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Desiring to be Elevated and Popular

In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

It is of no secret to many in this time that the Muslims have become divided. One reason for this division is the lack of importance given to understanding the principles of Salafiyyah as they have been taught by the Salaf and our major scholars.
Another reason is the people not knowing their places. We find that many young students in their vigor and zeal have begun to involve themselves in matters that they have no knowledge of wisdom in handling. Likewise you find the commoner indulging in the same practice. This is indeed a form of oppression and is one of the main reasons for the division seen amongst the Salafees.

A primary reason for this is love of the dunya and love of being noticed. So as opposed to the student simply being patient he wants to be known as the most knowledgeable Salafee in America or wants to be seen as the great mountain of knowledge here to educate the masses...Allaahu Musti’aan!

The Salaf used to say:

- Whoever rushes a thing before its time - will be punished by its denial -

This impatience can also be seen in other realms such as those seeking to be Imaams and callers.  This is the affliction of some of the commoners who rush to be students and leaders without seeking knowledge from its proper channels.

We have long advised many of the brothers to beware of this mentality and impatience as well as cautioned them against those who fall into this trial.  If you want to be a student then do so from its proper channels.  Do so not to be seen rather do so to purify your own soul.

In response to this sad trend that will only get worse before it gets better we present the following:

“Allaah subhanahu wa ta’ala says:

“And I (Allaah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).” [51:56]

This is our purpose in life.

Do we attempt to purify ourselves, our hearts and souls, and attempt to gain knowledge in order to be glorified as leaders or “knowledgeable people” in the end? or do we do these things for the sole purpose of worshipping Allaah alone and pleasing Allaah alone so that we may be saved in the Hereafter?

These are important questions we need to ask ourselves to be aware of the dangers of falling into riyaa-- meaning, to perform acts which are pleasing to Allaah, with the intention of pleasing other than Allaah.

Aboo Sa’eed reported that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) came to them while they were discussing Dajjaal and said:

“Should I not inform you of that which I fear for you even more than the dangers of Dajjaal? It is hidden shirk: RIYAA...”

[Saheeh Sunan ibn Maajah vol.2 page 410 #3389]

It is also reported by Imaam Ahmed in his Musnad vol. 5 page 428-429 and al Baghawee in Sharhus Sunnah #4135, and Saleem al-Hilaali said it was a Saheeh chain of narrators namely- Ishaaq bin Isa, Abdur Rahmaan ibn Abi az-Zannad, Amr ibn Abi Amr]

It is reported from Ibn Mas’ood (radi Allaahu anhu) that he said:

“Do not learn knowledge for three (things): To amaze and confound the foolish, to argue with the learned and to make peoples faces turn towards you. (But) seek what is with Allaah with your hearts and actions, since only that will remain and whatever is besides it will go.”

Even if we liken ourselves to the level of Sheikh bin Baaz [may Allaah have mercy on him] in knowledge-- or the taqwa of the al-Ghamdi woman in one hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam)—, the Shaytaan STILL promised to divert us from the straight path. Fostering riyaa (showing off) is just but one ways the Shaytaan sets his traps.

In the Qur’aan Allaah tells us: “(Iblees) said:

“Because You have sent me astray, surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You).” [7:16-17]

Life is a constant battle between truth and falsehood, we must never be caught off guard. Based on this, can we be so sure that we are not guilty of internal sins such as riyaa?

It is worth pointing out first and foremost that if a person refuses to admit being guilty of committing riyaa then it is futile to even try to achieve repentance. Individuals who suffer from DENYING their riyaa, usually EXTERNALIZE their faults- whatever they may be- and reflect it upon others. The one who suffers from riyaa, for instance, would believe that everyone else suffers from riyaa EXCEPT him or herself. We, every single one of us- bar none-, have been guilty of this act one way or another and if we do not recognize this in us, then unfortunately we have no starting point for repentance.

There is a grave danger in this denial because riyaa leads to hypocrisy. Allaah subhanahu wa ta’ala warns us:

“And of mankind, there are some (hypocrites) who say: “We believe in Allaah and the Last Day” while in fact they believe not. They (think to) deceive Allaah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not! In their hearts is a disease and Allaah has increased their disease.” [2:8-10]

Aboo Hurairah (radi Allaahu anhu) narrated that the the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) as saying

“Whoever gains any knowledge that should be learned for the sake of Allaah with the intention to benefit in this world will not even smell the fragrance of paradise on the day of judgment.” [Sunan Aboo Dawood vol.3 page 1039 #3656 & Sunan of Ibnu Maajah vol.1 page 144 #252 and Saheeh in Saheeh Sunan Aboo Dawood vol.2 page 697 #3112]

