Types of Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy means ‘double-facedness’. A contradiction between his apparent and hidden self. Apparently he is a believer but his inner self is in disbelief. His outer appearance is good but his internal condition is evil. Hypocrisy is of three types:

1. Hypocrisy against Allah regarding actual faith
2. Hypocrisy with Allah regarding the necessities of faith.
3. Hypocrisy with others.

First Type: Hypocrisy against Allah regarding actual faith

A hypocrite does not sincerely believe in Allah and the Hereafter. However, he shows himself to be a Muslim before other people. His intention is that the Islamic commandments may be in his favor. For example, he may be considered clean or pure in the society. He can marry among the Muslims and he can benefit from inheritance etc.

Such people are mentioned in Surah Baqarah:

And there are some people who say: We believe in Allah and the last day; and they are not at all believers.[108] And Quran also says, And when they meet those who believe, they say: We believe; and when they are alone with their Satans, they say: Surely we are with you, we were only mocking.[109]

This is the worst stage of hypocrisy. Nothing can be considered more serious. The punishment of such hypocrites in the Hereafter shall be worse than infidels. They shall never be able to get salvation. In addition to their degradation and punishment the Quran also states that it is necessary to remain aloof from them.

A large portion of the Muslim community has always consisted of hypocrites. It is obligatory for every Muslim to express immunity from them, whether they are alive or dead. We should curse them. For example the hypocrisy of Yazid Ibne Muawiyah is obvious. Indeed such hypocrites have caused more harm to Islam than infidels.

[Dissimulation and its Types]

We should know that hypocrisy with Allah is that a person apparently poses as religious while concealing his infidelity so that he can gain benefits of religiousness. However, dissimulation, which is obligatory according to reason and Shariah, is very much different from hypocrisy. Dissimulation denotes the denial of ones faith from the deniers of truth, so that ones life, honor and wealth remain safe. With the condition that not practicing dissimulation causes no benefit to the faith. If a believer expresses his faith he shall be subjected to murder, robbery or loss of honor, then in this condition it is obligatory on him to observe dissimulation and conceal his faith.

If the expression of truth will strengthen religion, giving up of dissimulation is recommended. For example the case of Mitham Tammar, or Abu Zar Ghiffari and Hujr bin Adi. These loyal companions did not observe dissimulation.

And whenever there is a risk of the truth being destroyed or harmed, it is prohibited to observe dissimulation. In this case avoiding dissimulation becomes obligatory. That is why the chief of the Martyrs, Imam Husain (a.s.) did not observe dissimulation. In short, dissimulation is of three types: Obligatory, recommended and prohibited. It is possible that in some cases it could also be permissible (Mubah) and detestable (Makruh).

[Difference between Dissimulation and Hypocrisy]

So we realize that when dissimulation is obligatory or permissible (Mubah), it is not construed as hypocrisy. It is the opposite. That is when dissimulation is not permitted or obligatory and a person observes it, this shall tantamount to hypocrisy. Whenever dissimulation is obligatory or permissible even intellect says that it is a necessity and is a good thing. When dissimulation is obligatory and the person fails to observe it he is said to have acted against reason. Because he would have wasted his life and died for no just cause. This is nothing but gross foolishness.

The holy law of Islam has permitted dissimulation or the concealment of ones faith only when there is a danger to ones life, honor or property. The following verses of the Holy Quran testify to this: Surah Aale Imran: verse 28, and Surah Nahl: verse 106. The traditions of Ahle Bayt also greatly emphasize the importance of dissimulation. However it is beyond the scope of this book to quote them here.

[Second Type: Hypocrisy with Allah Regarding the Necessities of faith]

There is a person whose faith regarding Allah and the Day of Recompense is very weak. Either he does not possess the necessary items of faith or they are deficient and weak. Yet he falsely claims that he possesses all the necessary principles of faith. Such a person may believe in Day of Judgment, Accounting, scales of deeds and Hellfire but he does not fear them at all. Yet he claims, “I fear Allah. I am terrified of the Day of Day of Judgment and Accounting.”

The proof of the falsity of his claim is the way he commits sins in an unhindered way. He sins without much ado. If one fears that a particular eatable is poisonous he would not even dare to touch it. In the same way one who is fearful of divine justice and retribution will never commit sins blatantly. 

Regarding this is a statement of a learned person: “If you are asked whether you fear Allah, you must remain silent. Because if you say you do not fear Him you will become a disbeliever. If you say: I fear Allah, you would have lied. Because the sign of Allah’s fear is flight from sins.”