadith four signs are mentioned: If given the mandate he betrays, if speaks he lies, if promises he denies and if fight or feud is cheating or crossing the line. 

Abu Hurairah reported that the Holy Prophet said, “Prayer that is felt heavy for hypocrites is Ishya morning prayer, if they know the virtues, surely they will come by crawling. Really, I wish to order someone so that prayer is established , then I tell someone  else and he leads the people. Then some people brought firewood to meet people who did not attend the prayer, then I burned their house” (31).  

Abdullah bin Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “There are four signs that make someone a pure hypocrite and whoever has them has a characteristic of hypocrisy until one abandons it. When he speaks he lies; when he makes a covenant he is treacherous; when he makes a promise he breaks it; and when he argues he is wicked” (32).

Four characteristics constitute anyone who possesses them a sheer hypocrite and anyone who possesses one of them is a hypocrite till he abandons it. 

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” (33).

There are five aspects of hypocrisy: whenever hypocrite speaks, he tells a lie; whenever he promises, he always breaks it; if you trust him, he proves to be dishonest (if you keep something as trust with him, he will not return it); whenever he quarrels, he behaves in a very imprudent, evil and insulting manner; and whenever he makes a covenant, he proves himself treacherous. 

Based on available information in the Qur’an, traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the statements of eminent religious scholars we intend to briefly describe the characteristics of hypocrites. 

4.1. Lying  

Lying is a serious spiritual disease, because it is the opposite of the truth. A lie can be anything spoken or written that is totally or partially baseless, unreal, distorted or exaggerated. It is a widespread problem and is the root of other problems; it is the root cause of various other spiritual diseases, or in other words it can be said that it is the mother of a number of other spiritual diseases. It is the root of all evils or spiritual diseases; it is the worst of the great sins; the liar loses the brightness and radiance of the face.   

Lying is against human nature, and it produces inner conflicts between various control centres in the brain and the heart. The moment one begins to lie, his body sends out contradictory signals to cause facial muscles twitching, expansion and contraction of pupils, perspiration, flushing of cheeks, increased blinking of eye, tremors of the hand, and an increased heart rate, constant covering of mouth, touching of nose, rubbing of the eye, scratching of the side of the neck, rubbing the ear, keeping eyes in another direction to the person one is lying to in order to avoid eye to eye contact (34).

A liar tells a lie for concealing the truth; for cheating and deceiving people; for short term worldly gains; 

And the filth (oath will be) that the curse of Allah be upon him if he should be of the liars (35).

And if he should be lying, then upon him is (the consequence of) his lie; but he should be truthful, there will strike you some of what he promises you. Indeed Allah does not guide one who is a transgressor and a liar (36).

The Holy Prophet said, “Indeed, truth leads to virtue and virtue leads to Paradise, and a truthful person continues to speak the truth until he becomes the most truthful person. Lies lead to evil and evil leads to Hell, and a liar continues to lie until he is listed as a high ranking liar before Allah” (37).

Bahz bin Hakim reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “Destruction is for the man who tells lies for the amusement of other people. Destruction is for him” (38).

Sufyan bin Usayd reported that the Apostle said, “The biggest breach of trust is that you tell a thing to your brother who believes it to be true, whereas you have lied to him” (39).

The verse 63: 1 describes the first characteristic of a hypocrite ‘lying.’ They say with their tongues that which is not in their hearts. This quality is so entrenched in them that even when they spoke words that were true, Allah still called them liars because what they said did not conform to what they believed (40).

They will make excuses to you when you have returned to them . Say, “Make no excuse – never will we believe you. Allah has already informed us of your news (affair). And Allah will observe your deeds, and (so will) His Messenger; then you will be taken back to the Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, and He will inform you of what you used to do” (41).

They will swear by Allah to you when you return to them that you would leave them alone. So leave them alone; indeed they are evil; and their refuge is Hell as recompense for what they had been earning. They swear to you so that you might be satisfied with them. But if you should be satisfied with them – indeed, Allah is not satisfied with defiantly disobedient people (42).

And (there are) those (hypocrites) who took for themselves a mosque for causing harm and disbelief and division among the believers and as a station for whoever had warned against Allah and His Messenger before. And they will surely swear, “We intended only the best” And Allah testifies that indeed they are liars. Do not stand (for prayer) within it – ever  (43).

When the hypocrites come to you (O Muhammad), they say, “We testify that you are the Messenger of Allah,” And Allah knows that you are the Messenger of Allah.” And Allah knows that you are His Messenger, and Allah testifies that the hypocrites are liars. They have taken their oaths as a cover, so they averted (people) from the way of Allah. Indeed, it was evil that they were doing (44).

Although the thing they are uttering with the tongue is true by itself, it does not reflect their belief. Therefore they lie when they say that they bear witness that you are a Messenger of Allah. (45).

Allah Almighty informed the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in verses 63:1-2 if hypocrites come to you, they say with their mouths about things that are contrary to what is in their hearts “We admitted that you truly are the Messenger of Allah” and Allah knows that you really are His Messenger, and Allah witnesses, that is knowing that the hypocrites are really liars, what is in their hearts is different from what they say (46).

The hypocrites say with their mouths about things that are contrary to what is in their hearts. They say, “We admitted that you truly are the Messenger of Allah” and Allah knows that you really are His Messenger; and Allah witnesses, that is knowing that the hypocrites are really liars, what is in their hearts is different from what they say. 

Falsehood is a door of hypocrisy; it is built on falsehood; it reduces provision; Allah will not speak with persons who sell things by lies; and a believer cannot be a liar. 

4.2. Promise Breaking 

Breaking promises has a bad effect on the person who breaks promises in a number of ways: It creates inner disturbance and he will avoid meeting that person with whom one promised and failed to fulfil it; he will try to justify it by telling lies; his reputation in the society will be deteriorated. Trust erodes when promises are not fulfilled. A number of verses of Surah 9 mentions about breaking of promise by the hypocrites. This is the punishment in this world, but in the Hereafter there will be very severe punishment for him. 

They swear by Allah that they did not say anything against the Prophet while they had said the word of disbelief and disbelieved after their (pretence of) Islam and planned that which they were not to attain. And they were not resentful except (for the fact) that Allah and His Messenger had enriched them of His bounty. So if they repent, it is better for them; but if they turn away, Allah will punish them with a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And there will not be for them on earth any protector or helper (47).

