“They allot to Allah what they themselves dislike and their tongues frame the lie that they will receive the Best. There is no doubt at all that they will receive the Fire and that they are people who go to excess.” (Surah an-Nahl: 62)
O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and hypocrites and be harsh with them. Their refuge is Hell. What an evil destination! (Surah at-Tahrim: 9)
The approach to be taken towards hypocrites receives much attention in the Qur’an. In the same way as the believer learns all he needs from the Qur’an, he also learns how to behave in this regard.
The exemplary advice given to believers in the Qur’an is this: that believers should never take hypocrites as their friends, and that they should warn the hypocrites by means of the Qur’an so long as the two remain together. And if the advice given bears no fruit, they should expel the hypocrites from among them. At this point, of course, Allah’s messenger must take the final decision regarding the hypocrites. By means of His messenger, Allah enables believers to take the correct decision. Let us now examine those verses concerning the attitude to be adopted towards hypocrites.
1. Not to Confide in Them
You who believe! Do not make friends of people with whom Allah is angry, who have despaired of the Hereafter as the disbelievers have despaired of the inhabitants of the graves. (Surah al-Mumtahana: 13)
As we have seen from the beginning, in the light of the verses of the Qur’an, hypocrites are definitely not the kind of people that one should befriend or confide in. Only those of weak faith or in whose hearts faith is not yet fully established take these people, who fail to befriend Allah and who are in consequence not befriended by Him, as their confidants.
The verses revealed by Allah on this subject encourage believers to be on their guard against hypocrites at all times and never to confide in them. It is a matter of great importance to be on one’s guard against hypocrites, who hate the believers and wish them to be dispersed and suffer difficulties.
2. To Rule with Justice Among Them
They are people who listen to lies and consume ill-gotten gains. If they come to you, you can either judge between them or turn away from them. If you turn away from them, they cannot harm you in any way. But if you do judge, judge between them justly. Allah loves the just. (Surah al-Ma’idah: 42)
Implementing the stipulation in the above verse is a matter for the messenger at the head of the people alone. The messenger either rules among the hypocrites, as he desires, or else turns his back on them.
3. To Give Advice if They Will Receive That Advice
Allah knows what is in such people’s hearts, so turn away from them and warn them and speak to them with words that take effect. (Surah an-Nisa’: 63)
As can be seen from this verse, it is recommended that hypocrites be given effective advice. By this important and effective method, they can come to realize what they have done and regret it. The main thing here is to issue reminders so that they can feel such regret. Someone who fails to heed such advice has declared open war on the religious moral values. Therefore, one must never forget that these people should be spurned, not befriended.
Believers give these people advice in the hope that they will mend their ways. But certainly, every piece of advice increases the suffering in the Hereafter of the hypocrite who turns his back on it. All the advice given to hypocrites is actually a snare, set for them by Allah. By remaining among believers and working in secret, hypocrites imagine that they are being very clever, never realizing that in the Hereafter, they will be recompensed for every piece of advice they received while remaining among believers. In this way they fall into an eternal trap while seeking to set their own snares for believers.
4. Not to Insist on Warning Them if They Refuse to Heed Advice
Enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil is the responsibility of every believer. Yet there is a limit to this. Allah states that if the person being given advice rejects it obdurately, then nothing further should be said to him:
Remind, then, if the reminder benefits. He who has fear will be reminded. But the most miserable will shun it. (Surah al-A'la: 9-11)
In the event that hypocrites insist in their fanatic denial, further warnings will be of no avail. Believers should leave them to their own devices.
5. To Combat Them and Behave in a Stern, Deterrent Manner
O Prophet, strive against the disbelievers and hypocrites and be harsh with them. . . . (Surah at-Tawbah: 73)
This is a very important piece of advice from Allah. A harsh and determined approach from believers towards hypocrites, who fail to keep their word to Allah, lie and harbor corruption and rebellion in their hearts, has a deterrent effect. Being on one's guard against the strife they will cause, taking relevant precautions beforehand and identifying them in good time before they can wreak any harm are most important duties for believers. Believers have been charged with being on their guard at all times against the danger from hypocrites, exposing these people who harbor sickness in their hearts, and thereby causing others to avoid them. This is indeed what they do.
