How do we recognize the truth?
People are mistaken when they say that there are many versions of the truth. There is only one truth, and everything apart from that truth are many versions of a lie.
Who can you talk to in order to establish what is the right account of events - any event? There is much bloodshed and hostility in the world today. Violence is rampant, Muslims are now poised to randomly kill other Muslims, with both the aggressor and the victim claiming to be on the path of the honest and the righteous. Yet, it cannot be that both the murderer and the murdered are correct, nor can it be said with certainty in today's world events, which are tainted with media blackouts and economic manipulation, that the killer is always in the wrong and the killed is always in the right.
In the times of Rasulullah SAW, it was easy to spot a hypocrite, for their characteristics surfaced clearly over time. When they were tested through difficult circumstances and lines were drawn in the sand, one would know on which side of the line the hypocrite of those days would stand. In a time where being Muslim was a dangerousand risk laden choice rather than an easy heritage,there was not much avenue for one's hypocrisy to remain unannounced for long. The hypocrite would be quick to renounce a belief system in which he did not see an immediate worldly benefit to him.
Today, hypocrisy is much more deeply rooted, but at the same time manifestly more subtle. When Islam evolved into a legacy and a birthright, the practice of which can be summarized into a series of public rituals, it is easy for hypocrisy to remain hidden. Yet, it is these hypocrites who carry out or are otherwise pivotal in effecting the worst of private and public atrocities, never once realizing how they have strayed so far from the truth. In entering into any kind of discussion with them, they would be blinded to what is right.Like the proverbial elephant in the room, the truth would be ignored by the hypocrite, because it just cannot be seen by him. A hypocrite would be incapable of admitting that he is one, for the reason that he has been blinded from understanding the truth, including the truth about himself.
What does the Qur’an say about this?
One of the first few messages at the beginning of the Quran is contained in Al Baqarah, Chapter 2. In it, those to whom the truth is clear can be summarized in a simple verse:
"Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful." (Al Baqarah, 2:5)
What about those to whom the truth is either clouded or totally obstructed from their vision? Why is it that some people are willing to defend injustice with their lives, thinking that it is the equitable thing to do? When it comes to the most fundamental principles, which does not even require a great intelligence, but basic humanity to understand, how can so many people now behave the way they do and not comprehend the wrong of their actions?
The Qur'an examines this issue in greater detail:
"Indeed, those who disbelieve - it is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them - they will not believe. Allah has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing, and over their vision is a veil. And for them is a great punishment."(Al Baqarah 2:6 to 2:7)
Society today is now permeated with those who proclaim themselves to be Muslim, to act in the name of Islam, and yet when push comes to shove, they do not walk their talk. They react in dismay when questions arise on the level of Islam in their hearts – for outwardly, the boxes are ticked – they are seen to be performing salat, are conversant with the Qur'an, they fast and even perform hajj and umrah. However, at crunchtime, their true behaviour spills the contents of their hearts, and betray the corruption and blindness within.
Is this a new phenomenon? Far from it, these characteristics were already identified fourteen centuries ago. The Qur'an says:
"And of the people are some who say, "We believe in Allah and the Last Day," but they are not believers. They [think to] deceive Allah and those who believe, but they deceive not except themselves and perceive [it] not. " (Al Baqarah 2:8 – 2:9).
The Qur'an often speaks in metaphors, but not here. These passages are clear and leave no room for doubt or misinterpretation. Just a quick glance at current events will provide ample evidence of the many who have fallen into this tragic category. These are the people who profess Islam with their tongues, but their minds and limbs behave in ways which are wholly abhorrentto the most basic Islamic teachings.