The Ugliest Degree of Pretension

Imām al-Khomeini, may Allāh prolong his shade, has said, "Be informed that the most serious degree of pretension and the most detrimental, according to the principles of beliefs and theological branches of knowledge, and the one the darkness to the heart of which is the most intense of all other types of showing off is this: If the pretender does not believe in what he shows off, he is still among the hypocrites whom Allāh forewarned of being kept in hell forever. His is perdition and eternal loss, and his torment is the most severe.

And if he believes in that matter, but he does so seeking a status and distinction in the hearts of people, although he is not a hypocrite, such a conduct requires the light of conviction to abandon his heart so it would be replaced by the darkness of disbelief. This is so because this person, although he was initially committing hidden shirk, demonstrated to people the divine branches of knowledge and the true beliefs that have to be purely for seeking the pleasure of Allāh, their owner is the true Holy One, the most Glorious, but he let someone else be a partner in them: He let Satan have a hand in dealing with them.

Such an action comes from the heart1 seeking to please someone else other than Allāh. He (ع) says in a sacred tradition recorded in Al-Kāfi, "Every type of pretension is kufr (apostasy)." But both this dark inner-self and bad trend drag one to have a heart dedicated to anyone except Allāh. The darkness of this vice becomes a means to gradually get one out of this life having no sound conviction (imān). The erroneous conviction becomes an image without a meaning, a body without a soul, a peal with a pith, and it does not qualify it to be accepted by the most Exalted One as referred to in a sacred tradition in Al-Kāfi where Ali ibn Sālim is quoted as having said that he heard Abū Abdullāh (ع) saying that the Almighty said, "I am the best partner; whoever brings another partner besides Me in an action, I shall not accept it. I accept what is purely done for My sake."

It is well known that if the inner actions are not purely for the sake of pleasing Allāh, the Almighty does not accept them; He does not look at them; rather, He refers them to the other partner, the one/ones for whom the action was done in order to show off to him/them. Thus, the inner actions will be dedicated to that person, and they get the pretender out of the limit of shirk into mere apostasy (kufr).

Actually, it can be said that this person, too, is among the group of hypocrites. Just as shirk was hidden, so was his hypocrisy. The poor pretender fooled himself into thinking that he is a believer, but he started as a mushrik and ended up as a hypocrite, and he has to taste the torment tasted by the hypocrites. Woe unto one who is dragged into hypocrisy!

  • 1. We will explain, by the Will of Allah, how conviction is an act of the heart [of the innermost].