Taking all due precautionary measures and at the same time, never permitting them the opportunity to cause strife, acts as a warning to later generations of hypocrites.
6. Not to Allow Them to Struggle Alongside the Faithful
Hypocrites do not actually struggle alongside believers, because they fail to fear Allah as they ought, are devoted to worldly concerns and feel enormous admiration for deniers. Since they remain lagging behind and choose a life apart from that of believers, Allah commanded the Prophet (saas) never to permit hypocrites to struggle alongside the faithful:
If Allah returns you to a group of them, and they ask you for permission to go out, say, “You will never go out with me, nor will you ever fight an enemy with me. You were happy to stay behind the first time, so stay behind with those who are left behind.” (Surah at-Tawbah: 83)
7. To Remove Them from the Community of the Faithful
He [Musa] said, “What do you think you were doing, Samaritan?” He [Samaritan] said, “I saw what they did not see. So I gathered up a handful from the messenger’s footprints and threw it in. That is what my inner self urged me to do.” He said, “Go! In this world you will have to say, 'Untouchable!’ And you have an appointment which you will not fail to keep. Look at your deity to which you devoted so much time. We will burn it up and then scatter it as dust into the sea.” (Surah Ta Ha: 95-97)
The attitude regarding Samaritan, who cased strife among the people of the Prophet Musa (as), is a most effective precaution that should be recommended against all hypocrites, because hypocrites cause strife among believers and to turn them towards denial, in the same way that they themselves have turned in the direction of denial. Even if they fail, they seek to wear believers down psychologically. In such an event, the most rational course is to remove them from among sincere believers.
8. To Refuse to Heed Them
So call and go straight as you have been ordered to. Do not follow their whims and desires. . . . (Surah ash-Shura: 15)
Obeying or heeding a hypocrite will result in considerable harm. A person who abandons the behavior pleasing to Allah and goes along with hypocrites is actually following the path of satan. Those who go along with satan represent his army and can never attain salvation, either in this world nor in the next. For that reason, Allah warns believers against this danger and forbids them to engage in behavior such as agreeing with hypocrites’ suggestions.
9. To Pay no Heed to the Troubles and Woes They Inflict
Allah is believers’ Guardian and Protector. In times of difficulty and distress, they seek help from Him, and are patient and submissive. They also exhibit fortitude and submit to Allah in the face of difficulties stemming from hypocrites. They pray for the harm that hypocrites seek to inflict to be visited upon them instead. For that reason, Allah tells believers to pay no attention to hypocrites’ actions, since these are all ineffective and invalid:
But because of their breaking of their covenant, We have cursed them and made their hearts hard. They distort the true meaning of words and have forgotten a good portion of what they were reminded of. You will never cease to come upon some act of treachery on their part, except for a few of them. Yet pardon them, and overlook. Allah loves good-doers. (Surah al-Ma’idah: 13)
Turn from them and say, “Peace! You will soon come to know.” (Surah az-Zukhruf: 89)
10. To Establish with Them no Ties of Affection or Friendship
As the friends of satan, hypocrites have adopted him as their guardian. Therefore, a believer will avoid hypocrites just as he avoids satan. Since they are the enemies of Allah and religion, believers are also hostile to them as well and feel great anger towards them in their hearts. Indeed, Allah forbids believers to take as friends those who war against them on the subject of religion:
Allah merely forbids you from taking as friends those who have fought you in the religion and driven you from your homes and who supported your expulsion. Any who take them as friends are wrongdoers? (Surah al-Mumtahana: 9)
11. To Avoid Them
Hypocrites engage in a constant struggle against believers, persisting in cunning activities against them so long as they remain in their midst. If they leave the community of the faithful, they carry out these activities from a distance. For believers’ security and peace of mind, therefore, it is of the greatest importance to avoid hypocrites as one would satan himself, and to stay as far away from them as one would from the flames.
Allah has promised that so long as believers avoid them, hypocrites will be able to do them no harm:
If something good happens to you, it galls them. If something bad strikes you, they rejoice at it. But if you are steadfast and guard against evil, their scheming will not harm you in any way. Allah encompasses what they do. (Surah Al 'Imran: 120)