Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE MOST BENEFICENT, THE MOST MERCIFUL
Some people often confuse the meanings of hypocrisy, politeness, and flattery, and the reason for that is the failure to understand the true meanings of brotherhood and sincere friendship. In their minds, they do not separate truth and falsehood, good conduct and bad.
Hypocrisy means pure evil. It is not praised worthy in any way no matter what. It is putting up a good face in order to achieve something bad and harmful.
A hypocrite never seeks something good rather he is speaking to harm people and betray them and cause them harm. A hypocrite achieves that by showing a good face and appearing to be loving and friendly.
Allah says, warning against keeping company with hypocrites (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Take not as (your) Bitaanah (advisors, consultants, protectors, helpers, friends) those outside your religion (pagans, Jews, Christians, and hypocrites) since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you. They desire to harm you severely. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse. Indeed We have made plain to you the Ayaat (proofs, evidence, verses) if you understand.
119. Lo! You are the ones who love them but they love you not, and you believe in all the Scriptures [i.e. you believe in the Tawraat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel), while they disbelieve in your Book, the Qur’an]. And when they meet you, they say, ‘We believe.’ But when they are alone, they bite the tips of their fingers at you in rage. Say: ‘Perish in your rage. Certainly, Allah knows what is in the breasts (all the secrets)’”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:118-119]
The same applies to everyone who presents a friendly face to people and appears loving, when in fact he is seeking to harm them and do something bad to them.
As for being polite is being genuine and kind without hiding any ill feelings in the heart. A person who is polite never wishes to harm anyone outwardly or inwardly. He may show a kind and cheerful face outwardly in order to soften the hearts of others who have a bad attitude or so as to ward off his harm from himself or others, but without agreeing with him in his falsehood or supporting him in any way, either by words or actions.
Ibn Muflih al-Hanbali (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
It was said to Ibn ‘Aqeel in al-Funoon: I hear the command of Allah (interpretation of the meaning): “Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah orders the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly) then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend” [Fussilat 41:34], but I hear people regard those who show something other than what they feel as hypocrites. How can I obey Allah and rid myself of hypocrisy?
Ibn ‘Aqeel said: Hypocrisy means showing a good face whilst concealing bad intentions, and harboring ill will whilst appearing good in order to cause harm. What the verse refers to is showing a good attitude in response to a bad one for the purpose of changing it to a good one.
From this, we understand that hypocrisy means concealing ill will whilst making a show of goodness and kindness just to cause harm. The one who has a good attitude in response to bad treatment does not mean he is a hypocrite rather he may be the one who is trying to put the things right.
Have you not heard the words of Allah “then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend”? This is done in order to soften hearts, ward off enmity, extinguish the flames of hatred, create love and correct beliefs. This is how one makes friends and wins hearts.
Hence politeness is part of a good attitude, and the scholars said a great deal about it.
Politeness is part of the attitude of the believer and it means being humble and speaking gently to create peace and harmony among themselves.
In his Saheeh, al-Bukhaari included a chapter entitled “Chapter on politeness with people” in which he said:
It was narrated from Abu’l-Darda’: We smile at people when our hearts are cursing them.
He also included the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) concerning this topic:
A man asked permission to enter upon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he said: “Let him in, what a bad son – or brother – of the clan he is.” When he entered he spoke kindly to him. I said to him: O Messenger of Allah, you said what you said then you spoke kindly to him? He said: “O ‘Aa’ishah, the worst of people in status before Allah is the one whom people leave alone for fear of his foul mouth.”
It says in Sharh Muslim and elsewhere: Being polite to one whose foul mouth you fear. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not praise him to his face or in his absence, rather he sought to soften his heart by giving him some worldly thing and speaking gently to him.
It was narrated that Humayd ibn Hilaal said: I met some people who regarded politeness as an act of charity towards one another.
It was narrated that al-Hasan said: Being friendly towards people is half of the reason.
Hanbal said that he heard Abu ‘Abd-Allah – i.e., Ahmad ibn Hanbal – say:
People need politeness and kindness and enjoining what is good without harshness, except a man who does evil openly, who must be told and stopped.
‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: Your love should not reach the point of infatuation and your hatred should not reach the point of destruction.
Allah knows best.