Al-Riyaa – Showing off – Seeking the praise of the people and wanting to be known
Sheikh Muhammad bin Haadi Al-Madhkhali
Translated by Abdulilah Lahmami

Haafidh al-Hakami rahimahullaah said in his book Ma’aarij Al-Qubool:

وَالثَّانِ شِركٌ أصْغَرُ وَهُوَ الرِّيَا

The second category is the minor shirk and it is Al-Riyaa (to show off)

فَسَّرَهُ بِهِ خِتَامُ الأنْبِيَـــا

The last of the Prophets explained it in that way

This second category is the minor shirk, it does not take you out of Islam, but it reduces the reward of an action. It may even invalidate an action if it is much and (showing off) becomes the sole reason for doing that action. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam explained that minor shirk is Al-Riyaa in his saying, “The thing I fear most for you is the minor shirk” They said, “O Messenger of Allaah what is minor shirk?” He said, “Al-Riyaa.” [Musnad Imam Ahmed (5/428) Al-Baihaqi in Shu’ab al-Eeman (5/333) no. 6831 and others with a good chain. Cited in Ma’aarij Al-Qubool vol:2 p.608]…

In the narration reported by Imam Ahmed rahimahullaah that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said that Allaah said, “I am the best of those they ascribe partners to, so whoever does an action and by it seeks another partner besides Me, I am free from him and he is left to the one he associated partners with.” [Musnad Imam Ahmed (2/301) with an authentic chain. Cited in Ma’aarij Al-Qubool vol:2 p.611].

The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: Allaah will say on the Day of Judgement when people are given their reward for their actions, “Go to those whom you were showing off to in this life and see if you find with them any reward!” [hadeeth hasan similar to the hadeeth in Musnad Imam Ahmed (4/215), (3/466)]. Cited in Ma’aarij Al-Qubool vol:2 p.611]…

Sheikh Muhammad Bin Haadi said in his explanation to this section, three days ago (5/1/1432 – 11 December 2010):

These narrations are a clear proof showing the danger of falling into minor shirk. As for the major shirk you will find the people of Tawheed keep away from it, those whose Tawheed is firmly rooted in their heart and they love Tawheed.

However, satan is eager to misguide the person so everyone must strive their utmost to make themselves upright. Look at the hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim:

قَالَ نَعَمْ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- يَقُولُ « إِنَّ أَوَّلَ النَّاسِ يُقْضَى يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ عَلَيْهِ رَجُلٌ اسْتُشْهِدَ فَأُتِىَ بِهِ فَعَرَّفَهُ نِعَمَهُ فَعَرَفَهَا قَالَ فَمَا عَمِلْتَ فِيهَا قَالَ قَاتَلْتُ فِيكَ حَتَّى اسْتُشْهِدْتُ. قَالَ كَذَبْتَ وَلَكِنَّكَ قَاتَلْتَ لأَنْ يُقَالَ جَرِىءٌ. فَقَدْ قِيلَ.
ثُمَّ أُمِرَ بِهِ فَسُحِبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ حَتَّى أُلْقِىَ فِى النَّارِ وَرَجُلٌ تَعَلَّمَ الْعِلْمَ وَعَلَّمَهُ وَقَرَأَ الْقُرْآنَ فَأُتِىَ بِهِ فَعَرَّفَهُ نِعَمَهُ فَعَرَفَهَا قَالَ فَمَا عَمِلْتَ فِيهَا قَالَ تَعَلَّمْتُ الْعِلْمَ وَعَلَّمْتُهُ وَقَرَأْتُ فِيكَ الْقُرْآنَ. قَالَ كَذَبْتَ وَلَكِنَّكَ تَعَلَّمْتَ الْعِلْمَ لِيُقَالَ عَالِمٌ. وَقَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ لِيُقَالَ هُوَ قَارِئٌ. فَقَدْ قِيلَ ثُمَّ أُمِرَ بِهِ فَسُحِبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ حَتَّى أُلْقِىَ فِى النَّارِ. وَرَجُلٌ وَسَّعَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ
وَأَعْطَاهُ مِنْ أَصْنَافِ الْمَالِ كُلِّهِ فَأُتِىَ بِهِ فَعَرَّفَهُ نِعَمَهُ فَعَرَفَهَا قَالَ فَمَا عَمِلْتَ فِيهَا قَالَ مَا تَرَكْتُ مِنْ سَبِيلٍ تُحِبُّ أَنْ يُنْفَقَ فِيهَا إِلاَّ أَنْفَقْتُ فِيهَا لَكَ قَالَ كَذَبْتَ وَلَكِنَّكَ فَعَلْتَ لِيُقَالَ هُوَ جَوَادٌ. فَقَدْ قِيلَ ثُمَّ أُمِرَ بِهِ فَسُحِبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ ثُمَّ أُلْقِىَ فِى النَّارِ ».

Abu Hurairah (radhiallaahu ‘anhu) heard the Messenger sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam say:

“the first of the people to be judged on the Day of Judgement is a man who was martyred. He will be brought in front of Allaah and Allaah will remind him of the blessings He gave him. The man will recognize it and Allaah will say to him: “What have you done concerning it?” He will say, “I fought for your sake until I was martyred.” Allaah will say to him, “you have lied, you fought that it be said you are brave (and it was said).” Then he will be ordered to come and will be dragged on his face until he is put in the fire.

(Another) man who learnt knowledge and taught it and recited the Qur’an. He will be brought in front of Allaah and Allaah will remind him of the blessings He gave him and the man will recognize it. Allaah will say to him, “What have you done concerning it?” He will say, “I learnt knowledge for your sake until I taught it and learnt the Qur’an for your sake.” Allaah will say to him, “you have lied, but you learnt that it be said you are a learned man. You (also) recited the Qur’an that it be said you are a reciter (and it was said).” Then he will be ordered to come and will be dragged on his face until he is put in the fire.

(Another) man whom Allaah had blessed with wealth and gave him from all the different types of wealth. Allaah will remind him of the blessings He gave him and the man will recognize it. Allaah will say to him, “What have you done concerning it?” He will say, “I have not left a path of goodness that You love except that I was charitable towards it for your sake.” Allaah will say to him, “you have lied, but you did that so it be said – such and such is generous (and it was said).” Then he will be ordered to come and will be dragged on his face until he is put in the fire.” [Saheeh Muslim]

The sane person is he who does not sell his deen for the praise of the people.

إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ
وَيَدْعُونَنَا رَغَبًا وَرَهَبًا وَكَانُوا لَنَا خَاشِعِينَ
Indeed, they used to hasten to good deeds and supplicate Us in hope and fear, and they were to Us humbly submissive.
[Soorah Al-Anbiyaa: 90]

The show off seeks praise and he usually gets what he wanted in this world. He was eager for people around him to know him so Allaah gave him what he sought but on the Day of Judgement, Allaah will expose him, humiliate him in front of everyone. People used to say of him, “O he fasts much, O he prays at night, O he is generous, You are not able to compete with him in the prayer!” This is what the show off sought. He was known by those around him in his generation but Allaah will make it known of him in front of all generations. Allaah will place a flag (or sign) on him so he is recognized (for what he has done)… We ask Allaah to help us with regards our souls, ponder how is it the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alahi wa sallam and his companions feared for themselves and look at our situation? Rather they used to ask Allaah for His mercy and forgiveness… (The Sheikh cried)…

Indeed, Tawheed is sweeter than honey and important than the air you breath, whosever says you don’t need Tawheed is insane and if Allaah does not give him light then he has no light. We ask allaah that our actions are for His sake with no Riyaa in it and not seeking the praise of the people. (Ameen)

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