And among them are those who made a covenant with Allah, (saying), “If He should give us from His bounty, we will surely spend in charity, and we will surely be among the righteous” (48).

But when He gave them from His Bounty, they were stingy with it and turned away while they refused. So He penalised them with hypocrisy in their hearts until the Day they will meet Him – because they failed Allah in what they promised Him  and because they (habitually) used to lie  (49).

But those who break the covenant of Allah after contracting it and sever that which Allah has ordered to be joined and spread corruption on earth – for them is the curse, and they will have the worst home (50)

And fulfil the covenant of Allah when you have taken it (O believers), and do not break oaths after their confirmation while you have made Allah, over you, a security. Indeed, Allah knows what you do (51).

It is strictly prohibited to make a promise which one intends to not fulfil. The literal meaning of promise is pledge, statement, agreement, oath, or asseveration. It is necessary to fulfil a promise, whether you make a promise to believer or disbeliever, to a dear friend or stranger, or anybody else or to Allah; you must fulfil all promises. 

The Holy Prophet said, “The nation that breaks promises causes murder and shamelessness to become widespread amongst them, and the nation in which evil becomes apparent has death set upon them by Allah, and the nation which withhold Zakah has Allah withhold rain from them”  (52).

4.3. Riya (ostentation) 

Riya (ostentation, showing off, pretension) is showing off a good characteristic or manner with the sole intention of getting a positive response from people. A person performing his prayers  or fasting just to let people know that he is a good practising Muslim will be an example of riya. Riya is of various types such as riya of the body, riya of beauty and dress, riya of speech, riya of actions and riya of outward kind. Others are of the view that it can be divided into bodily, demeanour, clothing, acts and deeds, etc.  

Ostentation is a common behaviour of hypocrites where they want people to see their good deeds. They deceive Allah (swt) by showing things that are contrary to disbelief and they hide it to avoid the worldly laws which relate to it and Allah deceives them to relay their deception by telling what they hide to His Prophet until their secrets are opened in this world while in the hereafter they will suffer. And if they stand to pray with the believers they stand lazily and they are riya for human with the prayer and not remember Allah, it means they do not pray except for a short time because of riya (53).

Hypocrites remember Allah only for a very short span of time and that also not from the heart, but with tongue only. Most of the time they spend in worldly affairs and on materialistic aspects. They are not willing to face difficulties and hardships for the sake of Allah Almighty. Generally, people stay away from them when they find out about their hippocratic behaviour and attitude.  

4 .4. Slandering

Slander indicates mentioning hidden weak points and faults of the others so that if they hear, they will be disturbed. These points are either concerned with religious, moral, spiritual and social aspects, or with corporeal aspects including face, body’s limbs, corporal powers, and actions and behaviours, of his attachments, such as wife, children, and his clothing and house, etc. The motives of slender include malice and revenge, envy, mockery deride, recreation and amusement, etc. (54).

Slandering is to take the faults of one to the ears of another, for instance, a certain man is speaking thus about you. The man to whom it is communicated and the man whose fault is communicated both dislike it. A third person also does not like it, though it is expressed by hints, gestures, writings and by other means. The hearer of the slander or defamation has got certain duties to perform. He should not believe the standerer as he is a transgressor and sinner and his evidence to be rejected. He should prevent him from it and  inform him that it is a great sin. He should hate such a person. He should not disclose this slander (55).

The hypocrites of Madinah in the leadership of Abdullah bin Ubay, often used slander as a weapon to destabilise Muslim community and Islamic movement. Hypocrisy is a very bad behaviour for humanity, it destroys social order, true friendship, brotherhood, and even shared hostility to anyone who obstructs his interests. 

For example, on the way back from the expedition of Tabuk the Holy Prophet said that the Muslim army should take the longer route through the valley round the hills, while he himself along with Ammar-bin-Yasir and Huzaifah-bin-Yaman would make the shortcut over the hills. While they were on the way, suddenly they discovered that a dozen of the hypocrites, with covered faces, were following them. At this Huzaifah turned towards them so that he may drive away their camels  but they were terrified lest they should be recognized. In this way Allah Almighty protected His Prophet by casting fear into the hearts of hypocrites. The verse 9:74 of the Qur’an mentions that event: And they resolved that plot to murder Prophet Muhammad which they were unable to carry out.  

The other plot was to declared Abdullah bin Ubayy as king at Al-Madinah as soon as they should hear some ‘bad news’ about the Muslim army, because according to their expectations, the Holy Prophet and his faithful Companions could never fare well against the armies of the Great Roman Empire (56).

This refers to the mean conduct which the hypocrites evinced on the occasion the appeal of the Holy Prophet for contributions towards the Tabuk Expedition. The well-to-do hypocrites did not themselves make any contributions, but when the sincere Muslims came forward with generous contributions according to their means, they began to deride them. If a well-to-do Muslim made a handsome contribution, they would at once accuse him of being guilty of a ‘show-off.’  On the other hand, if a poor Muslim contributed a partly sum which he could hardly spare after sacrificing some of the barest necessities of his family or contributing the small earnings obtained by hard work, they would at once ridicule, saying, “Lo! Here is the farthing that will help conquer the forts of the Roman Empire” (57).

They are the ones who say, “Do not spend on those who are with the Messenger of Allahuntil they disband.” And to Allah belong the depositories of the heavens and the earth, but the hypocrites do not understand (58).

They say, “If we return to al-Madinah, the more honoured (for power) will surely expel the humbler.” And to Allah belongs (all) honour, and to His Messenger, and to the believer, but the hypocrites do not know (59).

Zaid bin Arqam says, “When I reported these words of Abdullah bin Ubayy to the Holy Prophet, and he came and disowned them on oath, the elderly people of the Ansar, and even my own uncle, reproved me for this; so much so that I felt that the Holy Prophet had mistaken me for a liar and Abdulla bin Ubayy for a truthful person. This caused me great anguish and grief. Then, when these verses were revealed, the Holy Prophet called me, and taking hold of my ear, said, “ The boy’s ear was truthful: Allah has Himself testified to what he had heard (60).

4.5. Ignoraning 

Ignorance is a spiritual disease of hypocrites. Due to this disease they try to deceive Allah (swt) but He cannot be deceived. He is the One who knows what they manifest and what they hide! (61).

