Hypocrisy in the Name of Faith
The countenance of the Lord and the reward of the Hereafter that are the real fruit and outcome of all good deeds – and ought to be the chief aim and objective of all believing men and women – are not gained simply on good-doing, but then these acts also are performed with the intention of earning the favour of God and the reward of the Hereafter. It could, of course, not be otherwise, for do we not follow the same principle in our own affairs? Suppose anyone serves us devotedly and does all sorts of things for our comfort, but, somehow, we realize that there is no sincerity in his heart and his attachment and dutifulness are motivated by a selfish desire, will it make a favourable impression on us? The same is the case with God with the added difference that while we do not know what is hidden in the hearts, God is present everywhere, at once, and sees all things. Thus, He only accepts the deeds of bondmen who perform good and virtuous acts for His sake and confers His blessings on them, and the full display of His Mercy and Benevolence will take place in the Hereafter which is the place of Final Requital. On the contrary, those who practice virtue and do good deeds to make a name for themselves, or with a similar purpose, may gain their object in this world, but they will remain deprived of the beneficence of the Lord and it will be made wholly manifest on the Last Day.
(1) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “During the Last Phase, deceivers and dissemblers will be born who will seek after the world in the garb of Faith. They will wear sheepskin to impress the people with their asceticism and meekness, (and) their speech will be sweeter than sugar, but in their breasts there will be the hearts of wolves. About them, the Command of the Lord is: ‘Are they being mistaken by My tolerance or have they become so bold as to contend against Me? I swear by Myself that I shall raise from among them a mischief that will confound even the wise and the learned in their midst.’”
It shows that the worst kind of fraud and double-dealing is to pose before the people as holy men and exploit their simplicity and credulousness for worldly gain. These pedlars in faith and spirituality who, by their glib tongue and soft speech, ensnare the simple-minded folk are guilty of both deception and trading in religion. For them, the warning of the Lord is that they will be caught in various troubles and afflictions even in their life-time.
(2) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “Beg (the Lord) for refuge from Jubb-ul-Huzn (Pit or Well of Sorrow).” “What is Jubb-ul-Huzn?” Some Companions enquired. “It is a valley (or pit) of Hell (which is so terrible that) even the Hell seeks protection from it four hundred times each day,” replied the Apostle of God. It was, again, asked of him: “Who will go to it?” “The great worshippers, or reciters of the Qur’an, who do good deeds to show off to others,” the Prophet said.
In it, the sacred Prophet has used the word, Qurra for people who will be cast into Jubb-ul-Huzn. It can mean those who observe worship much as well as those who are distinguished for the study and recitation of Qur’an. What this Tradition, thus, denotes is that those who, apparently, are great adorers of the Lord and reciters of the Qur’an, but, in fact, all their religiousness and piety is hypocritical and intended for display will be condemned to it.
(3) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “The first on whom the sentence (of Hell) will be pronounced in the Court of the Almighty, on the Day of Judgement, will be a man who would have been martyred (in the field of Jihad). He will be produced before God, and God will tell him what blessings He had bestowed upon him. The man will acknowledge them. Upon it, the Lord will say: ‘Now, tell Me, what have you done with the blessings I had conferred?’ He will answer: “Did Jihad in Thy path until I was killed,’ ‘You are a liar,’ God will say, ‘You desired that people should say that such a one was a brave man, and that has been said already.’ He will, then, be cast headlong into Hell at the command of God. With him, there will be another man who will have acquired the knowledge of Faith and taught it to others as well, and, also, got the whole of the Quran by heart. God will remind him, too, of His blessings, and he will acknowledge them. God will ask, ‘And what have you done with regard to My blessings? (To what use did you put them)?’ He will reply, ‘I learnt all that was to be learnt about Thee and Thy Faith and taught it to others, also, and was, continually, at it during the hours of the day and the night, and I did it for Thy sake alone.’ ‘You are a liar,’ God will say, ‘You did only desire that people should say that such a one was a learned man and a reciter of the Qur’an and that has been said already.’ He will, then, be cast headlong into Hell at the command of God. And with them, there will be a third man whom God had blessed with an abundance of wealth, and God will remind him, also, of His blessings, and he will acknowledge everything. Thereupon, God will say, ‘And what have done with what I gave you?’ He will reply, ‘I spent the wealth bestowed by Thee in the paths and on the acts that were to Thy liking, and I did it wholly for Thy propitiation.’ ‘You are a liar,’ God will say, ‘You only desired that people should say that such a one was a generous man, and that has been said already.’ After it, he, too, will be cast headlong into Hell at the command of God.”
How frightful, indeed, is the purport and significance of this Tradition! About it, it is reported that Hazrat Abu Hurairah, sometimes, used to faint while relating it. It is also said that, once, as it was being related before Hazrat Muawiya, he cried so much that he was taken ill.
The three deeds mentioned above are, evidently, good deeds of the highest order and if these are performed with unalloyed sincerity and earnestness, the recompense on them, surely, is the attainment of Divine good pleasure and elevation in ranks in the Hereafter. But if these very acts are done to earn renown or for obtaining another worldly advantage, they are so intensely wrong and sinful in the judgement of the Lord that the punishment of Hell will be awarded to those who are guilty of them ahead of all the other evil-doers, like the thieves, robbers and adulterers, and they will be the first to be sent to that infernal place.
(4) Narrates Abu Zarr Ghifari that, once, it was enquired from the Apostle of God: “What is the command about a man who does a good deed and people speak highly of him because of it?” (In another version of it, it is stated that the questioner had asked: “What is the command about a man who does a good deed and people love him on account of it)?” “It is the ready glad tiding for the faithful bondsman,” the Prophet replied.
The sayings of the sacred Prophet concerning dissimulation and the seeking of praise and honour had made the Companions so greatly afraid that some of them felt that if people started admiring anyone for a good deed, and his devoutness and well-doing began to be talked about, the deed might not find acceptance with God as he had been recompensed already, in this world, in the form of affection and admiration. It was as a result of this fear and anxiety that the enquiry was made. The Prophet replied that there was nothing wrong if a person was held in high esteem owing to his virtue and good-doing. On the contrary, it should be taken as an indication of his worthiness, in the sight of God, and a ready recompense, in the present existence, and in advance of the real reward that awaited him in Futurity.
In the same way, once, as Hazrat Abu Hurairah was offering up Namaz, someone chanced to come and see him in that state. The celebrated Companion tells that he felt pleased at being seen while engaged in a virtuous act like Namaz. He narrated it to the holy Apostle so that if his reaction, too, was a form of Riya, he might repent for it and seek the forgiveness of the Lord. But the Prophet assured him that it was not so, and he will be rewarded both for doing a good deed in private and in public.
We, thus, learn from it that if a virtuous act is performed for the sake of God and without the intention of being seen during it, but the others come to know about it, and the person who does so feels happy over it, it will not be opposed to single-minded devotion. Moreover if anyone does a virtuous deed in the presence of others with the idea that they learnt about it and tried to emulate his example, it would not be hypocrisy. In fact, he will be rewarded for the preaching and propagation of Faith.
As many Traditions show, the holy Prophet had the same purpose, also, in the mind while performing an act on a number of occasions.