Prevention of Boasting (Showing Off) in Islam

Islam promotes morality and goodness in its followers. It is a clear guidance for the entire world population. The Religion of Peace comprises of two main sources of supervision, i.e. Quran Majeed and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. Both of them instruct the believers to adopt righteousness and abstain from wrongdoings. Abu Hurrairah (R.A) narrated the Holy Prophet ﷺ saying as:

“Hasten to do good deeds before you are overtaken by one of the seven afflictions.” Then (giving a warning) he said, “Are you waiting for such poverty which will make you unmindful of devotion; or prosperity which will make you corrupt, or disease as will disable you, or such senility as will make you mentally unstable, or sudden death, or Ad-Dajjal who is the worst expected absent, or the Hour, and the Hour will be most grievous and most bitter”. (Tirmidhi)

It means one should enthusiastically opt for performing noble actions without any delay as there might be lack of willingness with passage of time for one reason or another. But there is also a great deal of emphasis not publicizing either of the deeds when committed. Making sins not known to others is easily understood but keeping one`s good acts also secret is somewhat not realized by many. Regarding this matter, Allah SWT says in His Sacred Book:

boasting in islam

“Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reminders [of it] or [other] injury will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. [Quran, 2: 262]

The above mentioned Ayah tells that while carrying out dignified deeds like Zakah (charity), one should not announce about it to the masses because it leads to decrease in Ajar (Good Return). Those who act like this are highly beloved near the Almighty Lord Who has kept their recompense with Him from whom they will greatly benefit eventually.

Avoidance of Showing Off in Islam

Actions are by Intentions

In Islam, there is a straightforward instruction about keeping one`s purpose of carrying out every action clear. One must have comprehensible idea of why it is performing a certain act and for whom.

 “Actions are but by intentions, and every person will only get what he intended. (Bukhari)

The above stated Hadith indicates that every deed comes with an outcome as a result of a certain intention that one has before and while performing it. Therefore, every believer must have clear conscious of carrying out noble actions for sake of Allah`s pleasure alone.

Secrecy of Righteous Deeds

Salah is made obligatory upon all the Muslims five times a day with strict timing in the mosque. However, there are some non compulsory prayers which are purely Prophetic Traditions. For this matter, Rasulullah ﷺ has advised the believers to accomplish them privately at their homes as He (PBUH) Himself used to pray.

“O people! Pray in your homes, for truly the best prayers are those that a person prays at home, with the exception of the prescribed prayers.” (Bukhari)

It means that the Messenger ﷺ of God has regarded the non obligatory Namaz which is carried out alone better which is of course not the case in mandatory Salah. It serves as a great means of saving one from showing off in religious matters. Moreover, it also helps in developing a good environment within house.

Emphasis on Avoiding Boasting

Riya (boaster) is greatly forbidden in the Religion of Peace. But unfortunately, most of us, knowingly or unknowingly, fall for this crime in our lives when we make informal conversations with others. We tend to forget that while we are doing something to acquire Allah`s pleasure, we are also wasting our efforts by making them public for sake of self-esteem.

“There are three (types of) people to whom Allah will neither speak on the Day of Resurrection nor look at them nor purify them, and they will have a painful chastisement.” The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) repeated it three times. Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) remarked: “They are ruined. Who are they, O Messenger of Allah?” Upon this, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “One who lets down his lower garments (below his ankels) out of arrogance, one who boasts of his favours done to another; and who sells his goods by taking a false oath.” (Muslim)

This Saying of Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ plainly explains the destruction of one`s all good deeds done if and when someone has made them known to others in order to attain their appreciation. This shows that there is a great virtue in hiding one`s noble actions from public as they are solely done for pleasing Allah SWT and not His creations. On another account, Rasulullah ﷺ is reported to have said:

“If anyone wants to have his deeds widely publicized, Allah will publicize (his humiliation). And if anyone makes a hypocritical display (of his deeds) Allah will make a display of him.”

It shows that both believers who try to appease fellow Muslim brothers by doing good and hypocrites who obviously do not believe in Islamic commandments but act to show off, are worthy of Allah`s punishment in this world and hereafter. Thus, it is obvious that boasting finishes the significance of noble acts as fire damages the wood. Therefore, every one of us should try its best not to perform good deeds to receive praise from others but only do them for pleasing the Almighty Lord.

Seeking Allah`s Help for Avoiding Show Off

The solution to this problem of boasting lies in taking assistance from Allah SWT. After realizing one`s weakness for pleasing the public in noble deeds, one should sincerely ask the Most Merciful for His guidance in prayers. In this regard, Surah Fatiha is considered to be one of the most effective Duas (Supplications) to the Almighty Lord, which is also an essential part of Daily Prayers.

[All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds – The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful, sovereign of the Day of Recompense. It is You we worship and You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path – The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. [Quran, 1: 1-7]

In this way, one would surely be able to cope with its difficulty of accomplishing good actions without showing off about them as the above Quranic lines are great means of requesting the God for granting rightful path.

In short, although good actions have positive effect on people around, but it is more advisable to perform them privately as it might lead one to become boastful if it carries them out in public. May Allah SWT save us all from the sin of showing off in religious and noble deeds! Aameen!

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