Patience & Gratitude
|Patience and Gratitude
|Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyyah
|Article ID: 35 | Article URL: http://www.islamicawakening.com/viewarticle.php?articleID=35
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(From `Uddat as-Saabireen wa Dhaakirat ash-Shaakireen)
We live in a era of overwhelming Western influence where two major ideas are upheld and promoted. One of these is the expectation of instant gratification, whereby few people are prepared to wait, or work hard, or suffer temporary hardship, to get results. People see a world of wealth and power, depicted on TV and in the movies, and they want it, now. Immediate satisfaction is expected in this world, so how much harder must it be for such people in terms of preparing themselves for the Hereafter!
The other major idea promoted by Western influences is the cult of the superman. Here, too, TV and movies must take much of the blame for filling people's minds with the notion that the stronger and wealthier you are, the freer you are to do what you like, regardless of the consequences. The idea of the "survival of the fittest" is used to justify destroying the weak. In their quest for independence and superiority, the godless are turning this world into a living hell where competition and conflict prevail. Crime is on the increase, as religion and morality are no longer deterrent forces, and a sense of fear and insecurity is spreading in its wake. Mental illness and psychological disorders are further symptoms of the malaise caused by negative Western influences.
The Islamic way is in sharp contrast to the current trends of the West. Our Creator knows best the make-up of the human psyche, and the guidance of the Qur'an and Sunnah is in perfect harmony with human nature. Not for nothing is Islam known as din al-fitrah (the life transaction of the natural state of man). Muslim scholars and scientists developed an extensive and deep knowledge of human behaviour and psychology, which was firmly rooted in the guidance of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Centuries ago, scholars developed Islamic concepts by which any person who is seeking strength of willpower, and perfection may be guided. Instead of struggling alone, for no other reason than self-gratification, Islam channels us into seeking perfection for the sake of Allah, and teaches us to seek His help in doing so. Thus we have important Islamic ideals such as: 'ubudiyyah (being a true slave of Allah), which puts a person in touch with the highest Power in the universe, the Power of Allah; tawakkul (putting one's trust in Allah), concerning which the Prophet (SAAS) advised, "Whoever wishes to be the strongest among men, let him put his complete trust in Allah"; and sabr (patience, forbearance, fortitude), which enables a man to face hardship with dignity and to accept times of ease without becoming arrogant.
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (1292-1350 CE) was one of these scholars. His full name was Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr ibn Ayyub ibn Sa'd az-Zar'ee and his kunya was Abu Abdullah Shams al-Din, but he is better-known as Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyyah. Born in Damascus, Syria, he was the son of the attendant (qayyim) of the school of al-Jawziyyah. He lived in a period of great turmoil in the Muslim world, which was still reeling from the Mongol onslaughts. At the same time, his was an era of remarkable scholarship. He studied under the great scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, and was also a contemporary of Ibn Kathir and others.
The present text is from an abridged translation of Ibn al-Qayyim's famous work, `Uddat as-Sabireen wa Dhakhirat ash-Shakireen (literally, The Equipment of the Patient and the Investment of the Grateful). This work deals with the closely-related topics of patience and gratitude. Although often translated as "œpatience", the Arabic word sabr has a broader and deeper meaning than the English. Depending on the context, it may mean fortitude, patience, equanimity, forbearance, patient endurance, etc. Shukr may be translated as "œgratitude" or "thankfulness". As is shown in the book, patience and gratitude are two sides of the same coin, closely-related attitudes which the Muslim should seek to foster in every aspect of his or her life.
This kind of spiritual advice is something that today's Muslims so desperately need. Far from being a set of empty rituals and nit-picking legal technicalities, or a set of words to be repeated or chanted ad nauseam, Islam is a holistic way of life: if it is applied only partially, imbalance will result. A most important aspect of Islam, which must always accompany the formal "rituals" and the recitation of du'as and dhikr, is constant remembrance of Allah and constant contact with the Divine. Developing a truly Islamic attitude of patience will enable us to do this.
Although the works were written over six centuries ago, Ibn al-Qayyim has much to offer the modern reader. Caught as we are between the tempting influences of the West and the hidebound superstitions of some of our Muslim communities, Ibn al-Qayyim's level-headed and above all practical advice will point us back towards a purer Islamic way, insha'Allah.
It is my firm belief that Islam has the answer to many of the psychological problems that trouble mankind today, such as anxiety, depression, lack of confidence, addictions, etc. In direct contrast to the Western focus on the self, Islam tells us to look beyond ourselves and focus on Allah. By doing so, we will move towards fulfilling the purpose for which we were created, and thus attain peace with our Creator and within ourselves. This will, Insha'Allah, bring the spiritual and psychological benefits of our Islamic heritage to Muslims who do not have access to the works of the scholars in the original Arabic.
Praise be to Allah, the Patient (as-Sabur), the Thankful (ash-Shakur), the Most High (al-`Aliyy), the Greatest (al-Kabir), the All-Hearing (as-Sami`), the All-Seeing (al-Basir), the All-Knowing (al-`Alim), the All-Powerful (al-Qadir), Whose power controls every single creature and Whose Will dominates every single event. His Call to people to prepare for the Hereafter has been so strongly that even the dead could hear it. I bear witness that Muhammad is His Slave and Messenger, the best of His creation who did not spare any effort to advise this Ummah, the most patient in accepting the decree of Allah and the most grateful for His blessings. Truly he conveyed the Message of Allah and proclaimed the Truth, and endured in the way of Allah that which no human being had ever endured. He followed Allah's commands patiently and gratefully, until he gained the pleasure of Allah and attained the highest degree of patience, such as had never before been reached.
Patience, or patient perseverance, is obligatory, according to the consensus of the scholars, and it is half of faith (iman), the other half of which is gratitude (shukr). Patience is mentioned in the Qur'an around ninety times. The relation of patience to iman is like the relation of the head to the body, and the one who has no patience has no iman. Allah has commanded patience for the Believers in the following ayah:
"O you who believe! seek help with patient perseverance (sabr) and prayer..." (al-Baqarah 2:153)
Patience has also been made a condition for a person's entering Paradise and being saved from the Hellfire; on the Day of Judgement Allah will say:
"I have rewarded them this day for their patience and constancy (patience):
they are indeed the ones that have achieved Bliss..." (al-Mu'minoon 23:111)
And Allah commanded the patient (those who have patience) when He said:
"...(it is righteousness...) to be firm and patient, in pain or suffering and adversity,
and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing." (al-Baqarah 2:177)
"...Allah loves those who are firm and steadfast." (Al `Imran 3:146)
Allah has told us that He is with those who have patience; this is a special "companionship" (ma`iyyah) which means that He is protecting and supporting them, which is over and above the ordinary "companionship" which applies to believers and disbelievers alike whereby Allah has knowledge of them and is watching over them. Allah has told us:
"...And be patient and persevering: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere." (al-Anfal 8:47)
The Prophet (SAAS) told us that patience is all good and full of goodness, and said that "There is no gift better than patience." `Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) said: "The best days of our lives were ours by virtue of patience."
This book has been written to highlight the urgent need for patience, and to explain that our happiness in this life and our salvation in the hereafter depends on patience. This book is filled with benefits and readers will benefit from its advice and teachings. What is good and correct in this book is by the help of Allah, and what is mistaken in it is from the Shaytan. May Allah forgive the author and the editor. Allah is the Greatest Helper, and we put our trust in Him.
