Their Actions Agaist Believers
As mentioned earlier, hypocrites strive to cause corruption during times of difficulty and strife. However, hypocrites’ actions against the believers are by no means limited to such situations. They pursue their hostility and attempts to cause fitnah whenever possible. In the Qur’an, this characteristic of the hypocrites is related as, “... Every time they are sent back to temptation, they succumb thereto...”(Surat an-Nisa’, 91)
The most evident trait of the hypocrites with this regard is their forming of factions to separate themselves from the believers. Interestingly though, even then, they will try to preserve their reputation as Muslims, while proceeding with their hypocrisy.
The most important reason for this being, as stated earlier, is a hypocrite does not acknowledge his own hypocrisy. No hypocrite would sincerely confess, “I caused fitnah among the pious believers, I offended believers for my own personal gain. I am a hypocrite; I do not have faith.” For this reason, although he no longer remains in the company of sincere believers, he forms a faction along with those like himself, and continues to act as a Muslim. Yet, he is a disbeliever, in the true sense.
In the Qur’an, Allah relates that, after separating themselves from the believers who followed our Prophet (saas), the hypocrites established a new mosque. It is truly astounding that hypocrites would establish another mosque after having separated themselves from our Prophet (saas) and the believers who followed him. Although they veered from the true religion, they did not combine under the name of disbelief, but preserved their supposed Muslim identity. In the Qur’an, the difference between the mosque of the hypocrites and that of the believers, founded on the fear of Allah, is related as follows:
As for those who have set up a mosque, causing harm and out of disbelief, to create division between the believers, and in readiness for those who previously made war on Allah and His Messenger, they will swear, "We only desired the best." But Allah bears witness that they are truly liars. Do not ever stand in it. A mosque founded on fear of Allah from the first day has a greater right for you to stand in it. In it there are men who love to purify themselves. Allah loves those who purify themselves. Who is better: someone who founds his building on fear of Allah and His good pleasure, or someone who founds his building on the brink of a crumbling precipice so that it collapses with him into the Fire of Hell? Allah does not love wrongdoers. The buildings they have built will not cease to be a bone of contention in their hearts, until their hearts are cut to shreds. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (Surat at-Tawba, 107-110)
As Allah relates to us in these verses, the purpose of the mosque founded by the hypocrites was to harm the believers, and to cooperate with those who were hostile to them. Although the hypocrites who founded this mosque claimed, "We desired what was right", their real intent was clearly evil. What distinguished the mosque of believers from theirs was that it was "founded on fear of Allah and His favor." The mosque of the hypocrites, which was founded on enmity to believers, and pursuit of mundane desires, on the other hand, is, as the verse relates, "on the brink of a crumbling precipice which is about to collapse to Hell." The fitnah caused by the hypocrites, who lived in the time of our Prophet (saas), can be analyzed in the following manner:
They wanted to take revenge from the believers
The primary reason why hypocrites gather after separating themselves from believers is the hatred and anger they feel towards them. In the previous section, we mentioned that, unlike believers, hypocrites are not bound to one another through mutual love and respect. In the words of the Qur’an, “their hearts are scattered wide.” This being the case, what keeps hypocrites united is their hatred and desire to exact retribution from the believers.
They want to avenge themselves, for as long as they remained in their company, believers had warned them, reminded them of their failures, scolded them for their hypocrisy, and warned that they would be repaid with Hell unless they reverted to piety. However, out of pride, they could not appreciate the noble morality adopted by the believers, and harbored instead hatred and enmity towards them.
On the 74th verse of the Surat at-Tawba, Allah draws our attention to the fact that hypocrites desire vengeance from believers:
... they were vindictive for no other cause than that Allah and His Messenger had enriched them from His bounty... (Surat at-Tawba, 74)
However, the evil efforts of the hypocrites were in vain; Allah turned their plots against them and surely disgraced them. A common characteristic of hypocrites is their following the developments of believers, to discover opportunities to take revenge upon them. They hope for misfortunes to succumb the believers. This fact is described in the Qur’an in the following words: “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)
They cooperate with disbelievers against Muslims
Cooperating with disbelievers is another method hypocrites employ to exact revenge from believers. In the Qur'an, Allah draws our attention to the fact that hypocrites trust disbelievers and ally themselves to them:
Give news to the hypocrites that they will have a painful punishment. Do those who take the disbelievers as protectors, rather than the believers, hope to find power and strength with them? Power and strength belong entirely to Allah. (Surat an-Nisa', 138-139)
Hypocrites also displayed this tendency at the time of our Prophet (saas). In addition, they supported disbelievers who attacked believers, acted as informants, and encouraged others to attack the believers. This is related in the Qur'an as follows:
Did you not see the hypocrites saying to their brothers, those among the People of the Book who are disbelievers, "If you are driven out we will leave with you, we will never obey anyone to your detriment. And if you are fought against we will help you." Allah bears witness that they are truly liars. If they are driven out they will not leave with them. If they are fought against they will not help them. And if they did help them they would turn their backs, and then they would not be helped.(Surat al-Hashr, 11-12)
Another verse draws our attention to the fact that hypocrites tend to supply information about the believers to disbelievers:
O Messenger! Do not be grieved by those who rush headlong into disbelief among those who say "We have faith with" their tongues when their hearts contain no faith. And among the Jews are those who listen to lies, listeners on behalf of other folk who come not onto you, distorting words from their proper meanings, saying, "If you are given this, then take it. If you are not given it, then beware!" If Allah desires misguidance for someone, you cannot help him against Allah in any way. Those are the people whose hearts Allah does not want to purify. They will have disgrace in the world and in the Hereafter they will have a terrible punishment. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 41)
Hypocrites may very well assume that believers will be defeated by disbelievers, and that thereby they will have their revenge. However, they are deluded, for as the verses also relate, "power and strength belong entirely to Allah", and Allah supports the believers. The attacks and plots hatched by hypocrites and disbelievers, by Allah's grace, can by no means render harm upon the believers.
They struggle to tarnish the reputation of the believers
A type of attack made by the hypocrites against the believers during the time of our Prophet (saas) was slander. They assumed that slandering the believers would exalt their status, and justify their separating themselves from believers, as well as their hatred towards them.
They further assumed that sharing their false accusations they made against the believers with disbelievers would degrade believers in their minds. The Qur’an draws our attention to this tactic of the hypocrites. The verse, “... If they [hypocrites] come upon you, they will be your enemies and stretch out their hands and tongues against you with evil intent…” (Surat al-Mumtahana, 2) maintains that hypocrites attack believers with slander. Also, the slanders they disseminated about our Prophet’s (saas) wife is an example of their treachery.
In addition, Allah relates in the Qur’an that hypocrites also mock the believers. The related verse reads:
As for the people who find fault with those believers who give alms spontaneously, and with those who can find nothing to give but their own effort, and deride them, Allah derides them. They will have a painful punishment. (Surat at-Tawba, 79)
They try to lure believers to their side
As mentioned earlier, after separating themselves from the believers, hypocrites founded a “mosque”. In addition to the slanders they concocted against the believers, and the cooperation they sought with disbelievers, they also encouraged hypocrisy among believers and called them to join them.
Towards this aim, hypocrites have sought to influence those within the community of believers who they deem to be weak of faith. They specifically targeted those who were prone to be demoralized by unfounded concerns and vain desires, so as to make them veer from the right path. A difficulty believers faced made hypocrites accelerate such evil efforts. Allah relates this in the Qur’an as follows:
Allah knows the obstructers among you and those who say to their brothers, "Come to us," and who only come to fight a very little. (Surat al-Ahzab, 18)