What causes one to be a hypocrite in belief as opposed to a hypocrite in action?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
A person is only considered a hypocrite in faith (i.e., major hypocrisy) if they are disbelievers portraying themselves as a Muslim.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Four qualities, whoever has them is a pure hypocrite and whoever has one of them, has one quality of hypocrisy unless they abandon it: when they are entrusted, they betray; when they speak, they lie; when they argue, they transgress.” [Bukhari; Ibn Hajr; Fath al-Bari]
The qualities mentioned in the above narration are actions contrary to that which one who believes in Allah and the reckoning of the Hereafter would do. [Ibid.]
The Demands of Complete Faith
Complete faith in Allah Most High and in the gravity of standing before Allah on the Day of Judgment necessitates that one’s actions according to such a belief.
When one’s actions say contrary to that which one professes to believe – this is essentially hypocrisy. However, major sins such as those mentioned in the above narration, though egregious, do not take one out of the fold of Islam. [Ibid.]
Hypocrisy in Action
Throughout the Qur’an and the Prophetic narrations, many examples of the hypocrisy of action are mentioned. Some of them are as follows:
1) Praying reluctantly
2) Being heedless and not remembering Allah except little
3) Reluctance in paying the Zakat
6) Breaking promises
Hypocrisy in Belief
Likewise, hypocrisy in belief (explained above) is portrayed clearly in the following verse of the Qur’an:
Allah Most High says, “And there are some who say, “We believe in Allah and the Last Day,” yet they are not ˹true˺ believers. They seek to deceive Allah and the believers, yet they only deceive themselves, but they fail to perceive it. There is a sickness in their hearts, and Allah ˹only˺ lets their sickness increase. They will suffer a painful punishment for their lies.” [Qur’an; 2:8-10]
Allah Most High also says, “When they meet the believers, they say, “We believe.” But when alone with the evil associates, they say, “We are definitely with you; we were only mocking.” [Qur’an; 2:14]
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani