Sent by: Br. Ahmed Ali, South Africa

Nifaaq, roughly translated as hypocrisy, is a critical external and internal challenge for Muslims. Recent political events should motivate us to revise this constant struggle and make sure that we realign ourselves and our worldview based on the filter of the Quraan.

Very early in the Quraan, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) speaks to us about hypocrisy. After Soorah Al-Faatihah, and the introductory verses of Soorah Al-Baqarah, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says the following:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَقُولُ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَبِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَمَا هُمْ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ [البقرة: 8]

“And among men there are some who say: ‘We believe in Allah and in the Last Day’, yet they are not believers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:8)

In this Soorah (Chapter), Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) outlines the characteristics of the believer in a few Aayaat (Verses) and the characteristics of the Kaafir (Infidel) in two Aayaat. However, he describes the hypocrite in 13 Aayaat. The believer and the Kaafir are clear entities. Each has adopted their convictions and openly displays them. The believer by definition is outward in belief, and his struggle in the sake of attaining the mercy of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). The Kaafir is outward in his enmity in defying Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). The believer strives amongst his cause and the Kaafir strives amongst his cause. Whilst the Kaafir is dangerous, he can be more easily circumnavigated. Much like a pothole in the road, it can be seen from a distance and steps can be taken to avoid it in good time. The more dangerous entity is the Munaafiq – so dangerous is the Munaafiq that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) said:

إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ فِي الدَّرْكِ الْأَسْفَلِ مِنَ النَّارِ وَلَنْ تَجِدَ لَهُمْ نَصِيرًا [النساء: 145]

“Surely, the hypocrites are in the lowest level of the Fire, and you shall never find for them a helper.” (An-Nisaa 4:145)

The Munaafiq takes all the advantage of being with the Muslims whilst at the same time being boosted and promoted by the Kuffaar (Infidels).

The Munaafiq is the most dangerous thing in the life of the Muslim.

The believers will be tested throughout their lives in many ways. From the Seerah (Life/Character) of the Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam), we see that during the times when the Muslims were a minority and in a weak state, their test was in the open hostilities against them found in the accusations of lunacy and magic. There was no need at the time for the Munaafiq. When the believers were strong, however, their test was different. Their test now appeared in the form of hypocrisy – in the form of termites eating away at the strong foundations to undermine the believers whenever possible. This was indeed the case during the Madinan period of the Seerah, when the first outbreak of hypocrisy was observed.

Imagine, then, what the punishment will be for hypocrites that observe the Muslims in their weak state and maintain their hypocrisy.

Indeed, a scholar, once remarked when discussing these Aayaat that the Munaafiq is like the one who holds two swords against the Muslims. Whilst the Kaafir stands in the ranks of the opponents of Islam with his sword visible and threatening, the Munaafiq stands in the ranks of the Muslims holding a sword that he has no intention of using in support of the Muslims. Thus, the Munaafiq gives the Muslims an illusionary encouragement while holding another sword that he fully intends to use against them once the opportunity presents itself. The Munaafiq is doubly threatening and is therefore the bigger threat.

وَإِذَا لَقُوا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قَالُوا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْا إِلَى شَيَاطِينِهِمْ قَالُوا إِنَّا مَعَكُمْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِئُونَ [البقرة: 14]

“When they meet those who believe, they say: ‘We have entered Faith’; but when they are alone with their Satans, they say: ‘Indeed, we are with you; we were only mocking’.” (Al-Baqarah 2:14)

It is also within the best interest of the Muslim – and a form of purification of the Nafs – to consistently criticize oneself with Nifaaq. It is prudent to ask oneself constantly: “Are my secret habits better than my public habits? Do I behave in a certain way in public and a certain way in private?”

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَقُولُ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَبِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَمَا هُمْ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ [البقرة: 8]

“And among men there are some who say: ‘We believe in Allah and in the Last Day’, yet they are not believers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:8)

In this Aayah, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) highlights their lack of Imaan. How many of us outwardly claim that we believe in the Last Day, but when we review the catalogue of our good deeds, we find not one shred of evidence that points to that belief? If you believe in an impending catastrophe, you would take steps to avoid it. It is important for every Muslim to assess his actions with his agenda, on a daily basis.

Of course, there are different types of hypocrisy. There are those who suffer lapses of faith, but Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) forgives them and they seek their own redemption through Taubah (Repentance). Another type of Nifaaq is the inward Kaafir who acknowledges his own Kufr and plants himself in the midst of the Muslims to cause the maximum damage.

يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَمَا يَخْدَعُونَ إِلَّا أَنْفُسَهُمْ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ [البقرة: 9]

“They try to deceive Allah and those who believe, while they are not deceiving anyone except themselves, although they are unaware of it.” (Al-Baqarah 2:9)

How do they deceive themselves? It is much like the fraudster who paints the color of gold on valueless metal then proclaims his wealth in front of people until people believe and treat him like he is wealthy. He has deceived himself, because what he has is in reality valueless. Perhaps this example is particularly relevant with regards to our current affairs. The belief that wealth equates to success, whether on an individual or national level, has led to nations and individuals making decisions to live this lie, ultimately becoming their downfall in the reality of the Day of Judgment.

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has assured us that the Munaafiq has one destination: the lowest and worst rung of the Fire. As for the events happening to Ummah around the world on geo-political level, perhaps the question is now whether this can even be referred to as Nifaaq anymore. As for ourselves, self-assessment should be our daily protection against this evil. Living in this complex world, it is important to re-evaluate our intended goals consistently. Are we balancing between our pursuit of the Dunyaa (Worldly affairs) and Aakhirah (Hereafter) correctly? Are we proclaiming that our Imaan in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and the Day of Judgment is paramount whilst making sacrifices in our principles and worship under the guise of “need” to meet societal norms or workplace challenges? Do we wholeheartedly claim on our social media accounts that our favorite book is the Quraan whilst rarely reading and contemplating it? Is the Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) really our role model if we abandon his Sunnah at the first opportunity?