Nifaq, hypocrisy, is of two kinds. One is to belie the Prophet, reject any part of his teachings, hate him, refuse to follow him, rejoice at the reverses of his religion, or grieve over its victories, and so on. This is the major hypocrisy. Minor hypocrisy, on the other hand, is hypocrisy in various actions, for example, lying when one speaks, breaking the promise one makes, violating the trust one should keep, and abusing the person one quarrels with, as is mentioned in the ahadith.
Some forms of hypocrisy are very grave, and their perpetrators will be cast into the lowest depths of Hell. The hypocrisy of `Abdullah Ibn Ubayy and his colleagues belong to this category. They belied the Prophet, rejected some of his teachings, hated him, denied that he had to be followed, rejoiced when he met reverses, and felt sad when he had victories, and so on things which you can only expect from an enemy of God and His Prophet. This kind of hypocrisy was present at the time of the Prophet and continued after him; in fact, it increased and multiplied. Even though factors promoting faith were quite strong in his time, this kind of hypocrisy was also there. After him, it naturally increased and became stronger.
The Prophet knew only some of the hypocrites and not all. God has said, “Certain of the desert Arabs round about you are hypocrites, as well as among the people of Madinah. They are obstinate in hypocrisy. You know them not; We know them” (9:101). Similarly, the caliphs who succeeded him and followed in his footsteps knew some of them and did not know others. Many of those who are called Muslims are hypocrites; they are found in all sections of the population, the elite as well as the laity. They are called zindiqs, heretics who are engage in undermining Islam. Scholars differ as to whether or not their repentance – if at all they repent – should be accepted, since it is difficult to ascertain if they are sincere, for they never cease to profess Islam.
They are found mostly among the philosophers, astronomers and physicians, in that order, and least among the scribes. They are also found among the so-called Sufis and jurists (fuqaha’) as well as men of arms, rulers and common folk. However, the majority of tyhem come from the various heretical sects, particularly the Rafidah, who have among them more zindiqs and hypocrites than any other sect. This is why you see that the Khurramiyyah,416 the Batiniyyah, the Karmathians, Isma`ilis, Nusayris, and other, similar hypocritical zindiqs are Rafidah.
Many of these hypocrites in our days love the rule of the Tatars since they do not ask them to follow the Shari’ah of Islam, and allow them to do whatever they like. Others, however, dislike them because they mismanage their affairs, confiscate their properties, shed blood, and take men and women as slaves on non-religious grounds. This is certainly a kind of major hypocrisy.
Minor hypocrisy, on the other hand, is a matter of common life, for example, lying, breaking promises, violating trusts and using abusive language in disputes. The Sahihayn have recorded that the Prophet said, “A hypocrite is known by three things: he lies when he speaks, breaks the promise he makes, and violates the trust which is reposed in him.” In another version of the hadith we also have the words, “Even though he may offer salah, engage in fasting, and claim that he is a Muslim.”457 They have also recorded the hadith which `Abdullah Ibn `Amr has reported. The Prophet said, “Whoever does four things is a perfect hypocrite, and whoever does any one of them is a hypocrite to that extent unless he gives it up: telling lies, breaking promises, violating pledges and using abusive language in disputes”"‘
In this category you may also count fleeing from jihad, which is one of the known traits of the hypocrites. The Prophet has said, “Whoever dies and has not joined a jihad campaign or wished to join it dies with a sort of hypocrisy.”a59 Muslim has recorded this hadith. The (ninth) surah, Bara’ah, was revealed about the hypocrites; it was also called Al-Fadihah as it exposed the evil traits and designs of the hypocrites. Ibn `Abbas says that it is called the Exposer (Al-Fadihah) because it went on exposing one kind of hypocrite after another until people began to think that none of them would be left unexposed. Al-Miqdad Ibn Aswad’ said that this is a surah of probing (buhuth), since it probes into the hidden traits of the hypocrites. Qatadah” says that it is infuriating (muthirah) because it arouses the enmity of the hypocrites.
Surat Bara’ah was revealed on the occasion of the final campaign of the Prophet to Tabuk in the ninth year of the Hijrah. Islam had become a dominant force by that time, so God decided to expose the hypocrites and state that they were cowards, that they backed away from jihad, that they did not spend anything in His cause and only loved to hoard their money like misers. They suffered from two major evils, cowardice and niggardliness. It has also been authentically reported that the Prophet said, “The worst evil that one may suffer from is appalling niggardliness and shameless cowardice.” 2 That is why they may at times be counted as grave sins which will land you in the Fire. There is a suggestion to this effect in the verse, “Let not those who covetously withhold of the gifts which God has given them of His grace think that it is good for them. No, it will be the worse for them. Soon shall the things which they covetously withhold be tied to their necks like a twisted collar on the Day of Judgment” (3:180). And in the verse, “If any do turn his back to them on such a day – unless it be in a strategy of war or retreat to a troop (of his own) – he draws on himself the wrath of God, and his abode is Hell, an evil refuge (indeed)” (8:16).
As for their cowardice and fear, God has referred to it in these words, They swear by God that they are indeed of you, but they are not of you; they are afraid” (9:56) “When a surah of clear and categorical meaning is revealed, and fighting is mentioned therein, you will see those in whose heart is a disease looking at you with the look of one in a swoon at the approach of death; may they perish!” (47:20). And, “Those who believe in God and the Last Day ask you not for exemption from fighting with their goods and persons. And God knows well those who fear Him and do their duty. Only those ask you for exemption who believe not in God and the Last Day, and whose hearts are in doubt, so that they are tossed in their doubts to and fro” (7:45). This is a warning from God that a Believer should not ask for exemption from jihad, for only those who do not have faith ask for exemption. If this is the case, you may think of those who stay away from jihad without taking permission.
With regard to their niggardliness, God has said, “The only reasons their contributions are not accepted are that they reject God and His Messenger, that they come to prayer but have no interest in it, and that they offer contributions unwillingly” (9:54). This is the remark about those who contribute unwillingly; you may imagine what God would say about those who refuse to contribute anything. Elsewhere He has said these frightening words, “You who believe! There are indeed many among the priests and the anchorites who in falsehood devour the substance of men and hinder (them) from the way of God. And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of God. Announce unto them a most grievous penalty” (9:4).
Author: Ibn Taymiyyah
Islamic Topic: TERMINLOGY OF THE QURAN & SUNNAH
Source: Book: [Fatdwd 28:434-9] / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam”