"and We have created you in pairs"
Al Qur'an 78:8
Your Questions - April, 2017

Nowadays, it is becoming widespread in families and outside to label each other. Is it alright to label somebody as a Hypocrite if we see the signs of Nifaq (Hypocrisy) in his words and actions?

Answered by: Shaykh Zafar ul Hasan

Understanding the Term Nifaq (Hypocrisy) in linguistic terminology

In linguistic terminology Nifaq means a burrow inside which something can be hidden, or a burrow with two holes inside from which something can go and hide and then come out from the other side. Even the burrow of a rat is also called Nifaq. The underground road tunnels built in the Arabia roads with two outlets in different side are called Nafaqa, which is the root word of Nifaq. You can read the written letters Na Fa Qa on the exit or the entry of the tunnel.

If you see these tunnels it appears plain sands from its surface, but beneath it there is a hidden road or a tunnel from where a car enters and comes out from the other end this is called nafaq, and from it we get Nifaq.

Nifaq as explained in Shariah

In the light of Qur’an and Sunnah, Nifaq means a person concealing kufr and shirk in his heart and pretends to be a Muslim through his words and deeds. He is a disbeliever by heart and an enemy of Islam from inside. He keeps enmity towards Islam and hates Muslims but due to his worldly needs and selfish desires he declares himself a Muslim. This is Nifaq in reality.

There were Munafiqs in Madinah, during the days of the Prophet (peace be upon him)

In Surah al Ahzab, Allah informs his Prophet, that there are many Munafiqs in Madinah, many names of the Munafiqs who were dwelling in Madinah were disclosed to him, but there were still many in the city and around the city whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not know but Allah knew. Thus we come to know that though there were munafiqs in Madinah and the Prophet (peace be upon him) could not recognise them.

If the Prophet (peace be upon him) could not identify the Munafiqs how can you and I?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) accepted their Islam on face value but Allah informed him that though the person recited shahadah, and sat in his gathering yet he had concealed kufr in his heart and he is a munafiq.

It was Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) who had informed the Prophet (peace be upon him), the names of the Munafiqs and the Prophet (peace be upon him) had jotted the names of all these Munafiqs and after his death it was Hudaifah ibn Yemen (Allah be pleased with him) who had the list of the names.

Even Khulafa-e-Rashideen were unaware as to who were the Munafiqs around them

Umar ibn Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) used to visit Hudaifah (Allah be pleased with him) and say, “ O Hudaifah! Please show me the list of the names of the Munafiq which the Prophet had dictated you. I hope my name is not mentioned in it” He used to fear of being mentioned in the list of Munafiqs. Only when he was informed that his name was not included, he used to feel relieved of being saved from Nifaq.

Even if some signs are evident in a person, we still do not know what is in his heart

At times, it happens that a deed which is normally done by a disbeliever is also committed by a true Muslim. Therefore, if any act of someone is apparent like that of a Munafiq or a Disbeliever, yet he cannot be termed as a Munafiq or a disbeliever.

Two categories of Munafiq

The Scholars of Deen have categorised the Munafiqs into two types.

  1. Munafiq of Aitaqad-e-Amali and
  2. Munafiq of Action

Munafiq of Aitaqad-e-Amali is one who is actually referred as a Munafiq in the Qur’an and they are worst than the disbelievers. For example, The Leader of Munafiq, Abdullah ibn Ubai ibn Sulool and his companions in Madinah whose names were disclosed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) by Allah Himself were Munafiq of Aitaqad.  They were those Munafiqs who were Disbelievers from the core of their hearts but due to some selfishness they pretended to be Muslims through certain actions.  

We should be careful about labeling any Muslim as a Munafiq-e-Aitaqadi

Today, the revelations do not come to inform us the name of Munafiq, so we have to take the face value from what we see, but with regards to what does a person’s heart carry, we can never know. Therefore, we cannot issue a ruling upon someone that he is a Munafiq and he is the Aitaqadi type and will stay in hellfire as mentioned in the Qur’an, “Indeed the Munafiqs will be in the deepest depth of Hellfire.”

The second category of Munafiq, Munafiq-e-Amli

In this category, the person believes and loves Allah and His Messenger and loves Islam, while he is on Tawheed, hates shirk, but he adopts certain acts which are mentioned as the signs of Munafiqs for example breaking promises, or using abusive language or speaking lies.

From Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him), “ A Munafiq has three signs. First, when he speaks, he speak lies, second, when a trust is given to him he betrays it, and third, when he promises, he breaks it.

Instead of applying the above Hadith on other fellow Muslims, each Muslim should introspect his heart, to search if he has any kufr in his heart or hatred towards Islam. He may be not be willing to breaks promises and consider lying yet he might fall into one these sins so though he does not become a Munafiq but his actions are of Munafiq. That is why it is called Nifaq-e-Amali

When we see such acts we may say someone is a Munafiq by his deeds or we can ask him to leave that particular act and do tawbah (repentance) because that act is the deed of a Munafiq but yet we cannot call someone a Munafiq by Aitiqad nor should we apply a fatwa of nifaq on such a person that “You have now turned into a Munafiq and you have no connection with Islam anymore.”

