. . . Their hostility towards each other is intense. They are full of bravado in each otherâ€™s company. You consider them united, but their hearts are scattered wide. . . .
Although they take only each other as their friends and confidants, actually they do not trust each other. The reason for this is that just as they are subconsciously aware of their own two-facedness, they know that the hypocrite before them is equally two-faced. This prevents them from being true friends to one another.
Hypocrites may imagine that there is great unity among them, but never actually experience any form of warm friendship, love or brotherhood among each other. Their hearts are too unclean and hardened to be able to harbor feelings of that kind. They can talk against one another in the face of the slightest difficulty with no qualms at all, and try to ensnare one another. They are perfectly capable of discounting everyone around them for the sake of their own interests.
Their Faith in Allah
One distinguishing characteristic of hypocrites is that their faith in Allah is restricted to words. Every hypocrite claims to have faith, to fear Allah and to believe in the Hereafter and the Day of Judgment. Yet from their lifestyles and states of mind, it can be seen that these claims are not sincere.
In order to understand the state of hypocritesâ€™ faith, the following point needs to be clarified: What does â€œfaith in Allahâ€ actually mean?
When people speak of faith in Allah, they generally think that Allah initially created all things and then left human beings to their own â€œintelligence.â€ (Surely Allah is beyond that!) Yet belief in Allah is a far deeper matter than the way it is popularly conceived. Faith in Allah gives rise to various consequences. For instance, someone with faith is capable of appreciating Allahâ€™s greatness, infinite might and justice, and all His superior titles, as revealed in the verse, â€œTo Allah belong the Most Beautiful Namesâ€ (Surat al-Aâ€˜raf: 180). In addition, someone with faith in Allah will have a great fear of Him, since he has comprehended His infinite might.
However, people who do not understand true faith have a twisted belief in Allah, as stated earlier. Indeed, these ridiculous beliefs of deniers, â€œunique to themselves,â€ are revealed in these terms in verses:
If you asked them, â€œWho created the heavens and the Earth?â€ they would say, â€œAllah!â€ Say: â€œPraise be to Allah!â€ But most of them do not know.
If you ask them, â€œWho created the heavens and the Earth?â€ they will say, â€œAllah.â€ Say: â€œSo what do you think? If Allah desires harm for me, can those you call upon besides Allah remove His harm? Or if He desires mercy for me, can they withhold His mercy?â€ Say: â€œAllah is enough for me. All those who truly trust put their trust in Him.â€
As can be seen from these verses, people generally regard Allah as the Creator of the Earth and heavens. However, they are unable to appreciate Him properly, and fail to comprehend that He maintains all things under His dominion at all times, and that He is possessed of infinite might.
Hypocrites, as one group from the larger body of deniers, have just such a faith. The only thing separating them from other deniers is that their hearts are even harder. That is because they once had faith, but have now turned to denial, for which reason Allah has closed their hearts to faith:
That is because they have believed and then returned to disbelief. So their hearts have been sealed up and they cannot understand.
What becomes apparent at this point is that hypocrites have no fear of Allah. Being people who know religious moral values and who have called on all the titles, greatness and might of Allah while they were together with believers, the way that hypocrites fail to fulfill His commandments is clear proof of their lack of fear.
Hypocrites are â€œfair weatherâ€ Muslims, as the saying goes. Since their aims are to secure their own advantages and spread strifeâ€”and most important of all, since they fail to fear Allah as they oughtâ€”they reveal their true ugly faces at the slightest difficulty. Allah has informed believers just how superficial the faith of hypocrites is in these verses:
There are some people who say, â€œWe believe in Allah,â€ and then, when they suffer harm in Allahâ€™s cause, they take peopleâ€™s persecution for Allahâ€™s punishment; but if help comes from your Lord they say, â€œWe were with you.â€ Does Allah not know best what is in every personâ€™s heart? Allah knows those who believe and He knows the hypocrites.
It will be appropriate now to examine the causes and consequences of hypocritesâ€™ distant and fearless attitude towards Allah. (Surely Allah is beyond that!)
They Become Caught up in Assumptions Regarding Allah
Since hypocrites are unable to appreciate the might of Allah properly, they have a number of mistaken preconceptions about Him. As described earlier, particularly when they encounter a difficulty, they forget Allah and imagine that whatever is taking place is doing so independently of Him. (Surely Allah is beyond that!) They become caught up in a panic that no true believer in Allah ever displays. They never think that Allah has sent them this difficulty to test them, and immediately turn to rebellion.
The Qurâ€™an describes the thoughts that hypocrites harbored regarding Allah when they went to war along with His Messenger and came face to face with the danger of death or being injured:
When they came at you from above you and below you, when eyes rolled and hearts rose to the throats, and you thought unworthy thoughts about Allah, at that point the believers were tested and severely shaken. When the hypocrites and people with sickness in their hearts said, â€œWhat Allah and His Messenger promised us was mere delusion.â€
As we have seen, the moment they encountered a difficulty, they lost their faith, which they had previously claimed to be very strong, and forgot the greatness and might of Allah. This shows that they were never actually sincere in their faith and never possessed a perfected faith. No matter what circumstances or conditions someone may find himself in, it is out of the question for one with true faith in Allah to forget His might, fall a prey to unhappiness, or engage in imaginings about Him. People bound to Allah with a genuine faith know that the Creator of all things tests His servants with the good and the bad.