20 Ways to Show Off - Page 2
Ways to Show Off
By Sheikh Salman b. Fahd al-Oadah
Supervisor of the IslamToday Website
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tongue is one of the greatest appendages possessed by the human
being, since its devotions include such noble activities as the
remembrance and praise of Allah, the recitation of the Qurân,
enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong. From all
of this, we can see why the formal prayers are one of the greatest
forms of worship, since these prayers require devotions from every
limb of the body. The eyes engage in worship by fixing their gaze
upon the spot where the forehead will be placed during prostration.
ears engage in worship during prayer by listening to the recitation
of the imam with silent concentration. Allah says: While
the Qurân is being recited, listen to it attentively
and silently that perhaps you might receive mercy. [Sûrah
al-A`râf : 204]
Prophet (peace be upon him) said: When the imam is reciting,
listen to him quietly.5
arms and legs engage in worship when the person engaged in prayer
stands, bows, prostrates, and sits. The tongue engages in worship
by remembering and glorifying Allah and by reciting the Qurân.
this way the whole body humbles itself before Allah and engages
in His worship, making prayer one of the greatest forms of worship.
is therefore, remarkable, that in spite of the tremendous virtues
of prayer, Allah has directed the following threat to some of the
people who pray when He says: So woe to the people who
pray, but who are inattentive about their prayers; those who but
want to be seen of others but refuse to supply even neighborly needs.
[Sûrah al-Mâ`ûn: 4-7]
lets us know that what matters is not merely the outward motions
of prayer, since the people that are being addressed by these verses
are described as people who perform their prayers. Though they pray,
they are threatened with woe, meaning that they will face punishment
in the Hereafter. This is because they only performed the prayers
with their bodies while there hearts were devoid of humility and
devotion. Their bodies were lined up in the mosques in the ranks
of the worshippers. Their faces were turned towards Mecca. Their
hearts, however, were directed towards something else, longing only
to achieve the praise of men and win their trust or to attain some
other worldly benefit. Allah describes the se people in the following
words: When they stand up to prayer, they stand lazily
to be seen of men, but little do they remember Allah.
[Sûrah al-Nisâ: 142]
Inward Aspects of Worship
now turn our intention to the greater, more important facets of
worship, the internal ones the devotions of the heart and
of the inner self. Allah says: Set your face to the religion
in true sincerity. [Sûrah al-Rûm: 30] To direct
oneself to Allah, to rely on Him alone, and to seek his countenance
through ones deeds is the greatest form of worship there is.
It is what purifies and beautifies the heart. It is accomplished
through the love of Allah and constant awareness of Him. This is
the distinction that the believers have over the sinners and the
like a person takes care of his outward appearance, wears nice clothes,
and worries about public tastes in his manner of grooming, he should
also take care to beautify his inner being. And just as he would
hate to go out in public in a disheveled state, he should also be
aware that the corruption of his inner being is far more odious.
man will not with his tasteful attire endear himself to the one
he has wronged
Any more than a cadaver is enamored of the finery of his burial
funeral dressing is of no benefit to the deceased. Likewise, a person
who possesses an evil, envious, hateful nature does not get any
benefit from his good outward gestures. This is the lot of the hypocrite.
servant of the flesh! How wretched you grow from your service.
How you have wearied yourself in your fruitless labors.
to your soul and labor to perfect its virtues,
For you are by virtue of your soul, not your flesh, a man.
does not become a true and noble human being by virtue of physical
strength. If this were the case, then many a beast of burden or
beast of prey would attain the highest nobility and most sublime
humanity. This is why the bodies of men and women are not the measure
of their worth.
by this fact, a poet writes:
regard a man emaciated and scorn him,
While in his garments is the epithet of a lion.
are impressed by the well groomed man and test his mettle,
Only to be disappointed by this man of impeccable appearance.
camel is of great size, but without any ken,
So his great bulk ultimately avails you not.
puniest of birds has the largest number of chicks,
While the she falcon scarcely has any chicks at all.
and quantity are not all that matters, nor is a good outward show.
What matters most is the heart. If the heart is pure, the body follows,
but if the heart is rotten, the whole body is corrupted. The most
pious Muslim, Abû Bakr, was a lightweight, slender man, but
in spite of that, if his faith was to be weighed against the combined
faith of all the Muslims, his faith would weigh more.
there was `Abd Allah b. Mas`ûd who was one of the dearest
people to the Allah. The Companion Hudhayfah b. al-Yamân said:
Those among the Companions whose knowledge is not easily
prone to error all knew that Ibn Mas`ûd was the closest and
dearest of them to Allah.6 Now, Ibn Mas`ûd
was extremely slight of build, actually puny, and his shins were
very skinny. He was so small that the wind would cause him to sway
to and fro. The Companion Zur b. Hubaysh relates that Ibn Mas`ûd
was harvesting branches from an arâk tree when the wind came
up and caused his whole body to turn. People began to laugh at him,
and Allahs Messenger (peace be upon him) asked: What
are you laughing at? They replied that they were laughing
at his skinny legs. To this the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
I swear by the One who possesses my soul! Those two
legs are weightier in the Balance of the Hereafter than Mount Uhud.7
as there are people who play careful attention to their appearances
but are neglectful of their inner selves, there are those who keep
up a good image by doing supposedly pious acts conspicuously and
are careful never to slip out of fear of public recrimination. Any
slip would ruin their reputation, because their status is built
upon their being good imams, scholars, or Islamic workers. For this
reason they are scrupulous in maintaining their outwardly good conduct,
not out of any real desire to follow the Sunnah or obey Allah. Their
hearts are full of the love of this world and the love of fame.
They are so concerned about their status and their reputation that
they have no time to think about the Hereafter and how they should
prepare for it. They have no time to think about the problems afflicting
the Muslims and how to solve them. They do not think about calling
others to Islam. Their hearts are devoid of the love of Allah and
the love of his devoted worshippers. They also feel no fear of Allah.
They do not hope for his reward. Their hearts, which are the receptacles
of love, hate, hope, anger, joy, and sorrow, are not focused on
the worship of Allah at all.
describes the unbelievers in the following way: This is
because they followed that which displeased Allah and they hated
to please Him, so He made their deeds of no effect. [Sûrah
Muhammad: 28] We should see how the heart is the crux of all matters.
So what is the value of outwardly good works that are hated by the
heart of the one who performs them? What is the state of a person
who abstains from some sinful deed while loving it in his heart
and feeling joy when someone else commits it? Such a person will
almost invariably fall into the sin sooner or later.
a person who loves what Allah hates and hates what Allah loves will
without doubt act upon what is in his heart. The love or fear that
he has harbors in his heart for some created thing the fear
that he has of men, of sickness, of poverty, of death, or of the
rulers and the desire that he has for worldly gain, for prestige,
or for a position will ultimately guide his hands just as
a king guides his subjects. His actions will obey the directions
of his heart. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
In the body is a peace of flesh that if it is healthy,
the whole body is healthy, and if it is corrupted, the whole body
becomes corrupted. It is the heart.8
heart dictates and the limbs obey. This is why Allah has made salvation
in the Hereafter dependent upon the sanctity of the heart. Allah
says: The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will prevail,
except for him who brings to Allah a sound heart. [Sûrah
al-Shu`arâ: 88-89] So the one who brings to Allah a
sound heart will find benefit in his wealth, his children, and his
deeds, for his limbs would have already availed him. As for the
one who comes to Allah with a heart that is dead or sick, he will
find no benefit in anything else.
whose heart is devoid of the love and fear of Allah, a heart which
has no affection for pious people and no love for righteous deeds,
is to Allah a person who has no heart, even if the lump of flesh
can be found in his chest. Allah says: Not alike are the
living and the dead. [Sûrah Fâtir: 22] The
comparison here is between a believer and an unbeliever or between
a pious person and a sinner. Allah says: Can he who was
dead to whom We gave life and a light whereby he can walk among
the people be like him who is in the depths of darkness from which
he can not escape? [Sûrah al-An`âm: 122]
5 Sahîh Muslim (404).
6 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3762). Sunan
al-Tirmidhî (3806). The wording here is that of al-Tirmidhî.