Ignorance is considered a serious spiritual disease. From spiritual ignorance all other mistakes follow. Knowledge is light and ignorance is darkness. An ignorant person may make mistakes in one’s journey of life in this world at different cross roads. The more one lacks revealed knowledge the more ignorant he becomes. . 

Knowledge is the best asset one can have. All knowledge can be classified into a number of categories: obligatory, obligatory for community, recommended, permissible and blameworthy knowledge. Acquisition of obligatory knowledge should be the priority of everyone in the society, an excuse of making mistakes due to ignorance in this connection is not acceptable to Allah and the Holy Prophet (pbuh). In case of second categories of knowledge some people in the community will acquire one type of knowledge and others of other categories of knowledge, if none of them gets necessary knowledge, then the whole nation will be held responsible and may be treated accordingly on the Day of judgement. Everyone should avoid acquiring blameworthy knowledge such as astrology, magic, etc. 

Knowledge is necessary in every walk of life. Without knowledge one cannot make decisions based on analysis; without necessary knowledge one cannot achieve true success in this world and in the Hereafter; knowledge is helpful in the performance of one’s duties towards Allah, fellow human beings and other creatures in this world. Due to lack of proper knowledge the life of individuals, communities and those of nations become full of superstitions, disbeliefs, and a number of hypocrisies which result in utter failure in this world and their final abode in the Hereafter may be Hell permanently. Without knowledge material progress is also not possible.  

4.6. Deceiving 

Deception is to conceal the actual state of things. Deception is also a dangerous spiritual disease. The hypocrites tried to deal with Allah and believers in this way. But their deception came back on themselves (62).

And when they meet those who believe, they say, “We believe;” but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say, “Indeed, we are with you; we were only mockers” (63).

The hypocrites were deceiving both Believers and disbelievers. In Front of believers they claim that they were believers like other true believers, but when they meet non-believers or polytheists they used to tell them that in reality they are polytheists like them and they were just mocking those people (believers). Deception plays a role in the losing of one’s trust, which is difficult to re-establish. 

Indeed, the hypocrites (think to) deceive Allah, but He is deceiving them. And when they stand for prayer, they stand lazily, showing (themselves to) the people and not remembering Allah except a little  (64).

The Holy Prophet said, “Whoever cheats us is not of us” (65).

Cheating and deception are despicable characteristics that are beneath a decent person. Intentionally distorting the truth in order to mislead others contradict the values of honesty, which requires an attitude of sincerity, straight forwardness, and fairness that leaves no room for cheating, trickery or deceit.  Cheating and deception are alien characters in contrast to the noble character of a true Muslim. Islam views cheating and deception as heinous sins, a source of shame to the one guilty of committing them, both in this world and next. One should steer clear of all the various forms of deceit and deception present in today’s society (66).

4.7. Doubts and Desires

Another disease is becoming plagued with doubts and desires. The sickness of doubt and desires beset the heart and eject it from its state of balance and  normalcy. Each time a Surah was revealed of the Qur’an containing new injunctions, this increased them in their doubts and hence their disease increased (9:124-125). When one of them follows the Book and Sunnah, one is doing so to keep up appearances, one is like a donkey carrying books: it understands none of what it is carrying. The revelation in their eyes is profitless merchandise and as such worthless. Those who follow it are fools in their eyes (2:13). This verse describes their fifth characteristic: spreading corruption in the land, and direct consequence of the corruption of their hearts. They combine spreading corruption on earth with making out that they are only putting things right, thereby altering reality and believing the falsehood to be the truth. Allah rebuts them saying, ‘No indeed, they are the corrupters,’ for there is no greater  corruption than disbelieving in the verses and signs of Allah, preventing people from His Way, trying to deceive Allah and His Friends, and befriending the enemies of Allah and His Messenger” (67).

In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease; and for them is a painful punishment because they (habitually) used to lie (68).

The sickness here is the sickness of doubts and desires; the heart is set by two diseases  that eject it from its state of balance and normalcy: the disease of false doubts and disease of vile desires. In this connection Ibn Qayyim says, “Whoever falls prey to the claws of their doubts will have his faith shredded to pieces; whoever allows his heart to be open to their vile tribulations will find himself a burning furnace; and whoever lends an ear to their deceptions will find them coming between him and firm belief. Indeed, the corruption they cause on earth is great but most people are unaware. 

Hypocrites were of the view that through hypocrisy they will be able to safeguard their interests and they also be able to save themselves from hardships which believers were facing at that time. However, they could not achieve their objectives in this world, because they were exposed on different occasions. They may hide this spiritual disease temporarily but not permanently or for a long time. When they were exposed they lost their credibility. In reality, hypocrisy is a very serious spiritual disease. In the beginning, they were successful in hiding the disease and they intensified their efforts to oppose the Islamic movement and the helped disbelievers, therefore Allah increased the intensity and severity of the disease and in the hereafter they will encounter with painful punishment due to hypocrisy and habitually telling a lie. 

And when it is said to them, “Believe as the people have believed,” they say, “Should we believe as the foolish have believed?” Unquestionably, it is they who are the foolish, but they know (it) not (69).

When the hypocrites were told to enter into the fold of Islam truly and sincerely. They considered the believers as fools because at that time all the believers were in great troubles and hardships and they were of the view that it was foolishness to make all people their enemies for the sake of truth, and sacrifice their interests for the sake of Islam. Due to a serious spiritual disease they were not able to understand the importance of Islam in the onward journey of life and they were not aware of the significance of true success.  

In your presence, they say, “We are obedient to you,” but when they leave you, some of them meet together secretly at night to plot against what you say; Allah writes down all their secret talks; so leave them alone and trust in Allah; Allah alone suffices for trust. Do they not ponder over the Qur’an? Had it been from any other than Allah, surely there would have been many contradictions in it (70).

In the presence of the Holy Prophet they announce obedience to him but when they go away they with disbelievers of hypocrites at night they plan against him and believers. Under such a situation Allah (swt) directed the Holy Prophet to trust in Him and do not care about their evil plots. 

