Friday Sermon: Munafiqun: Hypocrites


By Babatunde Jose

When thou lookest at them, their exteriors please thee; and when they speak, thou listenest to their words. They are as (worthless as hollow) pieces of timber propped up, (unable to stand on their own). They think that every cry is against them. They are the enemies; so beware of them. The curse of Allah be on them! How are they deluded (away from the Truth)! Quran 63:4

“The Hypocrites at all times are plausible people, and so were the Hypocrites of Madinah. They present a fine exterior, they dress well; they can usually afford fine equipages; they try to win the confidence of every one, as they have no scruples in telling lies, and apparently expressing agreement with everyone. Their words are fair-spoken, and as truth does not check their tongues, their flattery and deception know no bounds. But all this is on the outside. As they have no sincerity, nothing that they say or do is worth anything.” Abdullah Yussuf Ali.

The above Quranic verse and the commentary, fittingly describe our political class and leadership. In their character and attitudes, they exude all the description of hypocrites; which could be defined as the contrivance of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, while concealing real character or inclinations, especially with respect to religious, political and moral beliefs; hence in a general sense, hypocrisy may involve dissimulation, dishonesty, pretence, deception, opaque and transparent sham. It could also be described as the practice of engaging in the same behaviour or activity for which one criticizes another. In moral psychology, it is the failure to follow one’s own expressed moral rules and principles or precepts. “Other kinds of hypocritical deception include claims to knowledge that one lacks, claims to a consistency that one cannot sustain, claims to a loyalty that one does not possess, claims to an identity that one does not hold.” British political philosopher David Runciman. Michael Gerson says that political hypocrisy is “the conscious use of a mask to fool the public and gain political benefit.” Hypocrisy has been a subject of folk wisdom and wisdom literature from the beginnings of human history.

In Islam, the Munafiqun is used to describe such people. And Allah does not love them. A whole chapter is devoted to hypocrites in the Holy Quran; Chapter 63, hence the importance of the concept. Three forms of hypocrisy are cited in the Quran:

·        Hypocrisy against Allah regarding actual faith. (Q2:8) and (Q2:14)

·        Hypocrisy with Allah regarding the necessities of faith: As an example, a person may believe in God, Day of Judgment, Accounting, scales of deeds and Hellfire but he does not fear them at all or prevent him from committing sins. Yet he claims, “I fear Allah.

·        Hypocrisy with others: is that a person is double-faced and double-tongued. He praises one person in his presence but behind his back he denounces him and tries to cause pain and harm him.

There is no doubt our political class fall into all the three groups; as they are godless and make only pretence to piety; they do not believe in the Day of Judgement, or else they would not be acting with impunity as they now do, stealing right left and centre without a sense of remorse. As far as they are concerned, there might be no heaven nor a day of reckoning. But, most important of all, they are double faced like Janus.

According to the Quran, these Munafiqun are enemies of Islam. The Quran has many ayat (verses) discussing Munafiqun, referring to them as more dangerous than the worst non-Muslim enemies of Islam. There are a total of 45 signs of a munafiq.

The Prophet said; “A hypocrite is like a sheep confused between two herds.”

Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie. Whenever he promises, he always breaks it (his promise). If you trust him, he proves to be dishonest. (If you keep something as a trust with him, he will not return it.)”— Sahih al-Bukhari

Allah has promised the hypocrites; men and women, and the disbelievers, the Fire of Hell, therein shall they abide. It will suffice them. Allah has cursed them and for them is the lasting torment. Quran 9:68

Many belief systems condemn hypocrisy. In some translations of the Book of Job, the Hebrew word chaneph is rendered as “hypocrite”, though it usually means “godless” or “profane”. In the Christian Bible, Jesus condemns the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites in the passage known as the Woes of the Pharisees. In the Buddhist text Dhammapada, Gautama Buddha condemns a man who takes the appearance of an ascetic but is full of passions within.

In Islam, hypocrisy is a serious sickness. The Qur’an rails against those who claim to be believers and peacemakers, thinking they are fooling God and others, but only fool themselves:

“The Hypocrites, men and women, (have an understanding) with each other: They enjoin evil, and forbid what is just, and are close with their hands. They have forgotten God; so He hath forgotten them. Verily the Hypocrites are rebellious and perverse.  (Quran, 9:67)” 

A Hypocrite is a person who passes himself off as a believer although he does not truly have faith. In this respect, Hypocrisy is a forgery of faith.  A Hypocrite is like a chameleon; he changes his color in accordance with the place he is in. A hypocrite’s direction is determined by wind, whatever side the wind blows violently, he turns himself into that direction. A motive of self-interest prevails over his conception of religion and faith.
In respect of doing harm, a hypocrite is like a tiny white stone in a rice sack.

These hypocrites who have led us to where we are today in this country are in for a shocker, because the Quran says they have been cursed and a great punishment awaits them:

“And that He may punish the Hypocrites, men and women . . . On them is a round of Evil: the Wrath of God is on them: He has cursed them and got Hell ready for them: and evil is it for a destination.  (Quran, 48:6)

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend.

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