A Believer is not a Habitual sinner

The fact is that a believer considers Allah as All-seeing and Omnipresent all the time. He remains afraid of His chastisement and is in awe of His justice. That is why he does not commit sins in a blatant manner. He never denies divine punishment. Even if he sometimes commits a sin due to the overpowering of selfish desires, satanic instigation or vanity regarding the divine bounties, he is immediately remorseful and repents for his sin. He seeks forgiveness at once and tries to compensate for his misdeed. 

In other words, occurrence of sin is no proof of lack of belief. The proof of disbelief is failure to repent for ones sins. It is related from Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) that he said, “One who is pleased with his good deeds and remorseful of his bad deeds is a believer.” Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s.) says in Dua Abu Hamzah Thumali: “O my God! When I disobeyed I was not denying Your Lordship. And neither did I consider Your command unimportant. I did not consider ineffective Your retribution. I did not belittle Your promise of chastisement. Yet I committed a mistake. My self led me astray. My carnal desires overpowered me. My depravity helped me in this regard. The shade of the freedom that You had given me, made me careless.”

[Spending in Allah’s way is a sign of Hope in Allah]

Another form of hypocrisy with Allah is that man claims falsely to have hope in Allah, while he has no such hopes or hopes little. He says, “I repose hope in my God.” This is a lie, and its proof is that he is hesitant to spend his life and property in the way of Allah. He considers spending in the way of Allah, a loss. He does not think that Allah will recompense him in the world and the Hereafter. If he had hope in Allah he would not have hesitated to even give his life in Allah’s way.

Thus, the proof of having fear of Allah is abstinence from sins and performance of repentance. Abstinence from sins is proof that the person hopes that Allah will reward him for the same. That is why he strives to be obedient. The hard work that human beings put in for worldly affairs indicates that they expect something material in return. What all man says and writes in hope of material gains!

[False claim of Piety and Religiousness]

Another kind of hypocrisy is that man claims falsely that he is very pious and religious, while in fact his heart is not purified of the love of this world. Though he claims reliance on Allah, professes His love, patience, thankfulness and resignation to Divine will, the actual hope of his heart is reposed in wealth and property. Such a person is not considered as being thankful to Allah for His innumerable bounties. He is unhappy with Allah during difficulties and hard times. To study the details of this please refer to Mulla Naraqi's Merajus Sadat.

We should know that this type of hypocrisy is different from the one mentioned before. In the first case there is altogether no hope in Allah or very less hope. However, here even if the faith in the Hereafter is weak it is yet not such a grim situation. If a person falsely claiming piety and religiousness were to die, he shall not remain forever in divine chastisement. After suffering punishment for a certain period he would gain salvation. However, even after this he shall not be able to obtain the grades of the true believers in Paradise.

[Hypocrisy with Allah regarding the worship acts]

A person can be a hypocrite regarding different types of worship acts, for example physical or monetary, obligatory or recommended etc. Though he performs prayers, fast, Zakat, Khums, Commanding Good and Prohibiting Evil for the name of Allah but along with this he aims to prove his piety to the people. Either he completely performs these acts for show off or he does them for both Allah and the people. Such hypocrisy is also referred to as show off. The aim of such behavior is to earn fame and honor among the people. Such a person will be called by four nicknames on the Day of Judgment: Traitor, Transgressor, Disbeliever and Loss- Sufferer. Quranic verses and traditions prove that the act of this person is illegal and invalid. He would have to undergo punishment in the Hereafter, unless he repents his past misdeeds. The details of the same are given in our book Greater Sins.

[Sins that cause Hypocrisy]

There are some sins that destroy belief (Iman) and create hypocrisy in the heart. And one who dies without belief can never obtain salvation. One of such sins is show-off. Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, “One who cheats Allah is himself ‘fooled’ by Allah and He destroys his belief.”[110] Similarly murder, omitting prayer, not paying Zakat, not performing Hajj, false allegations and other similar sins destroy belief. Some of them are mentioned in traditions. One such sin is to be pleased at the tragedies that befell the chief of the Martyrs, Imam Husain (a.s.). 

