By Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid
Not practicing what one preaches
O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do?Most hateful is it with Allah that you say that which you do not do. [As-Saff 61:2-3]
No doubt this is a kind of hypocrisy, and the person whose deeds do not match his words is blameworthy before Allah and despicable in the eyes of his fellow man. The people of Hell-Fire will soon discover the reality of the one who enjoins good but does not do it, and forbids evil, but does it himself.
Malicious enjoyment of the failures, losses or disasters suffered by one’s brothers in Islam, when the blessings that they had enjoyed are taken away, or when the thing that made another person appear more distinguished than him is gone.
Looking at matters in black-or-white terms of whether they are sinful or not, and taking the matter of makruh (detestable actions) lightly.
Some people, when they want to do something, do not ask about what good deeds they could do, instead they ask, “Will this be counted as a sin, or is it ‘only’ makruh?” This way of thinking leads them into the trap of issues that are not clear-cut and deeds that are makruh, and eventually ensnares them in haram deeds. The person who thinks like this has nothing to stop him from committing makruh or doubtful deeds so long as they are not actually haram. This is exactly what the Prophet (peace be upon him) was talking about what he said, “Whoever falls into doubtful matters falls into haram, like a shepherd who grazes his flock around a place where he is not allowed– he will soon enter it…” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
When some people ask for a fatwa about something and are told that it is haram, they ask, “Is it very haram or not? How much sin is involved?” People like this have no interest in avoiding bad deeds; indeed, they are prepared to commit the first level of haram and they take small sins lightly, with the results that they have the guts to transgress even further and violate the limits set by Allah. For this reason the Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “I will certainly recognize people who will come on the Day of Resurrection bringing good deeds as great as the white mountain of Tuhamah, and Allah (may He be glorified) will make it like dust in the air.” Thawban said, “O Messenger of Allah, describe them to us and explain this so that we will not unwittingly be among them.” He said, “They are your brothers and they look like you. They pray at night as you do, but if they had the opportunity to violate the limits set by Allah, they would do so.” (Ibn Majah)
So you will find such a person committing haram deeds without any hesitation or reservation, which makes him worse than the one who does so after pausing and hesitating. Both are in danger, but the former is worse than the latter. This kind of person takes sins lightly as a result of his weakness of faith, and does not think that he has done anything wrong. For this reason, Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) described the attitude of the believer and of the hypocrite as follows: “The believer sees his sins as if he were sitting beneath a mountain which he fears will fall on him, whilst the sinner sees his sins as if it were a fly passing his nose and he says such-and-such to it” – i.e., he shoos it away with his hand. (Al-Bukhari)
Thinking little of good deeds, and having no interest in doing small good deeds
The Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us to pay attention to small acts of goodness. Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) reported from Abu Juray Al-Hujaymi who said, “I came to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, we are a desert people. Teach us something by which Allah (may He be blessed and exalted) will benefit us.’ He said, ‘Do not look down on any act of goodness, even if it is just emptying your bucket into the vessel of one who wants to drink, or speaking to your brother with a cheerful expression.’” (Ahmad) If someone comes wanting to drink from the well, and you lift up your bucket and empty it for him, this is a good deed; even though it appears insignificant, you should not think little of it. The same applies to greeting your brother with a cheerful expression, and cleaning dirt and garbage from the mosque, even if it is as small as a straw. This deed may be the cause of your sins being forgiven, for Allah will appreciate good deeds of this nature and will forgive sins because of them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A man passed a branch of a tree lying in the road and said, ‘By Allah, I want to remove this out of the way of the Muslims so that it will not hurt them,’ and he was admitted to Paradise.” (Muslim)
There is something wrong with the person who thinks little of simple acts of goodness. It is sufficient punishment for this attitude that he is denied the great advantage described by the Prophet (peace be upon him) who said: “Whoever removes something harmful from the path of the Muslims, one reward will be recorded for him, and whoever has a good deed accepted, will enter Paradise.” (Al-Bukhari)
Lack of concern about the Muslims’ affairs and lack of any involvement whether it be by making du`aa’, giving charity or helping them. Such a person has a cool attitude towards the oppression, suppression and disasters suffered by his Muslim brothers in other parts of the world, and is content merely with his own safety. This is the result of weak faith, because the believer is the opposite of that. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The believer’s position in relation to his fellow believers is like that of the head to the body; the believer feels the pain of his fellow believers as the body reacts to the pain suffered by the head.” (Ahmad)
Breaking the ties of brotherhood between two who used to be close
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “No two people are friends for the sake of Allah or in Islam, but they will be split apart by the first sin (according to another report: they will only be split apart by the first sin) committed by either of them.” (Al-Bukhari)
This indicates the bad effects which may impact upon and even destroy the bonds of brotherhood. This alienation which a man may feel between himself and his brother is a result of the lowering of faith caused by committing a sin, because Allah causes him to lose his standing in the eyes of His slaves, and so he is in the miserable position of having no respect and misses out on the fellowship of the believers and the protection of Allah, for Allah protects those who believe.
Not feeling any responsibility to work for Islam and spread this religion
This is unlike the attitude of the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), who as soon as they entered this religion felt this responsibility straight away. For example, Al-Tufayl ibn `Amr (may Allah be pleased with him), who became Muslim and went to call his people to Islam straight away. He was only a new Muslim but he felt that he had to go back and call his people to Islam, and he went and did this, yet nowadays many people wait for a long time after they become committed to Islam before they reach the stage of calling others to Allah, may He be glorified.
Fear and panic when disaster strikes or problems arise
So you will see such a person shaking and losing his equilibrium, with no focus, staring wild-eyed and having no idea what to do when faced with calamity. He is ruled by his fears and can see no way out; he cannot face reality with a strong and steady heart. All of this is the result of weak faith, for if his faith was strong he would be steadfast and he would face the worst disasters with calmness and strength.
Excessive arguing and disputing
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in an authentic hadith: “No people will go astray after having being guided except that they become argumentative.” (Ahmad)
Arguing with no proof and for no good reason leads one far away from the Straight Path, and most of people’s futile arguments nowadays are conducted without knowledge or guidance or (reference to) a Book giving light (i.e., the Qur’an).
We have sufficient motive to avoid futile arguments in the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “I guarantee a house in the outskirts of Paradise to the one who forsakes argument even when he is in the right.” (Abu Dawud)
Attachment to this world and rejoicing in it
A person may be so attached to this world that he feels pain if he misses out on some share of it, such as money, power, authority, or housing. He feels that he is unfairly treated because he has not got what others have. He feels more stress when he sees a brother in Islam who has something of this world that he does not have, so he envies him and wishes that he will lose that blessing. This goes against sincere faith in Allah, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Faith and envy do not exist together in the heart of the true slave.” (Abu Dawud)
He talks and thinks in a purely rational manner, devoid of the characteristics of faith
There is hardly any trace of a reference to the Qur’an and Sunnah, or the words of the salaf (the early generations of Islam – may Allah have mercy on them), in the way such a person speaks.
Going to extremes in the way one cares for oneself, in food, drink, clothing, housing and means of transportation. So you see these people showing excessive interest in luxuries, trying to be sophisticated, buying only the finest clothes, spending extravagant amounts on their choice of housing and spending too much time and money on such unnecessary adornments whilst their Muslim brothers are in the greatest need of that money. This carries on until they sink into the soft life of luxury which is forbidden, as is reported in the hadith of Mu`adh ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him): when the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent him to Yemen, he advised him: “Beware of luxury, for the slaves of Allah do not live a life of luxury.” (Abu Na`im in Al-Hilyah)
Source: Taken from the author’s Weakness of Faith.