Only Allah knows what is in the heart of a person

Nifaq is connected with heart and only Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) who has no partner and the Knower of what heart's possess, knows who is a munafiq and he will not inform us anymore because revelations have ceased to happen. In the days of the Prophet (peace be upon him) a few Muslims might have committed sins but still they were never called Munafiqs.

Even the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not call a sinning Muslim as Munafiq

There was  a Muslim who used to drink alcohol  and when he was caught he was brought before the Prophet (peace be upon him). Every time he was brought, the Prophet (peace be upon him) announced his punishment and it was implemented. This man was drinking repeatedly and was punished repeatedly. Once when he was brought for punishment, someone cursed him,  “Allah’s curse be upon you. You sinner! You get drunk repeatedly and get hit with sticks.”  The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Do not curse him, for he may be sinning but in his heart there is love for Allah and His messenger.”

A person may commit a lot of sinful acts, yet his heart can be clear of nifaq and possess Emaan and Islam

None of you should impose any fatwa of Nifaq upon any individual Muslim. At the most you may say, ‘Allah knows best what is in the hearts but the actions are those that speak of Nifaq’. You may correct him and explain him but you cannot impose a fatwa of him being a Munafiq.

Be careful to jump to say, “No matter how much you defend, I know his heart and his intentions very well, I know how big a Munafiq he is.” It is difficult to read a person’s heart and by passing such comments you are harming your own Akhera (Hereafter).

A very Frightening Hadith that will prove how dangerous it is for one to proclaim another Muslim as Munafiq or a Kafir

This is the age of turmoil where the easiest fatwas are the fatwas on Takfeer (to declare someone a kafir) and Nifaaq (Hypocrisy). Fatwas on a Believer comes quicker than fatwas on an alcoholic or adulterer.

 The Prophet (peace be upon him) sent a man along with the army of Muslims. He was a true Muslim and none of us can match his status. When the battle between Kufr and Islam grew fierce, this man made an enemy run for his life. The kafir ran and this man chased him till then the kafir fell down and immediately screamed out, “I bear witness that no one deserves to be worshiped except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” He kept on repeating the shahada declaring that I am a Muslim, I am a Muslim but he killed him.

The Reaction of the Prophet (peace be upon him)

Upon returning back along with the army, the matter was reported to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he exclaimed, “You killed him!"

The man replied, “He did not recite the shahada sincerely, I knew it well that he was doing so to save his life so I killed him.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked, “Did you tear off his heart and see it?”

“No, O Messenger of Allah but I heard him just reciting the shahada”

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “How sad it is, neither you accepted his verbal shahada nor did you tear of his heart and checked it!” He was upset.

Today people are so swift in issuing Fatwas of Nifaq (Hypocrisy) and Takfeer (Ruling someone to be a kafir) on their fellow Muslims

Do not hurl fatwas but control your tongues and keep the matters for Allah to settle. Today, many of us are so casual in saying, “I know how black this person’s heart is.” Nobody can bear witness about the condition of a person’s heart.

Refrain from issuing fatwas upon others but be concerned and worried about your own self.

Focus on your own sins and shortcomings. You may not know though you may be a pious person yet one sin can cause Allah to annul your entire good deeds. Whereas the person upon whom you are issuing a fatwa may do a small deed which may be too good in the sight of Allah, and He would cause him to enter in Jannah.

Oh It’s just a statement! See the consequence

There were two neighbours. One of them was pious and his neighbour was involved in some kind of sins. The pious used to reprimand his neighbour for his sins. The neighbour used to say, “Shaitan causes me to sin but I will repent.” The pious man cautioned him again but the neighbour continued to sin. The third time when he committed the sin the pious man got angry and said, “I am cautioning you repeatedly, By Allah, He will not forgive you. He may forgive others but not you.” This was the only thing he said. Just a fatwa that “Allah will not forgive you at all.”

The sinning neighbour pleaded and said, “Do not issue such fatwa as the matter is between me and Allah. And indirectly he said, “How do you know how much I plead before Allah at night. This matter is between me and Allah so please do not issue a fatwa upon me.”

When both the men died, Allah commanded the sinner to enter Jannah and ordered the pious to enter the Hellfire. He said to Allah, I was trying to stop him from committing sin.” Allah replied, “I know he committed sins and you wanted to stop him but the issue is who gave you the right to be judgemental about Me?” (Sahih Muslim)

Therefore do not issue fatwas but try to correct your Muslim brother, and explain him not only once but thousand times and do not get fedup and start issuing Fatwas. When you issue a fatwa against your Muslim brother, then be sure that you will be questioned for your fatwa. Will you still not desist?