In Biharul Anwar the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is quoted to be prophesizing about Imam Husain (a.s.), “As if I see the place of the falling down of Husain and the place he shall be buried. As if I see the prisoners astride the camels. In this condition the head of my son Husain shall be presented to Yazid. By Allah! Whoever feels happy to see the head of Husain, Allah will create contradiction in his words and thoughts and would give him a painful punishment.” 

The Islam of this person shall be confined to his tongue while his heart will be full of darkness (disbelief). In the same way one of the sins responsible for creating hypocrisy is non-payment of religious taxes like Zakat and Khums. The Holy Quran says, And there are those of them who made a covenant with Allah: If He gives us out of His grace, we will certainly give alms and we will certainly be of the good.

But when He gave them out of His grace, they became niggardly of it and they turned back and they withdrew. So He made hypocrisy to follow as a consequence into their hearts till the day when they shall meet Him because they failed to perform towards Allah what they had promised with Him and because they told lies.[111]

[Third Type: Hypocrisy with people]

Hypocrisy with people 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. Or that he befriends two enemies and promises each of them his support. That he instigates each of them to increase enmity, and tries to show that he has helped him against his enemy.

It must, however be mentioned that if he keeps in contact with both of them and expresses his solidarity with each without professing enmity of the other and without instigating them for further enmity, this would not be construed as hypocrisy. If one expresses friendship to a mischievous and degraded person without any intention of befriending him, it is regarded as a kind of dissimulation if one’s aim were to remain safe from the mischief of this person. In some cases this type of dissimulation even becomes obligatory.

[The worst folks on Judgment Day]

A person came to the door of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) and sought his permission to enter. The Prophet told his companions to allow him entry and also remarked that he was a vile person. When the person joined the assembly, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) spoke to him so nicely that the companions present therein began to think that the Messenger has got to like this person. When he left, the people asked the Prophet why he had behaved so nicely with him while previously he was having such a negative opinion? The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) said, “The worst of the folks on Judgment Day are those whom the people are forced to accord respect for fear of their mischief.”

Some companions have reportedly said: We used to meet some people with bowed foreheads while our hearts cursed them.

[Difference between Dissimulation and False Praise]

As we have mentioned that such a course of action is allowed only to avoid loss. But we see quite often that people indulge in false praise just for greed. They needlessly praise some detestable persons while they do not even have any chance of being harmed by them. Sometimes they indulge in such double-facedness due to their low status and weakness. They term this false praise a good moral behavior. Actually it is hypocrisy, and it is prohibited.


Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says, “One of the firm decisions of Allah in the Wise Reminder (Quran) upon which He bestows reward or gives punishment, and through which He likes or dislikes is that it will not benefit a man, even though he exerts himself and acts sincerely. If he leaves this world to meet Allah with one of these acts without repenting, namely that he believed in a partner with Allah during his obligatory worship, or appeased his own anger by killing an individual, or spoke about acts committed by others, or sought fulfillment of his needs from people by introducing an innovation in his religion, or met people with a double face, or moved among them with a double tongue.[112] Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) says, “How evil is the one who is a slanderer, a defamer. He expresses friendship with one face and enmity with the other.”

It is also quoted from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) in Al-Kafi that, “If a person possesses these three characteristics he is a hypocrite even if he prays and fasts and considers himself a Muslim.

1. One who betrays trust?

2. One who lies?

3. One who goes back on his word?

All three types of actions with the people are considered hypocrisy.

Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s.) says, “Sins that prevent the acceptance of supplications are the following: Bad intention regarding Allah, an evil inner self and hypocrisy with believing brothers. If it is accompanied with necessary conditions the supplication is indeed accepted. Lack of trust in this regard, delaying prayers from its best time and not making effort to gain Allah’s satisfaction by giving charity. Using foul and dirty language.” This tradition mentions hypocrisy with believers to be one of the sins that prevent acceptance of supplications. Since we have already discussed hypocrisy in great detail in the chapters of Show-off, Cheating and Backbiting etc. we shall refrain from greater details over here.

[Punishment in proportion to Hypocrisy]

As we have indicated earlier, hypocrisy towards Allah and the creatures of Allah is of different types and of different grades. The punishment for it depends upon its magnitude. For example the worst form of hypocrisy against Allah is that a person professes belief verbally but harbors disbelief in his heart. If man dies in such a condition he shall remain in Hell forever and his punishment shall be worse than infidels. 

The next lower stage of hypocrisy is that man expresses certainty of belief with his tongue while his heart is not in absolute disbelief either, but it is a doubtful state. If this person also dies without belief he shall reside in Hell forever. But his punishment will be less than that of those who completely deny faith in Almighty.

The next grade of hypocrisy is that a person verbally says he is a believer and even has faith in his heart. But with regard to worship acts he makes other people partners to the Almighty. That is he commits show-off. If such a person were to die he will not remain in Hell forever. He shall suffer punishment for some time then due to his belief he will be allowed to enter Paradise. His punishment in Barzakh (Purgatory) and Hell will depend upon the magnitude of his show-off.

[Justice of Allah, Intercession and Repentance] 

The show-off of a person is related either to obligatory or recommended acts. Either it concerns the actual action or it is related to the condition of that action. For example a person intends to shows that he is steadfast in prayer; he will pray in order to show off. If, however, he wants to show that he is very humble and devoted in prayers, he will exhibit these things in prayer. It is also possible that one shows off in a part of the prayer or he does it in the whole of prayer. Some people are such that their whole life is spent in show-off. There is no doubt however that Allah will deal with justice. He will punish everyone in accordance with his sin. However, it is possible that Allah may forgive his sins or he may receive salvation through the purified intercession of Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad.

Certainly, there is punishment only if one dies without repenting for ones sins. Therefore if a person gets Divine opportunity (Tawfeeq) to repent in the proper manner and he repeats the deeds that he had wasted due to show-off and corrects his mistakes, there shall be no punishment on him. As we have stated earlier, if the person persists in his show-off it would be difficult for him to leave the world with belief. Same is the case of all those sins that create hypocrisy in the hearts.

We must also mention that the least form of hypocrisy is that man displays utmost humility and baseness in his posture while these things are not of the same intensity in his heart. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is reported to have said, “We consider it hypocrisy even if the humility of body is more than the humility of the heart.”[113]

[Verbal Repentance]

Hypocrisy with Allah with regard to the necessities of faith also has various grades. However, it would be very cumbersome to go into its details. So we shall mention only some grades of hypocrisy with regard to repentance. When a person says, “I am regretful of my sins and I repent for them,” he is saying this with his tongue but there is no remorse in his heart. Yet he has not further abstained from those sins and he is even happy at them. Such a person is the worst hypocrite with regard to repentance. Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) says, “One who repents for a sin but remains steadfast in committing the sin has in fact ridiculed his Lord.”[114]

[Heartfelt Regret]

The next grade is of a person who although has given up the sin but he is not remorseful for it with his heart. If this person verbally says, “I have repented”, it shall be a lie. The correct repentance is that man should feel regret and should be dejected in the presence of the Lord. If a person regrets doing a sin because it caused him physical or material harm or it earned him degradation or he was punished by the government, imprisoned etc. it shall not amount to be repentance. Rather, it is hypocrisy. If he says ‘Astaghfirullah’ (I seek Allah’s forgiveness), it would be a lie.

After this the next grade is of a person who has given up the sin, he is also deeply regretful of his deed but his regret is not due to his disobedience to a divine command. It is due to the fear of the punishment in the Hereafter. He is in fact regretful due to the loss of divine rewards.

