SATAN'S FACTION: THE HYPOCRITES
The Arabic word munafiq refers to a person who is "two-faced, always
trying to find an easy way out of commitments, either spiritual or social,
by adapting to a course of action which will bring him or her an advantage."
Although they are not believers, hypocrites are people who nevertheless
strive to give the impression that they are, in order to take advantage
of the believers' strength and seek shelter among them.
When these people, who have a sickness in their hearts, fail to find
what they had hoped, or when some conflict or difficulty afflicts the
believers, they depart immediately from them, only then showing what they
had hidden in their hearts. Whether during or after their departure from
the believers, they then strive to harm them and to impede the unity among
them. Moreover, to this end, they will even cooperate with unbelievers.
The character and behavior of the hypocrites is described in some detail
in several verses of the Qur'an, believers being warned repeatedly against
such people. One of the points these verses emphasize particularly is
the nearness between the hypocrites and Satan. Therefore, many features
of Satan, including his mysterious thought patterns, are also manifested
in the hypocrites. A verse of the Qur'an refers to the way the hypocrites
are completely within the fold of Satan and join his legions:
Satan has gained mastery over them and made them forget the remembrance
of Allah. Such people are the party of Satan. No indeed! It is the party
of Satan who are the losers. (Surat al-Mujadala, 19)
It is for this reason that, when we look at Satan's character, we can
also recognize several features also common to the hypocrites. Like Satan,
the hypocrites utter inconsistent and contradictory statements, as well
as behave strangely. The most significant feature they share in common
is a superiority-complex. As we know, Satan refused to prostrate himself
before the Prophet Adam (as), because of his errant tendency to regard
himself as superior. This insolence of his is referred to in Surah Sad:
So the angels prostrated, all of them together. Except for Iblis who
was arrogant and was one of the unbelievers. He said, "Iblis, what prevented
you prostrating to what I created with My own Hands? Were you overcome
by arrogance or are you one of the exalted?" He [Satan] said, "I am better
than him. You created me from fire but You created him from clay." (Surah
This arrogance is also referred to in other verses. For instance, from
Satan's response we can discern that he did not think it fitting for him
to prostrate himself before the Prophet Adam (as) (Surat al-Isra´, 61).
The words, "… I will not prostrate to a human being
whom You have created out of dried clay formed from fetid black mud..."
(Surat al-Hijr, 33), which are repeated in another verse, demonstrate
this arrogance of Satan's even more clearly.
This response was the fruit of Satan's inexplicable form of logic. Interestingly
enough, careful examination of his statements, as referred to in these
verses, shows that he was certain of Allah's existence, and that He is
his Creator. He fears Allah, but, out pride, refuses to obey him.
As has already been made clear, despite being cognizant of these truths,
his desire for self-aggrandizement, that is, the way he regarded himself
superior to man on the basis of a mere difference in physical make-up,
his envy of the status afforded to man, his unwillingness to prostrate
himself before him, because of that deviance, and thus, his opposition
to the command of Allah, all place him in the worst ranks of created entities.
His response is impudent and a show of gross ingratitude. That same false
logic can be discerned in the hypocrites. Like Satan, the hypocrites regard
themselves to be "superior," "different," and "chosen." For example, when
the hypocrites, according to the 13th verse of Surat al-Baqara, were called
upon to have faith as other people had, they described the believers as
"fools," and refused to be ranked among them. The verse in question reads:
When they are told, "Believe in the way that the people believe," they
say, "What! Are we to believe in the way that fools believe?" No indeed!
They are the fools, but they do not know it. (Surat al-Baqara, 13)
The hypocrites seek to ease their consciences in this manner because
they have no faith. Maintaining, or more correctly, trying to convince
themselves, that they are superior while believers are inferior, they
refuse to follow the path taken by believers. The real reason why they
described the believers as "fools" was their desire not to believe as
they had, in other words, not to follow the messenger.
The fact is, though, that in the Hereafter superiority will belong only
to Allah, His Prophet (saas), and the believers. This certainty is revealed
in the Qur'an as follows:
They say, "If we return to Madina, the mightier will drive out the inferior."
But all might belongs to Allah and to His Messenger and the believers.
