Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
I have been living a life of hypocrite since a young age, and people consider me someone very religious. So to impress people, I neglect my inner soul and keep living a fake life. How can I recover from this mistake as I feel my soul is just empty, very empty? I even think I have gone outside the circle of Islam. Do I have to go public and expose my real identity, or how do I do it?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
Although this may seem strange. The feelings that you are facing are signs of true faith.
Imam al-Bukhari mentions in the chapter on faith the statement of Ibn Abi Mulayka (Allah have mercy on him), ‘I met 30 of the companions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), all of them feared hypocrisy for themselves. None of them said that he had faith like that of Jibril or Mikail.’
Imam Bukhari then adds, ‘It is being narrated from Hasan, ‘No one fears it (i.e., hypocrisy) except the true believer, and none feels safe from it except the hypocrite.” [Bukhari]
This type of feeling is a blessing from Allah Most High. It is the opposite of one of the most dangerous qualities, which is deception.
These thoughts are not only usual but praiseworthy.
Imam Muslim (Allah have mercy on him) mentions the following narrations under the chapter heading ‘Clarifying misgivings (waswasa) in faith and what one should say when they encounter them.’
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) said, “Some of the companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) came and asked him, ‘We encounter in our selves that which one of us would deem to grave to speak of.’ He said, “Do you indeed encounter that?” They said, “Yes.” He said, “That is clear faith.”
In another narration, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was asked about misgivings (i.e., in faith), and He said, “The is pure faith.” [Muslim]
Scholars have understood the above narrations in two main ways:
First, Shaytan whispers doubts into the hearts of those he has no hope of deceiving. And it is due to his inability to deceive, that he resorts to disturbing one through misgivings. As for the disbeliever, he comes to him as he wishes and not only whispers but toys with them as he wishes. Therefore, the reservations are pure faith or a sign of pure faith. Qadi‘ Iyad supported the opinion. [Nawawi, Sharh Muslim]
Second, others have understood from this narration that the reluctance of the companions to tell the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and their dislike for such thoughts are signs of pure faith.
You should not worry about yourself or become anxious about these thoughts. You are not to blame. These thoughts do not affect your Islam.
Being Solution Oriented
The believer sees a problem and works to solve it with the help of Allah Most High. The believer is not one to dwell in unproductive sadness over something.
Instead, you should apply the following steps:
Take some introductory courses in the Islamic sacred sciences. As you learn, strive to apply all you know in order of importance.
Do not worry about what people think of you. Your knowledge of your deficiencies is praiseworthy, humbling, and befitting for a faithful slave of Allah Most High.
This was the constant state of the Prophets (Allah bless them and give them peace).
Adam (blessings and peace be upon him) said, “O our Lord, we have wronged ourselves…” [Quran, 7:23]
Yunus (blessings and peace be upon him) said, “There is no god save you, glory be to You, verily I am of the wrongdoers.” [Quran, 21:87]
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “O’ Allah, You are my Lord. There is no god save You. You created me, and I am your slave. I am upon my covenant with you and my promise to you as best as possible. I seek refuge in you from the evil which I have done….” [Bukhari]
Lastly, do not expose your faults to others. Allah Most High has veiled your weaknesses from others; thus, they praise you and see your goodness. Instead, pray to Allah Most High with the following du’a:
اللهُمَّ لَا تُؤَاخِذْنِي بِمَا يَقُولُونَ، وَاغْفِرْ لِي مَا لَا يَعْلَمُونَ، وَاجْعَلْنِي خَيْرًا مِمَّا يَظُنُّونَ ”
O’ Allah! Please do not take me to account for what they say (about me). Forgive me for that which they know not. And make me better than they assume.” [Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab al-Iman]
Hope this helps
And Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.