Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "The example of the hypocrite is like a hesitant ewe between two groups of sheep. She goes to one at one time and to the other at another time."

In another narration: (once goes to this flock and another time to the other) (1)

Explanation of vocabulary (2)

(Hesitant) roaming aimlessly between the flocks and does not know whom it has to follow.

Explanation of the Hadith:

The Hadith explains the condition of the hypocrite that he does not have firmness on faith, but he is with the believers from outward but with the disbelievers from inward. Moreover, he is keen to worldly benefits, so if there is a benefit for the believers, he would say: I am one of you, but when he sees a benefit elsewhere, he would say: I am with you. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "Those (hypocrites) who wait and watch about you; if you gain a victory from Allâh, they say: "Were we not with you?" But if the disbelievers gain a success, they say (to them): "Did we not gain mastery over you and did we not protect you from the believers?"" [Surat An-Nisa': 141].

Allah explained their condition in another Ayah, where He says: "(They are) swaying between this and that, belonging neither to these nor to those; and he whom Allâh sends astray, you will not find for him a way (to the truth - Islâm)." [Surat An-Nisa': 143].

Point of resemblance (3)

The Hadith compares the condition of the hypocrite in not being firm on the truth to the condition of an ewe which is hesitant between two groups of sheep.

At-Tayby said: The Hadith likened the hesitation of the hypocrite between the believers and the disbelievers according to his whims and corrupt purposes with the hesitant ewe which seeks a male animal, so it does not calm down. Therefore, they were described in the Qur'an with: "(They are) swaying between this and that, belonging neither to these nor to those; and he whom Allâh sends astray, you will not find for him a way (to the truth - Islâm)." [Surat An-Nisa': 143].

Lessons gained from the Hadith:

1- Dispraising hypocrisy and the hypocrite, and explaining their wickedness, corruption, and their bad actions.

Ibn Al Qayyim said: Allah exposed the secrets of the hypocrites in the Qur'an, and explained matters for His Servants in order to beware of them. Moreover, Allah mentioned the three categories of people in the beginning of Surat Al Baqarah: The believers, the disbelievers, and the hypocrites. He mentioned four Ayahs about the believers, two Ayahs for the disbelievers, and thirteen Ayahs in regard to the hypocrites because of their number and their malice against Islam and Muslims. They may harm Islam badly because they are attributed to it as Muslims while they are its true enemies. They display their enmity to the public and the ignorant believes that they are knowledgeable and reformers, whereas they are ignorant and corrupt. They have destroyed many strongholds of Islam, many forts have been ruined, many branches of science have been distorted, how many banners they turned upside down, how many times they attacked the roots of Islam to take them out, and how many times they tried to mislead the people with their views! Islam and Muslims are still in trial and ordeal and they still throw their doubts among the people one after another claiming that they reform things: "Verily, they are the ones who make mischief, but they perceive not." [Surat Al Baqarah: 12]. "They intend to put out the Light of Allâh (i.e. the Religion of Islâm, this Qur'ân, and the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) with their mouths. But Allâh will bring His Light to perfection even though the disbelievers hate (it)." [Surat As-Saf: 8]. (4)

2- A Muslim has to hold firmly to Allah (may He be Exalted), adhere to His Shari`ah, and works obediently with the believers, moreover, he should be firm on that so that he would be safe from hypocrisy and the manners of the hypocrites.


(1) Sahih Muslim No. (2784).

(2) Commentary of Sahih Muslim by An-Nawawy, 17/ 128.

(3) Fayd Al Qadir 5/ 515.

          (4) Madarij As-Salikin (1/377).      

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