But the hypocrites do not know this. (Surat al-Munafiqun, 8)
They Oppose the Messenger
Obedience to the prophets of Allah is one of the foremost stipulations
demanded in the Qur'an. Among the worst traits of the hypocrites is their
violation of this provision, and their rebellion against the messengers.
Because, rebellion against the messenger is rebellion against Allah.
Iblis also opposed Allah by refusing to prostrate himself before the
Prophet Adam (as)-or to accept his superior rank. Both the hypocrites
and Satan are to be punished because they refuse to cooperate with another
being they had been commanded by Allah to obey.
Actually, the hypocrites are unable to even comprehend that obedience
to the messenger is obedience to Allah (Surat an-Nisa´, 80). The envy
they hide prevents them from following another human being. The fact is,
however, that obedience to the messenger is one of the most insisted upon
commandments in the Qur'an. Because, though the messenger is a human being,
he has been specifically chosen to communicate the message of Allah's
true religion. The responsibility of others towards him is unquestioning
obedience. This Allah has revealed in the following manner:
We sent no Messenger except to be obeyed by Allah's permission. If only
when they wronged themselves they had come to you and asked Allah's forgiveness
and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them they would have found
Allah Ever-Returning, Most Merciful. (Surat an-Nisa´, 64)
It is revealed in the subsequent verse that those who found resistance
within themselves to what the messenger had decided cannot be regarded
as having faith:
No, by your Lord, they are not believers until they make you their judge
in the disputes that break out between them, and then find no resistance
within themselves to what you decide and submit themselves completely.
(Surat an-Nisa´, 65)
We have already referred to a similarity that exists between the manner
of rebellion of Satan and the hypocrites. Likewise, there is a similarity
between the sincere believers and angels. Because, when the angels received
the command to prostrate themselves before the Prophet Adam (as), they
did so in full submission. This obedience on the part of the angels, in
contradistinction to the disobedience of Satan, is referred to here in
We said to the angels, "Prostrate to Adam!" and they prostrated, with
the exception of Iblis. He refused and was arrogant and was one of the
disbelievers. (Surat al-Baqara, 34)
Similarly, true believers obey the messenger of Allah unquestioningly.
The words of believers in this regard are reported in Surat al-Baqara:
… "We do not differentiate between any of His Messengers." And they say,
"We hear and we obey." (Surat al-Baqara, 285)
Their Irrational Rebellion
We have already seen how Satan was surprisingly illogical when he chose
to rebel. Recognizing the existence and might of Allah, though still rebelling
against Him is, as we have already made clear, a most irrational act.
However, this inexplicable reasoning is not peculiar to Satan alone.
Satan's legions, the hypocrites, also engage in behavior that is inexplicable.
As Satan rebelled knowingly, had the impudence to question the command
of Allah, refused to beg forgiveness, persisted in his sin despite knowing
it to be an offence, thinking nevertheless he had suffered an injustice,
regarding himself as being in the right, seeking to mislead others into
the same destitution… in these the hypocrites follow Satan in every regard:
They are like Satan when he says to a human being, "Disbelieve," and
then when he disbelieves, says, "I wash my hands of you. Truly I fear
Allah, the Lord of all the worlds." (Surat al-Hashr, 16)
The hypocrites possess the same knowledge as Satan. Satan knows of the
might of Allah, and of Paradise and Hell. Like Satan, the hypocrites are
also aware of Allah's existence, His book, His commandments, and even
His messenger. There may even be those among the hypocrites who have memorized
the Qur'an by heart. Nevertheless, all fall into the worst rank among
all created beings in opposing the will of Allah. Indeed, the punishment
they will eventually receive is even worse, for having turned away knowingly
from the true path.
Another extraordinary perversion found in the hypocrites is that, after
recognizing Allah and His messenger, they then accuse them of deception.