Aboo Moosa al-Ash’aree (radi Allaahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) delivered a sermon to them one day and said “O people! Fear this shirk [meaning riyaa], for it is more inconspicuous than a crawling of an ant.” [Saheeh in Saheeh at-Targheeb wat Tarheeb #33]

Ibn Abbaas (radi Allaahu anhu) added “It is more inconspicuous than the crawling of an ant on a black rock in the middle of a moonless night!” [Tafseer ibn Katheer vol 1 page 62]

There should never be a comfort zone when it comes to purifying ourselves. We must always be on guard against the Shaytaan regarding his ways to divert us from true worship of Allaah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

Allaah subhanahu wa ta’ala said:

“Who has created death and life, that HE MAY TEST YOU WHICH OF YOU IS BEST IN DEED. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving;” [67:2]

Fudayl ibn Iyaad [may Allaah have mercy on him] said in reference to this verse

“… if a deed is done sincerely and improperly, it will not be accepted, and likewise if a deed is done properly but insincerely, it will also be rejected. Only when a deed is done properly and sincerely will it be accepted. And “sincerity” means to perform a deed solely for the sake of Allaah, and “properly” means to perform it according to the Sunnah.”

Hence wither, it is of utmost importance to recognize thy faults in order to begin thy repentance ~


The primary cause of riyaa is weak imaan. When a person does not have strong faith in Allaah-- no matter how much they pretend to have it in the eyes of others-- he or she will prefer the admiration of people, or of a certain person, over the pleasure of Allaah. There are three symptoms that are indicative of riyaa and it is important that a believer avoid all of them.

1 - The Love of Praise

Aboo Hurairah (radi Allaahu anhu) quoted the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) as saying

“Three things destroy: desires that are followed, greediness that is obeyed, and a person’s self-admiration and conceit: and this is the worst of the three!” [Saheeh in Mishkaat al Masaabih vol.2 #1061]

Allaah says:

“Think not that those who rejoice in what they have done (or brought about), and love to be praised for what they have not done,- think not you that they are rescued from the torment, and for them is a painful torment.” [3:188]

This is why the Companions radi Allaahu ‘anhum feared GREATLY to even be put in a situation where they would be praised. Abdur Rahmaan ibn Abi Laylee reported “I met over 120 of the Prophet’s companions from among the Ansaar. Whenever any of them was asked for a religious verdict, he wished that someone else would answer it for him.” [Sunan ad-Daarimi vol. 1 #53 and ibn Sa’d in at-Tabaqat al Kubra, authenticated by al-Hilaali in ar-Riya]

It should be remembered that one of the characteristics of a true believer is feeling uneasy about being praised because he realizes the great danger that this presents to his intentions.

In Kitaab al Ikhlaas we find some scholars wrote: “It is possible that a worshipper tries to avoid riyaa, but when other people mention his deeds, and praise him, he does not react to such praise with uneasiness and dislike. Rather he feels happy and thinks that such praise will make his worship easier for him. This feeling is a very subtle manifestation of hidden SHIRK.... And it is also possible that person tries to hide his deeds, but when other people meet him, he expects that they will be first to greet him, and treat him in a nice manner. He hopes that they will be enthusiastic about helping him in his needs, and be gentle with him about their transactions, and give him space in a gathering. If they do not do this, he feels cheated, since he expects good treatment and respect for the act of worship that he is doing...” [page 60]

2 - Fear of Criticism

no one likes to be criticized. the fact that we can’t accept criticism has something to do with our pride, the shaytaan plays with this more than anything else because pride is something hidden in us and not as recognizable, as for instance, committing an outward physical act such as zina. To show the gravity of having pride, take from the following verses about Iblees.

“And surely, We created you (your father Adam) and then gave you shape (the noble shape of a human being), then We told the angels, “Prostrate to Adam”, and they prostrated, except Iblees (Satan), he refused to be of those who prostrate. (Allaah) said: “What prevented you (O Iblees) that you did not prostrate, when I commanded you?” Iblees said: “I AM BETTER THAN HIM (Adam), You created me from fire, and him You created from clay.” (Allaah) said: “(O Iblees) get down from this (Paradise), it is not for you to be arrogant here. Get out, for you are of those humiliated and disgraced.” [7:11-13]

The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) observed:

He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise. A person (amongst his hearers) said: Verily a person loves that his dress should be fine, and his shoes should be fine. He (the Prophet) remarked: Verily, Allaah is Graceful and He loves Grace. Pride is disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people. [Saheeh Muslim Book 1, Number 0164/Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas’ood]

Sufyan ibn Uyainah (rahimahullaah) said, “He whose sin is due to desires, then have hope for him. And he whose sin is due to PRIDE,
then fear for him—because Adam disobeyed due to desire and was forgiven, and Iblees sinned due to pride and was cursed.”

However, the true believer realizes that the criticism by created beings is NOTHING in comparison to criticism by the Creator. The believers are described in the Qur’aan as:

“O you who believe! Whoever from among you turns back from his religion (Islam), Allaah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him; humble towards the believers, stern towards the disbelievers, fighting in the Way of Allaah, and NEVER AFRAID OF THE BLAME OF THE BLAMERS. That is the Grace of Allaah which He bestows on whom He wills. And Allaah is All ­Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All Knower.” [5:54]

3 - Greed for people’s possessions

If a person covets what other people possess, whether it is rank, money or power, then he will wish to envy him similarly. For instance if he is jealous of a certain person in society, he will try every possible means to attain the same position. Such desires lead people to spend their lives putting a show for another person or people so that they may be admired like the other. Religious acts will most likely be incorporated into the show leading inevitably into riyaa.

Aboo Moosa (radi Allaahu anhu) related that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) was asked “A person fights to defend his honor [to avoid criticism], another to prove his bravery [to be praised for it], and a third to show off [so that his position can be seen]: of these three which one fights in the way of Allaah?” the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) answered: “Whoever fights to make the word of Allaah prevalent [ to bring honor to Islaam and establish it in the land], he is the one who fights in the way of Allaah.” [Bukhaaree/Muslim/Aboo Dawood]

Delaying the OBLIGATORY acts of worship, lacking the enthusiasm for worship, and public performance of good deeds are also warning signs of riyaa.


“And be not like those who come out of their homes boastfully and to be seen of men, and hinder (men) from the Path of Allaah. and Allaah is Muhitoon (encircling and thoroughly comprehending) all that they do.” [8:47]

In a very lengthy hadeeth reported by Aboo Sa’eed al Khudri, the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) described how the believers will see Allaah on the day of judgment, and then said:

“Then Allaah will reveal His Shin, and He will allow all those who used to prostrate to Him sincerely [in this world] to prostrate, so that not a single one of them will be left [standing]. As for him who used to prostrate for the admiration of others, Allaah will make his back like a single piece [so that he cannot bend]. Every time he tries to prostrate, he will fall flat on his face...” [Saheeh Jaami, Bukhaaree/Muslim]

One should not even expect him or herself to be a famous person in the long run at all. When we do things for the sake of Allaah, it is only for the sake of Allaah IN THE ABSENCE of any expectation for fame and glory to follow us in the end. Abdullaah ibn Damrah related that Aboo Hurairah (radi Allaahu anhu) said that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) said “The whole earth is cursed; all that is in it is accursed, except those [actions] which are meant for the sake of Allaah.” [Saheeh in Saheeh at-Targheeb wa Tarheeb #7, Saheeh in Sunan at-Tirmidhi vol. 2 page 169 #189]

Imaam Shaafi’ee said “I have never learnt anything except that I wished THAT PEOPLE WOULD BENEFIT FROM THIS KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT IT BEING ATTRIBUTED TO ME.” [Talbees Iblees page 151]

On the commentaries on following the Sunnah of the Prophet, (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam), and the statement of Allaah

“ And make us leaders for the righteous.” [25:74]

Mujaahid said: “Make us a community that follows the Muttaqoon (righteous) people who preceded us, and whom those succeeding may follow.” Ibn ‘Aun said: “There are three things which I love for myself and for my brothers; this Sunnah which they should learn and ask about, the Qur’aan which they should understand and ask people about, and that they should leave the people except when intending to do good (for them).” [Bukhaaree vol 9, ch 2, p 282]

“Remove the causes of riyaa from yourself by considering the opinion of people as IMPORTANT to you as animals and children. DO NOT DIFFERENTIATE in your worship between the presence of people or their absence, or between their knowledge of your actions and their ignorance. Rather, be conscious of the infinite knowledge of Allaah ALONE.” [al Ikhlas wa ash-Shirk al Asghar page 15]

“And if an evil whisper comes to you from Shaytaan (Satan) then seek refuge with Allaah. Verily, He is All-Hearer, All-Knower. Verily, those who are Al-Muttaqoon [the pious] when an evil thought comes to them from Shaytaan (Satan), they remember (Allaah), and (indeed) they then see (aright).” [7:201]

Allaah subhanahu wa ta’ala says:

“And of them there are some who believe therein, and of them there are some who believe not therein, and your Lord is All-Aware of the Mufsidoon (evil-doers, liars, etc.). And if they belie you, say: “For me are my deeds and for you are your deeds! You are innocent of what I do, and I am innocent of what you do!” [10:40-41]

Amru ibnu Hafs narrated that Abdullah ibn Mas’ood once admonished someone who asked for advice : “Be content with what you have, be satisfied with your dwelling place space to accommodate your enterprise, restrain your tongue, and shed the tears of regret for your past sins you committed knowingly, and those you do not recognize.” [Aboo Na’eem]

From daruahlilathar.com
A post taken from Sabeelul Mu'mineen

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