The Characteristics of the Passive
They Are Passive in the Exercise of Their Discernment
One of the main characteristics of the Muslims is that they possess the power of discernment. This quality is different from intelligence, in that only sincere believers have the ability to conclude appropriate decisions based on the Qur'an. But, the passive have no such ability of discernment, no matter how hard they may try to pretend to such a quality, for their understanding of morality is far removed from the teachings of the Qur'an.
From their behavior one can see that most of them are in confusion, and that clearly they cannot understand the significance of outcomes as one sound in reason. When confronted by something that has happened, they draw very different conclusions than would a Muslim, whose understanding is shaped by his knowledge of the Qur'an. Unlike the sincere believers, they do not have clear consciousness and, therefore, do not possess the power of discernment to determine the meaning of that which happens with reference to the Qur'an.
One of the clearest indications of those who are passive is the empty, dull and vague expressions they often have on their faces. No one with good consciousness would want to wear such an expression, but these people are often found with this deadened look because their minds are inactive.
The unclear consciousness of the passive, who live among Muslims, can be noticed by those they speak with. For example, their responses to questions are often ambiguous; their comments seem either irrelevant or even incomprehensible. Moreover, it becomes immediately apparent that they cannot concentrate on the question in hand. In the Qur'an, Allah refers to this state of undiscerning individuals:
Do you suppose that most of them hear or understand? They are just like cattle. Indeed they are even more astray! (Surat al-Furqan, 44)
Because these people are deprived of the ability to grasp the real meaning of events, they look constantly surprised or alarmed. If you ask them to complete a very simple task, they feel panic, which ultimately prevents them from accomplishing it. Because they cannot concentrate properly on even an ordinary task, they are easily prone to harm themselves, as well as other people and objects around them. In the Qur'an, Allah speaks of the confusion of those who are insolent:
... We will abandon them to wander blindly in their excessive insolence. (Surat al-An‘am, 110)
Those who do not pray to Allah, and have no desire to be sincere Muslims, cannot engage in meaningful conversations at length with believers. They have a very limited attention span, and soon begin to feel unease and discomfort. Allah describes the state of mind of those who do not truly believe:
When Allah desires to guide someone, He expands his breast to Islam. When He desires to misguide someone, He makes his breast narrow and constricted as if he were climbing up into the sky. That is how Allah defiles those who have no faith. (Surat al-An‘am, 125)
Those who tend to passivity, will attempt to change the subject when it comes to the Qur'an or Allah, and try to move on to another topic. They also find it hard to find a conversation topic, for they cannot grasp the truth of Allah's absolute control over all things. However, a Muslim recognizes the many signs of Allah's wisdom in all he sees. Because his power of discernment is sound, he can more easily enter into sincere dialogue with others; he sees all the blessings that Allah has created, and is eager to speak of them. By the light of the verses of the Qur'an, he can speak concisely and with wisdom. But, the people in question can choose and speak only of shallow subjects, for their discernment is inhibited. For example, they have no difficulty speaking about fashion, music, magazines, and politics, and can parrot what they have read in newspaper columns, for instance, about issues of government policy. But, they are reluctant to remember Allah, to speak of the meaning of the verses of the Qur'an, and the signs of Allah's creation. Of course, it is pleasant to talk to someone about social, or political matters, or current affairs, but it is not normal to opt for these topics in order to avoid speaking about Allah.
They Are Passive in Applying the Qur'an in Their Own Lives
Those who try to inculcate a passivity among the Muslims, and who are known for this penchant, know what Allah has decreed in the verses of the Qur'an. But, unlike the Muslims, it is mere information to them. They do not adopt the faith of a Muslim, or live according to same high moral standards.
The fact that these people do not practice a morality that agrees with the Qur'an is the reason why their debased morality and character always stand out so plainly among Muslims. Persistent in their passivity, these people, from the outset, never intended to live according to the pure and sincere religious morality, and this has prevented them from accepting the decrees of the Qur'an, and adopting the moral qualities of a believer. Even if they appeared to be conforming to the commands and prohibitions of Allah, they could never banish their deeply ingrained ignorant mentality from their lives. They are even so perverse as to interpret the Qur'an according to these ignorant tenets. For this reason, they have developed an understanding that is very different from the actual meaning of faith that the Muslims understand. If they are confronted by something that goes against their own personal interests, or threatens to upset their situation, they do not put their trust in Allah, but become impatient, fearful and stricken with panic. Unlike true Muslims, they are not content to live the kind of life the Qur'an enjoins. In fact, if one examines their morality and way of living, one would clearly see that they differ widely from the Muslims. They have no trace of the sincerity, resolve, enercy, discernment or wisdom of a Muslim, who is close to Allah and conforms his life to the Qur'an. On the contrary, such a person imparts those around him a feeling of coldness, officiousness, insincerity, affectation and anxiety, that would never be seen in the character of one of religious moral conviction.
The Qur'an indicates that there were people in the company of our Prophet (saas) afflicted with such a character. Although they were very close to our Prophet (saas), spoke with him, and were witnesses to his revelations, they were passive when it came to living according to the moral teachings of the Qur'an. They did not even feel any compunction in lying to such a man as blessed a person as our Prophet (saas). Allah tells us that the character of these hypocrites will be exposed:
When the hypocrites come to you they say, "We bear witness that you are indeed the messenger of Allah." Allah knows that you are indeed His messenger and Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are certainly liars. (Surat al-Munafiqun, 1)
In spite of the fact that these people were close acquaintances of the Prophet (saas), and knew the Qur'an, they did not believe in their hearts that he was Allah's messenger. But, in order to hide what they really thought from the Muslims, and to seek to derive material advantage from them, they felt no qualms in lying to the Prophet (saas).
These people are always the last in patience, humility, self-sacrifice, generosity, loyalty, and other such Muslim traits. Their character, reactions and habits reflect their remoteness from the religion. For example, even though they know the meaning of humility, they are arrogant, content in their own ways, and those with whom one would rarely be able to engage in sincere dialogue. They know they ought to be patient, but act superficially and impatiently, unwilling to wait and always expecting immediate gratification of their demands. Likewise, although they know how one ought to be who trusts in Allah, and know that they are to be submissive to destiny, they are constantly apprehensive about it, unwilling to await the outcome of an event, and unable to see the positive aspects in that which they experience. They easily become panic stricken and overwhelmed with doubt and fear. It is clear from these reactions of theirs that they do not understand that Allah holds absolute control over everything that happens.
In all things, the basis of a proper moral character is obedience of one's conscience, this being a characteristic of Muslims. Those who are passive and live among Muslims, however, do not properly exercise their conscience. They obey their conscience when it is easy for them, but not in times of difficulty, or that which conflicts with their interests, or when they lack the motivation to expend a certain effort. For example, these people can tell you about kindness and forgiveness, and refer to the pertinent verses in the Qur'an, but, when it comes to acting on them, they follow their baser urges. For example, while their conscience inspires them to be fervent and to feel the zeal unique to Muslims, they prefer to approach a task hesitantly and try to impede it. However, a true Muslim always suppresses the demands of his lower-self in favor of the demands of his conscience. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us about this moral quality possessed by Muslims:
And among the people there are some who give up everything, desiring the good pleasure of Allah... (Surat al-Baqara, 207)
A Muslim overcomes his anger and does not become vindictive. He takes delight in conquering his baser urges, and is happy to be tolerant and forgiving. This is because Allah has commanded in the Qur'an:
Those of you possessing affluence and ample wealth should not make oaths that they will not give to their relatives and the very poor and those who have migrated in the way of Allah. They should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love Allah to forgive you? Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surat an-Nur, 22)
Those who are passive in the practice of religion give no thought to these things; in situations that are contrary to their own interests, they quickly become angry and blame others. In certain situations, they are totally ambivalent, reacting neither positively nor negatively, giving the impression that they are not interested in those things that matter to the Muslims. They do not even feel that anger they should justly feel when religious values are verbally assaulted. Their aim is disingenuous; by their lack of concern, they want to make those around them who are weak that sometimes insensitivity can be a legitimate response. Through these methods, they believe they are able to mislead others into their type of passivity. However, Muslims who are insightful know quite well what these types of responses are intended to achieve; and, when they see hypocrites around them shunning the practice of religious morality, they proceed with caution.
It is important to stress, at this point, that these people try their utmost not to exhibit moral character. As we said earlier, they are not entirely ignorant about matters like compassion, sacrifice, faithfulness, mercy, patience, and all the other qualities that a good moral character is comprised of; indeed, they all know very well what these things are, and if you were to ask them, they could quote the relevant verses of the Qur'an. But, they deliberately refuse to conform to these qualities, both because their faith is weak, and because they want to show that they do not esteem other Muslims. But, if these people knew that they would derive some material reward for acting morally, they would offer every sort of self-sacrifice, and carry out to the full what was required of them. For example, if the one through whom they were to receive this gain were a high-level manager of a factory, they would comply with everything he said, and be subservient in every way towards him. This does little to prove the morality of their character. On the contrary, they knew how they should have behaved, but refused to do so; this is a clear sign of their deceitfulness.
Although these people are far removed from the morality of the Qur'an, it is interesting to note that, when confronted with a difficult situation, they try to defend themselves to the Muslims by employing the Qur'an. They claim that what they had done was fated, that they did not mean to act wrongly, and that they must not be thought ill of. Their aim is to prevent the other from saying anything against them, and from using the Qur'an as a criterion to judge their behavior. Actually, Muslims are already well aware that everything is fated, and occurs through Allah's permission. However, to succeed in the trial that is this earthly life, they must evaluate events in light of the Qur'an. Therefore, they must be continually careful and take every measure against the hypocrisy that aims to make Muslims passive.
In the Qur'an, Allah reveals that these people "strive against His signs, trying to nullify them" (Surah Saba', 5) in their aim of obfuscating the truths and impeding the efforts of Muslims, and to ultimately make them passive.These people listen to and consider the words of the Qur'an but with the intention of finding justification to later exonerate themselves. However, because of their base moral character, this satanical endeavor of theirs is to no avail. The Qur'an tells us that these people try to interpret the Qur'an according to their own corrupt way of thinking:
It is He Who sent down the Book to you from Him: Verses containing clear judgments—they are the core of the Book—and others which are open to interpretation. Those with deviation in their hearts follow what is open to interpretation in it, desiring conflict, seeking its inner meaning. No one knows its inner meaning but Allah. Those firmly rooted in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All of it is from our Lord." But only people of intelligence pay heed.
(Surah Al ‘Imran, 7)
They Have No Desire to Perform Good Deeds
In the Qur'an, Allah reminds us often of the importance of doing good. Some examples are as follows:
Those who believe and do right actions will have a wage which never fails. (Surah Fussilat, 8)
As for those who believed and did right actions, their Lord will admit them into His mercy. That is the clear victory. (Surat al-Jathiyya, 30)
But those who believe and do right actions—they are the best of creatures. (Surat al-Bayyina, 7)
One of the most noticeable traits of those who do not practice religious morality to the full, is their reluctance to do good. In verse, "Among you there are people who lag behind" (Surat an-Nisa', 72), Allah calls our attention to this kind of person among the Muslims. These individuals are strongly averse to doing good works. Because it is not to their own advantage, they do not undertake something that will be for the good of Muslims. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us the difference between those who do good and those who avoid doing it:
As for those who believe and do right actions, He will pay them their wages in full and will give them increase from His favor. As for those who show disdain and grow arrogant, He will punish them with a painful punishment. They will not find any protector or helper for themselves besides Allah. (Surat an-Nisa', 173)
These people regard doing good deeds as a waste of time, for at any time, they may abandon the believers and return to the life of ignorance. They become very lax and unwilling to perform acts of service, with the false idea in mind that they would only later regret having in that way expended so much time and effort.
But, one who truly believes in Allah will want to do everything he can, and more, to gain His pleasure and mercy, and to attain Paradise. He goes from one good deed to the next, without hesitation, does so completely and as best as he can. He does his very best to show his loyalty to Allah in performance of his service of good works. He always considers the good of Islam and of Muslims, and offers ideas and seeks to encourage others to implement them, that all may enjoy peace, friendship and security. Therefore, one of the most evident signs of the piety of a person is his eager desire to fulfill acts of service to win the pleasure of Allah.
But, those who are sick in heart do not pursue acts of service to others, if they are not to be rewarded immediately. They do not have the love or fear of Allah in their hearts that would lead them to perform such acts. So, expending effort with no possibility of immediate reward, in addition to losing sleep, and performing other acts of self-sacrifice, are hard for them. They are reluctant, and think, "If there is no worldly gain in it for me, why should I exert myself?" They would stay awake day and night, sacrificing themselves through tireless effort, giving no regard to their fatigue, if there were a possibility of material gain. But, they would consider performing an act of service for the sake of Allah as a great burden, and would expect the believers to feel obliged towards them. Though, of course, this does not mean that they do not expend any efforts at all. These obsequious persons complete certain acts of service so as not to draw attention to themselves, and to display their supposed piety, but only through minimum effort. Often, they will resort to various manner of intrigue to hide their true nature. They tend to remain in the background, using excuses such as sickness, lack of ability, skill or understanding. In this way, they aim to make Muslims believe that they actually want to do good works, but that they do not have the skill or the mental ability required. Allah tells us about such disingenuous people, by showing us how those hypocrites living during the Blessed Period avoided engaging in battle alongside our Prophet (saas):
And [it is] so that He would know the hypocrites. They were told, "Come and fight in the way of Allah or at least help defend us." They said, "If we knew how to fight, we would certainly follow you." They were closer to disbelief that day than to faith, saying with their mouths what was not in their hearts. And Allah knows best what they are hiding. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 167)
The love these people of hypocritical character have for the lifestyle of ignorance is far greater than their love for Allah. This is the reason why they are enthusiastic and happy when they are in the company of those with moral character reflecting their ignorance of religion, but saddened and despondent when among believers. The Qur'an tells us that those with this bent of character feel anger when the name of Allah is mentioned, and happy when He is not thought of:
When Allah is mentioned on His own, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter shrink back shuddering, but when others apart from Him are mentioned, they jump for joy. (Surat az-Zumar, 45)
On the other hand, those who are truly religious are always eager and willing to do all they can in their hope of winning Allah's favor and mercy and of attaining Paradise. In the Qur'an, Allah commands believers:
So when you have finished, work on, and make your Lord your goal! (Surat al-Inshirah, 7-8)
In another verse, Allah commands the believers to "race each other to the good" (Surat al-Baqara, 148). Believers who obey this command are never idle, but spend every hour in the search for good deeds they can perform. They give priority to one another's needs, never with any sense of rivalry, except competing with one another in doing good. They do not miss any opportunity to do a good deed that will bring a reward for them in the Hereafter, never feeling lax or procrastinating when the occasion presents itself. Even if they are tired, they do not mention it, but, when one task is completed, they go on to the next. They never make anyone feel indebted to them, but instead make it appear as if it had been a minor effort. Indeed, they know that they must gain the favor and mercy of Allah, and accumulate their good deeds before they die; they are humble and content with what they have, not expecting even a "thank you" for anything they have done.
We can see that there is a great difference between those "who worship Allah right on the edge" (Surat al-Hajj, 11), namely, the type of individual who does not practice the religious morality, and the attitude and behavior of a true, devout Muslim. On the surface, each one appears to be religious and Muslim; they say they believe in Allah and the afterlife. But, if you were to assess them in light of the Qur'an, there would be an apparent difference between one who has submitted wholeheartedly to Allah, and who lives by the essence of his religion, and one whose religion is disingenuous.
They Do Not Become Involved in Trying Matters but Avoid and Offer Excuses
Those who favor passivity avoid issues that are of importance to Islam and Muslims. They prefer to observe developments from outside, and without comment. They never employ their minds to become more involved in an issue, in order that they might help to mitigate the harm or danger that might result. They do nothing to protect the interests of Islam. They lurk on the sidelines, observing without comment when a person is losing his faith and the eternal life of Paradise. They witness the important efforts put forth by the Muslims, but prefer to sit by doing nothing. Instead, they opt to do that which does not require much effort, or offer a few empty excuses to do nothing at all. Allah warns Muslims against this ignorance, and announces that, in His sight, they have nothing in common with those Muslims who implement to the fullest every project they undertake:
Do you make the giving of water to the pilgrims and looking after the Sacred Mosque [Masjid al-Haram] the same as believing in Allah and the Last Day and struggling in the way of Allah? They are not equal in the sight of Allah. Allah does not guide wrongdoing people.
Those believers who stay behind—other than those forced to by necessity—are not the same as those who strive in the way of Allah, sacrificing their wealth and themselves. Allah has given those who strive with their wealth and themselves a higher rank than those who stay behind. Allah has promised the Best to both, but Allah has preferred those who strive over those who stay behind by an immense reward. (Surat an-Nisa', 95)
These people hope that their ignorant ploys will deceive the Muslims, and are overjoyed by even the slightest gain or benefit they attain through them. They think they have something to gain by either sitting around idly, doing less, taking more time doing so, or doing what they do carelessly. They think they are being smarter than sincere Muslims, by not exhausting themselves, and by not employing their attention or energy to the full in the service of Islam.Their basic goal is to foment passivity in Muslim society, showing forth every kind of moral weakness in the pursuit of this aim. For example, Muslims will expend every effort to communicate the morality of the Qur'an to others, to ignite the flame of Islamic morality in their hearts, but the others see nothing wrong with offering far-fetched excuses in the search of ways to avoid participating in such efforts. Allah tells us that the greatest difference separating these two groups is the following:
Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day do not ask you to excuse them from striving with their wealth and themselves. Allah knows the people who guard against evil. Only those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day ask you to excuse them. Their hearts are full of doubt and in their doubt they waver to and fro. (Surat at-Tawba, 44-45)
We can understand from these verses that these people, unlike Muslims, have no intention of putting forth a sincere effort, but immediately provide excuses to avoid doing so. The Qur'an tells us of such excuses, put forward in the days of our Prophet (saas), by certain individuals of weak character:
Those who were left behind were glad to stay behind the messenger of Allah. They did not want to strive with their wealth and themselves in the way of Allah. They said, "Do not go out to fight in the heat." Say: "The Fire of Hell is much hotter, if they only understood." (Surat at-Tawba, 81)
Some of them asked the Prophet to excuse them, saying, "Our houses are exposed," when they were not exposed; it was merely that they wanted to run away. (Surat al-Ahzab, 13)
"Had we been able to, we would have gone out with you..." (Surat at-Tawba, 42)
These people, who cannot abandon their lives of ignorance, or break their attachment to the life of this world, cannot openly admit that they prefer this world to the world to come. For this reason, with their various excuses, they make known their real intention to the believers. As is mentioned in the above verses, those who shirked their faith pretend that their health is not as sound as that of other Muslims; others say that they cannot bear the hot weather; while others still claim that their standing in society prevents them from putting forth the effort to practice Islamic morality.
These people choose their excuses or statements they make to be deceptive, thinking they can delude the Muslims into believing them. And, for one who is not familiar with the teachings of the Qur'an, these excuses may appear legitimate. However, for those Muslims able to recognize the character of the hypocrite, as described in the Qur'an, their excuses merely expose them for their real intentions. Allah tells us about this aspect of their character in the Qur'an, so, for Muslims, their attempt to appear sincere, in speaking the name of Allah, and their frequent oaths are proofs of their intentions.
In the time of our Prophet (saas), the hypocrites resorted to similar tactics. They tried to make Allah's Messenger (saas) believe they were sincere and that their approach was correct:
If it had been a case of easy gains and a short journey, they would have followed you, but the distance was too great for them. They will swear by Allah: "Had we been able to, we would have gone out with you." They are destroying their own selves. Allah knows that they are lying. (Surat at-Tawba, 42)
When the hypocrites come to you they say, "We bear witness that you are indeed the messenger of Allah." Allah knows that you are indeed His messenger and Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are certainly liars.They have made their oaths into a cloak and barred the way of Allah. What they have done is truly evil. (Surat al-Munafiqun, 1-2)
We can see from these verses that the hypocrites use their oaths and subtle language to make themselves appear to be good-intentioned believers. But, Allah has given these examples to reveal to all Muslims what their real intentions were.
Passivity in Showing Love and Respect
Another factor to help in recognizing these individuals, who, though living among Muslims, try to create their own faction according to their own interpretation, is that they do not mingle with the believers.
Believers hope to live with one another into eternity in the world to come; this expectation unites them, and fills their spirits while in this world. Allah tells us that believers are "those who fight in His way in ranks like well-built walls" (Surat as-Saff, 4) and that, among those of faith, there is fondness, sincerity and true friendship. In the Qur'an, Allah describes this strong bond between Muslims:
The believers are brothers. (Surat al-Hujurat, 10)Hold fast to the rope of Allah all together, and do not separate. Remember Allah's blessing to you when you were enemies and He joined your hearts together so that you became brothers by His blessing… (Surah Al ‘Imran, 103)
This strong bond between Muslims, arising from their faith in Allah, unites them to one another in love and respect. But, this attachment between them is not like the temporary and ill founded love found among the unbelievers. The Muslims' love is founded solely on their love and fear of Allah, and it is through this love and faithfulness, that they feel towards Allah, that they love one another. If they see signs of a deep-felt faith in another person, they respond to that person with equally deep-felt trust, love and respect. Allah advises us in the Qur'an that being affectionate is a very noble quality:
We gave him [Yahya] affection and purity from Us... (Surah Maryam, 13)
But, those who do not assess others in the light of faith, and who cannot appreciate a Muslim's sincere desire to win Allah's favor, cannot feel love or attachment to them. This type of individual can see no purpose in allying himself with another who will bring him no material good.
No matter how hard these individuals try to hide their lack of affection behind their lies, their cold and detached expressions, and their refusal to enter into sincere dialogue with Muslims, reveal their real intentions. Indeed, their coldness, insensitivity and remoteness give Muslims an important clue as to their real character. Instead of warm, loving and sincere friendship, commonly found among Muslims, these individuals are of a personality that is cold, contrarian and remote. Because they are unable to show love; they do not understand the warmth and friendliness in others. On the contrary, they look at Muslims with suspicion and condescension, with strange, formal and unfeeling expressions, that reveal their lack of understanding. There were examples of these in the days of Prophet Muhammad (saas), in the way some people looked at him while they were listening to the Qur'an:
Those who disbelieve all but strike you down with their evil looks when they hear the Reminder and say, "He is quite mad." But it is nothing less than a Reminder to all the worlds. (Surat al-Qalam, 51-52)
Because of their coldness of character, such people are unable to establish close bonds with the Muslims, and have no one they can call a true friend. Later in this book, we will examine the friendships established by these people, and will see that they seek out people as weak as themselves, trying to get on their good side, ultimately, to influence them into passivity. Allah informs us in the Qur'an that those with a sick heart know and protect one another:
When they passed by them, they would wink at one another. When they returned to their families, they would make a joke of them. (Surat al-Mutaffifin, 30-31)
For devout Muslims, whose understanding of true morality is based on the Qur'an, love, sincerity and friendship, with a view to the afterlife, are all extremely important, and they are able to read fondness and love in the face of a sincere individual. However, they rightly look with suspicion on those who are cold, distant, and from whom they cannot sense love. They suspect that, behind this aloofness, lies a malevolence and antagonism against Muslims. Allah commands Muslims not to trust these people, or take them into their confidence, explaining that the treachery they hide in their breast is even greater than it appears to be on the surface:
You who believe! Do not take any outside yourselves as intimates. They will do anything to harm you. They love what causes you distress. Hatred has appeared out of their mouths, but what their breasts hide is far worse. We have made the signs clear to you if you use your intellect. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 118)
They Do Not Remember Allah
One of the most telling characteristics of Muslims is that they always remember Allah. In their discussions, they continually praise and exalt Him with heartfelt respect. But, those who want to propagate passivity among the Muslims, speak as little as they can of Allah. Even, they will try to avoid as much as possible those places where Allah is remembered. In one verse, it is said:
We have placed covers on their hearts, preventing them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears. When you mention your Lord alone in the Qur'an, they turn their backs and run away. (Surat al-Isra', 46)
As Allah says in this verse, Satan has ensnared these individuals and made them forget the remembrance of Him (Surat al-Mujadala, 19). These people are delighted to speak of trivialities like food, drink, clothing, fashion, music and sport, but are not as eager to remember Allah in their conversations. Though sullen and reserved, they do not remain totally silent; they are hesitant, and seem to speak as if rehearsed, and passing quickly from one topic to another. It is almost impossible to ever hear such people praise Allah, or speak of His majesty in a sincere way. They differ from Muslims in that their conversations are insincere, and that they tend to philosophize about religious topics. They refrain from praising the name of Allah, and deliberately refuse to talk about topics of faith or moral perfection. This is because they are too proud to uphold a faith that they have not accepted in their heart. For this reason, when they speak of Allah, they will merely derive information stored in their memories, or express certain formulas they have heard from others, and without sincerity.
However, Muslims' thoughts and words about Allah are always sincere, because He is always in their hearts and minds. Allah tells us in the Qur'an about the way Muslims think:
[People with intelligence are] those who remember Allah, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the Earth: "Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire." (Surah Al ‘Imran, 191)
And, another verse says that the hearts of believers are satisfied only when they remember Allah.
Those who believe and whose hearts find peace in the remembrance of Allah. Only in the remembrance of Allah can the heart find peace. (Surat ar-Ra‘d, 28)
The love that Muslims feel towards Allah is too great to compare to the obsessive devotion that passive people feel for their businesses, spouses, friends, family or anything else. For this reason, praise of Allah is always in their thoughts and on their lips. In one verse of the Qur'an, Allah tells us about the intensity of the love that those who are truly devout feel towards Him:
Some people set up equals to Allah, loving them as they should love Allah. But those who believe have greater love for Allah... (Surat al-Baqara, 165)
Contrary to this, those of passive character want also to prevent others from remembering Allah. Allah tells us of this in the Qur'an: Who could do greater wrong than someone who bars access to the mosques of Allah, preventing His name from being remembered in them, and goes about destroying them?... (Surat al-Baqara, 114)
As the verse, "you would know them by their ambivalent speech" (Surah Muhammad, 30) maintains, we can recognize these people by the way they speak to others, while the Muslims are known for the completely different way they converse. From the way in which they speak, passive individuals give the impression that they do not share the Muslim moral qualities. Unlike the Muslims, they speak in a way that shows they place too much importance on trivial matters, and that they have forgotten that Allah is in control of everything that happens. They read a few books or newspapers, and relay the knowledge they obtain to others with calculated, pseudo-intellectual language, that has none of the warmth or humility that faith can provide. Even if they regard these methods as means to show they are superior to Muslims, they foster no contentment in their hearts; it does not remove the deep malaise in their souls. On the contrary, it is the reason they continually live in fear and apprehension.
They Are Open to Negative Suggestions and Insinuations
Those who shrink from practicing the morality of religion are of weak faith and, as a result, are open to suggestions from those who do not believe. If they are presented with a perverted suggestion, and told that religion is not necessary, and that it is enough to live a life that conforms to values of this world, they totally agree. If someone comes to them and says, "I don't believe in Allah; I don't believe any more that religion and worship are important; I am going to live as an atheist," it will influence them. When faced with such suggestions, their resolve is broken, and they easily follow those who are not religious. It would be naïve to think that this kind of individual is a Muslim, just because he says he performs his prayers and certain acts of worship; rather, he appreciates such temptations towards secularism.
Out of his devotion to tradition, an individual may hesitate to completely abandon the religion. For this reason, he may not accept the invitation of someone who calls him to live his life without regard for the moral teachings of the Qur'an. But, if he abandons what he had performed as custom, and is presented with the practices of ignorance, he approves of it. He feels an intense desire to live a worldly life, and, even if he does not openly declare that he has no faith in Allah, religion or the Qur'an, he looks positively on the morality of those who live the kind of life ignorant of religion, and accepts their disgraceful behavior and superstitions. He is not disturbed when people around him deny the afterlife, because of their attachment to this world. Or, when he sees that they prefer to live empty lives, without purpose, and devoid of charity; he is not disturbed by their greedy accumulation of worldly possessions, the disgraceful things they do to earn respect, or their desire to live in a way that seeks the pleasure of other human beings rather than that of Allah. Those who are sick in their hearts imply, through various means, to those ignorant of the religion that they tacitly approve of their corrupted way of life and thinking. In the Qur'an, Allah describes the condition of this kind of person:
Those who reject Allah after having believed—except for someone forced to do it whose heart remains at rest in its faith—but as for those whose breasts become dilated with disbelief, anger from Allah will come down on them. They will have a terrible punishment. That is because they prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter and because Allah does not guide disbelieving people. (Surat an-Nahl, 106-107)
Allah tells us that in every age there have been those living in close contact with Muslims, but who have abandoned their faith, and been deceived by Satan into returning to ways of ignorance. One of the groups mentioned in the Qur'an in this regard were weak-willed individuals living among the people of Prophet Musa (as). These people learned the noble moral teachings and received spiritual training from Prophet Musa (as), a person beloved and blessed by Allah, and witnessed the miracles performed by him. Prophet Musa (as) saved these people from the horrible punishment inflicted on them by Pharaoh, through the will of Allah, as well as relating Allah's words to them and guiding them. But, when Prophet Musa (as) temporarily left his people, in order to receive a revelation from Allah, his absence was the occasion for their becoming ensnared by the satanic temptation into the perverse beliefs of a person named Samaritan. Samaritan had until that point been regarded as a religious man, but his corruption influenced several among them, and led them to deify others along with Allah.
With the following verse, Allah told Prophet Musa (as) what was happening among his people, "He said, 'We tried your people after you left and the Samaritan has misguided them.'" (Surah Ta Ha, 85), at which point Prophet Musa (as) returned to them. In the Qur'an, Allah then tells us what happened:
… He [Musa] said, "My people, did not your Lord make you a handsome promise? Did the fulfillment of the contract seem too long to you or did you want to unleash your Lord's anger upon yourselves, so you broke your promise to me?" They said, "We did not break our promise to you of our own volition. But we were weighed down with the heavy loads of the people's jewelry and we threw them in, for that is what the Samaritan did." Then he produced a calf for them, a physical form which made a lowing sound. So they said, "This is your god—and Musa's god as well, but he forgot." (Surah Ta Ha, 86-88)
As we can see, the people answered that they did not willingly break their promise, but acted under the influence of Samaritan. Led by his perverse suggestions, they abandoned their faith, and made for themselves a statue of a calf. We can read in the Qur'an that this Samaritan was a man who obeyed his base inner desires:
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." (Surah Ta Ha, 96)
Because this group was not sufficiently conscientious, they allowed themselves to be influenced by the suggestions of one man; as a result, they renounced their devotion to Allah, and lapsed into the perversity of worshipping the statue of a calf which they had fashioned themselves. But, when Prophet Musa (as) returned, he helped them understand what they had done.
Another transgression committed by the people of Prophet Musa (as) took place after Allah brought them across the sea, drowning Pharaoh in it; again they strayed from the true path, and began to imitate those who were ignorant of the religion. When they saw the idol worship of these people, their desire to imitate them was so strong that they showed the temerity and moral depravity to ask Prophet Musa (as) to shape such an idol for them. The Qur'an tells us of this episode:
… They came upon some people who were devoting themselves to some idols which they had. They said, "Musa, give us a god just as these people have gods." He said, "You are indeed an ignorant people. What these people are doing is destined for destruction. What they are doing is purposeless." He said, "Should I seek something other than Allah as a god for you when He has favored you over all other beings?" Remember when We rescued you from Pharaoh's people who were inflicting an evil punishment on you, killing your sons and letting your women live. In that there was a terrible trial from your Lord. (Surat al-A'raf, 138-141)
When those of weak faith saw the others worshipping idols, it was enough to lure them away from the true path, and to result in an inclination in them towards this perverted belief. Throughout history there have been those who chose to remain passive, having fallen under the influence of suggestions intended to make them abandon religious morality.
In verse 14 of Surat al-Ahzab, Allah tells us how they are prone to rebellion.
If they had been overrun from every side, and had then been asked to revert to disbelief, they would have done so and hesitated very little about it.
In another verse, Allah says, "… Each time they are returned to corruption they are overwhelmed by it…" (Surat an-Nisa', 91).
At heart of their propensity for rebellion lies their vulnerability to the intimations of Satan. As Allah reveals, in the 3rd verse of Surat al-Hajj, "Among people there is one who argues about Allah without knowledge, and follows every rebellious Satan." The expression employed in this verse, "follows every rebellious Satan," should be noted; these people live among Muslims, whose one goal in life is to win Allah's favor, mercy and to attain Paradise; they resemble Muslims, but, although they are disposed to obey the moral teachings of the Qur'an, they consciously choose rebellion. Allah describes them in the Qur'an:
… If they see every sign, they will not believe in it. If they see the way of right guidance, they will not take it as a way. But if they see the way of error, they will take that as a way. That is because they denied Our signs and paid no attention to them. (Surat al-A‘raf, 146)
For this reason, their minds are constantly consumed with the insinuations and suggestions of Satan. Allah tells us in the Qur'an that the promises of Satan lead people away from the His path, and lure them into a way of life remote from the morality of religion:
He [Satan] makes promises to them and fills them with false hopes. But what Satan promises them is nothing but delusion. (Surat an-Nisa', 120)
So, merely due tot their attachment to certain worldly concerns, they are deceived by the promises of Satan into adopting a life ignorant of the religion, and stop practicing religious morality. Allah tells us plainly about this in the following verse:
Those who have turned back in their tracks after the guidance became clear to them, it was Satan who talked them into it and filled them with false hopes. (Surah Muhammad, 25)Because they are easily overtaken with apprehension, when they hear a suggestion from those ignorant of religion, misleading them to believe it will bring them some gain in employment, better marriage prospects, or education, they then easily accept it, and forget about Allah and the morality of religion. Actually, if these offers are compatible with Allah's approval, they can accept them as a Muslim ought to. However, because they are looking for a way to escape from being imposed upon by religious morality, they use such occasions as a means by which they can remove themselves from the company of Muslims. In matters such as vacations, shopping and entertainment, they are also very vulnerable to the influence of societies that are ignorant of the religion. They too easily choose entertainment over worshipping Allah, or doing something else that would gain His favor. These people are very much like those in the days of our Prophet (saas) who, when they saw the opportunity to amuse themselves, left him to indulge themselves in the meaningless activities peculiar to people who are ignorant of the religion. Allah tells us in the Qur'an about such people:
But when they see a chance of trade or entertainment they scatter off to it and leave you standing there. Say: "What is with Allah is better than trade or entertainment. Allah is the Best of Providers." (Surat al-Jumu‘a, 11)
Certainly, the fact that these people are so open to ideas inculcated by Satan, reflects part of a divine purpose, as well as there being an important lesson in it for Muslims. It is a means by which those who are sincere, and who fear Allah, recognize and separate themselves from those with sickness in their hearts. Allah reveals this truth in the Qur'an:
[It is] so that He can make what Satan insinuates a trial for those with sickness in their hearts and for those whose hearts are hard—the wrongdoers are entrenched in hostility. (Surat al-Hajj, 53)
In another verse, He says, "[It is] so that Allah can sift the bad out from the good, and pile the bad on top of one another, heaping them all together, and tip them into Hell. They are the lost." (Surat an-Anfal, 37) and tells us that this is, for Muslims, a purging to lead to their reformation.
Their Speech and Attitude Is Founded on Imitation Rather Than Sincerity
One of the most noticeable characteristics of those who live among Muslims passively is their lack of sincerity. This is something easily noticeable in their behavior and speech. They perform certain acts of worship to show Muslims they are pious, and behave and speak like Muslims. However, they do none of this because they believe, but rather, they pretend to believe, in order to gain the esteem of the Muslims. Because of their ability to imitate the behavior of Muslims, those looking in from outside would at first think that they were merely ordinary Muslims. As Allah tells us in the Qur'an, they perform their prayers, as is stated in the verse, "So woe to those who perform prayer, and are forgetful of their prayer, those who show off" (Surat al-Ma'un, 4-6) and, though for the purpose of impressing others, they may also sometimes give money or some other form of material contribution (again as a pretense) to people in need:
Nothing prevents what they give from being accepted from them but the fact that they have rejected Allah and His messenger, and that they only come to prayer lethargically, and that they only give reluctantly. (Surat at-Tawba, 54)
But the Qur'an is quite clear in stating that Allah will not accept their prayers, because of their insincerity.
They are able to imitate Muslims in many ways: from the way they say their prayers, to the way they speak and behave; from the manner in which they respond to a subject, to the way they carry out certain tasks. Allah tells us in the Qur'an about the character of these hypocrites:
When you see them, their outward form appeals to you, and if they speak you listen to what they say. But they are like propped-up planks of wood... (Surat al-Munafiqun, 4)
However, sincerity is one thing that cannot be imitated. A person's outer aspects can be imitated, but sincerity cannot; it can only be found in a person who nurtures it in his heart. For this reason, a person's true character can be seen only by Muslims, in using the Qur'an as their guide. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us that there were people in the days of our Prophet (saas), who were deliberately indolent in their practice of religious morality. They imitated Muslims, and were even able to find their way into the inner-circle of Prophet Muhammad (saas). Allah has stated that, when He willed, He would make these people known to the Prophet (saas):
If We wished, We would show them to you and you would know them by their mark and know them by their ambivalent speech... (Surah Muhammad, 30)
While they try to falsely put themselves forth as sincere Muslims, a tempest is unleashed inside of them. It is torturous for them to have to constantly pretend to live a truth they do not acknowledge in their hearts. It is trying indeed for those, who harbor a deep resentment of the Muslims, to say their prayers, even for show, to speak edifying words and appear humble, to feign love, or to desire to do good works on behalf of Muslims and Islam. Yet, because they think it is to their advantage, they will not abandon the false pretenses they have imparted upon themselves until it conflicts with their own self-interests. But, when they encounter a difficulty that challenges these interests, they are no longer able to pretend, and their character comes to light. When they see that they have not gained what they had hoped for, they put an end to their pretense and openly display their resentment.
These people, who are passive in practicing the religion, sometimes use their ability to deflect attention from themselves. For example, when Muslims recognize their insincerity, these people draw attention away from themselves by assuming a character accordingly. Sometimes, when required, they will pretend to be naïve and innocent, with no understanding of the importance of a situation; at other times, they show their violent, belligerent, contrarian and aggressive side. Through this behavior they think to deceive Muslims. However, anyone who thinks he is deceiving Allah or Muslims is only deceiving himself:
The hypocrites think they deceive Allah, but He is deceiving them. When they get up to pray, they get up lazily, showing off to people, and only remembering Allah a very little.
(Surat an-Nisa', 142)
Their Faces Have No Glow
Although they present themselves as Muslims, they are full of resentment against them and against religion; and, their faces do not have the bright glow of those of Muslims. Allah says about the Muslims in the Qur'an, "... You see them bowing, prostrating, seeking Allah's good favor and His pleasure. Their mark is on their faces…" (Surah Fath, 29) and that you can tell they are Muslims by their faces. In another verse, it says that Muslims in Paradise will have an expression of brightness and light in their faces:
You will recognize in their faces the radiance of delight. (Surat al-Mutaffifin, 24)
Others, on the contrary, will have a strange, dark expression, without a hint of sincerity, trustworthiness or light, because what they have in their souls is darkness. Because they plot evil and lie to Muslims, Allah has created a darkness, filled with anxiety, unhappiness and stress, to consume their hearts. And, this heavy oppressiveness in their hearts is reflected in the darkness of their faces. Allah speaks of the darkness on the faces of these people:
But as for those who have earned bad actions—a bad action will be repaid with one the like of it. Debasement will darken them. They will have no one to protect them from Allah. It is as if their faces were covered by dark patches of the night. Those are the Companions of the Fire, remaining in it timelessly, for ever. (Surah Yunus, 27)
Our Prophet (saas) has drawn our attention to the dullness in these people, saying that their hearts have become blackened by their lies:
When a person commits a sin, a black spot forms on his heart; when he sincerely repents, it is removed, otherwise it remains. When he again commits a sin another spot forms [and so on], until his heart becomes completely black. Then nothing good can enter his heart. (At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)
As is mentioned in the Qur'an, the aspect of a true Muslim is always bright, and showers happiness on those around him:
Those who do good will have the best and more! Neither dust nor debasement will darken their faces. They are the Companions of the Garden, remaining in it timelessly, for ever. (Surah Yunus, 26)
As the above verse states, there is a reward for people commensurate to the good they have done. But, as for the others, their reward is commensurate to their lack of morality. Allah tells us in the Qur'an that these people, whose faces were darkened because of the things they hade done in this world, will be the same in the Hereafter:
On the Day when faces are whitened and faces are blackened. As for those whose faces are blackened, [to them it will be said]: "What! Did you disbelieve after having believed? Taste the punishment for your disbelief!" (Surah Al ‘Imran, 106)
One example of an instance when the dull expression on their faces becomes evident is when they are asked to do something in the service of Islam, or when they think their comfort will be placed in detriment. When people of similar moral character, living in the time of Prophet Muhammad (saas), were asked to engage in battle alongside him, such an expression was seen on their faces. The Qur'an says:
Those who believe say, "If only a sura could be sent down." But when a straightforward sura is sent down and fighting is mentioned in it, you see those with sickness in their hearts looking at you with the look of someone about to faint from fear of death… (Surah Muhammad, 20)
Their Desire for "Wealth and Sons" and Their Compromise of Religious Morality
In this world, Allah tests His servants in many ways. One such method is through wealth and children. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us that possessions and sons are but adornment of the worldly life:
Wealth and sons are the embellishment of the life of the world. But, in your Lord's sight, right actions which are lasting bring a better reward and are a better basis for hope. (Surat al-Kahf, 46)
In one of his sayings, our Prophet (saas) alludes to this fact:
In the past, all followers of prophets were tested with various instigations. Collecting property and money will be the instigation of my followers. (Mishkat al-Masabih)
Our Lord has revealed that wealth and children are a cause of trial for human beings (Surat al-Anfal, 28). For this reason, believers know that Allah has granted all such blessings in this world as a test, and they therefore behave accordingly. When Allah bestows upon them a blessing, they are glad, give Him thanks, and try to make use of the blessing as best as they can, as they seek to follow His way. If Allah gives them material possessions, they find ways in which they can make them of benefit for Islam. And, if Allah grants them a child, they will do all they can to bring up the child as a devout believer. In all these instances, they try to win the favor of Allah, and act in the best interest of Islam. And if, for some reason, that which things Allah has given them are taken away, they react with humility, showing submission, knowing that there is good in all Allah decrees.
But, those who are reluctant to practice the moral teachings of the Qur'an behave quite differently with regard to the wealth and the children that Allah has granted them. The strong desire they feel for this wealth is reflected in the way they interpret that which happens to them. They do not appreciate that which Allah has given them in this world, as temporary adornment, and, as a result, try jealously to protect what they believe to be theirs. Ultimately, this possessiveness attains the level of avarice. It never enters their mind that it is Allah Who has given them all that they possess, while they resort to every device they can think of to keep these things for themselves. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us of their greed:
Here you are then: People who are called upon to spend in the way of Allah and then some of you are tight-fisted! But whoever is tight-fisted is only tight-fisted to himself. Allah is Rich and you are poor... (Surah Muhammad, 38)
They are very careful in looking after what is theirs, but do not take as much care with the possessions of other believers. Indeed, they misuse the possessions of others, and make no attempt to ensure they are well-maintained and in good repair.
They behave in the same way in other matters that are of interest to them. They are very careful about what they eat, drink, and about their own health; but, they do nothing to help believers who are in need. For them, it is considered perfectly normal to look after their own health, and to be careful of what they eat and drink, and to do all they can to not get sick. But, because they fear Allah and are of good conscience, believers show just as much, and even more, care in looking after their brothers, as they do in caring for themselves. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us about how the believers act in this regard:
… Those who do not find in their hearts any need for what they [their brothers] have been given and prefer them to themselves even if they themselves are needy… (Surat al-Hashr, 9)
But, the passive always take care first of their own interests; and, even to the point of being willing to endanger the health of a believer in doing so.
The concern and regard these people show towards their children can approach the blasphemy of putting creations before the Creator. If Allah grants a child to a Muslim, that Muslim must provide the child a life filled with goodness and purity, and do everything he can to lead him to become a sincere believer. However, those who are passive in living by the values of the religion do not care about making their children into good Muslims, but instead use them as an excuse for their lagging in the struggle. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us about the hypocrites in the time of our Prophet (saas), who referred to their social positions in a similar way:
Those Arabs who remained behind will say to you, "Our wealth and families kept us occupied, so ask forgiveness for us." They say with their tongues what is not in their hearts...
(Surat al-Fath, 11)
... Some of them asked the Prophet to excuse them, saying, "Our houses are exposed," when they were not exposed; it was merely that they wanted to run away. (Surat al-Ahzab, 13)
They Are Jealous and Arrogant
Allah grants everyone certain qualities and abilities they are born with. Like everything else, these qualities are created according to a pre-determined fate. Everyone possesses beauty, intelligence, talents and other qualities to the extent that Allah wills. Despite this evident fact, some want to claim their abilities as of their own making. As the verse "They have become arrogant about themselves." (Surat al-Furqan, 21) says, they are ignorant to the point of becoming proud and arrogant of the qualities they possess.
Forgetting that they are so helpless as to even be unable to finish a sentence because of losing their train of thought, and, that they could never recall what they had intended to say without the will of Allah, these people believe that the knowledge they have accumulated over the years is an achievement of their own doing. Or, they may become obsessed over aspects of their character which appear to them deficient in comparison to others. So, they forget that Allah is the Creator and Ruler of all things, and think of themselves as independent creatures (Surely Allah is beyond what they claim). At the heart of this warped thinking is their pride. However, like all creatures, Allah created them too from nothing and, like all creatures, they are weak and helpless. And, their Lord is Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. Whether they know it or not, they too are in subject to Him; they cannot take even one step, or speak a single word without His consent. Allah knows every thought they think, everything they keep hidden or reveal, every pain and anxiety they suffer, every inclination that comes into their heart, every prayer they pronounce, every enjoyment they experience, their every moment of happiness and peace, because He created them all. As it says in verse 56 of Surah Hud, "…There is no creature He does not hold by the forelock."
Allah informs us why these people pretend not to know this truth:
They repudiated them wrongly and haughtily, in spite of their own certainty about them. See the final fate of the corrupters. (Surat an-Naml, 14)
In spite of the fact that Muslims are always inviting these people to see the truth, they turn their faces away:
When Our signs are recited to such a person, he turns away arrogantly as if he had not heard, as if there was a great weight in his ears... (Surah Luqman, 7)
They so elevate themselves in their own eyes, that Allah calls them arrogant and jealous of those who are sincere believers:
They said, "Are we to follow a human being, one of us? Then we would truly be misguided, quite insane!" (Surat al-Qamar, 24)
Those who want to make Muslims become passive are proud and envious. As we have said from the beginning of this book, they are individuals who harbor anger in their hearts against Muslims, and who want to hinder every good to do. They become frustrated when they see a Muslim's blessings increase; their jealousy reaches such a degree that it causes them real anxiety if a Muslim beautifies his home, or increases in wealth. This increase in blessings enjoyed by a Muslim so disturbs them that they even develop physical symptoms in response to their distress.
In the Qur'an, Allah tells believers of the anxiety these people feel when they hear of the increase in the number of a Muslim's blessings:
If good happens to you it galls them. If a mishap occurs to you, they say, "We made our preparations in advance," and they turn away rejoicing. (Surat at-Tawba, 50)
Every increase in blessings, whether small or great, material or spiritual, is welcomed by a Muslim as an occasion to give thanks; for these others, however, it is an occasion for an increase of their jealousy. As Allah says in the verse, they "do not like anything good to be sent down to you from your Lord. But Allah selects for His mercy whomever He wills. Allah's favor is truly vast" (Surat al-Baqara, 105).
They do not desire good for the Muslims. Worse still, even though they live among them, they wish them to be struck by misfortune.
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)
This spiritual corruption of theirs is clear proof of their real intentions.