Nayyara Rahman observes, as per Quran, hypocrites will be in the lowest pit of hell. How seriously do we take this admonition?

“And in conclusion, respected teachers and fellow students, let me stress once more that speaking ill of others is the most scandalous devilry, the greatest of sins.” With this, the school’s star orator ended her sermon on the vice of spiteful talk, to be followed with a burst of applause and a shield for her ‘sincere, passionate speech’. Later that day, the speaker was discovered deeply indulged in discussion once more. In a voice loud and clear enough to revive even the dead, she was denouncing an unpopular classmate with rumours and lies that could only lightly be described as ‘malicious’.

When the school’s annual magazine finally came out, one of the most praised and highly spoken of articles was one regarding the evils of smoking. Indeed, it was comprehensive, clear and ardent. The catch? A kid, who had been consistently smoking for three years and was responsible for applying much of the peer pressure that caused other classmates to start puffing, had written it.

Do these people sound familiar? Are they the reminders of our own preach-but-do not-practice policy? Maybe, probably, as a matter of fact, and quite definitely. The hypocrisy in our society is just about as common and blatant as the colour yellow during Basant.

As if peers are not enough, some of our role models and mentors have taken it upon themselves to set examples as well. Some teachers tend to rather eloquently state the importance of honesty, hard work and cleanliness. Unfortunately, these are more often than not the same people who encourage students to memorize MCQs, help them cheat during exams and litter the staff-room.

Acquiring knowledge and ethics is easy. Believing in them and applying them is the hard part. And that is where most of us fail. ‘Equality’ seems to be the mantra on every politician’s lips. But look around you: do you find any leader who is honest, fair and considers his servants and subordinates to be on the same footing as himself?

The Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “A hypocrite (Munafiq) is a person who observes the prayer and fast in Ramadan, but when he speaks, he speaks untruth. When he makes a promise, he never keeps it, and when something is entrusted to him, he misuses it.” (Bukhari)

Allah has described these double-faced Munafiqeen in the Quran: “When they meet those who believe, they say: ‘We believe,’ but when they are alone with their Evil Ones, they say: ‘We are really with you. We were only jesting.’” (Al-Baqarah 2:14)

Allah has also explained what lies in store for the hypocrites on the Day of Judgement in comparison to the true followers of Islam: “One day will the hypocrites – men and women – say to the believers: ‘Wait for us! Let us borrow (a light) from your light!’ It will be said: ‘Turn back to your rear! Then seek a light (where you can)!’ So a wall will be put up between them, with a gate therein. Within it will be mercy throughout, and without it, all alongside, will be (wrath) and punishment!’ (Al-Hadid 57:13)

So the choice is simply in our own hands. Would we like to give out sermons and set standards for others while we can get away with murder, or do we have the honesty and courage to tread the same path that we exhort people around us to follow?