Ayah 8 of Surah Baqara reads:
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ آمَنَّا بِاللَّـهِ وَبِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَمَا هُم بِمُؤْمِنِينَ
"And among the people are those who say, 'We have faith in Allah and the Last Day,' but they have no faith." (2:8)
The Holy Qur'an as the book of guidance explains the characteristics of the believers, the disbelievers and the hypocrites so that we may understand in which group we are, and also become cognizant of other groups, in order to choose the best way.
So far from the beginning of the Surah there were four Ayahs on the believers and two Ayahs on the disbelievers. This Ayah and the following 13 Ayahs explain the characteristics of a third group. This group has neither the enlightened and luminous heart of the believers nor the impudently manifest denial of truth of the disbelievers in expressing their Kufr. They neither have faith in their hearts nor do they express their disbelief on their tongue. These are the cowardly hypocrites who hide their Kufr under the guise of Islam.
When Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) had to migrate from Mecca to Medina, and defeated the polytheists in the Battle of Badr they had imposed upon the Muslims, a large number of people inhabitants of these two cities professed Islam verbatim only to save their souls and properties or to gain a worthy position among Muslims. Thus they claimed to be members of the Muslim community but at heart they were not Muslims. These were the people who didn't have the impetuosity to openly express their disbelief like the other disbelievers so that Muslims may differentiate and recognize them. At any rate, hypocrisy and being double-faced exist in every society and after every revolution or social change and reform. The double-faced people deliver the most fatal blows to the Islamic Ummah. From this ayah we learn that:
1. Faith is a spiritual fact based in the heart of the individual and not mere lip service to deceive others.
2. Deceit means lack of faith.
Ayah 9 of this Surah reads:
يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّـهَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَمَا يَخْدَعُونَ إِلَّا أَنفُسَهُمْ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ
"They seek to deceive Allah and those who have faith, yet they deceive no one but themselves, but they are not aware." (2:9)
It means to say that the hypocrites think that they are clever and can deceive Allah through superficial expression of faith in order to gain privileges in the Islamic society. They want to deceive the Prophet and the believers as part of their plot to strike blows at Islam at the opportune time. But the All-Knowing God is fully aware of what passes in their hearts and minds, and at the necessary juncture He will expose them and reveal their real ugly visage.
It is as if a patient on receiving his prescription from the doctor, neither follows the instructions given nor takes the medicines, but lies to the doctor saying he takes all medicines on time and has still not been cured. Such a person might think he has gulled the doctor whereas he has not gulled anybody but himself. Thus the hypocrites, who wrongly imagine that they can deceive God, cannot deceive Him but only deceive themselves.
The lessons that we learn from this Ayah are:
1. A hypocrite is deceitful person. We should be careful not to be gulled by words and appearances.
2. We ourselves mustn't try to deceive others because the impacts of deceit will boomerang on the deceiver.
3. Islam's attitude toward the hypocrites is just like their own attitude towards Islam. Since a hypocrite is a Muslim in name and not by conviction, Islam also considers him a superficial Muslim. As the heart of the hypocrites is devoid of faith, such a person will be duly punished by God on the Day of Judgement in a deserving manner.
4. Hypocrites consider themselves clever and cunning people while they are very stupid because they don't know that God is aware of all secrets and the internal affairs of all beings.
Now here is Ayah 10 of Surah Baqara:
فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ فَزَادَهُمُ اللَّـهُ مَرَضًا ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْذِبُونَ
"There is a sickness in their hearts; then Allah increased their sickness, and there is a painful punishment for them because of the lies they used to tell." (2:10)
From the viewpoint of the holy Qur'an, the human spirit, like the body, sometimes becomes sick. If this sickness is not cured it will grow to the extent that it will deteriorate man's humanity. Hypocrisy is one of the most dangerous spiritual diseases. A sound person does not have more than a single straightforward face and there is full compliance between his spirit and body. He utters what is in his heart. His deeds are in full congruity with his thoughts. If it is otherwise he is spiritually sick. Hypocrisy as a sickness paves the ground for other spiritual ailments such as stinginess, jealousy and greed. Day by day it becomes deep-rooted in the hypocrite's heart like a tumour. According to the holy Qur'an the origin of this spiritual sickness is lie.
Of course lying is not limited to verbal lying but if one's acts are not in harmony with his or her belief, this is a practical lie. When a carcass falls in water and begins to give bad smell, the more rain falls on it the more repulsive becomes the smell. Hypocrisy is like the carcass, which even if it has a soul, whatever divine blessing comes to it the heart of the hypocrite will act more double-facedly instead of submitting sincerely to God. Thus his hypocrisy will increase. Hypocrisy has a wide meaning which includes any sort of double-faced dealings and turncoat behaviour.
Therefore it can occur even among the believers once they act contrary to their intention. For example, if a believer performs acts of worship to attract the attention of others, he or she has in fact behaved hypocritically. Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) says in this regard: There are three characteristics that make an individual a hypocrite even though he/she may fast, pray, and consider himself/herself a Muslim, that is, when one betrays, tells a lie or does not fulfill promises. From this Ayah we learn that:
1. Hypocrisy is a spiritual disease and the hypocrite is a sick person who is neither completely healthy nor dead. He is neither a believer nor a disbeliever.
2. Hypocrisy is a cancerous tumour which will spread all over human existence if not cured.
3. The origin of hypocrisy is lying and telling lies is the method of the hypocrites.