When the hypocrites, as described in Surat al-Ahzab, encountered the enemy,
it was this sort of deviance that could be discerned among them. It must
also not be forgotten that, in all other circumstances, these people behave
like believers, appear on the surface to be obeying the messenger along
with the other believers, and are able to conceal the sickness in their
hearts, though only as long as there is opportunity to excite their base
desires. As has been revealed in a verse of the Qur'an, during the period
of the Prophet (saas), in the event of war, the wickedness of the hypocrites
then became evident:
When the hypocrites and people with sickness in their hearts said, "What
Allah and His Messenger promised us was mere delusion." (Surat al-Ahzab,
Satan's obstinacy in his rebellion, present despite his knowledge of
the existence of Allah, can also be discovered in other actions of the
hypocrites. For example, there were hypocrites who, in addition to accepting
the messenger of Allah, also witnessed Allah's revelation to him. These
hypocrites were certain of the truth of that revelation. Indeed, so certain
of that truth were they, that they feared that the messenger would be
informed of the sickness in their hearts, again by means of revelation:
The hypocrites are afraid that a sura may be sent down about them, informing
them of what is in their hearts. Say: "Go on mocking! Allah will expose
everything you are afraid of." (Surat at-Tawba, 64)
Another example of the sickness of the hypocrites is given in Surat al-Ma´ida.
The hypocrites among the people of the Prophet Musa (as) were so corrupt
as to tell him "… So you and your Lord go and fight.
We will stay sitting here..." (Surat al-Ma´ida, 24) when they received
the command to go to war. Although they recognized Allah and His Prophet
(saas), these people, too, shamelessly rebelled against His commandments.
Similarly, another group of hypocrites, from the time of our Prophet (saas),
are referred to as having been terrified by and resisting the call to
wage holy war against the unbelievers:
… Then when fighting is prescribed for them, a group of them fear people
as Allah should be feared, or even more than that. They say, "Our Lord,
why have you prescribed fighting for us? If only You would give us just
a little more time!" Say, "The enjoyment of this world is very brief.
The Hereafter is better for those who guard against evil. You will not
be wronged by so much as the smallest speck." (Surat an-Nisa´, 77)
Clearly, their reactions were improper, in questioning the commandments
The truly significant point here though is, that the hypocrites, who
did not wish to go to war alongside the Prophet (saas), did not deny the
existence of Allah, neither were some opposed to waging war in His cause.
Outwardly, one would presume that all they wanted was for the war to be
postponed. For example, in saying "… Do not go out
to fight in the heat…" (Surat at-Tawba, 81) they might appear to
want to wage war in more suitable circumstances. That wish, however, which
would otherwise appear perfectly reasonable, actually revealed the sickness
they concealed in their hearts. Allah revealed His judgment on these people:
… "The Fire of Hell is much hotter, if they only understood." (Surat
These may be able to gain adherents. Yet, no matter how many supporters
they attract through their false-pretexts, they only convince others like
themselves, who also harbor a sickness in their hearts. This group, which
opposed the command of Allah's Prophet (saas), were mired in confusion.
Because, irrespective of conditions, the commands of His Prophet (saas)
were to be obeyed.
Another group of hypocrites, also during the time of our Prophet (saas),
was those who claimed their homes were not secure, as an excuse for not
going to war:
And a group of them said, "People of Yathrib, Your position is untenable
so return!" some of them asked the Prophet to excuse them, saying, "Our
houses are exposed," when they were not exposed; it was merely that they
wanted to run away. (Surat al-Ahzab, 13)
One who has sincerely submitted himself to Allah will certainly not seek
an excuse by which to not join in striving in the way of Allah. Only one
who has not fully submitted to Allah, and has not fully comprehended His
might, will seek such a discharge. The reluctance displayed by the hypocrites
in the time of our Prophet (saas), when the call to war was made, clearly
demonstrated the cunning effects of Iblis upon their hearts.
They Deceive Themselves
Another action impossible to understand from among the hypocrites, who
are Satan's minions, is their tendency to imagine they have deceived Allah.
This self-delusion of theirs is described as follows in the Qur'an:
They think they deceive Allah and those who believe. They deceive no
one but themselves but they are not aware of it. (Surat al-Baqara, 9)
Here we encounter a rather astonishing truth. It is hugely irrational
for one to imagine he has deceived Allah, He Who created him. Because,
Allah is He Who knows "what the heart contains" (Surah Fatir, 38) and
"your secrets and what is even more concealed" (Surah Ta Ha, 7). This
sort of thinking on the part of the hypocrites, though quite inexplicable,
is nothing but self-deception.