7 Musnad Ahmad (3991). Sunan Abî Ya`lâ
(5310). Mu`jam al-Tabaranî (8452).
8 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (52). Sahîh
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The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The likeness of two people, one who remembers his Lord and one who does not, is that of the living and the dead.”9
Allah says: “Verily in this is a message for any that has a heart.” [Sûrah Qâf : 37]
All of this confirms a great truth that we must pay attention to: that the purity of the heart and sincerity of purpose is the basis upon which all of a person’s works must rest. If the heart becomes corrupted, good deeds are of no avail. When a person’s intention is no good, nobility of purpose is lost and the person swerves from what is right. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Actions are but by intentions”, he was talking about all actions. The acceptability of any outward action is contingent on the intention behind it, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “…and every person will have only what he intended.” Actions of the heart, however, are a different matter. The heart’s deeds such as fear, hope, and love, differ from outward actions, in that they, being unseen by others, are not subject to the risk of being for show. They either happen for the sake of Allah or they do not happen at all. One of the distinguishing features of the actions of the heart is that they can be cause for rewarded even if the person possessing them does not perform any outward act.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was approaching Madinah on his return from the Battle of Tabûk, he said to his Companions: “In Madinah there are some people who did not travel nor did they even cross a valley, but they were with you.”
His Companions asked him: “O Messenger of Allah! While they were in Madinah?”
He replied: “Yes, while they were in Madinah and were prevented by circumstances.”10
This idea was expressed by a poet who wrote:
O you who traveled to the Ancient House! It is thus,
That you went in body while we went in spirit.
We were prevented by hardships we had to endure,
And thus we are like the ones who went forward.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned that there will be people who will enter Paradise who did not do good works because they were prevented from doing so. Abû Hurayrah used to ask his peers to tell him about a man who went to Paradise after never having prayed a day in his life. When they could not answer, he would mention to them al-Usayrim from the tribe of Banû `Abd al-Ashhal.11
Al-Usayrim was a man who refused to accept Islam when the rest of his people did so. On the day of the Battle of Uhud, he came to accept Islam. Then he picked up his sword and went out to join the battle along with his people. He fought until he was mortally wounded. After the battle, when the tribe of Banû `Abd al-Ashhal began looking for their dead, they found al-Usayrim on the verge of death. They were surprised because they had left him behind.
They asked him: “What brought you here, your love for your people or a desire for
He replied: “My desire for Islam brought me here. I believe in Allah and his Messenger so I accepted Islam. Then I picked up my sword and went forward with Allah’s Messenger and fought until I came to this.”
He died shortly thereafter. They mentioned this to Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) who said: “He is among the inhabitants of Paradise.”12
Showing Off as a Way of Destroying One’s Deeds
A person can receive great rewards from Allah on account of his good intentions alone, even if he is prevented from carrying out the intended deed. On the other hand, the deeds that he performs can become bereft of blessings if they are not accompanied by a good intention. Such deeds can actually be sinful.
There are many hadîth that warn us against destroying our good deeds. One of the most serious causes of our deeds going to waste is that of showing off.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) relates to us that Allah will say: “Go to those who used to show off in the world and see if they found their reward.”13
He also relates that Allah says: “I am in no need of partners. Whoever does a deed for the sake of others as well as me, I leave his deed for those others.”14
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A man will be brought forward on the Day of Resurrection and thrown into the Fire. His entrails will come forth from his throat and he will hang from them going around like a donkey goes around a mill. The inhabitants of the Fire will gather around him and ask: ‘What is with you? Didn’t you used to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong?’ He will reply: ‘Yes, I used to enjoin what is right but not do those things myself, and I used to forbid what is wrong but not refrain from them myself.’”15
Some people might get the idea that this man was punished because he enjoined what is right and forbade what is wrong while he was had many shortcomings in his own deeds. This is a big mistake, because the task of enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong is worthy of reward in and of itself as long as the person engaged in it is sincere and has the right intention. This man was being punished because he did the very evil deeds he forbade others from doing and he abandoned the very duties he called others towards. He was merely beautifying his outward conduct while his inner being remained corrupt. His punishment was for his sins, not because he enjoined what is right and forbade what is wrong.
As for the verse: “Do you enjoin right conduct on others and forget to practice it yourselves and yet you recite the Scripture? Do you not have any sense?” [Sûrah al- Baqarah: 44], it means that Allah rebukes them and punishes them because they turn away from the truth though they know it full well. This makes them different from those who are ignorant of the truth, who if the come to know it would most likely follow it. Therefore, we should know that enjoining what is right is something we owe to the people, even if we fail to do what is right ourselves. The same goes for forbidding what is wrong. A poet once said:
If no sinner exhorts others to righteousness,
Then who will exhort the sinners after Muhammad?
No one after Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) is divinely protected from committing sins. It is, however, the duty upon every person to do the following four things:
1. Do what is right.
2. Enjoin others to what is right.
3. Abstain from what is wrong.
4. Forbid what is wrong.
Failure to perform one of these four duties does give us the right to neglect any of the others. Therefore, someone who commits a sin still has the duty to call others to avoid it. Showing off in words and deeds is a sickness that can get a person thrown into the Hellfire. That person on the outside appears to be righteous. His concern for what others think of him earns him the reward of their high esteem but not the pleasure of Allah. The praise of the people is sufficient for him.
This is the type of hypocricy that the earliest Muslims were afraid of falling into. Al-Hasan al-Basrî said, speaking about the tendency to show off: “I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul. No one feels safe from it except for a hypocrite and no one fears it except for a believer.” They were afraid that it would creep unnoticed into their deeds as Allah says: “…lest your deeds become vain and you perceive it not.” [Sûrah al-Hujurât:2]16
Al-Bukhârî placed in his Sahîh a chapter entitled: “A person being afraid that his deeds will become vain while not perceiving it”. In this chapter, he mentions a hadîth related by Anas b. Mâlik that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) inquired of the whereabouts of Thâbit b. Qays. A man said he would go and find out about him. The man found Thâbit sitting in his house with his head hanging down.
The man asked : “What is the matter with you?”
Thâbit replied: “It is very bad. A person used to raise his voice above the voice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) so his deeds have become vain and he is now one of the people of the Fire.”
The man returned to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and informed him of what Thâbit had said. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to the man: “Go back to him and say to him: ‘You are not from the people of the Fire but from the People of Paradise’.”17
9 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6407). Sahîh Muslim (779).
10 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (4423).