Such a person can be compared to an oppressor who is about to be arrested. The government intends to put him in prison and the only way he can be saved is if the oppressed one forgives him. Thus he is compelled to approach the oppressed person and beg for forgiveness so that he may avoid legal penalty. If there had been no fear of imprisonment and loss of freedom and comfort, he would never have begged forgiveness. This is not a sincere regret and the repentance is not sincere repentance. It is a sort of deceit and a kind of hypocrisy. 
Allamah Hilli and Muhaqqiq Tusi have discussed these topics in their books Sharh Tajreed and Tajreedul Kalam etc. The gist of their discussion is as follows:

One who has committed a sin must feel remorseful of it because he has disobeyed Allah. Otherwise it shall not amount to be repentance. (Just like one who forgoes a sin to save his honor or because it is harmful to his body). It is not repentance even if there is fear of Hell fire. Similarly if one regrets omitting an obligatory act and he regrets it because he has lost the divine rewards or became eligible for divine punishment, it is not repentance. Thus repentance is only correct when one regrets because he has disobeyed the Almighty and he also strives to compensate for his mistake.

[Divine Mercy] 

Though such repentance is not sufficient we must repose hope in divine mercy. Those who repent due to the fear of retribution or loss of rewards and they give up the sin and also intend to compensate for it, it is possible that Allah by His unlimited mercy may consider their regret as proper repentance. They may be saved from Hell fire and sent to Paradise instead. We have already discussed hypocrisy with people in the chapter of Deceit in the book of Greater sins. In brief, we should know that the more is the harm caused by hypocrisy, the more shall be its punishment. Now the most important thing is to find the cure of hypocrisy. How we can root out this disease from the heart?

[Cure of Hypocrisy with Allah]

A hypocrite, that is a person who apparently seems to be pious and religious but in his heart remains a disbeliever, should know that this kind of behavior is not going to provide any benefit. It is going to be very harmful to him. The Almighty Lord is aware of both the apparent and the hidden aspect. You cannot deceive Allah. The Almighty will not consider you truthful on the basis of your outward appearance. He will send you to the lowest level of Hell due to your inner self. Actually this person has lied to himself and deceived himself: They desire to deceive Allah and those who believe, and they deceive only themselves and they do not perceive.[115]

[Deceiving Oneself]

If the hypocrites do not make a show of belief they shall be deprived of certain facilities in the Muslim society. For example, they shall not be considered ritually pure. They will not be able to intermarry with the Muslims and they will not become eligible for inheritance. The hypocrites think that if the Hereafter is like this world, there too they shall be considered believers. They shall be respected because of the show-off they made of worship acts in this world and they shall be rewarded for them in the Hereafter too. Such a notion is absolutely wrong. They consider themselves clever but they are in deception. The state of the Hereafter will be the state of the emergence of realities and the removal of curtains from the unseen (internal aspects). In that state the hypocrite will not be able to see anything except the gloom of his disbelief and polytheism. He shall see his good deeds that he did to show-off, his charities, prayers etc. that all of them are included among the sins, because a good deed is considered good only if it is accompanied with pure intention. Such an intention is only for Allah, to achieve the satisfaction of Allah. 


Some hypocrites pretend to be Muslims and obtain some worldly benefits. They are able to marry and become eligible to inherit. These are the bounties of their outward Islam. The consequences of hypocrisy and deceit are not very favorable. One who framed the Islamic Shariah (Allah) and the one who announced it (the Prophet) have also kept some rules for hypocrites based on hidden wisdom. One who makes a verbal acceptance of Islam is considered a Muslim. Till his falsehood is not proved he is to be considered ritually pure and he also shares all the facilities of a Muslim society, even though he may be lying and the Muslims may be unaware of it.

Another benefit of professing Islam by hypocrites is that they are able to collect a greater quantity of wealth. Rather, they can acquire government posts and even occupy thrones. But they should know that falsehood is easily exposed and the liar does not recognize his own intention.

