The Quran says:
“Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, "We believe", and that they will not be tested?” (Quran 29.2)
Clearly Allah says that saying you believe in God is inconclusive. A mere ritual of declaring your faith either to yourself or to the whole of mankind is not tantamount to faith in God. There are tests. Tests that will determine whether you walk your talk. Whether your so-called faith is mere lip service, a cultural baggage, a psychological escapism, etc. Allah detests those that do not walk their talk.
“O you believers! Why say you that which you do not?” (Quran 61.2)
“Grievously odious is it in the sight of God that you say that which you do not”. (Quran 61.3)
Hypocrites are the worst among the lot. They can feign faith and religiosity which will shame even the best Hollywood actors. It is difficult to identify the hypocrites, but not impossible. You may carefully look for the signs, the manner in which they react to the “tests” that Allah has planned for them.
“Who does greater wrong than one who invents falsehood against God, even as he is being invited to Islam? And God guides not those who do wrong”. (Quran 61:7)
For a variety of selfish reasons, hypocrites invent falsehood against Allah. Many of such people fail the test by inventing some law or some view and then ascribing that to Allah. When you check it with the Quran and the Sunnah, you find that it contradicts. The “devil” invents many things in the name of God merely to lead people astray from the path of Allah. For example, we have heard of the invitation to the killing of innocent people in the name of God, extremist or excessive behaviour in the name of God, etc.
“O you who believe! make not unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, but commit no excess: for Allah loves not those given to excess”. (Quran 5:87)
But Allah says that the Satan has no authority over humans beings who are His loyal servants. In other words, you must have chosen to incline yourself to evil for Satan to whisper evil ideas into your mind and heart. You have failed another test – the test of being the master of your senses as God intended you to be.
“And on them did Satan prove true his idea, and they followed him, all but a party that believed”. (Quran 34:20)
“But he had no authority over them,- except that We might test the man who believes in the Hereafter from him who is in doubt concerning it: and your Lord does watch over all things”. (Quran 34:21)
Many people who say that they believe in God seem to behave as if they do not. Their camouflage may be the various religious rituals that they dutifully perform. Or they may be in a constant state of self-denial. Or they are just plain ignorant or inclined to evil. They do not exhibit trustworthiness, compassion, diligence, love, gratitude, care for the environment, etc – some of the attributes that Allah commanded in the Quran for believers.
They are easily duped by the illusions of the transient world. They bask in their possessions, beauty, status, family, etc. As such they fall into dubious concepts such as “survival of the fittest” not realizing that ultimately all living things will not survive. They rationalize the evil manner in which they earn an income to sustain their family and themselves – corruption, selling dangerous products/services, cheating, etc.
Are they who do these believers in God even though they faithfully perform all the rituals?
“You shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves; and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if you persevere patiently, and guard against evil,-then that will be a determining factor in all affairs” (Quran 3:186)
“That which is on earth we have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them - as to which of them are best in conduct”. (Quran 18:7)
Clearly Allah does not teach that once you say you accept Him, you will be “saved”. You have to go through the journey of life and pass the various tests that you encounter in reality.
“Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good
by way of trial. to Us must you return” (Quran 21:35).