Why Do Hypocrites Worship And Remain Alongside Believers?
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)
The previous chapter examined the mysterious rebellion which hypocrites share with satan. We have also seen that in dramatic contrast to atheists, hypocrites are possessed of a peculiar logic: Although well aware of the existence of Allah, they fail to abide by His commandments. And in doing so, they conceal their true characters from believers, while portraying themselves as sincerely devout individuals.
Why do they give the impression of believing when in fact they have no faith in their hearts?
It is because their situation is rather different from that of other deniers. The hypocrite has a sufficient understanding of the matters set out in the Qur'an. He himself confirms that in order to fulfill his duty of service to Allah, he must fully implement His verses. But what he says and what he does are two different things. How he speaks the name of Allah, while harboring whispers of skepticism and rebellion in his heart is the greatest sign of his hypocrisy.
It is really impossible for anyone with faith to fully comprehend the hypocrite's darkness of soul, because the words and deeds of one who fears Allah are always the same. Therefore, a hypocrite's two-facedness and fraud only surprise sincere believers. Nonetheless, the Qur'an describes to believers a number of causes of this hypocritical state of mind.
1. They want to secure material advantages
One of the main reason why the hypocrite presents himself as a friend to the faithful is his desire to secure material benefits. Thanks to the blessing given them by Allah, believers possess both spiritual strength and material dominion. History is full of such examples as the Prophet Sulayman (as), the Prophet Muhammad (saas), the Prophet Dawud (as), Dhu'l-Qarnayn (as) and many other messengers referred to in the Qur'an. For example, the following verse is about the Prophet Sulayman (as):
They made for him anything he wished: high arches and statues, huge dishes like cisterns, great built-in cooking vats. "Work, family of Dawud, in thankfulness!" But very few of My servants are thankful. (Surah Saba': 13)
The arches, statues, large dishes and vats possessed by the Prophet Sulayman (as) are certainly a contemporary expression of splendor and wealth. Another verse refers to the Prophet Sulayman (as) having a mansion with a courtyard paved with glass, thanks to the use of advanced technology—and to the Queen of Saba' (Sheba), Belqis, being most impressed by it:
She was told: "Enter the courtyard," but when she saw it she supposed it to be a pool and bared her legs. He said, "It is a courtyard paved with glass." ... (Surat an-Naml: 44)
Surat al-Kahf describes the power of Dhu'l-Qarnayn (as), who was a believer possessed of knowledge and dominion:
We gave him power and authority on the Earth and granted him a way to everything. (Surat al-Kahf: 84)
Another verse in Surat an-Nisa' states that the Prophet Ibrahim (as), who is much praised in the Qur'an for his moral values, possessed much property together with his family. In addition, Allah promises the faithful that He will make them legatees of places where they have never set foot before. The condition for this is set out in the Qur'an:
Allah has promised those of you who believe and do right actions that He will make them successors in the land as He made those before them successors, and will firmly establish for them their religion with which He is pleased and give them, in place of their fear, security. "They worship Me, not associating anything with Me." Any who disbelieve after that, such people are deviators. (Surat an-Nur: 55)
Allah's promises always come true. The Qur'an states:
"We will leave you the land to live in after them. That is the reward of those who fear My station and fear My threat." They [the prophets] asked for Allah's victory, and every obdurate tyrant failed. (Surah Ibrahim: 14-15)
Allah's constant support of believers leads hypocrites to think that being with the faithful will give them an advantage. For that reason, they enjoy living alongside believers, even though they have actually divorced themselves from religious morality.
Unlike the hypocrites hope to do, however, the faithful do not spend their wealth and assets in the pursuit of their own interests. That's because they know that their wealth and possessions actually belong to Allah and must be expended only on His path. Sooner or later, when the hypocrite becomes aware of this and realizes that none of the wealth of the faithful will be coming his way, he will decide to abandon them altogether.
In addition, the commercial means of wealthy believers are very broad. This makes a deep impression on hypocrites, many of whom perform certain religious observances (such as prayer, fasting, the giving of alms) only in order to gain a reputation among Muslims as being trustworthy and thus expand their own commercial opportunities. In the Qur'an Allah sets out the hypocrites' eagerness when it comes to business, one matter to which they attach the greatest importance:
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 ..." (Surat al-Jumu'a: 11)
Of course, hypocrites who behave in this two-faced way will fail to find what they hope for, and in addition to the damage they suffer in this world, they will also be disappointed in the Hereafter.
2. They long to broaden their circles and prestige
Believers have wide circles of acquaintances due to their moral values, culture and respect. In addition, because they speak of religious moral values to eminent members of the societies in which they live they also enjoy strong links to them. Furthermore, apart from one group in opposition to them, they also have many supporters among the ordinary public, whose support increases as the strength and sphere of influence of believers rise. As the support for them increases, the respect in which they are held in society, the way they possess a different "quality" to that of ordinary people, and their superior moral values, all begin to be better understood.
Thanks to their pleasing moral values and matchless determination, believers enjoy a justified renown. For example, the public renown and recognition of the Prophet Ibrahim (as) with the determination he displayed from an early age is described in the Qur'an:
They said, "We heard a young man mentioning them. They call him Ibrahim." (Surat al-Anbiya': 60)
In another verse, Allah reveals more about His messenger:
Did We not raise your renown high? (Surat al-Inshirah: 4)
Hypocrites with their weak characters, influenced by all this renown, fame and recognition, seek to acquire an identity of their own by being alongside believers. They imagine that by doing so they will be as influential and admirable as those alongside them.
But because of the strife and corruption they inevitably cause while they remain alongside the faithful, Allah causes them to taste the humiliation they deserve, rather than the glory they expect.