Can Hypocrites Repent?
And others are left awaiting Allahâ€™s command as to whether He will punish them or turn to them. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
As Allah has revealed in the Qurâ€™an, â€œ. . . He is not pleased with ingratitude in His servants . . .â€ (Surat al-Zumar: 7). In other words, He wishes to lead His servants onto the true path, forgive their sins and admit them to Paradise. But hypocrites insist on turning their backs to this call. Although they know and understand, they remain unmoved by His verses and because of their cruelty and pride, persist in their denial. Yet there may be some among them who long to put an end to such behavior. In that event, anyone who wishes to repent needs to fully understand his own helplessness, beg Allahâ€™s forgiveness with the utmost sincerity, and repent definitively in such a way as never to return to hypocrisy.
On condition that he is truly sincere, it may be possibleâ€”if Allah so wishesâ€”for Him to accept a hypocriteâ€™s repentance. Indeed, we are told that â€œ. . . if anyone repents after his wrongdoing and puts things right, Allah will turn towards him. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Mercifulâ€ (Surat al-Maâ€™ida: 39).
A number of verses in the Qurâ€™an deal with hypocrites repenting. It may be hoped that Allah will accept the repentance of those who confess the sins they have committed and sincerely intend to exhibit a genuine attitude towards His messenger:
But others have acknowledged their wrong actions and mixed a right action with another which is wrong. It may well be that Allah will turn towards them. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Allah has given examples of hypocrites who lived in the past and how some of them repented. As is revealed in verses, some members of the people of the Prophet Muhammad (saas) made all kinds of excuses in order not to go to war and sought the permission of the Prophet (saas) to remain behind. Since they did so, they rejoiced and regarded themselves as very advantaged. In their own minds they had escaped the danger of death and ensured their own survival by not participating in the fighting. They did not think that the death they were seeking to avoid might still find them, even in their own homes. The fact is, however, that had they submitted to the Prophet (s) and gone to war, then even if death did catch up with them, they would have been martyrs and by the mercy of Allah, would have earned, the right to enter Paradise.
However, since they harbored doubts about the Hereafter, they regarded death in battle as a serious loss. They regarded remaining behind with their families and saw taking care of business and similar matters as much more advantageous.
The Qurâ€™an refers to â€œthree peopleâ€ from among this community who wished to remain behind. Like the others, they failed to participate in the war, failed to act alongside the believers and support the faithful against the deniers. However, these three differed from the others who â€œremained behindâ€ in one important respect: According to what is revealed in the Qurâ€™an, these people regretted not having gone to war, were ashamed of themselves and sincerely repented, seeking Allahâ€™s forgiveness. Allah accepted their repentance.
Why were they forgiven? The main reason was that they sincerely feared Allah, beseeched Him in their need and begged Him for forgiveness. One verse from the Qurâ€™an describes their sincerity and the pangs of conscience they suffered:
And also towards the three who were left behind, so that when the Earth became narrow for them, for all its great breadth, and their own selves became constricted for them and they realized that there was no refuge from Allah except in Him, He turned to them so that they might turn to Him. Allah is the Ever-Returning, the Most Merciful.
In addition, Allah refers to hypocritesâ€™ repenting as being auspicious for them. This is a great blessing on them. If He so wishes, Allah will forgive them despite their wickedness, and forgive their sinsâ€”as is revealed in the following verse:
. . . If they were to repent, it would be better for them. But if they turn away, Allah will punish them with a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. . . .
Most hypocrites imagine that they can commit all kinds of evil and then repent in their old age or when they realize they are about to die. Yet Allah reveals in a verse that He will not accept any repentance they make when they feel they are about to die:
There is no repentance for people who persist in doing evil until death comes to them and who then say, â€œNow I repent,â€ nor for people who die disbeliever. We have prepared for them a painful punishment.
The repentance which will be acceptable is described in these terms in the Qurâ€™an:
Allah only accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and then quickly repent after doing it. Allah turns towards such people. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
The State of Hypocrites in the Hereafter
Donâ€™t they know that whoever opposes Allah and His messenger, will have the Fire of Hell, remaining in it timelessly, for ever? That is the great disgrace.
The reward meted out to hypocrites who declared war on Allah and His religion is that which they thoroughly deserve. Throughout their eternal lives, hypocrites will experience physical and spiritual torment.
Hypocritesâ€™ infernal torment actually begins while they are in this world. In addition to terrible humiliation and belittlement, many other forms await them while they are still living on Earth. The greatest suffering, however, will without doubt be that of Hellâ€”an endless, eternal burning fire.
Moment of Death
All human beings live out the destiny set out for them by Allah, and they die at the moment determined by Him. The souls of believersâ€”those who live their lives in the light of His wishesâ€”are gently taken by angels as a blessing from Allah, and are welcomed to Paradise. Allah imparts these glad tidings to believers in the Qurâ€™an:
Those the angels take in a virtuous state. They say, â€œPeace be upon you! Enter the Garden for what you did.â€ An-Nahl: 32
This does not apply to deniers, however. Angels do not gently bear their souls away. On the contrary, they take their souls by striking them on the back and on the face. In addition to the physical pain they will experience, this is also a terrible humiliation for them. Allah has terrified all hypocrites and deniers with this humiliation and suffering:
If only you could see when the angels take back those who disbelieved at their death, beating their faces and their backs: â€œTaste the punishment of the burning!â€
How will it be when the angels take them in death, beating their faces and their backs?
As the angels bear away their souls in this way, they begin to realize the kind of recompense that awaits them for everything they did in this world. The prestige they sought so hard to maintain on Earth is suddenly destroyed. They die in humiliation and are later cast into Hell:
Say to those who disbelieve: â€œYou will be overwhelmed and crowded into Hell. What an evil resting-place!â€
Ali â€˜Imran: 12
Those who disbelieve spend their wealth barring access to the way of Allah. They will spend it; then they will regret it; then they will be overthrown. Those who disbelieve will be gathered into Hell.
Those who are herded headlong into Hell, such people are in the worst position. They are the most misguided from the way.