Description of a Hypocrite

Hypocrisy is a serious sickness and a great crime. It means making an outward display of Islam whilst inwardly concealing kufr. Hypocrisy is more dangerous than kufr (disbelief) and the punishment for it is more severe, because it is kufr mixed with Islam and its harmful effects are greater.

The sin of hypocrisy is described in various hadith. The imam mentioned a couple in todays reminder. The first one is:

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie; and whenever he promises, he breaks his promise; and whenever he is entrusted, he betrays (proves to be dishonest)”.

The second one mentioned said:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whoever has the following four (characteristics) will be a pure hypocrite and whoever has one of the following four characteristics will have one characteristic of hypocrisy unless and until he gives it up.

  1. Whenever he is entrusted, he betrays.
  2. Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie.
  3. Whenever he makes a covenant, he proves treacherous.
  4. Whenever he quarrels, he behaves in a very imprudent, evil and insulting manner.”

Dear brothers and sisters, these characteristics not only have the curse of weighing heavily against the believers good deeds but also they, in turn, cause the faith itself to become weaker.

Allah SWT mentions this in the Quran and the imam reminded us of this through the two ayats 142 and 143 of Sura Nisa.

These are translated to say:

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,

Wavering between them, [belonging] neither to the believers nor to the disbelievers. And whoever Allah leaves astray – never will you find for him a way.

Dear brothers and sisters, we conclude then with a breakdown of the 4 characteristics mentioned in the hadith with reminders on how each can be avoided.

The first was the mention of being entrusted with something and betraying that trust. The dictionary defines this as ‘to do something very bad and hurtful to someone that causes loss of respect.”

This can range from the obvious such as stealing from somebody but most of us here may think we are in the clear with this one. However, other dangers that fall into this category, as mentioned last week, are causing hurt from the tongue in what is said about one another. We live in a time and a place where gossip, backbiting and slander is seen as the norm in society.

We need to remind ourselves that if we are going behind someone’s back and speaking ill of them then this is a betrayal of that persons trust and thus we are in danger of falling into this category.

The second point is when someone speaks, he tells a lie. Dear brothers and sisters, we have had reminders in the past about this point as it is an important reminder. However, it is worth mentioning here that in the current time and place, we often convince ourselves to lie because the pressure of conforming to the norms of society means that we lie to fit in.

This is a difficult one, for example, if a friend approaches us and is wearing something new and asks our opinion. We may think that the item is inappropriate for a Muslim to be wearing but for fear of hurting their feeling or sounding uncool, we will say what they want to hear.

This is a test of our times. Our opinion may not be the popular ones in todays time and place. However, we cannot sell ourselves short in the pursuit of being popular or the same as the majority because we are at risk of hypocrisy if we do.

The third example, to prove treacherous when making a covenant is a reminder for those of us who deal in business. Unfortunately, it is a fact that when people speak of those in countries from where our heritage lies, it is normally synonymous with scams, fraud and deception.

This is a shame because Muslims ought to be the beacon of trust, honour and a promise being kept true at all times. Therefore, we need to be absolutely resolute in business here and ensure that we do not wrong anyone in business and that those who do business with Muslims do so in the confidence that they will never be short-changed in any way.

The final example was of quarrelling and the etiquettes of such an action. This is an interesting point because the hadith does not stop at quarrelling but expands on what is impermissible when doing so.

Therefore, we ought to recognize that having disagreements is part and parcel of life. However, if one is resorting to being rash, ugly or vile in their disagreement then not only have they lost the argument already but they are at risk of being labelled a hypocrite as mentioned here.

The point here is one of ego. When one engages in a quarrel, if the ego is out of control then there is no stopping the person and they will resort to whatever it takes to get the last word. However, remind yourself that in any disagreement there is an opportunity for someone, if not both, to learn, to grow and to show humbleness in accepting the opposite viewpoint as being the correct one – even if that is at a cost of a dent in their ego.

Dear brothers and sisters, hypocrisy is a damaging trait – both on it’s own and its impact on our level of faith. Let us be of the people who avoid being labelled a hypocrite by being mindful of the four definitions given towards this hazardous label.

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