Whereas a Hypocrite …
Hypocrisy is hidden, and a hypocrite is one who looks beautiful from the outside, but is the opposite internally. While the Mu’min loves being unseen by the people, the hypocrite is constantly striving to appear busy with goodness before the public, and loves being in the spotlight. The hypocrite, if you see him, makes you forget Allah. If he talks, he leads you away from Allah. If you want or need him you will not find him.
He loves publicity and popularity and actively seeks it. Sadly, today we love to be engaged with people, and so much of these activities work against us.
The early scholars summarized that seven will destroy seven, after which no good deed will benefit you. This is when one:
• Does good deed with fear, but not carefully.
• Does good deeds with hope, but without steadfastness.
• Does good deeds with niyah (intention) but does not follow with a purpose
• Does good deeds and du'a, but with no action
• Does istighfar (ask for forgiveness) without feeling repentant
• Shows a different side – the seen is different from the unseen. He decorates himself outside but not on the inside.
• Does a lot of good deeds, but with no sincerity or ikhlas.
These dangerous tendencies can lead us towards hypocrisy, and we should be alert to avoid the above actions.
Further, the signs of the hypocrite are that, when he is alone, he becomes lazy. When he is with people, he has the strength to be energetic and to do good, yet this mask of diligence and goodness stripped off when he is in his own company. He revels in praise and fame, but is unable to handle it if some weakness is pointed out to him, for he does not have the sincerity to be introspective and humble.
Hypocrisy is a treacherous trait for the soul. According to Umar RA, the Criterion of the Ummah, when one shows quality that he does not have, or pretends to have traits which he does not own, Allah will give him calamity after calamity for his hypocrisy, ultimately destroying him.
What Do I Need to Do?
We were all born with our own individual flaws and weaknesses, including elements of hypocrisy. The only way of eradicating all these characteristics, and to work towards becoming a Muslim, a Mu’min or Mushin is to embark on a journey of iman, initiated by the constant remembrance of Allah. A Mu’min or a Muslim is conscious that every action and word leads him to either jannah or jahannam. Every thought, talk and deed is regulated by the consciousness of Allah.
Today, many of us have lost the appreciation of zikrullah, because we have lost our value of journey of iman. We keep such a close eye on our lives in dunia and its short term priorities that we have devalued jannah and jahannam. We have been influenced and guided by our base desires, shayateen and the environment to the extent that we have lost track of who we are. We have allowed our hearts to become cheapened and minds to be corroded in every aspect by materialistic pursuits, and we now pay the price for it, which is the corruption of our path of Islam.
In SurahAs-Zukhruf, verse 36, it is said that:
And whosoever turns away blindly from the remembrance of the Most Gracious (Allah) (i.e. this Qur'an and worship of Allah), We will appoint for him Shaitan (Satan devil) to be a Qarin (an intimate companion) to him.
This verse emphasises the dangers of swinging away from the remembrance of Allah, for if that happens, you are just a toy in the manipulative hands of Shaitan. How can you be with the shayateen and acquire the qualities of Mushin, Mu’min or Muslim? Shaitan will decorate your mistakes and your actions, making you unable to see your flaws, persuading you to love yourself and your behaviour, and leading you to be arrogant over others. These decorations will increase until you make mistakes and no longer have the ability to recognise them. From this, you will not even be able to make tawbah because you are unable todecipher your own wrongdoing.
The remedy for all this is from Allah. In Surat Al-Baqarah 152, Allah says "Remember Me, and I will remember you." Of this, one scholar commented that this means:
"O my servant, remember Me by serving Me, I remember you through My ni'mah (bounty) to you. Remember Me with Oneness, I will remember you with complete support. Remember Me with thanks and I will remember you with increasing. Remember Me with love, I will remember you with closeness. Remember Me with fear, I will remember you and save you and guard you. Remember Me with hope, I will remember you by giving you what you want and more."
If you want to start your journey of iman, start by developing four basic qualities and habits. First, busy your tongue with the remembrance of Allah. Second, hold your heart tight towards Allah SWT and check your action all the time while doing so. Third, do the opposite of what your nafs dictates and do not allow your nafs to enslave you. Finally, purify your niyyah or intention all the time. If you do so, then the heart will be purified and the body and action will be purified.
This struggle is very tough, but you have to go through it until you master your nafs.