Damage Wrought By The Disease of Self-Satisfaction
And so that He might punish the men and women of the hypocrites and the men and women of the idolaters—those who think bad thoughts about Allah. They will suffer an evil turn of fate. Allah is angry with them, and has cursed them and prepared Hell for them. What an evil destination!
(Surat al-Fath: 6)
Self-satisfaction is by itself a source of trouble for hypocrites. However, as you have seen in the preceding chapters, most of the time they are unaware of this. So self-satisfied and conceited are they that they are even able to ask, "Why does Allah not punish us for what we say? ..." (Surat al-Mujadala: 8). As emphasized above, however, they are unaware that instead of the evident calamity they expect, they actually suffer numerous calamities, including physical and spiritual harm.
Allah refers in His verses to this harm suffered by hypocrites. Let us now examine these, one by one.
1. They are not Wise
Wisdom is one of the greatest assets a human being can possess. An unwise person is in a most wretched position, even though, being unwise, he is not even aware of this. He confuses wisdom with intelligence and so makes inaccurate decisions.
The same thing applies to the hypocrite, who may enjoy a particular level of intelligence. But he can never enjoy the wisdom that Allah bestows only on true believers, which allows them to distinguish right from wrong. They are thus deprived of one of the greatest blessings.
Wisdom is also one of a person's greatest needs. At every moment of his life, a person needs it to be able to distinguish right from wrong and to protect himself from evil. The hypocrite's devotion to this world leads to his being unwise. Therefore, he is unsuccessful when it comes to even the simplest matters requiring wisdom. The greatest proof of hypocrites' lack of wisdom is how they imagine that Allah does not see what they do. (Surely Allah is beyond that!) Therefore, they seek to deceive believers and imagine that they can do so with impunity. They are addressed in the following terms in the Qur'an:
Don't they know that Allah knows what they keep secret and what they make public? (Surat al-Baqara: 77)
Another unwise claim they make is that Allah will not bring their iniquity into the light of day. However, on the Day of Judgment, Allah will round up and punish all the hypocrites who have ever lived. Before the Day of Judgment, He will also humiliate them in this world.
2. They are Unable to Comprehend the Verses
Sincere Muslims are, as set out in the Qur'an, "those who, when they are reminded of the signs of their Lord, do not turn their backs, deaf and blind to them" (Surat al-Furqan: 73). They are particularly sensitive to the verses of Allah. All believers know that all the verses of the Qur'an directly concern them and that they cannot remain unconcerned or distant from any of them. However, for possession of this state of mind, there is one very important precondition. An individual must be very humble, and not regard himself as free from any imperfections or defects. Only when a person has this sincerity and humility will Allah bestow the meaning of His verses in his or her heart.
Hypocrites, on the other hand, are very proud and a far cry from being sincere. They can never possess such an understanding due to their self-satisfaction. Although constantly exposed to the messenger's message, they lack the ability to understand a single word he says. Their lack of comprehension is related in the Qur'an:
You will not make dead men hear; you will not make deaf men hear the call, when they turn their backs in flight. You will not guide blind men from their misguidance. You will not make anyone hear except for those who believe in Our signs and so are Muslims. (Surat ar-Rum: 52-53)
The Qur'an also tells us how hypocrites, unaffected by the messenger's words, possess a closed understanding due to the effects of their own self-satisfaction:
Who could do greater wrong than someone who is reminded of the signs of his Lord and then turns away from them, forgetting all that he has done before? We have placed covers on their hearts, preventing them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears. Though you call them to guidance, they will nonetheless never be guided. (Surat al-Kahf: 57)
Again, as a consequence of the self-satisfaction that infects them and their inability to understand Allah's Book, they misinterpret various of His verses. The reason for this is their pride and unfounded trust in their own limited wisdom. Allah warns believers beforehand against this disease carried by hypocrites by telling how they will seek to create strife in the community of the faithful:
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)
3. Allah Inflicts Various Spiritual Troubles on Them
Allah inflicts various spiritual woes on people who are arrogant before Allah thinking himself self-sufficient, and He makes a dark and narrow life for them in this world. Hypocrites cannot comprehend the source of the spiritual troubles visited upon them and live in confusion, since they are quite incapable of fathoming their origins.
They first harbor uneasiness, whose origins they are unable to identify. Yet the reason for it is actually quite clear.
There is evil in every human being's lower self. However, just as he knows this, he also knows to avoid it. That is because—as stated in the verse below—while Allah imparts sin and evil in the human self, He also imparts the inspiration with which to avoid them:
And [I swear by] the self and what proportioned it and inspired it with depravity or sense of duty, he who purifies it has succeeded; he who covers it up has failed. (Surat ash-Shams: 7-10)
As we have seen, in the same way that one side of self calls people to wickedness, a person also possesses a conscience that constantly calls him to goodness. The voice of the lower self is that of satan, and the voice of one's conscience is the voice of truth. By constantly ignoring their conscience, hypocrites bring the wickedness in their lower selves to the fore. At this point they enter a state of spiritual conflict, and as a result, experience unremitting unease.
