They Seek to Harm Believers and to Create Divisions
When those who disbelieve were plotting against you to imprison you or kill you or expel you: they were plotting and Allah was plotting, but Allah is the Best of Plotters.
Harboring a subconscious hatred for believers, hypocrites seek to incite strife and division among believers in order to do them harm. As weâ€™ve already made clear, their true aim is to divide believers, imagining that in this way, their community will be weakened and can be prevented from living by religious moral values.
Unity among believers of course constitutes a major support and strength for them. Yet believers draw their real strength from Allah. With the unity among them, believers fulfill the various responsibilities imposed on them, remember Allah, and wage a common struggle against deniers. The hypocritical mindset, which is unable to comprehend that believers draw their true strength from Allah, imagines that it can deal them a heavy blow by causing rifts between believers. Thus emerges one of the consequences of their perspective, in that they expend great energy on an endeavor that they regard as very important but which is actually fruitless and hollow. In their own view, this is the most effective way of weakening such a strong, unified community. After causing rifts among them, they continue their efforts to provoke strife against believers.
As already seen, hypocrites employ cunning methods to try to create such discord among believers. They never create strife by saying, â€œWe will cause rifts to emerge among you.â€ On the contrary, they maintain that they are trustworthy people who seek to spread truth on Earth. With this cunning behavior, they seek to inspire trust and to create strife without making it apparent. They see this as a major opportunity, but as always, their endeavors come to nothing:
They will not harm you except with abusive words. . . .
Ali â€˜Imran: 111
Their Beliefs Regarding the Hereafter, and Their Preference of This World Over It
For the believer, the goal of all his endeavors is the life of the Hereafter. Therefore, all the preparations in this world are in order to attain the life of the Hereafter in the best possible manner. When the subject is the Hereafter, having faith with a sure and certain knowledge becomes especially important. That is because people are reluctant to live for something in which they do not fully believe, which in their view seems illusory. In any case, the small number of believers and the presence of hypocrites is the result of this logic. Although what awaits them is a sure and certain fact, most people still live in constant doubt, despite the detailed accounts in the verses of the Qurâ€™an and the countless proofs that they themselves witness. The reason for their doubts is that because of their earthly desires, they are reluctant to reflect on the truth about the Hereafter that they read in the verses of the Qurâ€™an. Anyone who definitively believes in the Hereafter has understood that this world is of no great worth in comparison to the Hereafter, and will have turned his back on its deceptive baubles. For hypocrites, on the other hand, the world is their most valuable goal, and for that reason, they blind themselves to the Hereafter. Their situation is described in these terms in verses:
No, their knowledge stops short of the Hereafter. In fact they have doubts about it. In fact they are blind to it.
The main reason why they harbor doubts about the Hereafter is the weakness of their faith and their worldly desires. Since they are unwilling to think about the Hereafter, they are unable to comprehend how imminent it is. As is revealed in the Qurâ€™an in the verse, â€œThey did not expect to have a reckoningâ€ (Surat an-Nabaâ€™: 27), being called to account is something they never expect. The hypocrisy that dominates their desires manifests itself in this vitally important subject.
The reason, of course, is not unawareness of the Hereafter. They are merely unwilling to call to mind the Day of Judgment, the Hereafter and Hell. Not reflecting on these great truths, they are knowingly taken in by the deceptive nature of this world. By not thinking, they regard themselves as advantaged; and though they regard themselves as profiting from this, they are actually losing eternal Paradise.
They are Passionately Devoted to the Life of this World
The life of this world is nothing but a game and a diversion. The abode of the Hereafterâ€”that is truly Life, if they only knew.
According to what Allah reveals to mankind in the Qurâ€™an, the world has been created as only a temporary home. Our true home is that of the Hereafter, which is where our true lives will be lived. Moreover, those true lives will not be restricted to a mere 60 or 70 years, and people will remain there forever.
This is a great truth which everyone must bear in mind; and in this world, people must prepare for the true home to which they will go after death. Yet most people are unaware of this. To put it more accurately, they have no wish to think about it. They wish to live out their lives in this world, and avoid any ideas that might impinge on that. The existence of the Hereafter deals a heavy blow to their devotion to their worldly concerns. Since they are unwilling to accept this, they prefer to keep the idea as far away as possible. They disregard the information and spend their entire lives avoiding it. This is one way of not doing what they should.
The reason why they are so devoted to the life of this world is their failure to consider death. That is why, whenever the subject of death is brought up, they immediately try to change the subject: Because death will take away all they possessâ€”their bodies, their goods, their money, their beauty, rank and station.
The fact remains, though, that no matter how they may seek to avoid it, death is a great reality. Every human being is born because Allah so wishes it, lives a destiny determined by Him and dies after an allotted period of time, in line with the destiny He has set out. Every rational human being must consider this with an open mind and at that point, fulfill the responsibility befalling him. That responsibility consists of not devoting oneself to the short, transitory life of this world but of living according to the bounds Allah has set.
But to the hardened hearts of hypocrites, life seems very bright and exciting, because the life of this world has been adorned with many baubles, as a requirement of the testing of human beings. By this, the deniers are deceived. People of faith, on the other hand, understand that these adornments are deceptive and that the life of this world will be over and done with in the blink of an eye.
Hypocrites avoid this reality. So strong is their devotion to this world that they ignore the reality of the Hereafter, even though they are very well aware of it. These people read the Qurâ€™an, learn the true nature of events, and are of course familiar with the true nature of this world. Nonetheless, they never renounce it because, as revealed in the verse, they â€œprefer the life of this world to the Hereafter . . . .â€ (Surah Ibrahim: 3).
Love of the world has literally bewitched them and left them unable to accept the truth. Therefore, hypocrites engage in worldly calculations, as if they were never going to die. They make endless plans, and the cunning schemes they draw up against Muslims also lie within the framework of these worldly calculations. But being taken in by the adornments of the life of this world and forgetting about the Hereafter will in fact benefit them nothing. On the contrary, a worldly life full of difficulties, woes, humiliation and terrified suffering awaits them.
In their own minds, they have very good reasons for not reflecting on such exceedingly important matters as death, judgment, the Hereafter, Paradise and Hell. The main reason, however, is their hypocrisy. For them, life seems so long as never to come to an end, whereas they imagine that in the Hereafter, if they go there at all, they will merit the very best. The story of the vineyard owner in the Qurâ€™an is an excellent example of this:
He entered his garden and wronged himself by saying, â€œI do not think that this will ever end. I do not think the Hour will ever come. But if I should be sent back to my Lord, I will definitely get something better in return.â€
The main barriers that prevent one from living by religious moral values, turning to Allah alone and living in the light of His wishes in order to attain His Paradise are his earthly desiresâ€”in other words, his passions. However, the common feature of all passions is that they distance people from Allah and His path. The important point is that sooner or later, worldly passions will leave them high and dry. When death comes, none of the values they so overvalued will prove of any use. They will leave behind everything they valued in this world and go alone into the presence of Allah.