The main cause of the wrong attitude of the hypocrites and the people of weak faith, who had been warned in the foregoing verses, was that they had doubts that the Qur’an was from Allah. They could not believe that it was being sent down by Allah to the Holy Prophet and that the Commandments contained in it were really coming from Him. That is why they were being admonished to consider the Qur’an by giving close attention to it. And to verify whether their doubts are genuine and whether it is from Allah or not. The Qur’an itself bears witness to the truth that it is from none other than Allah, for none else, however wise and intelligent he might have been, could have gone on delivering an address under different circumstances about variant topics so as to form a  connected, balanced and coherent Book at the end of twenty-three years and that too, without showing any contradiction whether from the beginning to the end, and without ever revising or making any change in it (71).

4.8. Laziness in Worship and Other Duties

They delay the prayer to the last possible time. They quickly peck the ground as does a crow. This is because their prayer is a prayer in the body but not in the heart. While praying they look left and right as does a fox being certain that it is being hunted and chased. They do not attend the congregational prayer, ratchet they make do with praying in their homes and shops. When they argue they behave uncouthly, when they are entrusted with something they break the trust, when they speak they lie, and when they promise they break it. This is how they deal with creation and Creator (72).

The offering of Salah in congregation has been held out as a test of one’s being a sincere Believer or a hypocrite because during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet one could not be considered a member of the Islamic Community unless one offered Salah regularly and punctually. Just as every association or organisation considers the absence of a member without genuine excuse from its meetings as a sign of his lack of interest, and expels from it for continuous absence, in the same way, if a Muslim absented himself from Salah in congregation, it was considered a clear sign of his lack of interest in Islam. And if he continuously absented himself from it, this was taken as a proof of his desertion from Islam. That is why even the confirmed hypocrites of that time had to join Salah in congregation five times a day; otherwise they could not be counted as members of the Islamic Community. But what distinguished the true Believers from the hypocrites was that the Believers went to the mosque with great enthusiasm before time and stayed there even after the prayer which was clear proof of their genuine interest in it. On the other hand, the very call to the prayer sounded like a death knell to a hypocrite. He would, however, rise up reluctantly to join the congregation, but the whole of his demeanour showed clearly that he was offering his Salah unwillingly. The he would have the mosque in haste as if he had been released from prison. All his movements showed that, in utter contrast to a true Believer, he did not take any interest in the remembrance of Allah even during his hypocritical devotion (73).

The word ‘Bedouins’ refers to those Arabs who lived in the desert near Al-Madinah. The background which may help one to comprehend the meanings of the verses 9:97-98. Though these people had outwardly embraced Islam, that had not done so from conviction. When they saw the rising of the power of Islam in Al-Madinah, they were so overawed by it that they could not ignore it. So at first they adopted the attitude of the opportunists towards the conflict between Islam and kufr. But when the power of the Islamic Government spread over the major portions of Hijaz and Najd, and the power of its enemy clans began to decline, they thought it expedient to enter the fold of Islam. But there were very few among them who had sincerely accepted Islam from the conviction that it was the Right Way. That is why they did not make any sincere efforts to fulfil the implications of the True Faith, and observe the obligatory duties imposed by Islam. On the contrary, the majority of them had accepted Islam just because it was the best policy for them. They merely desired to take advantage of being ‘Muslims’ in order to gain those benefits to which they were entitled as members of the ruling party, without performing those duties which became obligatory on them by the acceptance of Islam. Therefore they were utterly averse to saying the prescribed prayers, observing the Fast, paying the Zakat due from date-palm gardens and their herds of cattle. Moreover, they smarted under the discipline of the Islamic State and resented being subdued by any power for the first time in history. Above all, it was against their very nature to make the sacrifice of their lives and wealth in the Way of Alla, as was being demanded by Islam, for they were accustomed to fight only for plunder and spoils. That is why they always invented one excuse or the other for exemption from the restrictions and obligations that were imposed on them. For they had no interest in the Truth or the welfare of humanity; their only concern was their camels and their goats, that is, the narrow world around their tents. As regards anything higher than these, the only thing which they could believe in was irrational reverence for those who would guarantee their worldly welfare and protect them from calamities and give them amulets to safeguard them against harm and evil, and say prayers for them as a recompense for their offerings to them. But they were not prepared to accept any faith or belief that would bring under its moral and legal discipline every aspect of their cultural, social and economic life, and demand from them the sacrifices of lives and wealth for the cause of a universal reform. It can be concluded that the Bedouins are more hypocritical than the urban Arabs and are more stubborn and obdurate in their denial of the Truth. This is because the urban people make use of the opportunities of meeting the learned and pious people and thus learn the laws and regulations of the Way. On the other hand, in all probability, the Bedouins will learn they get  little about the Divine Way, because they get few opportunities for this. Moreover, they lead lives of ‘economic animals’ rather than of human beings having moral and spiritual values; therefore they do not think of higher things than their animal urges. It should also be noted that the main cause of the subsequent storm of rebellion and apostasy during the caliphate of Abu Bakr two years after the revelation of verses 9:97-99 was the same that has been mentioned therein (74).

4.9. Duplicity

In the literature for the word ‘duplicity’ different terms have been used such as two-faced, two-tongued, etc. Two-faced means hypocrites find it very difficult to develop true friendships with other people because of their inconsistency. 

Duplicity means dishonest talk or behaviour, especially saying different things to two people; double dealing; contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action;  the belying of one’s true intentions by deceptive words or action or both; technically incorrect use of two or more distinct items in a single action. Duplicity means twofold – having two parts; two-faced – may be showing one side in public and another in private – saying something known to be untrue or misleading. 

Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “The worst amongst the people is the double-faced one; he comes to some people with one face and to others with the other face” (75). 

The tradition of the Holy Prophet reveals that the hypocrite is a double-faced person. It means a hypocrite has two faces. He comes to some people with one face and to others with the other face. In other words he is the person who assumes an outward appearance and simulates a behaviour which is contradictory to one’s inner state. For example, one gives an impression of altruistic love and affection and pretends to be sincerely sympathetic, but in reality one’s heart harbours an opposite feeling. He  apparently behaves like a friend but in reality acts like an enemy. Such a person cannot be a man of faith. As such he always seeks what one thinks to serve one’s immediate interests, knowing that he is lying and deceiving others. 

Two-faced means that hypocrites find it very difficult to develop true friendship with other people because of their inconsistency. They used to sacrifice friends for the sake of their vested interests or to fulfil their purposes or objectives. Hypocrites in Madinah had extended help to disbelievers against the Holy Prophet and his Companions. At the time of the war between the Muslims and the polytheists and the victory of the Muslims, the hypocrites came forward to raise their hands as who was very instrumental in helping Muslims to win the war. However, when the polytheists won, the hypocrites also appeared to the polytheists, clapping their chests as the heroes who determined the victory over the Muslims. 

Each hypocrite has two faces: a face with which he meets the Muslims and a face with which he meets his deviated associate. Each one of them has two tongues: a false tongue with which he meets the Muslims and a true tongue which expresses his actual beliefs (76)

And of the people are some who say, “We believe in Allah and the Last Day,” but they are not believers. They (think to) deceive Allah and those who believe, but they deceive not except themselves and perceive (it) not (77).

They delude themselves by imagining their duplicity will safeguard their interests, but obviously their policy proves harmful in this world and most surely shall be so in the next world. A hypocrite might succeed in deceiving some people for some time but he cannot deceive all people for all times. When such a person is exposed, he loses all honour once for all. As the Hereafter, mere lip-service will carry no weight there because it is deeds alone that matter there (78).

Allah increases the disease of their duplicity on account of their misbehaviour. When their duplicity appears to succeed apparently for some time, they become convinced of its efficacy and effectiveness and practise it even more frequently and persistently than before (79).

And (also) those who spend their wealth to be seen by the people and believe not in Allah nor in the Last Day. And he to whom Satan is a companion – then evil is he as a companion (80).

Those who wait (and watch) you. Then if you gain a victory from Allah, they say,”Were we not with you?” But if the disbelievers have success, they say (to them), “Did we not gain the advantage over you, but we protected you from the believers?” Allah will judge between (all of) you on the Day of Resurrection, and never will Allah give the disbelievers over the believers a way (to overcome them) (81).

The hypocrites of every age enjoy and have always enjoyed all the benefits conferred by Islam, by professing it with their tongue, and nominally joining the Muslim Community. At the same time they enjoy all the benefits they can derive from the disbelievers, by mixing with them and assuring them, “We are not bigoted Muslims though we are nominally connected with them. We are akin to you in culture, in thoughts and in the way of life and our interests and loyalties are the same as yours. Therefore, you should rest assured that we will side with you in the conflict between Islam and kufr  (82).

Wavering between them, (belonging) neither to these (believers) nor to those (the disbelievers) And whoever Allah sends astray – never will you find for him a way (83).

And when you see them, their forms please you, and if they speak, you listen to their speech. (They are) as if they were pieces of wood propped up – they think that every shout is against them. They are the enemy, so beware of them. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded? (84).

Abdullah bin Abbas has stated Abdullah bin Ubayy was a strongly built, healthy, handsome and smooth-tongued person, and the same was the case with most of his companions. They all were the nobles of Madinah. When they came to sit in the Holy Prophet’s assembly, they would sit reclining on cushions against the walls and would talk agreeably and convincingly. From their outward appearance and manner of speech no one could imagine that those honourable people of the city would be so wretched and degraded in their character. They are not men but pieces of timber. Comparing them to timber is meant to imply that they are devoid of the moral sense which is the essence of humanity. Then, by comparing them to blocks of timber propped up against the wall, it has also been pointed out that they are absolutely worthless, for the timber would be useful only when it has been utilised in making of a ceiling, or a door frame, or a piece of furniture. Ablock of timber that has just been placed against a wall serves no useful purpose at all” (85).

Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said. “Two traits cannot unite in a hypocrite: good conduct and knowledge of religion” (86).

Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said. “You will find the worst of men on the Resurrection Day having two faces, who will come to some with one face and to some with another face” (87).

4.10. Cowardice

Linguistically, cowardice (jubn) is the antonym of courage. Technically, it is fearing that which ought not to be feared. 

Indeed, those whom the angels take (in death) while wronging themselves – (the angels) will say, “In what (condition) were you? They will say, “We were oppressed in the Land.” They (the angels) will say, “Was not the earth of Allah spacious (enough) for you to emigrate therein? For those, their refuge is Hell – and evil it is as a destination (88).

‘When the angels seized the souls of those who were doing wrong to their own souls  or doing  in justice to their souls’ were the people who had accepted Islam but were still living among their own clans, which had not yet embraced Islam without any genuine excuse or compulsion. They were doing injustice to their own selves by living in a state of semi-Islam, although ‘the abode of Islam’ had come into existence where they could migrate and live the full life of a Muslim. They were quite content to live such a wretched life of semi-unbelief, because they preferred their comforts, their families, their properties and their interests to their Faith. That is why their excuse, ‘We were weak and helpless in the land,’ has not been accepted (89).

Have you not seen those who were told, “Retrain your hands (from fighting) and establish prayer and give Zakah?” But then when battle was ordained for them, at once a party of them feared men as they fear Allah or with (even) greater fear. They said, “Our Lord, why have You decreed upon us fighting? If only You had postponed (it for) us for a short time.” Say, “The enjoyment of this world is little, and the Hereafter is better for he who fears Allah. And injustice will not be done to you, (even) as much as a thread (inside a date seed” (90).

This verse has three meanings, and the three are equally correct. First, it means that those very people who were then showing cowardice were very impatient to fight  before permission was given for this. They would repeat the tales of their persecution and oppression and say, “Give us permission to fight, for we have no more patience to bear these wrongs.” At that time they were advised to be patient for the time being and to purify themselves by means of Salah and Zakah, they would resent such pieces of advice. But when the Command to fight was given, some of those very people began to show cowardice when they confronted the enemy armies and the dangers of war. The second meaning is that those people were very religious as long as such harmless demands as the offering of Salah and the payment of Zakah. Were made; but no sooner was the demand to fight in the way of Allah made on them than they were filled with terror and fear for their lives, and they forgot all about their religiosity. The third meaning is that during the pre-Islamic period, they were ready to fight for the sake of spoils or for the gratification of their whims, and were engaged day and night in war. That is why, after embracing Islam, they were enjoined to desist a while from fighting and to reform their hearts by means of Salah and Zakah. But when they were enjoined to fight in the way of Allah, the same people who showed reckless bravery in fighting for the sake of false pride, were showing timidity, and those who were dare-devils  turned into milk-sops and shirked. These three meanings apply to the three different categories of people and the words of the Arabic text are so comprehensive that they fit equally into all the three cases (91).