In addition to this unease, whose cause they are totally unable to identify, they harbor feelings of restlessness, doubt, and fear. The factor underlying all this fear is their distance from Allah and inability to comprehend that all things are under His control. Since they imagine that events are actually under their own control, they assume that they must also calculate every tiny detail regarding them.
Like all deniers, hypocrites are constantly preoccupied by such worldly matters as how to live, how to please others, how to maintain good health and never fall ill. That is by no means the end of the matter; they panic when they see that events are not going as they wish, and chase even more after the things of this world. This state of affairs persists until they die. Since they refuse to submit, admit their need of Allah, and place their affairs in His hands, they live in permanent stress and restlessness. Their psychological states are described in these terms in the Qur'an:
They imagine every cry to be against them. (Surat al-Munafiqun: 4)
In addition, their efforts to make themselves popular and please others actually worsen their uneasy situation. That is because hypocrites, who constantly perform evil and mire themselves in sin, are in fact not liked by many people at all. In the same way that they attract the hatred of believers, they also gain the antipathy of others. Allah depicts them as repellent to others, thus inflicting on them one of the worse troubles they could ever face, that of not being loved, and thus leaving them alone and friendless in both this world and the Hereafter.
These people are unloved by others in the same way that they are unloved by Allah. They seek to give the impression that they are of great stature, though they are not so at all, and thus fall into a most humiliating position. Actually despised by those around them, they never enjoy true respect, and no value is ever placed on their ideas. That they will be demeaned both in this world and in the Hereafter is revealed in the Qur'an:
... They will have disgrace in this world and in the Hereafter they will have a terrible punishment. (Surat al-Baqara: 114)
... Do you, then, believe in one part of the Book and reject the other? What repayment will there be for any of you who do that except disgrace in this world? ... (Surat al-Baqara: 85)
4. They Imagine that They will Inevitably be Forgiven
... [They are] taking the goods of this lower world, and saying, "We will be forgiven." (Surat al-A'raf: 169)
Due to the disease of self-satisfaction they bear within them, hypocrites imagine that Allah has a great love for them and will inevitably reward them with good things. They maintain that all their many devilish deeds were actually committed with the best of intentions. They think, along the lines of the verse cited above, "If we do wrong, we will be forgiven." This stems from their refusal to recognize Allah or to appreciate His justice.
Yet Allah is He Who punishes evil. Because of what they have done in this world, hypocrites will be gravely disappointed in the next one. They appear to be as one with the community of the faithful, and may engage in various activities. Yet because of the sickness in their hearts, they will see that all their actions in this world count for nothing. However, their self-satisfaction prevents them from seeing this while they are in this world. The position they will face in the Hereafter is described in these terms in verses:
Say: "Shall I inform you of the greatest losers in their actions? People whose efforts in the life of this world are misguided while they suppose that they are doing good." (Surat al-Kahf: 103-104)
5. The Physical Harm Wrought by Their Self-Satisfaction
We have already emphasized the consequences to which hypocrites' actions will give rise. Instead of thinking that these will inflict harm on them, they imagine that they are actually performing good deeds, as the verses tell us. The warnings and reminders issued to them come as a great surprise. They imagine that the believers they deal with are behaving wrongly and are unnecessarily warning totally innocent people. They imagine that the messenger and believers cannot fully appreciate them. However, believers, and the messenger in particular, are perfectly capable of perceiving the sickness in their hearts, both from their defective words and from their external appearances. Indeed, Allah has revealed that His messenger will be able to recognize them:
If We wished, We would show them to you and you would know them by their mark and know them by their ambivalent speech. Allah knows your actions. (Surah Muhammad: 30)
But as we have been describing since the very outset, the disease of self-satisfaction actually inflicts great harm on them. Their inner darkness and their uneasy, cunning spiritual state totally impacts on their external appearance. Clear proof can be seen regarding their hypocrisy, both in their speech and in their physical appearance. But as previously stated, only the messenger can establish certain identification on this matter. Following his description, the believers around him witness how their inner darkness is reflected on the outside.
The fact that their ways of speaking and facial expressions are defective, the dark expression that falls over their faces, their inability to understand even the simplest matters, and their lack of wisdom are just a few examples of the damage their sickness inflicts. Yet they cannot see that the blessings in their possession are departing one by one. On the contrary, they imagine that all is well. Indeed, they remain totally unaware of the defects in their external appearance, their gestures, expressions and speech. This is both a great trouble inflicted on them by Allah, and also a trap that will cause their own snares to rebound back on themselves.