When Umar Ibn’ Abdul ‘Aziz (R) was appointed as Khalifah (Caliphate), he called Abu’ Ubaid al-Mithhaji, who was a scholar of Islamic jurisprudence and Hadith, and teacher of Imam Al-Awzaa’ee and Malik. When Abu’ Ubaid al-Mithhaji reached in his assembly, Umar Ibn’ Abdul ‘Aziz (R) told him “This is the road to Palestine where you belong to and you may go there. Upon Hearing this, a person from the assembly told Umar, secretly: “Ameer-ul Mu’mineen, Didn’t you know Abu’ Ubaid? Isn’t he talented and well known”? Thereupon Khalifa replied: “My direction is to prevent him from falling into more fitnah(trouble). He has a dangerous habit of showing off among common people. ( Incident mentioned in Tahdhib at-tahdhib : 12/58, translated to English).
Isn’t this a common issue among us as well? The Habit of doing less and speaking more has become prevalent even among Islamic organizations and in Muslim society. The phrase ‘show-off’ and people who do so are very familiar to us. This habit of ostentation and boasting about own knowledge, status, abilities or power is strongly discouraged and hated in Islam. Knowledge or power is given by Allah. He raises some people above others and gives them higher status. It is natural that people will respect and recognize such people. Qura’n has clearly mentioned that those who traverse through the path of true faith and piety will get the affection of people. it is when some people misuse such recognition and status to ostentate, the problems begin.
Everything a person possesses, is given by Allah. Craving for more than what we’ve is clearly the traps of Satanic whispers. Excessive self admiration and boasting about self will speed up one’s journey towards a wrong path. Imam Shafee’ said. “If anyone values himself higher than what he actually is, Allah will bring him down to the level where he belongs” (Translated to English). Those who crave for fame usually tend to conceal their shortfalls and magnify on their qualities.
There is a heart-touching verse from Umar bin Abdul Azeez (R). Once he said to a visitor like this: “O you, had you known about myself what I know about it, you would have not looked at me twice.” This should be the stance of a real believer. Praising own contributions and trivializing others’ efforts is never going to be an healthy approach. Not just at individual level, but also in societal and organizational level, this approach would create harmful impacts.
There is a famous saying by Sufyan As Sauri(R): “If you are a person with no excessive self admiration or boasting, be wary of another vice – desiring for the appreciation of people. This means the desire that people should respect and praise you for your deeds and consecrate a position and rank for you in their minds”.
We should exert due vigilance in our words, in this regard. Most of the times, our tongues move for unnecessary things, isn’t it? Most of our talks are for evaluating others or to boast about ourselves. Umar ibn Abdul Azeez told: “I refrain from many of the conversations because I dread there might occur any boasting or ranting”. (Thwabkathubnu Sa’d 5:368)
For every word that we utter, we should find an answer to present in front of Allah. There are many today who praise their own acts, denounce the deeds done by others and appear in the society expecting appreciation and good words from others. You will find them only where they can get peoples’ attention. If we can avoid ‘I’, ‘Mine’, ‘Ours’ etc. in our sentences, we can protect ourself from falling into ostentation, to an extend. It is not desirable for a humble believer to boast about what he has done, uphold and given. Let’s toil in the path of Allah as much as we can, by expecting rewards only from Him, and not from any one else.
English rendering of article written by Abdul Wadud!