11 Musnad Ahmad (23634).
12 Al-Haythamî, Majma` al-Zawâ’id (9/362). Al-Haythamî states that all of its narrators are trustworthy (thiqât).
13 Musnad Ahmad (23119, 27442).
14 Sahîh Muslim (2985).
15 Sahîh Muslim (2989).
16 The entire verse reads: “O you who believe, raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet nor speak aloud to him in talk as you may speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds become vain and you perceive it not.”
17 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3613). Sahîh Muslim (119).
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Ways to Show Off
By Sheikh Salman b. Fahd al-Oadah
Supervisor of the IslamToday Website
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20 Ways to Show Off
the tendency to show off is so dangerous, we must be very wary of
it and know its causes and the ways that it can come about. With
this in mind, we will discuss twenty different ways that this tendency
to show off can manifest itself.
Publicizing ones good deeds:
people go around intentionally taking about the things they have
done, boasting about their virtues. They cannot sit with others
without saying: I did this and I did that
so much in charity. Sometimes they can be a bit more subtle,
like saying: Actually, I cannot stay up in prayer at night
more than two hours
or: Unfortunately, I cannot
cope with fasting every day, so I must suffice with fasting on Mondays
In this way, they want to show others
just how much they are praying and fasting.
only publicize their good works and make sure to perform them in
front of others in order to earn the peoples praise. This
is why it is preferable for most acts of worship to be done in private.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said : O people! Pray
in your homes, for truly the best prayers are those that a person
prays are at home, with the exception of the prescribed prayers.18
It is, therefore, preferable for voluntary prayers to be made in
the privacy of ones own home. This protects the worshiper
from the whispers of Satan and makes certain that the prayers are
not being performed for show. It also prevents the home from becoming
like a graveyard where no prayers are made. A further benefit of
praying at home is that it impresses the children of the house with
the importance of prayer. However, voluntary prayers that are supposed
to be made in congregation are an exception to this rule, like the
eclipse prayers, the prayer for rain, the Tarâwîh prayer,
and the two `Îd prayers (if we deem the `Îd prayers
to be voluntary).
same goes for charity. Allah says: If you make public your
charity, it is well, but if you conceal it and give it to the poor,
then it is better for you. [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 271]
should always give charity in secret and not give it publicly unless
he can make sure not to fall into showing off and sees that making
it public will bring about some greater good. Sometimes public charity
can encourage others by example. In the case of spending on the
war effort, it can make the enemy cower.
people do charitable works publicly to get their names printed in
the papers or to receive official recognition for their works. If
the intention of such individuals is to garner more public support
for the charitable efforts in question, then it is good. Otherwise,
it is merely showing off. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
Actions are but by intentions, and every person will
only get what he intended.19 Allah
says: Whether you hide your words or make them known, He
certainly has full knowledge of what is in the hearts. Should He
who created not know, and He is the Subtle, the Aware?
[Sûrah al-Mulk: 13-14]
Making false claims:
There is a type of person who likes to boast about things he
never did. He may claim that he struggled for Islam with patience
and forbearance. He may even claim to have suffered persecution
and hardships in the path of Allah. If he meets someone who does
not know about his past, he goes on to tell him: I used
to do this and I used to say that
, speaking about
a past more embroidered than true.
person goes on like this in front of others in order to earn a reputation
for himself. This behavior is worse than the one we have just gotten
through discussing, since it combines between two evils: showing
off and lying. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: A
person who claims to be given things he has never been given is
a double liar.20
trick is for a person to leave his own country and go to another
so he can pass himself off to them as some great martyr by embroidering
tales about himself.
not backed by solid proofs
Turn their claimants into braggarts.
there is the poser who wishes to pass himself off as a learned person.
He claims that he spent years studying with a certain sheikh and
that he was one of his nearest and dearest disciples.
a person who claims that he memorized the Qur`ân with its
seven different styles of recitation. He would say to people : I
learned from a number of sheikhs then go on to mention
the names of the leading scholars of our time. I know this person,
and I know he cannot even read the Qurân properly from
a book, forget about his reciting it by heart or knowing different
styles of recitation.
people, though, are more insidious than that. They speak about the
scholars of our time especially those among them who have
died as if they were his colleagues, not his teachers. They
tell anecdotes about those sheiks as if they had experienced them
firsthand. By doing so, all they are trying to do is fabricate a
relationship between themselves and these sheikhs that does not
exist. This is a sickness of the heart that becomes only more horrendous
when it afflicts those who are supposed to be people of knowledge.
Becoming a show off after having been sincere:
person begins doing something for the sake of Allah alone, like
offering prayer, spending in charity, or glorifying Allah in an
audible voice. Then he realizes that people can see him. This makes
him do even more. He prays a little longer, spends a little more,
or glorifies Allah with even greater eloquence. When a person finds
himself in this situation, he should fight against the urge to show
off. He should say what the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught Abû
Bakr to say to ward it off: O Allah! I seek refuge with
you from associating partners with you knowingly and I seek your
forgiveness for what I do unknowingly.21
the intention to show off establishes itself in his heart and he
continues to increase his efforts to impress the people, then his
works will fall under one of the two following outcomes:
his deeds were of a nature that they could be divided into separate
acts, then he will be rewarded for what he did for the sake of Allah
and will be sinful for what he did to show off to the people. For
example, a person gives two hundred pounds in charity. The first
hundred he gave sincerely for Allahs sake. The second hundred
he gave to impress the people. He will be rewarded for the first
hundred and be sinful for the second.
his deed was of a kind that cannot be divided, like a single prayer,
then his showing off nullifies the deed in its entirety.
people fall victim to the opposite affliction. They become so scared
of showing off that they avoid performing good deeds because of
it. They have jumped from the frying pan into the fire, so to speak.
sincerity is to be concerned with Allah and to disregard the people
altogether, neither performing deeds because of them nor abstaining
from deeds on their account.
brings us to the fourth way of showing off:
Abandoning deeds because of the people:
b. `Iyâd had harsh words for those who abandoned performing
good works because of the people. He said: Abandoning deeds
because of the people is showing off. Performing deed for their
sake is polytheism. Sincerity is where Allah protects you from both.
people go to the mosque. Then when they get there and see the people
there, they become afraid of showing off. They start to come to
the mosque late because of this and sometimes might miss the prayer
altogether. This becomes their habit. Coming to the mosque early
becomes one of the most difficult things for them to do.
people who read or memorize the Qurân, when they see
that others are listening to them, become afraid of showing off.
They stop reading the Qurân. This is tragic, especially
when the people who do so are among those who have memorized the
Qurân or who teach it to others.
ones good deeds is a grave error. What the worshipper must
do is cease to worry about created beings altogether, neither performing
anything for their sake nor abstaining from anything for their sake.
of the reasons for this behavior is that the person who is supposed
to perform a given deed has an exaggerated view of his own importance
and the importance of what he is about to do. He may ha ve to give
the Friday sermon or give a small talk after prayer where he can
encourage what is right and discourage what is wrong. He begins
to imagine that what he is doing is some great deed and that people
will start quoting his words. Maybe he thinks that what he has to
say will become the talk of the town. He may become a bit impressed
with himself at this point, and here is where he starts to fear
showing off. He sees the only way to play it safe is not to talk
and not to act.
is one of the devils tricks. The only way for a person to
stay immune to it is to accustom himself to doing good deeds and
to see those deeds as small and insignificant when he does them.