So you see those in whose hearts is disease (hypocrisy) hastening into (association with)  them, saying, “We are afraid a misfortune may strike us.” But perhaps Allah will bring conquest or a decision from Him, and they will become, over what they have been concealing within themselves, regretful. And those who believe will say,”Are these the ones who swore by Allah their strongest oaths that indeed they were with you?” Their deeds have become worthless, and they have become losers (92).

This refers to the condition of the hypocrites during the period when the conflict between Islam and kufr had not come to any decisive conclusion. Although Islam had become a power by dint of the sacrifices of its followers, the opposing forces were also very powerful and there were equal chances of the victory of either side. The hypocrites, while living among the Muslims, wanted to keep good relations with the Jews and the Christians so that if the conflict ended in the defeat of theMuslims, they might safely take refuge with their enemies. Then there was also the economic factor; at that time the Jews and the Christians were economically the most powerful people in Arabia. The money-lending business was almost entirely in their hands and they had a strong economic hold upon the people. Moreover, the most fertile regions of Arabia were in their possession. This also led the hypocrites to preserve their old relations with them. In short, they considered it very dangerous to break relations with these people because of the conflict between Islam and kufr, for they feared that it might ruin them economically and politically  (93).

And they swear by Allah that they are from among you while they are not from among you; but they are people who are afraid (94).

If they could find a refuge or some caves or any place to enter (and hide), they would turn to it while they run heedlessly (95).

Ibn Qayyim said, “Cowardice and miserliness come together, they are respectively not benefitting through one’s self and wealth. They are two causes of anguish, as the coward misses all sorts of pleasantries and gets pleasures which can only be attained through courage. 

Nature created strong innate dispositions toward self-preservation so that courageously sacrificing oneself for the benefit of genetically unrelated people is unnatural. In contrast to natural tendencies, cultural norms celebrate and reward courageous behaviour, especially during combat. Courage is a biologically unnatural, but culturally revered behaviour. Conversely, cowardice is a natural response to danger because humans, like all organisms, are instinctively prone to flee from situations that threaten their well-being. However, for men, cowardice is among the most culturally stigmatised behaviour (96).

Cowardice causes a number of harms at different levels from individuals to nations. For example, it results in self-humiliation, and leading an evil life, seeking the stations of the lowly; having no steadfastness and patience at times where they are necessary. It is a cause for laziness and love of comfort which are the root of all ignoble characteristics. It is a reason to accept every debasement and grievance. 

Cowardice is the deadly condition native to the heart of every human born. It fogs the mind when clarity is most needed, it shuts down the legs when rushing forward into danger is required, it clamps down the tongue when speaking Truth is mandatory, and it acts like glue applied to the derriere when standing up is essential (97).

4.11. Blame-Game 

They had been admonished for their attitude towards the Holy Prophet. When there was success and victory, they would attribute it to Allah’s grace and forget that Allah had blessed them with grace through the Holy Prophet. But when they suffered a defeat or had a set-back because of their own errors and weaknesses, they would lay the whole blame on the Holy Prophet, and would absolve themselves from all responsibility  (98).

And among them are some who criticise you concerning the (distribution of) charities. If they are given from them, they approve; but if they are not given from them, at once they become angry (99).

This was the condition of the hypocrites of Al-Madinah, the majority of whom were rich and old. Only one of them was young and none was poor. These people had large properties and a flourishing business in Al-Madinah. They were worldly wise and their wide experience had taught them expediency, but their sense of self-interest had put them into a dilemma. When Islam reached Al-Madinah and a large majority of the population embraced it sincerely and enthusiastically, they found themselves in a very perplexing situation. They could not reject it outrightly for the majority of their own people, nay, their own sons and daughters, were filled with enthusiasm for Islam. If they have remained unbelievers, they would have lost their high position, their prestige and reputation and run the risk of a rebellion by the Muslims of their own household. On the other hand, if they sincerely embraced Islam, they would incur the danger of war, not only with the whole of Arabia but also with the adjoining nations and empires. Above all, self-interest had so blinded them that, in resolving the dilemma, they would not consider the problem from the point of view of truth and the righteousness which by themselves are worthy of every sacrifice. Therefore they decided that the best thing for them was to profess Islam outwardly in order to make their positions, properties and businesses  secure, but to adopt a hypocritical attitude towards it so that they might be able to avoid the losses and perils inherent in the sincere acceptance of Islam. Verse 9:57 depicts the lilemma of the hypocrites, as if to say, “In reality these peoples are not Muslims, though they swear that they are Muslims like you; they profess Islam simply because they are afraid of losses they might incur, if they reject it overnight. Then they dare not stay at Al-Madinah as non-Muslims for they would lose the high positions they enjoyed and might even have to cut off their connection with their wives and children; and if they decided to emigrate from Al-Madinah, they would abandon their properties and businesses. But they are not prepared for these sacrifices for they have no sincere attachment even to kufr. Therefore they are compelled against their belief by the force of circumstances to remain in Al-Madinah: they offer their Salah but regard this as forced labour; they pay the Zakat dues but as a penalty, for they are in their heart of hearts averse to these things.To add to their calamities they are asked every now and then to make sacrifices of their lives and their wealth and to go forth for jihad and to fight with one enemy or the other. They are so afraid of these calamities that, in order to escape from them, they would run in a frantic haste to take refuge in any hole, if they hoped that it would provide immunity against these calamities  (100).

The people referred to were the hypocrites, who felt depressed on every occasion of the distribution of the Zakah collections, for they thought that they were not being given their due share. Then they would taunt the Holy Prophet with making unfair distributions. This happened when the payment of Zakah was made an obligatory duty on all those Muslims whose possessions exceeded the prescribed limits. They were required to contribute from their agricultural produce, animals, commercial commodities, minerals dug out of mines and the gold and silver they possessed, at different rates varying from 2.5% to 20% and all these were collected and spent in a systematic way from a central place. 

As a result of this so much wealth flowed into the hands of a single person, the Holy Prophet, that it had no parallel in the whole territory of Arabia. Naturally the materialists looked at these things with greedy eyes and wanted to grab as much as possible out of this wealth. But their greed could not be satisfied, for the Holy Prophet, who had made the use of Zakah Fund unlawful for his own person and for his own relatives, could not be expected to give anything out of it to any one who did not deserve it. It is thus obvious that they found fault with the Holy Prophet not because he was unfair in the distribution of the Zakah collections  but because he did not allow the hypocrites to grab anything from these without any right to them. They, however, very cunningly hid their real grievance, and accused the Holy Prophet of showing partiality and injustice in the distribution of the Zakah collections (101).

