Munafiqeen: How to identify and deal with hypocrisy – Part II

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Last Updated on 2nd December 2022

Click here for Part 1

Rizwan Khan, Missionary, Connecticut, USA
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Those who believe but befriend hypocrites

Then there are those who are believers but they are friends with munafiqeen (hypocrites):

Allah Almighty says:

لَئِنۡ‭ ‬لَّمۡ‭ ‬يَنۡتَهِ‭ ‬الۡمُنٰفِقُوۡنَ‭ ‬وَالَّذِيۡنَ‭ ‬فِيۡ‭ ‬قُلُوۡبِهِمۡ‭ ‬مَّرَضٌ‭ ‬وَّالۡمُرۡجِفُوۡنَ‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬الۡمَدِيۡنَةِ‭ ‬لَنُغۡرِيَنَّكَ‭ ‬بِهِمۡ

“If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and those who cause agitation in the city, desist not, We shall surely make thee take action against them.” (Surah al-Mu’minun, Ch.33: V.61)

This verse describes all of the types of munafiqeen described thus far. “The hypocrites” disbelieve in their hearts but claim to believe. “Those in whose hearts is a disease” mix faith and hypocrisy in their hearts. “Those who cause agitation in the city” are believers who are friends with hypocrites. 

Allah Almighty speaks of the friends of hypocrites:

وَفِیۡکُمۡ سَمّٰعُوۡنَ لَہُمۡ ؕ وَاللّٰہُ عَلِیۡمٌۢ بِالظّٰلِمِیۡنَ

“And there are among you those who would listen to them [i.e. the munafiqeen]. And Allah well knows the wrongdoers.” (Surah at-Taubah, Ch.9: V.47)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra described the characteristics of the friends of hypocrites:

“They spread the objections of munafiqeen. A munafiq says that the Jamaat is ruined, and like a parrot, he repeats this sentence, and, wherever he goes, he says that the Jamaat is ruined. He is a believer but he is a foolish and ignorant believer; a believer who is a tool of munafiqeen.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, 5 August 1938, pp. 501)

These people serve a unique purpose for the munafiqeen as when they spread discord, they are sometimes not effective because the believers know they are munafiqeen, so believers dismiss what they have to say because creating discord is their habit. However, when these naïve believers who are friends of hypocrites, blindly repeat the same objections, then the munafiqeen use them to add legitimacy to their claims. They point to them and say their propaganda must be true because these sincere believers are repeating it. They hide behind these foolish and ignorant believers and use them as a tool.

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said, “This is what a munafiq does, they ‘whisper into the hearts of men,’ (Surah an-Nas, Ch.114: V.6) they put evil suggestions in people’s hearts and then back away.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, 5 August 1938, p. 501)

These friends of the hypocrites are people who really believe they are sincere, they have rationalised their actions and convinced themselves that they were only trying to promote peace. However, their actions are hypocritical. The munafiqeen take advantage of how naive they are. If these believers don’t reform themselves, they may meet the same fate as the munafiqeen. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said:

“Even if they do not become munafiqeen, sometimes they receive the punishment of munafiqeen from Allah Almighty because He says, 

وَلَا‭ ‬تَرۡكَنُوۡۤا‭ ‬اِلَي‭ ‬الَّذِيۡنَ‭ ‬ظَلَمُوۡا‭ ‬فَتَمَسَّكُمُ‭ ‬النَّارُ

‘And incline not toward those who do wrong, lest the Fire touch you.’ (Surah Hud, Ch.11: V.114) 

“This verse tells us that those who are not wrongdoers [zalim]sometimes fall into hell because of their friendship with those who are wrongdoers. Thus, this category of munafiqeen is not a munafiq in their faith, but friendship with munafiqeen is their habit and their recognition, and so they are counted as a category of munafiqeen.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, 5 August 1938, pp. 501)

This type of behaviour existed during the time of the Holy Prophetsa. The Holy Quran describes the rumours the munafiqeen spread against Hazrat Aishara and how they used that to spread dissension against the Holy Prophetsa. Some otherwise sincere believers made the grave mistake of repeating these rumours started by the munafiqeen. From this story, the consequences of being friends with munafiqeen become clear. 

It is no small mistake to choose to be friends and helpers of those whom Allah Almighty describes as surely being in the lowest depths of the Fire.

“They are helpers of those wrongdoers about whom God Almighty has said they will be thrown into the lowest depth of the Fire.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, 5 August 1938, pp. 504-505)

We must separate ourselves from munafiqeen

Why does the fire touch those who warmly incline to the wrongdoers? The answer to this question lies in how they became friends with the munafiqeen in the first place.