He must at the same time accustom himself to not attaching any importance
to what people say. He must be able to recognize his own faults
and realize the shortcomings in his works. Then, when someone offers
him unwelcome praise, it will not harm him in any way. It will be
as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
tidings being presented to the believer early.22
Making worship noticeable in a subtle way:
might conceal his worship, or at least seem to be doing so, while
making sure people know about it in a roundabout way. For example,
a man might be busy with praising Allah or seeking his forgiveness.
He keeps his remembrances quiet, but he moves his lips in a conspicuous
manner so that anyone who sees him will know that he is engaged
in the remembrance of his Lord. He might even raise his voice once
in a while ever so slightly to bring attention to himself. What
he desires is for people to praise him for what he is doing. Actions
are but by intentions, and every person will have only what he intended.
Therefore, if a person inadvertently draws attention to himself,
not meaning to show off, then there will be no harm. However, if
he does something ever so subtle with the intention of drawing attention
to himself, then he has not only showed off but made a pretense
of sincerity while doing so. And Allah says:
you hide your words or make them known, He certainly has full knowledge
of what is in the hearts. Should He who created not know, and He
is the Subtle, the Aware? [Sûrah al-Mulk: 13-14]
18 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (731).
19 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1).
20 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5219). Sahîh
21 Al-Bukhârî, Adab al-Mufrid (716).
Al-Hakîm al-Tirmidhî, Nawâdir al-`Usûl (4/142).
22 Sahîh Muslim (2642).
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20 Ways to Show Off - Page 5
Ways to Show Off
By Sheikh Salman b. Fahd al-Oadah
Supervisor of the IslamToday Website
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when food is presented to him, abstains from it and says: Today
is Thursday as if to imply that he always fasts on Thursdays.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) instructed us that when food is
presented to us, we should eat it if we are not fasting, and if
we are fasting, we should make a small prayer for the one who offered
us.23 A good prayer would be something like: May
Allah bless you in your food and drink and in what Allah provides
person might make a show of deprecating himself, stating all the
time how deficient he is. He says how he does no good works and
how his deeds are not enough. All he means by all this is to make
a display of his humility.
or not he actually believes himself deficient, he goes on in this
way until Satan makes him believe that he is free from showing off,
when actually Satan has been accompanying him in his absurd display
all along. What is needed for a person to be balanced, neither deprecating
himself for public viewing, nor praising himself.
Bringing attention to the faults of others:
can approach a person by way of the faults of others. By criticizing
someone elses mistake, a person implies that he is free from
might say: You know God forbid! so-and-so
never gets up at night to offer prayers! Translation:
I pray at night.
never saw such-and-such fast a day in his life. Translation:
I fast a lot.
never gives in charity, though he has much more money than I have.
Translation: I am not like him. I give in charity.
this person had any sense, he would say as a poet once said:
of myself I weep, not because of others,
For myself, from myself. Bother the people!
maybe he should say as al-Shâfi`î said:
not your tongue mention the shame of another,
For you yourself are covered in shame and all men have tongues.
If your eye falls upon the sins of your brother,
Shield them and say: O my eye! All men have eyes!
who busy themselves with the shame of others have many specialized
ways of backbiting at their disposal to help elevate them above
those they criticize. Ibn Taymiyah,in his Fatâwâ24,
mentions a number of these:
strategy is to frame ones slander in the form of concern for
the religion and for reform. Statements of the following sort ensue:
it is not my general practice to say anything but good about other
people. I hate backbiting and lying. I only wish to inform you about
swear by Allah, he is a good man, but he does such-and-such.
must pray for him. O Allah! Forgive us and forgive him.
these statements, a person can ridicule another while at the same
time seeking to deceive Allah about what he is doing, as if that
there are those who belittle others just to make themselves look
good. A person like this might say: If only I prayed for
him yesterday, I would not have heard this horrible thing about
him today. To make himself appear clever, someone might
say: So-and-so, you must understand, has a weak intellect.
person makes his slander of others appear in the form of jest, as
if his only intention is to make others laugh. However, what he
does to make his companions laugh is ridicule another person, belittle
him, and mock him.
uses amazement and astonishment an excuse to say something bad about
someone else. He might say: I am startled that so-and so
does not do that! or: How it is that he can do
such a thing! In this way, the slanderer maligns the name
of another with the excuse that he was overcome with amazement.
else feigns concern or pity in order to get in his nasty remarks.
He might say: Poor so-and-so, I am so sorry about what
happened to him. It is a pity what he got himself involved with.
Someone who hears this might think the speaker is genuinelydistraught
about what happened to that person. In reality, though, he would
probably increase that persons miseries if he was able to
do so. He might even say these words in front of that persons
enemies in order to give them the chance to take their revenge on
him. This is a very serious sickness of the heart and a horrible
form of deception. Then there is the person who makes a show of
anger nd righteous indignation in order to backbite another. He
may use the most eloquent words possible with the seeming intent
of condemning an act of wrongdoing, but his true intentions are
Safeguarding ones status and reputation:
a person becomes known for righteousness and piety, he tends to
love building his reputation further in the same manner. He begins
to fear losing the esteem of others that he presently enjoys. He
guards himself from any apparent laxity in his conduct. He makes
sure to keep pace with others or to outdo them in the good works
that he performs, or at least in what he shows to them. He does
not do this out of any religious devotion, but merely in order to
maintain their respect. He may speak to them, preach to them, and
exhort them to do what is right, not because he feels that they
need it but because he feels that they expect it from him. The meaning
of what he says is not his concern. It is only his reputation and
status that matter.
trap is a subtle one and an easy one to plunge into. Actions are
but by intentions. A person is either doing these things for Allahs
sake for which he will be rewarded or merely to save
Speaking about matters in a way that alludes to the idea that one
is engaged in them:
person might say the following: If a worshipper recites
the Qurân a lot, it becomes easy on his tongue, and
he reads with more fluidity, especially when he prays late at night.
Translation: I did this act and had this experience.
a person might say: Some people think fasting is tiring
and difficult. Translation: I am in the habit
secret devotions can become public in this manner. A man says: You
know, so-and-so made the call for the Morning Prayer a half hour
before its time. In this way, he reveals to everyone that
he is in the habit of getting up before this time.
us look at how the scholars of old handled a similar situation.
Sa`îd b. Jubayr asked his fellows: Which of you saw
the shooting star that went across the sky last night?
Husayn b. `Abd al-Rahmân added: I did.
Then he quickly added: I had not been praying; I had been
stung by a scorpion.
reason he mentioned that he had been stung by a scorpion was to
dispel the obvious conclusion that his companions would come to:
that he had been praying throughout the night. The early Muslims
were very careful to avoid praising themselves and did not like
mentioning their own virtues.
who mention such things in order to show off may earn the peoples
praise, but their deeds lose all blessings. If, however, somebody
makes such statements without the intention of showing off, then
their secret devotions still become public. He will be rewarded
for them, but the blessings of those devotions will be less.
Putting oneself on a pedestal:
person embarks upon learning about a certain religious topic. He
delves into it deeply, investigating every minor issue and every
subtle detail. He commits whole texts to memory and learns the opinions
of many authorities. Then, when he sits among a large number of
people, he begins to speak. Of course, he speaks on that very topic
that he investigated so thoroughly, rattling off the names of different
scholars and what they had to say, giving every citation from memory,
down to the page number. He pours out to them everything he has
memorized. What is the reason for all of this? It is so people will
point to him and call him a scholar.
may have the pretension to use turns of phrase reserved for true
people of knowledge.
might say things like:
see the matter to be such-and such
is quite evident to me is that it is
stance that we take on this issue is
has the audacity to speak in the manner of an authority in the field,
while he is a mere beginner. A poet writes:
say: This is, in our opinion, impermissible
Who are you, though, to have an opinion?
Refuting the people of knowledge:
person may be incited by Satan to speak badly about the people of
knowledge or to try to refute and contradict them. His purpose in
doing so is to make himself visible by standing upon their shoulders.
He wants people to say that he refuted or dumbfounded a certain
scholar. He wants news to spread that he got into a debate with
a certain prominent sheikh and overwhelmed him with his arguments.
23 Sahîh Muslim (1431). Musnad Ahmad
24 These strategies employed by people for backbiting
others can be found in Majmû` al-Fatâwâ (28/237).
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20 Ways to Show Off - Page 6
He might succeed in bringing scholars down only to make himself more famous. While doing so, he might even offer a prayer for them to make a show of his affection and concern. He could say: “So-and-so – may Allah have mercy on him – said this and that.” He may even make a pretense of pity and compassion, saying: “Poor so-and-so, he has been afflicted with holding such an opinion.”
Another approach he may use is to feign a desire not to talk about him. If someone mentions to him the name of a certain scholar, he might say: “I do not wish to get involved with discussing that person” or “Leave him alone. May Allah conceal both his faults and ours.” or “Let us not talk about him. May Allah protect us from speaking badly about someone.” This is a very subtle way of putting that scholar down. Only the astute actually realize what is going on.
12. Seeking knowledge to acquire fame:
A person may be incited by Satan to seek religious knowledge and to study it extensively with the sole purpose of becoming a muftî who people will come to with their questions, or a scholar whose name will go down in history, or maybe an Islamic activist who people will rally around.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned that three people would be the first on the Day of Resurrection to be scorched by the Hellfire. One of these three was: “…a man who acquired knowledge and taught it to others, who recited the Qur’ân. He will be summoned and asked what he did during his lifetime. He will say: ‘I acquired knowledge and taught it to others and I recited the Qur’ân for your sake. Allah will tell him: ‘You lie! You only acquired knowledge so people would call you a scholar and read the Qur’ân so you would be acclaimed as a Qur’ân reciter. These things were indeed said about you.’ At this point an order will be given and this man will be dragged on his face and cast into Hell.” The others mentioned in this hadîth were a man who fought in Allah’s cause and a man who gave in charity, both with the intention of showing off.25
A person like this, once he acquires the fame and status that he desires, will be approached with the people’s questions. There will be times where he will not know the answer. At these times where he should admit he does not know, he will instead fear the people and worry about their opinion of him. He will not want them to say: “How come you don’t know the answer and you are supposed to be such a learned person?” For this reason, he will make something up an answer in ignorance. He will in this way misguide himself and others.
Once a man of knowledge ascended the pulpit and was asked a questioned. He answered: “I don’t know.”
One of the people in attendance spoke up and said: “The pulpit is not a place for ‘I don’t know’!”
To this the man of knowledge said: “I have ascended to this position where I am with the knowledge that I possess. If I were to ascend on par with ignorance, I would reach the sky.”
Imam Mâlik once said: “Whenever a scholar abandons saying ‘I don’t know’, then he has met with destruction.”
13. Feigning humility:
Satan may incite a person to make a pretentious show of modesty and humbleness. He will clasp his hands together, raise his shoulders, and lower his head in an insincere and inordinate display of submissiveness. Often the behaviors exhibited in these displays go against the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him).
`Abd Allah al-Qurashî relates that `Umar b. al-Khattâb once saw a young man lowering his head in prayer. `Umar said to him: “Raise your head. Humbleness does not increase on what is actually in the heart. Whenever people make their humbleness visible, they are just making a visible display of hypocrisy. 26
The Sunnah of how the worshipper should carry himself in prayer is well known. The correct thing for the worshipper to do is to focus his eyes on the place where his forehead will go in prostration. His hands should be folded over his chest or his diaphragm with the right hand covering the left. This is the position of the majority of scholars and is related in the hadîth related by Wâ’il b. Hajar, which is the most authentic hadîth in this regard.27 The worshipper should be balanced and moderate in standing, sitting, bowing, and prostrating, as this is the guidance of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Satan might sometime comes to a reciter of the Qur’ân and encourage him to cry during his recitation with the notion of making the listeners feel humbled before his recitation and to inspire them to weep as well. Yet, the larger the congregation, the more he cries, until he comes to a point where he can hardly recite.
Then we have the supplication known as the qunût made by the imam in Ramadân at the end of the prayer. We can see and hear amazing things happening during this supplication. Tears are summoned up and wept out in torrents by a person who may have just finished reading the most powerful, fearsome, and awe inspiring verses of the Qur’ân without being moved in the least. Then when he comes to the supplication of the qunût, we begin to hear loud cries and sobs.
Ibn Jawzî devotes a chapter to this type of showing off in his superb book entitled Talbîs Iblîs (The Devil’s Deception). He writes:
Chapter: The Devil’s deception through false humility, lowering of the head, and establishing law
If fear embeds itself in the heart, the body will show it. Such a person will not even be able to conceal his feelings. What is reprehensible is for a person to make an effort to show humility, induce crying, and visibly hang his head in order to appear like an ascetic and have people come up to him to take his hand or kiss it or beseech him to pray for them. He prepares himself for supplicatio n as if he can bring down an answer from heaven.
We have mentioned how Ibrâhîm al-Nakha`î, the prominent student of the Companions, used to detest it when people asked him to make a prayer for them. Some people display so much fear that it makes them very shy and submissive, unable to raise their faces to the sky. This is not a virtue, because there is no humility greater than that shown by Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). In Sahîh Muslim, there is the hadîth of Abû Mûsâ al-Ash`arî where he says that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) used to often raise his head to the sky. 28 This hadîth shows that turning one’s face to the sky is a recommended practice for the sake of drawing lessons from the signs in its creation. Allah says: “Do they not look at the sky above them, how We made it and adorned it and there are no flaws in it?” [Sûrah Qâf : 6] He also says: “Say: Look at what is in the heavens and on Earth. ” [Sûrah Yûnus:10 101]. This shows the falsehood of those Sufis who go years without ever looking at the sky out of what they claim to be a show of humility.
Abû Salamah b. `Abd al-Rahmân said: “The Companions of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) were neither deviant nor were they like dead people. They used to recite poetry in their gatherings and talk about the times of ignorance. However, if you were to attack any one of them in matters of religion, his eyes would become like those of a madman.”
Kahmas b. al-Husayn relates that a man in the company of `Umar breathed sighing breaths as if he was trying to show grief, so `Umar struck him. `Âsim b. Kulayb al-Jarmî relates: “My father met with `Abd al-Rahmân b. al-Aswad who had a habit of walking along the side of the wall out of false humility. My father said to him: ‘What is it with you that you walk against the wall like that? I swear by Allah, when `Umar walked, he planted his feet firmly on the ground. He made his voice heard when he spoke.”
