Religious People and Ostentation


Allah, the Almighty, says in Quran:

فَمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُوا لِقَاءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلاً صَالِحاً وَلا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَداً ۔

Whoever hopes to meet his Lord, let him do good deeds and join no other deity in the worship of his Lord. (Al Kahf 18:110)

It is apparent from this verse that the person who worships his Lord but also want to display his worship to people so that he develops a reputation of being pious, is making a deity with the One God. (S)he has included the creatures of God in His worship.

Prophet Muhammad (صلی اللہ علیہ واٰلہ وسلم) described the condition of three persons who will be brought in the court of Allah. God will ask, “What you have done for me?” He will reply, “I have been killed for your sake.” Allah will say, “You are a liar. You struggled to achieve a reputation of a brave man.  You have achieved it. So take this person to the hell.” A person who spends his money for the purpose of showing off and one who recites the Quran for being deemed honorable in his society will be treated in a similar manner.

The practice of religious scholars to seek a good reputation by showing their good deeds is the most dangerous form of ostentation. It is the worst in misleading people because they consider it essential to show their knowledge. They try to find opportunities to conduct a debate on issues. As a result of that, they try to divert their audience from the real requirements of the religion. Prophet Muhammad (صلی اللہ علیہ واٰلہ وسلم) said, “I am not conscious about anything more than the minor form of polytheism.” People asked, “What is this minor form of polytheism?” He replied, “Showing one’s deeds to get admiration.” (Musnad Ahmed)

Ali (رضی اللہ عنہ) said, An ostentatious person has three symptoms: When he is alone, he will be lazy in doing good deeds; When he finds that people are looking at him, he becomes happy; When they admire him, he does more good deeds and when they criticize him, he stops that.”

(This article is adopted from the “Mi’yar ul Ulema” of Akbar Shah Khan Najeebabadi, Translated by Mubashir Nazir)

We should not start finding these symptoms in other people. We should only analyze our own personality that whether we have these symptoms or not. Mubashir

Think about it!

  • Why some people want to show their good deeds to others?
  • A person wants to publicize his good deeds. Advise him the method to get rid of ostentation.

Please send your answers through email to post your comments on this web page.


About Mubashir Nazir

A researcher and writer on religious, ethical and social issues.
This entry was posted in Islam, Personality Development and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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