Munafiqeen fearfully tests the waters to see who is with them. They’ll say something against the Khalifa in a way that can have two meanings, so they have plausible deniability in case we call them out for their hypocrisy. They speak sarcastically and then decide afterwards based on our reaction whether they were joking or not. This type of underhanded behaviour is obnoxious to any believer or disbeliever with self-respect. The Quran says:

وَلَتَعۡرِفَنَّهُمۡ‭ ‬فِيۡ‭ ‬لَحۡنِ‭ ‬الۡقَوۡلِ

“And thou shalt surely recognize them by the tone of their speech.” (Surah Muhammad, Ch.47: V.31)

“A hypocrite faces both ways. He never talks straight and always indulges in ambiguous and equivocal speech so that it conveys one sense to one person and quite another sense to another person.” (English Five Volume Commentary of Surah Muhammad, Ch.47: V.31)

“A hypocrite is a double-faced person who generally uses language susceptible of double meaning. This he does to extricate himself from an awkward position, wherein, should one construction of his speech land him in trouble, he might be able to avoid that consequence by putting quite a different construction on it.” (English Five Volume Commentary of Surah Muhammad, Ch.47: V.11)

If you call them out on their hypocrisy, they will say they were only joking. Allah Almighty describes this behavior of the munafiqeen in the Holy Quran:

وَلَئِنۡ سَاَلۡتَہُمۡ لَیَقُوۡلُنَّ اِنَّمَا کُنَّا نَخُوۡضُ وَنَلۡعَبُ ؕ قُلۡ اَبِاللّٰہِ وَاٰیٰتِہٖ وَرَسُوۡلِہٖ کُنۡتُمۡ تَسۡتَہۡزِءُوۡنَ

“And if thou question them, they will most surely say, ‘We were only talking idly and jesting.’ Say, ‘Was it Allah and His Signs and His Messenger that you mocked at?” (Surah at-Taubah, Ch.9: V.65)

They check our reaction to see if we have respect for Allah and His signs and His Khalifa and His Jamaat, or if we’re actually like them. They can find one another because they can recognise the underhanded and hypocritical nature of people like them. They have an affinity with one another. Allah Almighty describes in the Holy Quran that they are interconnected with one another and are similar. 

اَلۡمُنٰفِقُوۡنَ‭ ‬وَالۡمُنٰفِقٰتُ‭ ‬بَعۡضُهُمۡ‭ ‬مِّنۡۢ‭ ‬بَعۡضٍ

“The hypocrites, men and women, are [all] connected one with another.” (Surah at-Taubah, Ch.9: V.67)

Those who have an affinity with them, start to join their sittings and gradually become more and more like them. It is no small mistake to prefer the munafiqeen as friends over sincere believers. 

If we join their sittings and tolerate disrespect of Allah and His signs and His Khalifa, we lose our sense of respect and gradually become like them. Allah Almighty says:

اِذَا سَمِعۡتُمۡ اٰیٰتِ اللّٰہِ یُکۡفَرُ بِہَا وَیُسۡتَہۡزَاُ بِہَا فَلَا تَقۡعُدُوۡا مَعَہُمۡ حَتّٰی یَخُوۡضُوۡا فِیۡ حَدِیۡثٍ غَیۡرِہٖۤ ۫ۖ اِنَّکُمۡ اِذًا مِّثۡلُہُمۡ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ جَامِعُ الۡمُنٰفِقِیۡنَ وَالۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ فِیۡ جَہَنَّمَ جَمِیۡعا

“[…] when you hear the Signs of Allah being denied and mocked at, sit not with them until they engage in a talk other than that; for in that case you would be like them. Surely, Allah will assemble the hypocrites and the disbelievers in Hell, all together;” (Surah an-Nisa, Ch.4: V.141)

Holy Quran

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra explained it is extremely important to cut the roots of munafiqat, otherwise, the promise of Khilafat will come into jeopardy. 

He quoted that Hazrat Uthmanra said, “‘You let people who spread disorder come into your homes and you converse with them. As a result, these people have become bold. The result of this negligence of yours is that the blessings of Khilafat will come to an end and the unity of Muslims will be left scattered.’ Now look, what Hazrat Uthmanra said is what happened.’” (Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 25, pp. 415-416)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said:

“If you wish to stand in support of the munafiqeen and to protect them, then I ask you whether you would be willing to keep a rat that had died of plague in your house, then I will understand that you are honest.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, 16 October 1936, pp. 681)

This analogy is fitting because, as was mentioned before, the root meaning of this word includes the meaning of a hole in the earth having two open ends that the rat enters, concealing one end and leaving the other exposed. We care for our physical health, so if we found a rat that had died of plague in our house, we would immediately throw it out because we don’t want the disease to spread in our house. When we care for our spiritual health, then if we find a munafiq, we should do the same to save ourselves from their disease.

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said:

“Those who keep meeting with munafiqeen because they are relatives or loved ones, I give them a conclusive argument after which they are responsible, and I tell them they will certainly be seized by God. You are making God and His religion into a toy and are making light of it, but your cunningness and arrogance will not help you at all in front of God. Whoever encourages munafiqeen with his actions and conduct, should listen clearly that Allah Almighty will disgrace them in this world in front of us and the next world in His presence. Thus, avoid the enemies and munafiqeen, and when they say something that is hypocritical, separate yourselves from them.

