بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم
In the name of Almighty God, the All Merciful, the Beneficent. Last week I discussed two of the "three deadly sins of Islam". These being shirk and kufr. These two are definitely the greatest sins, as they involve our faith, and what is in our heart. However the third deadly sin is also extremely dangerous but not just because of what it does to our faith, but how it affects our behavior towards our fellow man. This is of course nifaq, or "hypocrisy".
The word Hypocrisy is defined in Webster's dictionaries as: an act or a practice of feigning to be what one is not, or to feel what one does not feel; especially, the false assumption of goodness. Therefore, a hypocrite is a false pretender and dissembler to virtue or piety. In the Islamic terminology, the word Hypocrisy is a substitute for 'Nifaq'. This word Nifaq has been mentioned in the Qur'an thirty-one (31) times in different forms.
In the Qur'an, God makes one thing abundantly clear, at that is that for those who leave this world in a state of nifaq, they have been promised a place in the fiery depths of Hell. God says in the Qur'an,
God hath promised the hypocrites, men and women, and the rejecters of Faith, the fire of Hell; therein shall they dwell; sufficient is it for them: for them is the curse of God, and an enduring punishment. (9:68)
Notice that God puts the hypocrites right there on the same level with the "rejecters of faith" or the kefir, one of sins I mentioned last week. So this leaves no doubt that hypocrisy is a tremendously dangerous sin. God Almighty says in another part of the Qur'an,
When the hypocrites come to thee, they say, 'We bear witness that thou art indeed the Apostle of God.' Yea, God knoweth that thou art indeed His Apostle, and God beareth witness that the hypocrites are indeed liars. (63:1)
God says it here that the hypocrites are "indeed liars". Ask yourself now how common is it today to see Muslims lie about things? The prophet Muhammad (sws) said in an authentic hadith,
The signs of a hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies; when he gives an agreement, he does not fulfill his commitment; and when he is entrusted, he betrays the trust.
Now honestly we must look around at our Ummah, and seriously ask ourselves the question, how much of these things are we seeing now-a-days in the Muslim world? Quite a bit I would say. The prophet (sws) also said about hypocrites, quote
You will find that the worst person is double-faced; he meets one group of people with one side of his face, while another with the other side.
When we look around our world today we see a lot of this. We see this kind of behavior in markets where goods are bought and sold. We see this in the masajid when people will show up for salah (prayer) on Friday, and on Saturday night their partying it up at the clubs and so fourth. We especially see it in politics. We see these politicians who when talking to one group of people they say one thing, and when talking to another group they say another thing. I mean if the most powerful and richest amongst us Muslims, are acting in such a way that is clearly a sign of nifaq, what does that say about our Ummah. At the time of the prophet (sws) lying was considered a horrible act even by the mushrikeen (pagan Arabs) of that day. This is why it was such a huge insult when they called the prophet (sws) a liar, because at that time in Arabia, lying was considered uncouth, undignified, and cowardly. However, today, lying is so common, that in many arenas it is simply accepted as the norm. In politics it is accepted as fact that lying is just part of the game. If you go into a shop in most Muslim countries and ask how much a shirt or something like that is, it is commonly accepted that the shop owner will tell you at least three times what it's actually worth, because the expectation is that it will be negotiated, when what should happen is that the shop owner should have enough integrity to give a reasonable and accurate price from the beginning, and the one buying the product should understand what would be an acceptable price and not try to short change the shop owner either. So when these things, which are described by the prophet (sws) as signs of hypocrisy, are so common place in Muslim countries that they are accepted norms, then what does that say about the level of iman (faith) of our Ummah (people)? I'll tell you what it says. It says that we as the Ummah of Muhammad (sws) have reached a point that we are utterly failing to uphold even the most basic of Islamic principals. Why is it that many Muslims have to come to the non-Muslim western countries in order to escape economic, and cultural slavery, or even to simply be able to practice Islam freely? Why is it the non-Muslim leaders of the world who are actually "doing something" about the suffering people in Gaza, or in Kashmir, or in Nigeria, or in Somalia? And, by "doing something", I mean actually getting involved, sending food, sending supplies, taking people in, and when necessary standing up against oppressors. Why was it that it was the non-Muslim administration of the United States that eventually committed it's military to stopping the genocide in Bosnia? Where was Saudi Arabia, where was Jordan, where was Egypt? Where were the wealthy and powerful Muslim countries? Sitting on their hands, that's where. Why? Maybe because they stood to loose to much money by doing so. Maybe, they didn't want to risk being seen as radical "jihadists". Whatever their outward reason, ultimately it boils down to the fact that by all indications, and God knows best, we, the Muslim Ummah are in the midst of a disgusting, rancid, blistering plague of nifaq. A plague that dwarfs the black death of Europe, or any other historical plague.
So, I mention again that the prophet (sws) said that the primary indicators of nifaq in a persons behavior are
1. He lies when he speaks ~ We must ask ourselves if we've ever lied to anyone, even a little lie. Lying is a tremendous sin in Islam, even the smallest of lies can be deadly to one's soul and one's akhirah (afterlife). The next time someone asks you about Islam, and if they have any doubt in what your saying, just educate them that lying in our faith is absolutely forbidden and we can go to Hell for doing so.
2. He does not keep promises~ God only knows, but I'd bet that we've all broken a promise at one time or another. We must remember that this can very easily constitute nifaq if it is a common occurrence.
3. He does not take care of that with which he is entrusted~ In other words this is someone who is given something to take care of it, and he abuses that privilege. Again, this also very easily can be applied to some of the so-called "leaders" of the Muslim world, who are entrusted with the lives and liberty of the people of their country, and instead of honoring that amanah (trust) they abuse it for their own personal gain.
We need to start holding ourselves, the Muslim Ummah, accountable to ourselves and to our deen (religion). If we are in this plague of nifaq, then how can we ever hope to be successful in combating the problems we face. God Almighty says in his Qur'an,
The hypocrites, men and women, (have an understanding) with each other: They enjoin evil, and forbid what is just, and are close-fisted with their hands. They have forgotten Allah so He has forgotten them. Verily the hypocrites are rebellious and perverse.
One part of this verse really sticks out to me, They have forgotten Allah so He has forgotten them. If we, not necessarily as individuals, but as an Ummah, have forgotten God, and forgotten to put God in His proper position in life, then what do we expect to happen to our brothers and sister in Palestine, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or Somalia, or even to brothers and sisters right here in the US? The plight of the Muslims in this day in age is nothing more than a test from Him. A test that I fear, we are failing miserably. I once heard it said, if you want to know where you stand with God, then look to where God stands with you. Where are you putting God in your life? Are you brushing Him under the rug, only to be seen when you go "clean" yourself out spiritually? Are you putting Him in a convenient little drawer where you can go to him when you want but forget him when you don't. Or, are you putting Allah in His proper place, which is at the center of everything. At the center of your life, in the forefront of your mind, and at the core of your heart. Doing this is what protects us from shirk. It is what protects us from kufr, and it is what protects us from nifaq.
As a final note, everyone by now knows that we in the US have a new President, Barack Hussain Obama. I think it's important that we extend du'a for him, his family, and for his administration that Allah might firstly guide them to the siratul mustaqeem or the "straight path" of Islam. But also, that Allah, God Almighty, guide them to lead this country away from the self-destructive path that we have been on, and to once again make America represent the beacon of freedom and democracy that we profess to be. Ameen.
....And Allah Knows Best....