20 Ways to Show Off - Part 7

Salman ibn Fahd al-'Awdah

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 `آ’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.

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