For example let us consider the case of the hypocrites of Kufa. They wrote letters to Imam Husain (a.s.) inviting him to Kufa. Their messengers conveyed their invitations to Imam. They used to write: “There is no Imam and guide for us except you. If you do not come we shall complain to your grandfather on the Day of Judgment.” But in reality they had no concern for religion in their hearts. Their intention was to gain independence from Yazid and the Syrians and to make Kufa the seat of the Caliphate. In this way they could gather material wealth and obtain coveted posts. However, when Ibne Ziyad became the governor of Kufa he purchased the loyalties of the people with wealth. He made false promises to enable the Kufans to reach their actual aims. They became certain that they would not be able to fulfill their material desires under the leadership of Imam Husain (a.s.). So they withdrew their support from him. Rather, some of them were so selfish that they joined the army to fight against the Imam. They proved their falsehood. However, they failed to achieve even their material desires.

Another thing is that the hearts of the people are in Allah’s control. As far as Allah does not permit, no person can deceive others.

If there is divine wisdom in allowing people to be deceived by a hypocrite he should know that actually Allah is giving him respite so that he could achieve some of his worldly desires. This is a sort of Allah’s deception in reply to the deception of the hypocrite. The hypocrite considers this respite to be a windfall. While, this is finally going to harm more.

[Loss in the world and the Hereafter]

Whatever respite is given to a hypocrite in this world is fully utilized by him to indulge in more hypocrisy and deceit. This increases the gloom of his heart. He continues to increase his punishment in the Hereafter. Even if he is able to obtain worldly wealth due to deceit, the same wealth becomes a bone stuck in his throat. The plots that he had hatched to gain luxury and comfort finally bring him sorrow. Same is the case of an unbelieving rich man. Apparently he seems to be surrounded by all types of comforts but he feels an unseen pressure. They are always in dread of their adversaries or competitors. The fire of jealousy, greed and miserliness continues to burn them from inside. They continue to have enemies because they do not have belief; in spite of their guards and protective walls they fear the loss of their wealth and property. This is indicated in the Surah Tawbah thus, 

Let not then their property and their children excite your admiration; Allah only wishes to chastise them with these in this world’s life and (that) their souls may depart while they are unbelievers.[116]

Thus, respite is apparently good but since it causes problems in this world and is the basis of chastisement in the Hereafter the respite for hypocrites is not beneficial to them. In reply to their deceit Allah deceives them too. And the aim of their deceit is to harm others. For example the Almighty Allah says in Surah Nisa,

Surely the hypocrites strive to deceive Allah, and He shall requite their deceit to them, and when they stand up to prayer they stand up sluggishly; they do it only to be seen of men and do not remember Allah save a little. Wavering between that (and this), (belonging) neither to these nor to those; and whomsoever Allah causes to err, you shall not find a way for him.[117]

[Deceit to Counter Deceit] 

It is said that there was a person in habit of taking a medicine called ‘Gulqand’. This medicine is prepared with equal quantities of rose petals and sugar. He went to a shop to buy sugar and asked for a certain quantity. The shopkeeper said that he did not have that particular weight so he was keeping the same quantity of roses to weigh the sugar. The deal was struck and the shopkeeper kept certain amount of rose petals in one pan of the balance and went inside the shop to get sugar. The buyer thought that the shopkeeper was not looking and he began to eat the rose petals from the pan. By chance the shopkeeper saw him and delayed coming out with sugar. At last when he came out a good amount of rose petals had being eaten by the customer. The shopkeeper weighed an equal amount of sugar and took the payment for the quantity decided earlier. The customer left thinking he had eaten free roses petals while the shopkeeper was happy he had to part with less sugar. 

In the same way the hypocrites will realize at the time of death that they are the actual losers.

[Repentance from Hypocrisy]

When the hypocrite realizes the loss that he is going to suffer, his first duty is to repent for his hypocrisy. Hypocrisy destroys faith or weakens it. Thus he should be remorseful of his polytheism and infidelity. He should repent with sincerity. He should acquire faith or he should try to increase it. He should embellish his inward as well as the outward self with belief.

If the outward and inward of a person is same, there is no doubt regarding his salvation.[118] After describing the punishment of the hypocrites the Almighty Allah says,

Except those who repent and amend and hold fast to Allah and are sincere in their religion to Allah, these are with the believers, and Allah will grant the believers a mighty reward.[119]