“When you see someone objecting against the Jamaat generally among people, know that he is a munafiq and depart from him, while reciting the hawqalah.” (Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 14, p. 23)

Those who join the sittings of munafiqeen and listen to their disrespect of the signs of Allah are complicit because it is their silent moral support that makes the munafiqeen bolder and bolder in their activities. If they had called out their munafiqat with the courage of a believer, those munafiqeen would never have summoned the courage to raise their heads again in front of them.

The departure of the munafiqeen is no loss to the Jamaat, it is of benefit

The presence of munafiqeen is only a source of trouble, and if they left, it would be a relief. Allah Almighty says:

لَوۡ خَرَجُوۡا فِیۡکُمۡ مَّا زَادُوۡکُمۡ اِلَّا خَبَالًا وَّلَا۠اَوۡضَعُوۡا خِلٰلَکُمۡ یَبۡغُوۡنَکُمُ الۡفِتۡنَۃَ

“If they had gone forth with you, they would have added to you nothing but trouble, and would have hurried to and fro in your midst, seeking [to create] discord among you. […]” (Surah at-Taubah, Ch.9: V.47)

In Islam, quality is what matters, not quantity. When the munafiqeen left the Holy Prophetsa before the battle of Uhud, was it a loss for the Muslims? Would they have steadfastly risked their lives on the front lines with the Muslims? Of course not. Their presence would only have caused more trouble, and when the Holy Prophetsa pursued the Meccan army after the battle of Uhud, he only allowed those sincere believers the honour of accompanying him who accompanied him during the battle of Uhud.

“The strength of communities established by God is not in their numbers, their strength is in their faith and sincerity.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, 16 October 1936, p. 668)

The numbers that munafiqeen add to the Jamaat are of no value to Islam and Ahmadiyyat, rather, it is a source of trouble. 

If a hypocrite is undermining the Khalifa from within and their activities are doing damage to the Jamaat, then we have to choose if we want to have mercy for that munafiq or the Jamaat. By appealing for mercy for a munafiq, we withhold our mercy from the Khalifa and the Jamaat. 

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said it was not an expression of mercy to leave weeds in a garden, they would suffocate the plants that were meant to flourish. (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, 18 November 1949, p. 390)

The Promised Messiahas said:

“The fact is that the field which is cultivated with much labour and is ripened also contains some weeds that have to be cut down and burnt. Such is the law of nature, and our Jamaat is no exception.” (Essence of Islam, Vol. 4, p. 252)

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said:

Munafiqeen separating themselves can in no way be a loss for the Jamaat. Rather, it is a means of limitless progress.” (Khutbat-e-Mahmud, 16 October 1936, p. 685)

“Use your intellect, then pray and turn to God Almighty, then work with courage and boldness, do not be cowardly and fearful, and do not think that losing ten or twenty thousand people will cause you loss. Even if a million people leave, ten million will join us and they will come being sincere.” (Ibid, p. 682)

How should munafiqeen be dealt with?

Coming back to the questions asked at the beginning, what makes someone a munafiq? If you ask someone who the munafiqeen are, can we point them out? Should we point them out? Hopefully, we know by now what a munafiq is and how important it is to identify munafiqat and root it out. But, should we point out munafiqeen? The example of the Sahaba is that they knew who the munafiqeen were, however, they were generally hesitant to publicly label someone as a munafiq as long as they claimed to be a believer. They would call out the behaviour of munafiqat when they saw it and they would inform the Holy Prophetsa even if it was their own family member. 

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said:

“When I tell you to oppose munafiqeen, it means to find out their activities and inform the Jamaat about it.” (Anwar-ul-Ulum, Vol. 10, p. 93)

He said that it was the duty of every believer to thwart the fitna of the munafiqeen.

It is our responsibility to call out munafiqat when we see it. We don’t judge people’s intentions, we look at their actions. If we judge people’s intentions, then we would be on a witch hunt, which is forbidden. It is their actions that we see. If their action is munafiqat, we should call out that action. If they reform themselves, then Allah is forgiving and merciful and we should be too. If they do not, then we should separate ourselves from them and inform the Khalifa.

Calling out munafiqat cuts it at its root because munafiqeen inherently want to stay hidden. Simply informing the Khalifa and the Jamaat is highly effective because they don’t want the hypocritical patterns in their behaviour to be documented in any way. Calling out their hypocrisy is all that is needed because there is no defence for hypocrisy. Munafiqeen are in contradiction with themselves and their behaviour is disgraceful in the eyes of both believers and honest disbelievers. It is so disgraceful in its nature that simply exposing it makes it cower away.

May Allah Almighty protect us from the munafiqeen and from munafiqat.

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