Hypocrisy – the enemy from within
Surah Muhammad is a Madani surah, so it has different characteristics compared to the previous Makki surahs. Madani surahs are full of rulings – prohibition of this, permissibility of that – and they also address the new phenomenon which cropped up in Madinah, that didn’t exist in Makkah, which was hypocrisy (nifaq).
Makki surahs only mention two types of people – believers (muminoon) and disbelievers (kuffar), there was no in-between. But in Madani surahs we have a third category, the hypocrites – munafiqoon.
Munafiqoon are the enemy from within, and they are more difficult to deal with than the enemy from outside, because you know who the disbelievers are, but how do you protect yourself when you have munafiqoon in your midst? This is why Allah talks about this – and in fact we have a whole surah dedicated to this, Surat al-Munafiqoon.
The hypocrites loved to cause problems
In Madinah, the hypocrites created a lot of trouble for Rasul Allah (peace be on him) in the community. On every issue, they were there just to inflame it and cause problems. And there were two main tests for the munafiqoon: the first was spending for Allah’s sake. One of the signs of nifaq was trying to avoid spending any money.
‘If He were to ask you to spend all of your wealth, you would be miserly… Allah is Self-Sufficient, whereas you are in need of Him ’ [47:37-38]
Allah did not need them, He is free from all bonds, but He was testing them.
The peak of this was in the Battle of Tabuk, which was the last battle when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) raised funds and mobilised the troops. This is where the hypocrites revealed themselves, as they did not contribute anything. Sometimes they paid pennies, just to say they had, but in reality they were not interested in spending for Allah. And the second test was going to the battlefield itself, and the hypocrites would go and hide behind the walls to avoid all the fighting.
Allah sent a list of the hypocrites
Allah Almighty sent the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) a list with the names of the munafiqoon. Before that he had no idea who was who, until Jibreel came and told him. And he entrusted this list to only one person: not Abu Bakr, or Umar, or Uthman, but Hudayfa bin Yaman. He was the only one who had the names of that list. And from that time Rasul Allah (peace be on him) knew who the munafiqoon were.
We have munafiqoon today as well, whether that takes the form of working for our enemies or just for their own interest. But Allah says that, ‘Their deeds will be nullified.’ [47:32] and ‘The hypocrites will be in the lowest level of the Fire.’ [4:145] So let them enjoy. If they want to do this in dunya, they should be prepared for what they will face in the akhira.
Rasul Allah (peace be on him) was also given the ability to recognise the munafiqoon and see the signs on their faces. When they spoke, he could recognise that this was the talk of a munafiq. Unfortunately, we also have this, especially in some of our politicians. When they speak, you can feel the bitterness of nifaq coming through. Of course, we can’t judge 100% as the Prophet (peace be on him) could, but sometimes you can smell something fishy.
Attributes of hypocrisy
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“There are three signs of a hypocrite: when he speaks, he tells lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is entrusted, he betrays his trust.” [Agreed upon]
We ask Allah to keep us on the straight path, and to keep us away from nifaq and the attributes of nifaq. Ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Ramadan Night 17
Transcribed by Hana Khan
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