The Difference between Major and Minor Hypocrisy

There some differences between major and minor hypocrisy. They are as follow:

1.    Major hypocrisy takes a person outside of Islam, minor hypocrisy doesn’t.

2.    In most cases a person possessing major hypocrisy doesn’t repent. There is a difference of opinion if a major hypocrite’s repentance is accepted. On the other hand a person with minor hypocrisy sometimes repents, and when he repents Allah accepts it-inshallah.

3.    A major hypocrite outward displays faith but inwardly doesn’t believe. An individual with minor hypocrisy outwardly shows something that’s different from what he feels in actions, not faith.

4.    Major hypocrisy doesn’t arise from a believer, minor hypocrisy can emanate from a believer.[ Kitabut Tawheed Al-Fawzan 18]

An example of minor hypocrisy is the Hadeeth:

1.عَنْ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَالَ « آيَةُ الْمُنَافِقِ ثَلاَثٌ إِذَا حَدَّثَ كَذَبَ وَإِذَا وَعَدَ أَخْلَفَ وَإِذَا ائْتُمِنَ خَانَ

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The signs of a hypocrite are three: When he speaks, he lies. When he promises, he breaks his promise. If you trust him, he proves to be dishonest. [Bukahri 33]

2.عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « أَرْبَعٌ مَنْ كُنَّ فِيهِ كَانَ مُنَافِقًا خَالِصًا وَمَنْ كَانَتْ فِيهِ خَلَّةٌ مِنْهُنَّ كَانَتْ فِيهِ خَلَّةٌ مِنْ نِفَاقٍ حَتَّى يَدَعَهَا إِذَا حَدَّثَ كَذَبَ وَإِذَا عَاهَدَ غَدَرَ وَإِذَا وَعَدَ أَخْلَفَ وَإِذَا خَاصَمَ فَجَرَ

Abdullah ibn Amr (may Allah be pleased with him): Whoever has the following four characteristics will be a pure hypocrite. Whoever has one of the four will have a trait of hypocrisy until he gives it up: Whenever he is entrusted with something, he betrays it. When he speaks, he lies. When he makes a covenant, he turns out to be treacherous. When he quarrels, he behaves in a very evil and insulting manner.” [Bukhari 34]

Benefits from these two hadeeth:

Imam An-Nawwawee (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “People of knowledge have considered these two hadeeth among those that cause misunderstanding. These descriptions mentioned in the hadeeth are found in a sincere Muslim. There is a consensus among the scholars that the person who sincerely believes with his heart and tongue and does one these acts, isn’t a disbeliever or hypocrite: A hypocrite that will remain in the fire forever.

Prophet Yusef’s brothers possessed all of these traits. Likewise some of the Salaf and ulmea both possessed some of these characteristics or all of them at times.

These hadeeth mean: These characteristics are those of hypocrisy. The person with these traits resembles a hypocrite. The hypocrite differs in his nature. He manifests something that is totally different from what he feels, believes and conceals. The meaning for this is found in the person who holds this personality…i.e when he speaks, he lies, he breaks his promise, and when entrusted with something he won’t return it.etc

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) didn’t intend hypocrisy which is disbelief and the hypocrisy which lands a person in the lowest level of Hell. Allah knows best.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said “ A pure hypocrite…” These words mean the person strongly resembles a hypocrite, due to these four features. The people of knowledge said this applies to the person that acts like this most of the time. And if he rarely acts like this then it doesn’t apply.

At-Tirmithi answered about Yusef’s brothers saying that these traits weren’t their norm. They only acted like this on one occasion, then repented.[Al-Minhaj Sharhu Jam’I Saheeh Al-Bukhari ]

Translated and prepared by Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight L. Battle

Doha, Qatar 1431©

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