Major and minor hypocrisy
Fatwa No: 1854

  • Fatwa Date:24-2-2010 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 11, 1431
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Question

Are all of the hypocrites considered disbelievers?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Some scholars divide hypocrisy into two kinds: major and minor.

1. Major hypocrisy takes a person out of the fold of Islam.

This is connected with one's creed such as professing disbelief inwardly but faith outwardly or committing an act of disbelief such as mocking the [Islamic] Sharee‘ah (Islamic legislation), the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) or the Companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them. This is a major form of hypocrisy that takes a person out of the fold of Islam, even if he prays, observes fast or claims to be a Muslim.

This type is described by Allah, The Almighty, who Says (what means):

• {And if you ask them, they will surely say, "We were only conversing and playing." Say, "Is it Allah and His verses and His Messenger that you were mocking?" Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after your belief. If We pardon one faction of you -- We will punish another faction because they were criminals.} [Quran 9:65-66]

• {When the hypocrites come to you, [O Muhammad], they say, "We testify that you are the Messenger of Allah." And Allah knows that you are His Messenger, and Allah testifies that the hypocrites are liars.} [Quran 63:1]

2. Minor hypocrisy that does not take a person out of the fold of Islam.

It is called practical hypocrisy. There is a Hadeeth on the authority of Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) mentioned three characteristics and said that if a person harbors them, he is a hypocrite even he fasts, prays or claims to be a Muslim. That is when he speaks, he tells lies; when he promises, he breaks his promise; and when he is entrusted, he betrays. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

In another Hadeeth on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) mentioned four characteristics, and added if they are found in a person he would be a pure hypocrite, and if anyone has one of them he would have a characteristic of hypocrisy until he gives it up. They are: if he is entrusted [something], he betrays; if he speaks, he tells lies; if he gives a promise, he breaks it; if he quarrels, he behaves imprudently and refuses to reconcile. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]  

Allah knows best.

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