Abû Khaythamah relates that al-Shifâ bint `Abd Allah saw some young people walking meekly and speaking slowly. She asked them: “What is this?” They replied: “We are ascetics.”
To this she said: “I swear by Allah, when `Umar spoke he made himself heard, and when he walked he walked briskly, and when he hit someone, he inflicted pain. And he was an ascetic for real.”29
14. Overemphasizing certain conspicuous works, even to the point of going against the Sunnah:
Some people become fixated on a certain type of work to the point where Satan can incite them on account of it to go against the Sunnah or to violate Islamic law. Take jihad for instance, since some of our young people today have become very interested in it. No doubt it is a great act of devotion. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There are one hundred levels in Paradise that Allah has prepared for those who engage in jihad for the cause of Allah. The distance between any two levels is like the distance between the sky and the Earth.”30 He also said that the pinnacle of Islam is jihad in the way of Allah. 31
Allah makes jihad the greatest of works when he says: “Do you consider the giving of drink to the pilgrims or the maintenance of the Sacred Mosque equal to the service of those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and strive[A] with might and main in the cause of Allah? They are not equal in the sight of Allah; and Allah guides not those who do wrong. Those who believe and emigrate and strive with might and main in Allah’s cause with their wealth and their lives have the highest rank in the sight of Allah. They are the people who shall achieve success. Their Lord gives them glad tidings of mercy from Himself, of His good pleasure, and of Gardens for them wherein are delights that endure. They will dwell therein forever. Verily with Allah is a great reward.” [Sûrah al-Tawbah:19-22]
The gate of jihad is one of the great gates of Paradise, but jihad has its causes, its rules, and its conditions. A person who wishes to participate in jihad should learn the laws regarding it. He should learn how, where, and when to engage in jihad. He should know under whose banner he should fight. Moreover, such a person must first engage in a personal jihad to purify his intention. How many people are killed in the ranks of the believers and Allah alone knows their intentions. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever fight so that the word of Allah is the highest word, he is the one who has fought in the cause of Allah.”32
25 Sahîh Muslim (1905).
26 Al-Daynûrî, al-Majâlisah (1692, 3434).
27 Sahîh Ibn Khuzaymah (479). The hadîth can also be found in Sahîh Muslim (401) without mention being made of placing the hands on the chest.
28 Sahîh Muslim (2531).
29 Ibn al-Jawzî, Talbîs Iblîs (280-283). Al-Minbariyyah Publishers.
30 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (2790).
31 Musnad Ahmad (21542). Sunan al-Tirmidhî (2616). Sunan Ibn Mâjah (3973).
32 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (123, 2810). Sahîh Muslim (1904).
[A - IA's comment] The word Allah used in Arabic is: وجاهد في سبيل الله - meaning: made Jihad in the path of Allah. It is incorrect to translate the word Jihad to mean strive/striving because Jihad is a legal terminology with a specific meaning, and that is, fighting in the path of Allah and the struggle therein. Translating the word Jihad to mean 'Striving' is misleading as it gives a meaning different to the intending meaning in the verse. Unfortunately, this error has become a common practice amongst the translators, so let them be careful from falling into such errors. Read the article, al-Jihaad, Linguistically and Legally available on this web site.
20 Ways to Show Off - Page 7
A man had fought along with the Prophet (peace be upon him) until he was slain. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I saw him in the Hellfire.”33 Later, he then mentioned that he saw the man being punished in a cloak that he had stolen.
Then there is the case of another man who fought alongside the Prophet (peace be upon him). He was severely wounded and in agony, so he placed the base of his sword on the ground and its point against his chest. Then he killed himself by falling upon it until it came out through his back. The Prophet (peace be upon him) informed his Companions that that man was in the Hellfire.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we purify our intentions and acquire the requisite knowledge before engaging in such work.
We have seen the children of the Islamic Awakening going fourth in ranks into the fiercest of fighting. They have demonstrated the utmost heroism, bravery, and mastery over the world. We saw the young men who had lived lives of recreation and comfort, pull themselves away from it suddenly, departing their lives of leisure and luxury and the places of fun and games, looking for death in the cause of Allah in the mountains and ravines of places like Afghanistan, Palestine, Chechnya, and Bosnia. We have books and cassettes filled with their many heroic stories.
This shows the truth of what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said when he informed us that jihad would be going on until the Final Hour, despite all the changing circumstances and despite how much the Muslims might lag behind in the world. He said: “There is no emigration after the conquest of Mecca but there is jihad and intention. If you are called upon to fight, the go forth.”34
At the same time, it should be known that jihad requires the express permission of one’s parents. Some of our young men, unfortunately, leave for jihad without first receiving their permission[B]. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked which deed was most beloved to Allah, he said: “Prayer on its time.” Then when asked what came next, he said: “Honoring one’s parents.” Then when asked what came next, he said: “Jihad in Allah’s cause.”35
The Prophet (peace be upon him) placed honoring one’s parents before jihad. Once a man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and sought his permission to participate in jihad. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him if his parents were living. When the man replied in the affirmative, the Prophet (peace be upon him) told him: “Your jihad is in serving them.”36
On another occasion a man approached the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allah! I have come because I want to go in jihad along with you and seek the countenance of Allah and the abode of the Hereafter. I have come and left my parents weeping.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Go back to them and make them laugh just as you have made them weep.”37
Satan entices people to go against Allah’s Law in this way. For instance, he tricks some people by beautifying a given Islamic duty, though other Islamic duties may be more serious, goading him on with it until he abandons those more important duties. He might deceive a person into thinking that some work is an individual duty on every Muslim, when in fact the decision to engage in such duties is one of those difficult matters that requires the discretion of qualified people of knowledge. This person may even be deceived into condemning those who do not participate in the same works.
It is possible for one of these people to start talking to others about his experience while engaged in jihad, mentioning things that he saw and did and talking about miracles that he had experienced, though such events may never have actually taken place. I saw someone who had his hand bound up and who claimed that he had been shot in the hand during a battle. When his matter was investigated more closely, it turned out that it was all a charade.
The scholars of the early generations – the Salaf – were the strictest people in guarding against the tendency to show off, especially when it came to jihad.
`Abdah b. Sulayman al-Marwazî relates: “We went on an expedition against the Romans. One Roman came forth who was very strong and severe. No Muslim could draw near him without being struck down by his sword. The Muslims became very afraid of him. Then a shrouded man went to attack that Roman, striking him with his sword until he cut through him. He then hurried back to the military camp. I followed him and opened his shroud to find that it was none other than the great philanthropist and eminent scholar of Hadîth and Law, `Abd Allah b. al-Mubârak! He became very angry about what I did and said:
‘Even you defame us!’” (`Abd Allah b. al-Mubarak meant by this that the man made his dentity and his deeds known to the public) Look at how he tried to conceal his good deeds. See as well how `Abd Allah b. al-Mubârak was able to join together many types of good works, like acquiring knowledge, fighting in jihad, and spending in charity.
15. Making a show of religious zeal:
A pious person begins to talk about sinners. He speaks at length, describing, nit picking, and bewailing. He might even go so far as to curse people and threaten them. He exaggerates matters to the ext reme as if he is trying to say: “I am very zealous about the sanctity of the religion, righteously indignant when it comes to my Lord, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the believers” What he does not realize is that the way he is showing off is a far graver sin than many of those that he is discussing and condemning so viciously.
