They Argue about Allah in the Absence of any Evidence
Among people there is one who argues about Allah without knowledge or guidance or any light-giving book.
Their highest goal is to turn people from Allah and His religion and to hinder the spread of religious moral values on Earth. They therefore argue about Allah in such a way as to confuse people, and urge them to shape their own speculations about Him. Since they have a tendency to spread strife, they actively seek to eliminate peopleâ€™s respect for and fear of Allah, but carry out these activities in a sly manner. Using a similar method to that employed by satan, they address peopleâ€™s subconscious and speak in such a way as to confuse them.
All they manage to do, however, is deceive other hypocrites just like themselves. Allah reveals how the actions they take to turn people away from His path will rebound upon their own heads:
Turning away arrogantly, to misguide people from the way of Allah. He will be disgraced in this world and on the Day of Resurrection We will make him taste the punishment of the burning.
They Admire an Ethical Model of which Allah Disapproves
As we have seen so far, hypocrites engage in all kinds of behavior displeasing to Allah. Unaware of the gravity of their situation, they also put forward negative, perverted ideas regarding Islam, the religion selected by and beloved of Allah. With their own defective logic, they regard their own ideas as good and the truth as ugly:
We brought you the truth but most of you hated the truth.
As is revealed in the Qurâ€™an, these two-faced people, â€œwho have sold guidance for misguidanceâ€ (Surat al-Baqara: 16), refuse to recognize the revelation of Allah, and regard the truth as something ugly. The proper moral values that Allah revealed to believers through the Qurâ€™an represent a model that they view as totally impractical. Since they themselves are full of hatred and uncleanliness, they imagine that others are too and could never abide by such a model.
No doubt, these ideas apply both to themselves and to other deniers of a similar nature. Good moral values can be implemented only through fear of Allah and absolute submission to His commandments. A person can maintain a good character only through faith in the Hereafter and the Day of Judgment and reckoning. For anyone who has forgotten that he will have to account for himself on the Day of Judgment, there is no motive to display patience or make sacrifices for others. He feels the need to engage in such behavior only if it squares with his own interests. Otherwise, for someone who lives far removed from religious moral values, it seems meaningless to display a good character in this worldâ€”which is in any case transitoryâ€”to people who are in any case mortal.
The hypocrite will receive no reward, either in this world or the Hereafter, for any good behavior he engages in for the sake of his own interests. If someone ignores all Allahâ€™s commandments, everything that he does will be in vain, as is revealed by Allah in the Qurâ€™an:
That is because they followed what angers Allah and hated what is pleasing to Him. So He made their actions come to nothing.
Their Defiance of the Qurâ€™an
First, in order to acquire a sufficient understanding of this matter, it should be useful to examine briefly the denierâ€™s view of the Qurâ€™an.
One of deniersâ€™ most important characteristics is that they live by the religion of their ancestors instead of the religion of Allah. Under their religion, going along with baseless practices passed on by word of mouth is regarded as â€œreligious observance.â€ By complying with these traditions, they imagine themselves to be virtuous and â€œobedient.â€ They never take the Qurâ€™an as a criterion in any form whatsoever. The essence of this religion of the ignorant lies in traditions determined by the society, in which â€œgoodnessâ€ lies in small matters performed with hardly any effort at all. They perform these in the name of â€œbeing good,â€ and thus think that this must make them â€œgoodâ€ too.
For example, giving some spare change to a beggar they happen to meet on the street, or donating clothes that are too old for them to ever wear again is in their eyes a â€œgood deed.â€ However, the true definition of goodness and righteousness is provided in the Qurâ€™an:
It is not righteousness to turn your faces to the East or to the West. Rather, truly righteous are those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the prophets, and who, despite their love for it, give away their wealth to their relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to travelers and beggars and to set slaves free, and who perform prayer and give the alms; those who honor their contracts when they make them, and are steadfast in poverty and illness and in battle. Those are the people who are true. They are the people who guard against evil.
When these others are told about the criteria in the Qurâ€™an, they refuse to abandon their distorted beliefs:
When they are told, â€œCome to what Allah has sent down and to the messenger,â€ they say, â€œWhat we found our fathers doing is enough for us.â€ What! Even if their fathers did not know anything and were not guided!
Whenever they commit an indecent act, they say, â€œWe found our fathers doing it and Allah commanded us to do it too.â€ Say: â€œAllah does not command indecency. Do you say things about Allah you do not know?â€
They never want to abandon the â€œsocial religionâ€ theyâ€™re accustomed to. For that reason, they seek out contradictions in the verses of Allah and strive to prevent people from His path. They are:
Those who bar access to the way of Allah and seek in it something crooked and reject the Hereafter.
In short, these people are exceptionally insensitive with regard to the Qurâ€™an and the verses of Allah; and their viewpoints never change in any significant way.
It is at this point comes a parting of the ways between hypocrites and deniers. Unlike the denier, the hypocrite does not completely reject the Qurâ€™an. He will not emphasize that he does not truly believe in and submit to it, but on the contrary, seeks to hide that fact as much as possible. The denier does not implement the observances in the Qurâ€™an unless he views them as a tradition left over from his ancestors; whereas the hypocrite does appear to fulfill a great many observancesâ€”on the surface.
Yet the hypocrite has not genuinely submitted to the verses. Whenever they impinge on his earthly desires, he remains completely insensitive to them. Furthermore, he performs only â€œformalâ€ observances, even though a great many other observances need to be performed: such as complete submission to Allah and His messenger, and genuine acceptance of the messengerâ€™s stipulations. In addition, the hypocrite ignores those commandments of Allah concerning proper moral values that happen to conflict with his worldly interestsâ€”which interests include defending those desires, belittling others and regarding oneself as superior.
Great wisdom underlies Allahâ€™s revelation of the Qurâ€™an, in which He warns against the Day of Judgment, and shows people the true path. However, only a few believe in the Qurâ€™an and live by it in a fitting manner: Those are the faithful.
Believers are most respectful of the provisions of the Qurâ€™an and submit to them. Their respect stems from their profound respect for Allah. Every time the Qurâ€™an is recited, they fall silent to listen and fully reflect on the verses. The Qurâ€™an increases their faith, and gives their hearts satisfaction and repose. In one verse Allah describes believers as:
. . . those whose hearts tremble when Allah is mentioned, whose faith is increased when His signs are recited to them, and who put their trust in their Lord.
The attitude of hypocrites towards the Qurâ€™an is highly two-faced. They abide by some of the verses of the Qurâ€™an, but not by others. Their criteria are their earthly desires. They turn their backs without a qualm on provisions that feel difficult for them, such as spending in good causes or regarding their brotherâ€™s desires as superior to their own. They are very flexible when it comes to implementing many provisions that are actually obligatory, and do not implement others at all if no one is looking.
As the above verse reveals, believers who read the Qurâ€™an grow in faith, while hypocrites grow in denial. This is actually one of Allahâ€™s great miracles. That is because despite their reading exactly the same verses, two entirely different spiritual states emerge. Believers perceive the wisdom in the verses, while hypocrites are completely unable to fathom it. They may even be unaware of their inability to understand and imagine that they actually comprehend the Qurâ€™an very well indeed.
The way this miracle comes about is set out in the Qurâ€™an:
When you recite the Qurâ€™an, We place an obscuring veil between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter. 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 Qurâ€™an, they turn their backs and run away.