That is, it would have been much better for them if they had been content with their share of the spoils which the Holy Prophet gave them and what they earned by the grace of Allah and with the prosperity Allah had bestowed on them (102).

4.12. Lack of Sincerity

All the good acts they did as Muslims were lost because they lacked sincerity. The prayers they offered, the fast they observed, the Zakah dues they paid, and other things they did in obedience to the Islamic Law became null and void because there was no sincerity in them. They did not dedicate themselves wholly to Allah but had divided their loyalties equally between Allah and His rebels. For the sake of their worldly interests (103).

If good befalls you, it distresses them; but if disaster strikes you, they say, “We took our matter (in hand) before, and turn away while they are rejoicing. Say, “Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us: He is our Protector.” And upon Allah let the believers rely (104). 9:50-51

In this passage a demarcation has been made between the attitudes of a man of the world and a man of Allah. Whatever the man of the world does, he does it to please his own self. He exults if he attains some worldly ends but feels utterly dejected if he fails to attain them. Besides, he depends entirely on his material resources for his success and feels encouraged if these are favourable, but loses heart if these are unfavourable. In contrast to the man of the world, whatever the man of Allah does, he does it to please Him and trusts in Him and not in his own powers nor in material resources. Therefore he is neither exultant over his success in the cause of Allah nor loses heart by failure, for he believes that it is the Will of Allah that is working in both the cases. Therefore he is neither disheartened by disasters nor is filled with conceit by success. This is because he believes that both prosperity and adversity are from Allah and are nothing a trial for Him. Therefore his only worry is to do his best to come out successful in His test. Besides, as there are no worldly ends before him, he does not measure his success or failure by the achievements before his ends. On the other hand, the only objective before him is to sacrifice his life and wealth in the Way of Allah, and he measures the success or failure of his efforts by the standard he achieves in the performance of his duty. Therefore he is satisfied that he has done his best to perform this duty, he believes that he has come out successfully by the grace of Allah, though he might not have been able to accomplish anything from the worldly point of view; for he believes that his Allah in Whose cause he has expended his life and wealth will not let go waste the the reward of his efforts. As he does not depend on the material resources only, he is neither grieved if they are unfavourable, nor feels exultant when they are favourable. His entire trust is in Allah, who is the controller of all the resources; therefore he goes on doing his duty even under the most unfavourable circumstances with the same courage and perseverance that is shown by the worldly people in favourable circumstances alone. That is why Allah asked the Holy Prophet to say to the hypocrites, “There is a basic difference between you and us in regard to the conduct of affairs. We believe that both the good and the bad are from Allah: therefore the apparent result does not make us happy or sad. Moreover, we depend on Allah in our affairs and you depend on material resources; so we are content and happy in all circumstances” (105).

Say, “Do you await for us except one of the two best things (martyrdom or victory) while we wait for you that Allah will afflict you with punishment from Himself at our hands? So wait; indeed we, along with you, are waiting” (106).

This is the answer to those who, as usual, were not taking any part in the conflict between Islam and kufr, but were very wisely watching it from a distance to see whether the Holy Prophet and his Companions would return victorious from Tabuk or would be totally destroyed by the powerful Roman army. They were told that either of the two results they were awaiting, would be good for the Muslims. For it was obvious that it would be a good thing if they won. But even if they were killed in the Way of Allah, it would be a success from their point of view, though not in the sight of the world, as the Muslims’ standard of measurement is different from that of the hypocrites and the like. A Believer considers it his success if he sacrifices his life and wealth in the Way of Allah, irrespective of whether he succeeds in conquering some country or in establishing a government or not. According to him the criterion of success or failure is whether he has extended or not all the powers of his body and soul, his head and his heart to elevate the Word of Allah, though from the worldly point of view the result of his efforts might be nothing at all  (107).

Say, “Spend willingly or unwillingly; never will it be accepted from you. Indeed, you have definitely been a disobedient people.” And what prevents their expenditure from being accepted from them but that they have disbelieved in Allah and in His Messenger and that they come not to pray except while they are lazy and that they do not spend except while they are unwilling. So let not their wealth or their children impress you. Allah only intends to punish them through them in worldly life and that their souls should depart (at death) while they are disbelievers (108).

Verse 9:53 is a sharp retort to those hypocrites who desired exemption from jihad but, at the same time, wanted to make some monetary contributions in order to avoid the exposure of their hypocrisy. They said, “Please grant us leave from the military service because we are unable to do this, but we are ready to make monetary contributions towards it.” To this Allah retorted, saying, “Whatever you may contribute, it shall not be accepted……….”  (109).

“Allah wills to chastise them by means of these things in this world…….,” because of their great love for their children and wealth as these misled them to adopt the hypocritical attitude which, in turn, degraded them in the Muslim society. Consequently, in the Islamic System they would lose the respect, the reputation and the prestige they enjoyed in the pre-Islamic society. On the contrary, even the Muslim slaves and the sons of slaves, the farmers and the shepherds, who proved the sincerity of their Faith would win honour in the new system, and the big hereditary chiefs, who refrained from this because of their love of the world, would lose their fame, honour and prestige.

In order to illustrate the above we cite an incident that happened during the Caliphate of Hadrat Umar. Once some big chiefs of the Quraish including Suhail-bin-Amr and Harith-bin-Hisham, went to see Caliph Umar and took their seats near him. Soon after this some humble people from among the Muhajirin and the Ansar came there. The Caliph asked those chiefs to make room for them, and seated these humble people near his own seat. This went on for some time till these chiefs reached the remotest corner in the assembly. When they came out, Harith bin Hisham said to his companions, “You have noticed humiliating treatment has been meted out to us today!” Suhail bin Amr replied, “It is no fault of Umar but it is our own fault. When we were invited to Islam, we turned away from it, but these humble people accepted it and made sacrifices for it.” Then both of them returned to the meeting and said, “Today we have noticed your treatment and we feel that it is all due to our own shortcomings, but tell us if there is a way for us to make atonements for our past failures.” The Caliph did not make any reply but merely pointed towards the Roman territory, which meant that the only way of regaining their prestige was to expend their lives and wealths in doing jihad there  (110).

