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What is a hypocrite and what are the rulings pertaining to a hypocrite?

As-Salamu Alaykum

  1. Can a Muslim be a hypocrite? If he meets the conditions which are mentioned in Hadith of signs of hypocrite, will he be a hypocrite then? And he will be among the hypocrites on the day of Judgement?
  2. If a person commits sins and he keeps on making Tawbah but people think that he is a good person but he is not that much. Does it mean he is a hypocrite?
  3. Can a hypocrite make Tawbah? Will he be forgiven?
  4. If a person worships and loves Allah but sometimes he prefers his Nafs. Is this very attitude is called hypocrisy?
  5. I heard in a lecture that in this time only Muslims and Kafir are present (with many sects etc.). Hypocrites were in the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Hypocrites that are mentioned in Qur`an are not present in this time.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

The Hadith in reference to your question is as follow:

آية المنافق ثلاثٌ: إذا حدث كذب, وإذا وعد أخلف, وإذا اؤتمن خان

Translation: The signs of the hypocrite are three: When he speaks, he lies; when he promises, he does not fulfil it; and when he is entrusted with something, he is treacherous[1].

أربع من كن فيه كان منافقا خالصا ، ومن كانت فيه خصلة منهن كانت فيه خصلة من النفاق حتى يدعها : إذا اؤتمن خان، وإذا حدث كذب ، وإذا عاهد غدر ، وإذا خاصم فجر

Translation: There are four characteristics, whoever possesses them all is a pure hypocrite, and whoever possesses one of them has one of the characteristics of hypocrisy, until he abandons it: when he is entrusted, he betrays; when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a covenant, he proves treacherous; and when he disputes, he resorts to obscene behaviour[2].

Hypocrisy, in general, means the disparity between the inward thoughts and the outward appearance; the believer by heart should ideally illustrate his faith with his speech, deed and intention[3].

  1. Hypocrisy or Nifaq can be divided into two categories[4]:
  • Hypocrisy in Aqidah (belief) – is when a person reveals himself to be a believer but his heart is void of faith
  • Hypocrisy in Amal (actions) – is when a person has faith in his heart but he does not fulfil the requirement of faith in complete abstinence from sins.

A real hypocrite is he who claims to have Imaan but in reality does not have any Imaan in his heart. These were the Munafiqin at the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who were exposed by Allah to the Prophet (peace be upon him). If a person commits all the wrongdoings listed in the prophetic narration but simultaneously cherishes true Imaan in his heart, he will not be classified as a real Munafiq and he will not be amongst the hypocrites on the day of Judgement. However, such a person will be said to have traits of a hypocrite and thus weak in his faith.

  1. If a person commits sins and is consistent in his repentance, he will not regarded as a hypocrite, even if people assume him to be really good and when in reality he is not. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

ما أصر من استغفر وإن عاد في اليوم سبعين مرة

Translation: He who seeks forgiveness is not regarded a persistent sinner, even if he returns to his sin seventy times a day.[5]

However, neither should a person do a virtuous action to show others and not sincerely for the pleasure of Allah[6] nor should anyone forsake a good deed for a doubt of appearing to be a hypocrite[7].

Verily good reputation amongst the people and the ability to repent is from Allah. The person should ideally cherish this opportunity and exhort himself in the obedience of Allah and endeavour to abandon the detestable characteristics of hypocrisy.

  1. The Hadith does not denote that a person who has these qualities must be a hypocrite but that a true believer should assess himself and try to abstain from such practices since these qualities are not befitting a true believer[8]. Moreover, Allah is all-Compassionate and will forgive and accept the sincere repentance of even a hypocrite. Allah Ta`ala says:

إن الله لا يغفر أن يشرك به ويغفر ما دون ذلك لمن يشاء

Translation: Verily Allah does not forgive that partners are associated with Him but He forgives anything else to whom He wishes[9].

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him said:

التائب من الذنب كمن لا ذنب له

Translation: He who [sincerely] repents from sin is like him who has committed no sin[10].

  1. The fact that a person may practice on his desires and forgoes the commands of Allah Ta`ala or His Prophet (peace be upon him) does not render a person a hypocrite. However, this attitude may be termed as weakness in faith. As humans we are weak and we may err and commit wrongdoings. Most importantly, Allah describes the true believers as:

والذين اذا فعلوا فاحشة او ظلموا انفسهم ذكروا الله فاستغفروا لذنوبهم، ومن يغفر الذنوب الا الله ، ولم يصرّوا على ما فعلوا وهم يعلمون . اولآئك جزآؤهم مغفرة من ربهم وجنّت تجرى من تحتها الانهر خلدين فيها، ونعم اجر العملين

Translation: And [the pious are] those who, when they commit an immoral act or wrong themselves, remember Allah and seek forgiveness of their sins – and who forgives sins except Allah? And those who do not purposely become stubborn regarding what they did. For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens beneath which rivers flow – abiding in it forever; what an excellent reward for the performers of good deeds[11].


  1. At the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the people were either pure believers, open disbelievers or hypocrites who could only be distinguished and known through revelation from Allah to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). With the demise of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), so has the revelation from the heavens has seized to descend. Consequently, as humans, we are unaware of the beliefs entertained by each other in the hearts. We are obliged to deal according to that which is apparent. Hence, either a person will reveal himself to be a Muslim, thus we will call him and treat him as such, whether he is true in his claim or not; or he will confess himself to be a disbeliever and accordingly he will be treated.

Hypocrites that are mentioned in the Qur`an may well be present in the current era; however, since there is no Wahy and we do not possess the ability to detect the hearts others, we are unable to label a person hypocrite.


And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Hanif Yusuf Patel

Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.



[1] [Saheeh al-Bukhari, 33]

[2] [Saheeh al-Bukhari, 34; 3007]

[3] [In`am al-Bar, 1: 479, Maktabah al-Hira]

[4] [In`am al-Bar, 1: 479, Maktabah al-Hira]

[5] [Sunan Abi Dawud, 1514]

[6] [Al-Qur`an, Surah 107]

[7] وفي الولوالجية: إذا أراد أن يصلي أو يقرأ القرآن فيخاف أن يدخل عليه الرياء، فلا ينبغي أن يترك لأنه أمر موهوم، انتهى

[Al-Ash`bah wa an-Naza`ir ma`a Sharh al-Hamawi, 1: 141, Idarah al-Qur`an wa al-Uloom al-Islamiyyah, Karachi]

[8] [In`am al-Bar, 1: 480, Maktabah al-Hira]

[9] [Al-Qur`an, 4: 48]

[10] [Mishkat al-Masaabeeh ma`a Mirqat al-Mafateeh, 4:1636, Dar al-Fikr, Beiruit]

[11] [Al-Qur`an, 3:135-6]

This answer was collected from AskOurImam.com, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Hanif Yusuf Patel. He graduated from Jamiatul Ilm Wal Huda, Blackburn, U.K, with a distinction in Alimiyyah degree. He thereafter travelled to Darul Iftaa Mahmudiyyah Durban, South Africa, to train as a Mufti under the tutelage of Mufti Ebrahim Desai and Mufti Husain Kadodia.

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