Hypocrites often claim to have fear of Allah. Yet, none among them exhibits
harboring such fear in their actions. This is yet another feature which
hypocrites share with Satan. Despite declaring that he fears Allah, Satan
nevertheless commits terrible crimes, such as encouraging people to rebel.
Instead of begging for Allah's forgiveness, he seeks to turn people from
His path. Here is a further similarity he shares with the hypocrites:
having no fear of Allah, nor showing that fear in their behavior, despite
being aware of Allah's might.
This irrational lack of fear at times prompts the hypocrites to try to
deceive Allah. The case of the mindset of the hypocrites referred to in
Surat at-Tawba is one instance of this. Under the pretense of giving to
charity and spending of their wealth in His cause, it is increase in property
which they seek from Allah. When Allah increases their wealth, they become
miserly, thus failing in their promise to Him.
Among them there were some who made an agreement with Allah: "If He gives
us of His bounty we will definitely give charity and be among the righteous."
But when He does give them of His bounty they are tight-fisted with it
and turn away. (Surat at-Tawba, 75-76)
They imagine they have deceived Allah. The fact is, however, that, in
return for their misdeeds, Allah will punish severely those who seek to
sow discord by making them victims themselves of that which they seek
to foment. These people, while pursuing the fulfillment of their own base
desires, are unaware that they are jeopardizing the life they will live
in eternity, being like other hypocrites, in merely deceiving themselves.
Their condition is revealed in the Qur'an:
So He has punished them by putting hypocrisy in their hearts until the
day they meet Him because they failed Allah in what they promised Him
and because they lied. (Surat at-Tawba, 77)
They Form False Interpretations
The Arabic word tawil means "explanation," "interpretation." A second
meaning is a person's refusal to admit to an error out of a lack of sincerity,
and then offering unfounded excuses to justify their mendacity. Careful
consideration of the matter, though, will reveal that the first being
ever to commit such falsehood was Satan. As we already reviewed, Satan
opposed Allah's command to prostrate himself before the Prophet Adam (as).
Then, when he was warned by Allah, he utterly refused to admit to his
error, but attempted instead to portray his action as correct. In accordance
to his deviant logic, he attempted to show that he was in the right by
maintaining that fire is superior to clay.
This tendency in Satan is also to be discovered in the hypocrites. They
also engage in illogical arguments and inexplicable behavior. In order
to protect their own interests, and portray themselves as being in the
right, they pour forth Satanic type responses from the minute they open
Their efforts to defend and justify themselves are consumed with a rage.
And, by way of that sentiment, they are prone to all kinds of despicable
behavior, like lies and slander. They contrive responses completely removed
from the truth of the situation.
The constriction of the conscience of those who knowingly formulate false
interpretations is easily discerned in their faces and the words they
utter. They attempt to show themselves as being in the right by making
use of unsound and ludicrous logic. Ultimately, no part of their utterances
are valid. And, by the will of Allah, these will be identified by sincere
believers for what they truly are.
The insincerity of the hypocrites is referred to in several verses of
the Qur'an. The hypocrites at the time of our Prophet (saas), who had
claimed in time of war that their houses were exposed (Surat al-Ahzab,
13), who cited the condition of the weather as an excuse (Surat at-Tawba,
81), who wanted to postpone the war (Surat an-Nisa´, 77), and who said
they would have joined in the expedition if they had been sufficiently
prepared (Surat at-Tawba, 42), are just a few of the examples mentioned.
