2. They Imagine Themselves to be Very Intelligent
Hypocrites place a great deal of trust in their own intelligence, despite their not actually possessing any true wisdom at all. They are unable to appreciate the dire nature of their situation. They live imagining that their every deed and every decision is the best ones possible. In particular, they regard themselves as their own sole authority on matters of religion. Because of this twisted logic, they also imagine that believers are on the wrong path. Their illogical ideas are revealed in the following verse:
And when the hypocrites and those with sickness in their hearts said, â€œThese people have been deluded by their religion.â€ But those who put their trust in Allah will find Allah to be Almighty, All-Wise.
As can be seen from the verse, since they imagine that only they are on the true path, they do not appreciate believersâ€™ wisdom. Yet the truth is, believers constitute the only community on Earth on which Allah has bestowed pure wisdom. Nonetheless, hypocrites regard themselves as superior to everybody else, and whenever believers are cited as role models in living by the religious morality, the hypocrites make it clear that they remain unimpressed by their intelligence. These inaccurate ideas on the subject of believers lead hypocrites into a grievous position, as is revealed in another verse:
When they are told, â€œBelieve in the way that the people believe,â€ they say, â€œWhat! Are we to believe in the way that fools believe?â€ No indeed! They are the fools, but they do not know it.
As revealed in the verse, hypocrites are â€œfoolsâ€ because they tell the most unpleasant lies and imagine that even though they prepare snares with no foundation to them, believers will not catch on and that the messenger will not bring these strategies into the light of day. However, when the time comes, Allah shows them and other people the humiliating position they are in.
3. They Imagine Themselves to be Profiting
Another aspect that separates the hypocrites from the community of the faithful is that in living by the religious moral values, they constantly hold themselves back. It is revealed in the Qurâ€™an that in the struggle waged by the community of the faithful, hypocrites seek to keep themselves as far as possible to the rear, and behaving always in a reluctant manner:
"Among you there are people who hang back and if you encounter a setback then they say, â€œAllah has blessed me in that I was not there with them.â€
By not submitting to Allah and His messenger, not engaging in the struggle, spending generously or performing a great number of other observances, hypocrites imagine that they are profiting, and consider performing these observances disadvantageous. Therefore, since they do not seek Allahâ€™s approval and regard themselves as unflawed, performing these observances seems a task of enormous difficulty for them.
We can set out a few points on which hypocrites imagine themselves to be ahead of the game by holding themselves back:
a) They Avoid the Struggle
Since they are devoted to the life of this world, hypocrites have a great fear of death, and the very thought of death makes them very uneasy. They never reflect that death is a commandment of Allah, or consider maintaining their religious observances until the moment of their death arrives. Indeed, Allah describes the situation of the hypocrites in the time of the Prophet (saas). They imagined that not going to war would keep them out of danger of death, and so regarded making excuses for not going to war as a sign of healthy intelligence. In the Qurâ€™an, Allah tells of the joy they felt at hanging back during the war:
Those who were left behind were glad to stay behind the Messenger of Allah. . . .
The fact is, however, that death can strike anyone anywhere. Since hypocrites think on only a superficial level, they never bring this point to mind. There is no guarantee that death will not come to someone who hangs back from danger in his own home. Yet as stated at the outset, hypocrites lack the understanding to comprehend their own superficiality. They therefore see any temporary salvation or brief postponement as putting them ahead of the game.
b) They Do Not Co-exist with Believers
Allah has revealed that He will test the community of the faithful with both good and evil. Believers are subjected to tests in this world in order to attain the Hereafter. Therefore, they experience various events, some of which may appear auspicious and others not, but Allah eventually turns them all to the advantage of believers. Since they are aware of the secret of the testing to which they are subjected, they always display the same enthusiasm and effort in competing to earn Allahâ€™s approval. They never fall prey to fear or despair.
However, in the community of the faithful, there is another group who fail to grasp the secret of the test and look only at the surface of events. As discussed a little earlier, hypocrites seek to keep themselves as far from troublesome events as they can. If their means permit, they even stay far away from the community of the faithful, since they are unwilling to face the same difficulties that believers do. Indeed, Allah has informed believersâ€”by means of examples from the past, but with particular reference to times of warâ€”that hypocrites prefer to watch believers from as great a distance as possible:
They think that the Confederates have not departed and if the Confederates did appear then they would wish they were out in the desert with the Arabs, asking for news of you. If they were with you they would only fight a very little.
Another verse reveals how hypocrites, who seek to remain at a distance from believers and not to be affected by the events that befall them, see themselves as profiting from this:
If good happens to you it galls them. If a mishap occurs to you, they say, â€œWe made our preparations in advance,â€ and they turn away rejoicing.
c) They Do Not Obey the Messenger of Allah
Obedience to the messenger of Allah means holding Allah and His Book above all things, because obedience to Allah and the Qurâ€™an means obedience to His messenger. Believers who are sincerely devoted and obedient to Allah display the same devotion and obedience towards His messenger. The messenger of Allah is of greater value to them than their own lives or desires. The Qurâ€™an refers to believers who protected the Prophet (saas) at the cost of their own lives, who went off to war with him, and who held him above their own selves.
The hypocrites of the time did not go off to war, however. They regarded themselves as exceedingly advantaged and intelligent because they were not obliged to protect the Prophet (s). Those hypocrites who did join the troops, but who then became frightened and turned back, failed to heed the call of the Prophet Muhammad (s) to them, and fled without looking back:
Remember when you were scrambling up the slope, refusing to turn back for anyone, and the Messenger was calling to you from the rear. . . .
Ali â€˜Imran: 153
They imagined that this flight was their salvation. The fact is, however, that by departing from the command of the Prophetâ€™s (s), they made a grave error. They earned Allahâ€™s displeasure and were thus condemned to eternal suffering.