“They would die in a state of unbelief” because of their hypocrisy, which would not let them attain sincere Faith till they die. Thus after ruining their moral and spiritual lives in this world, they would leave it in the state of unbelief, which will ruin their lives in the Hereafter in a far worse way  (111).

4:13. Guilty Conscience 

The brief statement portrays the state of their guilty conscience.  Since they fully well knew what game of hypocrisy they were playing under the screen of their superficial faith, they always remained in a state of alarm, thinking as to when the secret of their treason might might be exposed, or the believers might feel disgusted with their evil deeds and machinations and take them to task for them. If ever a cry was raised anywhere in the city, or a noise was heard; they immediately grew alarmed and thought it was directed against themselves. These hidden enemies are more dangerous than the open enemies. Do not be deceived by their outward appearances. Beware of them for they can deceive you any moment (112).

 4.14. Arrogance

An arrogant person is one who has an exaggerated opinion of himself and therefore super-imposes it on others. He has a form of superiority complex. Arrogance is the act or habit of arrogating, or making undue claims in an overbearing manner; that species of pride which consists in exorbitant claims of rank,dignity, estimation, or power, or which exalts the worth or importance of the person to an undue degree; proud contempt of others; lordliness; haughtiness; self-assumption; and presumption. 

And when it is said to them, “Come, the Messenger of Allah will ask forgiveness for you,” they turn their heads aside and you see them evading while they are arrogant  (113).

An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person’s main task in lids – becoming a better person (Leo Tolstoy). 

Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow (William Pollard). 

There is a very thin line between confidence and arrogance (Adam Peaty). 

Arrogance on the part of the meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive (Friedrich Nietzsche). 

5. CONCLUSIONFurther information on afore-mentioned topics and some other aspects of hypocrisy will be available in our book entitled ‘SPIRITUAL DISEASES: INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT’ in a short span of time. Insha Allah. 

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I’m Christopher, your “Evil Web” series has provided valuable insights. I commend your writing style, which is both engaging and informative. As a Christian, I appreciate the depth of your explorations. I have a series of inquiries related to this series, and I plan to present them at the conclusion of the series. Thank you

Best Regards,


Thank you for this insightful article on hypocrisy. The exploration of hypocrisy as a spiritual disease and its far-reaching impact across cultures and societies is thought-provoking. I appreciate the depth with which you discuss the consequences in the Hereafter, creating a compelling narrative that underscores the urgency of addressing this issue. As a reader, I’m curious about your perspective on potential solutions or strategies to combat and overcome hypocrisy at both individual and societal levels. How do you envision fostering a collective awareness and commitment to spiritual healing in the face of this pervasive moral vice?

Faiz Ahmad

This article serves as a wake-up call. The consequences discussed in the Hereafter are a chilling reminder. I’m curious about your thoughts on incorporating these insights into educational and societal frameworks for lasting change.

Dr Afifa

Well-articulated piece on the dangers of hypocrisy. The article leaves me thinking – how can individuals cultivate genuine authenticity and moral integrity in a world where hypocrisy seems to be so prevalent?

Faizan Ahmad

I enjoyed reading about hypocrisy and its impact. The call for self-awareness is clear


Can you give some advice on how people can be more real and less fake in their daily lives?


I’m curious about practical strategies to identify and combat hypocrisy. Any insights?


A thought-provoking read that prompts reflection on moral and behavioral deviations in our lives.


How do you recommend individuals practically apply the insights provided in the article to identify and address hypocrisy in their day-to-day lives?


Given the severe consequences outlined in the Hereafter, what role can spiritual leaders and communities play in guiding individuals away from the path of hypocrisy?


While the article vividly describes the problem, I’m eager to learn more about potential solutions. What actionable steps or practices do you suggest for individuals and communities to combat this spiritual disease effectively?

Dr Aslam

Dear Dr. Muhammad Salim,

I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to write and say thank you for your article about hypocrisy. I really liked it and learned a lot from it.

Your way of talking about hypocrites as people who might not even know they have a problem was interesting. I also thought it was sad that there aren’t enough people who can help with this spiritual issue.

The part about what happens in the afterlife made me think a lot. It’s kind of scary, but it helps us understand how serious hypocrisy is. Your article made me realize how this problem can be everywhere, from individual people to big communities.

I have some questions after reading your article. How can people know if they or others are being hypocrites, and what can they do about it? Also, what can leaders and communities do to help people stay away from hypocrisy?

I liked how you explained the hard parts in an easy way to understand. Your article made me think about important things, and I’m curious to know more about how we can fix this problem in our own lives and communities.

Thank you again for writing this article. I look forward to reading more from you.

Muhammad Sadeeq

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article on hypocrisy. It has left me with some burning questions. How do you propose individuals identify signs of hypocrisy within themselves and others? Additionally, what inspired you to focus on hypocrisy as the subject of your exploration?

I appreciate your time in addressing these queries.

Faizul islam

This article has me reflecting on the subtle ways hypocrisy can creep into our lives. Your examination of its impact at different levels is eye-opening. How can individuals guard against this spiritual disease in their everyday choices?


Your exploration of hypocrisy as a hidden poison and moral vice resonates deeply. I’m left contemplating how we can create awareness about this issue and work collectively to foster genuine sincerity in our actions.


Your portrayal of hypocrisy as a manifestation of a dead heart has sparked introspection. How can individuals revive their hearts and cultivate authenticity in a world that sometimes seems driven by external appearances?


Your article opens up a rich topic. Are there plans for further exploration, perhaps delving into specific aspects of hypocrisy or proposing practical solutions for individuals and communities?

Dr Sultan

Hey Dr. Muhammad Salim,

Hope you’re doing great! I just wanted to drop you a note to say a big thanks for your article on hypocrisy. It really got me thinking.

The way you talked about hypocrites being kind of like victims of a sneaky problem – that hit me. And the part about there not being enough people to help fix this issue – it made the whole thing feel serious.

Your article made me realize how this hypocrisy thing is everywhere, from just one person to the whole world. It’s like a hidden problem that can mess up our lives.

I also wondered why you picked this topic. What made you want to talk about hypocrisy? I’m curious about what you hope people like me will get from reading your work.

Thanks again for making me think and see things in a new way.

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