No matter what the excuses, however, those who avoid embarking on the
path of Allah have no faith in their hearts. Allah reveals this fact in
the Qur'an as follows:
Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day do not ask you to excuse
them from striving with their wealth and themselves. Allah knows the people
who guard against evil. Only those who do not believe in Allah and the
Last Day ask you to excuse them. Their hearts are full of doubt and in
their doubt they waver to and fro. (Surat at-Tawba, 44-45)
The situation mentioned in this verse is yet another indication of the
manner in which the hypocrites are deficient in their understanding. Because,
one who formulates false interpretations of the religion only deceives
himself and others, even though he seeks through various methods to portray
himself as being in the right. In truth, however, they can never deceive
Allah, Who knows what the heart contains (Surat al-Ma´ida, 7). Allah revealed
the following on that subject:
Do you not see those who claim to be purified? No, Allah
purifies whoever He wills. They will not be wronged by so much as the
smallest speck. (Surat an-Nisa´, 49)
They Imagine Themselves to Have Suffered an Injustice
The reason why Satan refused to prostrate himself before the Prophet
Adam (as) is that he thinks it an injustice done to him. Hypocrites offer
the same claim. It is a show of exceeding ingratitude to suppose what
they have of Allah, their Creator, Who has sent His messenger to lead
them to the true path. This condition of theirs is revealed in Surat an-Nur:
Is there a sickness in their hearts or do they have misgivings or do
they fear that Allah and His Messenger will be unjust to them? No, it
is simply that they are wrongdoers. (Surat an-Nur, 50)
They Suffer Physically
Satan inflicts severe physical harm on the hypocrites. Because they are
psychologically imbalanced, they are easily demoralized. The resulting
symptoms can been seen in their eye, giving them the appearance of suffering
from some sort of mental illness.
Intense over-excitement, or fear, anxiety and restlessness are all conflicting
feelings which then show themselves in their faces and physical selves.
They will often squint, their mouths may be dry, and their cheek or lips
twitch uncontrollably. Heightened wear of their skin tissue gives them
an unhealthy appearance. Their mental state, resulting from the corruptive
suggestions insinuated to them by Satan, weakens their bodies' immune
system. The result is feeble and weary body. Their faces are sallow and
unhealthy. When sometimes, they are miserable and depressed, at other
times they are out of control and practically insane with exuberance.
Their facial expressions vary significantly. Some wear a sly smile, while
others may appear neurotic. Each is more repulsive and unpleasant than
the last. Combining their distorted facial expressions with their bodily
dysfunction, they can easily be recognized. This is indicated in the Qur'an:
If We wished, We would show them to you and you would know them by their
mark and know them by their ambivalent speech. Allah knows your actions.
(Surah Muhammad, 30)
They Believe They Are on the True Path
In addition to their corrupt thinking, as well as doubts and unsound
logic, the hypocrites share still another characteristic in common, being
again an incomprehensible self-delusion. Hypocrites actually believe themselves
to be on the true path.
The reason why hypocrites believe this of themselves is revealed in the
Qur'an. Hypocrites, in actuality, are under the sway of Satan, having
become his friends. One so close to Satan as to be his friend will, evidently,
behave much under his influence. So effective is this influence that it
makes hypocrites falsely believe that they are on the true path. This
Allah has revealed in the Qur'an:
If someone shuts his eyes to the remembrance of the All-Merciful, We
assign him a Satan who becomes his bosom friend. They debar them from
the path, yet they still think they are guided. (Surat az-Zukhruf, 36-37)
One group He guided; but another group got the misguidance they deserved.
They took the satans as friends instead of Allah and thought that they
were guided. (Surat al-A`raf, 30)
As we may observe from these verses, no hypocrite will ever accept that
he has committed a mistake. On the contrary, he will claim that he has
acted in the name of Allah and His religion, to the point of even swearing
to it by Allah. They are essentially not cognizant of their condition.
Their reasoning powers are so confounded that, when they will be seized
to be cast into to Hell on the Day of Judgment, they will again swear
by Allah in defense of themselves:
On the Day Allah raises up all of them together they will swear to Him
just as they have sworn to you and imagine they have something to stand
upon. No indeed! It is they who are the liars. (Surat al-Mujadala, 18)
Hypocrites are unaware that Satan deceived them by making use of Allah's
name. They will only realize this truth in the Hereafter. The exchange
that which will take place between the believers and the hypocrites on
the Day of Judgment has been revealed in the Qur'an:
That Day the men and women of the hypocrites will say to those who believe,
"Wait for us so that we can borrow some of your light." They will be told,
"Go back and look for light!" And a wall will be erected between them
with a gate in it, on the inside of which there will be mercy but before
whose exterior lies the punishment.
They [the hypocrites] will call out to them [the believers], "Were we
not with you?" They will reply, "Indeed you were. But you made trouble
for yourselves and hung back and doubted and false hopes deluded you until
Allah's command arrived. The Deluder deluded you about Allah." (Surat