16. Conspicuously neglecting one’s outward appearance:
This is one of the most subtle ways of falling into the sin of showing off. Satan might inspire an individual to go about with disheveled hair and humble attire and make an ostentatious display of asceticism and humility. The Sunnah, on the other hand, encourages a person to care about his appearance. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to take good care of his hair. He would comb it and apply scent to it. It is related that the Prophet (peace be upon him), however, used to forbid people from oiling their hair excessively.38
It is also related that he said: “Whoever has hair should honor it.”39
It is befitting for an Islamic wo rker to dress nicely, be tidy, take care of his hair, stay presentable, and smell nice. He should keep his hair combed and nicely arranged. He should take care of his appearance without going overboard and wasting his time on it.
17. Making a display of lowering one’s gaze:
A person can make turning away from something into a conspicuous act. When a man sees a pretty woman or something else a Muslim should divert his eyes from, he not only diverts his eyes but lowers his head or turns it away. Now, this is not necessary. All that is required from him is to divert his gaze. He does not have to make a big show of it. Such behavior is pretentious. It may be that Satan causes this same individual to continue to sneak discreet glances.
Allah says: “Allah knows the treachery of the eyes and all that the hearts conceal. ” [Sûrah Ghâfir: 19]
18. Abandoning one’s worship from fear of falling into hypocrisy:
Among the most serious of problems is when Satan fools somebody into abandoning his worship of Allah to avoid being a hypocrite or being called one. Take, for example, a reciter of the Qur’ân, a teacher, or an Islamic worker who falls into some unseen sinful acts on some occasions, like looking at someone unlawfully. Such a person should repent to Allah and try to avoid falling into the sin again. Satan, though, does not give up that easy. He suggests to that person that he is a hypocrite, since he presents an image of piety to the people but commits sins in secret.
Now, Satan is not going to suggest as a solution tha t the person should strive to overcome his sins and rectify himself. Instead, Satan encourages him to give up the good works that he is doing and to forsake the company of righteous people. He encourages him to give up teaching others and leading prayers. His argument is that it is not fitting for that individual to do such outwardly good deeds while sinning inwardly. Satan may say to him something like: “If the people know what you do when you are alone, they would spit in your face and avoid you like the plague.” Satan keeps at him like this until he gives up doing any good deeds.
Allah says: “And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night. Indeed, good works remove evil deeds. This is a reminder for those who are mindful.” [Sûrah Hûd: 114]
19. Withdrawing from the company of others and going into seclusion:
A person may turn away from the company of his fellow men and eschew their company because he thinks he is better than they are. If he had, on the other hand, decided to avoid others so they could be safe from his harm and abuse, he may have had a point. This is what Imam Ahmad did when he limited his interactions with others at the end of his life. People said to him: “O Imam! It is being said that you are renouncing the company of others.”
Imam Ahmad replied: “Who am I to renounce other people? Quite the contrary, it is the people who are renouncing my company.”
It is wrong to renounce the company of people out of a sense of superiority to them. This is nothing but pride and arrogance. It is a way of praising oneself. In a hadîth it is related:
“Whoever says: ‘The people are in ruination!’ is the most ruined of the lot."40
20. Being deceived by some fleeting act of devotion:
Satan can trick a person into thinking that some singular act of devotion, like shedding pious tears, is good enough to suffice him. Some people bring themselves to weep during prayer at nights in the month Ramadân – and maybe only one night out of the year – or maybe they will attend the Tarâwîh prayer, then Satan convinces them this made up for everything wrong that they have so far committed. In this way, he encourages them to keep up their sinful ways.
We ask Allah to protect us all from the wiles of Satan and from this special type of polytheism that he likes to cultivate in our hearts. We seek refuge with Allah from the evils of ourselves and our deeds.
We hope that we have made plain some of the ways the sin of showing off can sneak up on a person and make his deeds bereft of blessings. We hope from Allah that he blesses us with true sincerity and protects us from polytheism and from showing off, whether we do it consciously or unconsciously. Allah is the only one who can help us.
We conclude by saying: Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. And may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his family and Companions and upon those who follow their good way until the Day of Judgment.
33 Sahîh Muslim (114).
34 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (2783,2825). Sahîh Muslim (1353).
35 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (527). Sahîh Muslim (85).
36 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3009). Sahîh Muslim (2549).
37 Sunan Abî Dâwûd (2528). Sunan al-Nasâ’î (7/143). Sunan Ibn Mâjah (2728). The hadîth is authentic (sahîh)
38 Musnad Ahmad (16793). Sunan al-Tirmidhî (1756). Sunan Abî Dâwûd (4159). Sunan al-Nasâ'î (5055). Al-Tirmidhî declared it a good and authentic hadîth. (hasan sahîh)
39 Sunan Abî Dâwûd (4163). Mustadrak al-Hâkim (8485). Al-Manâwî discusses this hadîth in Fayd al- Qadîr (11439), saying: “(Al-Suyuti) indicates that it is a good hadîth. This comes originally from Ibn Hajar who writes in Fath al-Bârî that it’s chain of transmission is good. The hadîth is also supported by a hadîth of `Â’ishah found in al-Ghaylâniyât, which also has a good chain of transmission.
40 Sahîh Muslim (2623).
[B - IA's comment] Sheikhul-Islaam Ibnu Qudaamatal-Maqdisee says in al-Mughni (8/240) that Jihad becomes Fardu 'Ain (an obligation on every individual, as opposed to a communal obligation) in three cases. i) When the two armies face each other, ii) If the enemy enters a land, Jihad becomes an obligation upon every individual of that land, and iii) If the Imaam calls the Muslims for a general march, it becomes compulsory for the people to march forth. Regarding seeking parent's permission when Jihad is Fardu Kifaayah, then one may not leave for Jihad without asking his parents permission. This is because as Ibnu Qudaamah states (8/248): "...being dutiful to one's parents is Fardu 'Ain, while Jihad is Fardu Kifaayah, therefore Fardu 'Ain takes precedence [over Fardu Kifaayah]". But when Jihad becomes Fardu 'Ain, due to any of the three cases mentioned above, then one does not require parent's permission for Jihad, for "there is no obedience to the creation in disobedience to the creator" as authentically reported from the Prophet - SallAllahu 'Alaihi was-Sallam. Thus Ibnu Qudaamah says in al-Mughi (8/248) in his explanation for the words of al-Khiraqi: "…meaning, if Jihad becomes compulsory on him, permission of his parents is not considered, because Jihad has now become Fardu 'Ain and the abandonment of which is sinfulness. Thus, there is no obedience to anyone in disobedience to Allah. Similar is the case with everything that becomes compulsory, like Hajj, Salaah in congregation, Jumu'ah prayers, travelling to seek compulsory knowledge. Al-Awzaa'i said: There is no obedience to parents in abandonment of obligations, Ju'muah prayers, Hajj, fighting, because the obligation has become compulsory on him in particular, thus permission from parents is not considered, just as their permission is not considered for Salaah."
From the scholars who say that Jihad today is Fardu 'Ain are the likes of Sheikh Ibnu Baaz, Sheikh al-Albaani, Sheikh 'Abdullah Azzam - May Allah have mercy on them all - and others. Based on that, those of the youth who left for Jihad are not sinful for leaving without their parent's permission, rather those who obeyed their parents in sitting back from Jihad, they are the ones who are sinful, for they obeyed the creation in disobedience to Allah, and Allah knows best.