Do Not Advertise Your Generosity

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In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

In the world of social media, a disease that has plagued us is showing off (this is riyaa’). We do one good deed and it seems we must take its picture and announce to the world. We shoot a video and share it on Facebook or tweet about it or upload on Youtube with the intent to gather the most appreciations in forms of comments, likes and reshares.

Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) says in the Quran,

“By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, etc., it means here Allah’s Reward, i.e. Paradise), unless you spend (in Allah’s Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well.” [Surah ali-‘Imran, 3:92]

“…and whatever you do of good deeds, truly, Allah knows it well.” [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:215]

“…And whatever you spend in good, surely Allah knows it well.” [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:273]

If we have done a good deed solely to please Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) then we will be content with keeping it a secret between ourselves and Al-Khabeer. He knows it all and He will reward us according to our intention.

These ayah teaches us to be generous and to spend from the good. Remember that having wealth is not despised. We have the examples of rich Companions such as Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq, Uthman ibn Affan and ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Awf (radhiAllaahu anhum) who were as generous as they had been favored by Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala). They would earn from one hand and give away from another. They did not show off their wealth to people.

It was this generosity of the Sahaabah (radhiAllaahu anhum) that a day arrived in Madinah when it was difficult to find a needy person. Their mutual cooperation and love for one another had wiped out poverty. But why is it that we get impressed by their stories and are still unmoved? Why are our hearts filled with stinginess? Why is it that we say that we fear Allah, but still do not feel the fear in our heart as we should?

The pleasure of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) is the key phrase in all the ayah of charity. Do not give to show-off, to ‘toot your horn’ on social media, to embarrass another person, or to gather praises from the people. Conceal your favors and let this be a secret between you and Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala). Remember that rewards are according to one’s intention. Keep you intentions pure.

“Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us. Verily! You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:127]

Anas (radhiAllaahu anhu) reported:

Abu Talhah (radhiAllaahu anhu) was the richest among the Ansar of Al-Madinah and possessed the largest property from palm-trees, and among his possessions what he loved most, was his garden known as Bairuha’ which was opposite the masjid, and Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) often visited it and drank from its fresh water.

When this ayah was revealed: “By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, etc., it means here Allah’s Reward, i.e. Paradise), unless you spend (in Allah’s Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well.” [Surah ali-‘Imran, 3:92], Abu Talhah came to Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) and said, “Allah says in His Book: ‘By no means shall you attain Al-Birr, unless you spend (in Allah’s Cause) of that which you love’; and the dearest of my property is Bairuha’ so I have given it as Sadaqah (charity) for Allah’s sake, and I anticipate its reward with Him; so spend it, O Messenger of Allah, as Allah guides you.”

Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said, “Well-done! That is profit earning property. I have heard what you have said, but I think you should spend it on your nearest relatives.” So Abu Talhah (radhiAllaahu anhu) distributed it among nearest relatives and cousins.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Allah warns us in the Quran in regards to actions done for the sake of others, saying:

“O you who believe! Do not render in vain your Sadaqah (charity) by reminders of your generosity or by injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men, and he does not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day. His likeness is the likeness of a smooth rock on which is a little dust; on it falls heavy rain which leaves it bare. They are not able to do anything with what they have earned. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.” [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:264]

Allah further states that they will not be able to enjoy the fruits of their good deeds:

“Would any of you wish to have a garden with date-palms and vines, with rivers flowing underneath, and all kinds of fruits for him therein, while he is striken with old age, and his children are weak (not able to look after themselves), then it is struck with a fiery whirlwind, so that it is burnt? Thus does Allah make clear His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses) to you that you may give thought.” [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:266]

Abu Hurairah (radhiAllaahu anhu) narrates that:

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said, “Allah will give shade, to seven, on the Day when there will be no shade but His. (These seven persons are) a just ruler, a youth who has been brought up in the worship of Allah (i.e. worships Allah sincerely from childhood), a man whose heart is attached to the mosques (i.e. to pray the compulsory prayers in the mosque in congregation), two persons who love each other only for Allah’s sake and they meet and part in Allah’s cause only, a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for illicit intercourse with her and says: ‘I am afraid of Allah’, a man who gives charitable gifts so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity), and a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes are then flooded with tears.” [Sahih Bukhari Book 1, Volume 11, Hadith 629]

If we look in our lives we may have tons of things at home, but if even one is missing we become angry that the one we want is not here. By holding such an attitude we are showing displeasure and ungratefulness to the One Who has created the entire earth for our benefit. We show disrespect and disloyalty to the One Who keep blessing us with favors every day.

Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) blessed the people with ability, intellect and strength which could be used for the benefit of the society. Yet, people turned into bandits and tyrants oppressing other people by means of the blessings that Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) gave them. Isn’t this an act of disobedience and ungratefulness? We should all look in our lives and see how we are utilizing the blessings given to us.

Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) says:

“Those who are miserly and enjoin miserliness on other men and hide what Allah has bestowed upon them of His Bounties. And We have prepared for the disbelievers a disgraceful torment. And (also) those who spend of their substance to be seen of men, and believe not in Allah and the Last Day [they are the friends of Shaitan (Satan)], and whoever takes Shaitan (Satan) as an intimate; then what a dreadful intimate he has! And what loss have they if they had believed in Allah and in the Last Day, and they spend out of what Allah has given them for sustenance? And Allah is Ever All-Knower of them.” [Surah an-Nisa 4:37-39]

Some people themselves hold back any spending in the way of Allah and persuade others to do the same. Nevertheless, when they wish to show off before people, they do spend. Since these people do not believe in Allah and the Last Day, the question of spending their wealth for the pleasure of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and with the intention of earning rewards in the life-to-come just does not arise. Such people are the accomplices of Satan, therefore, the end of it all will be no different than the end of their comrade Satan.

Above ayah tells us that the way it is disgraceful to be niggardly and tardy in fulfilling due rights, similarly, it is also awful to spend to show off or to spend on heads which are purposeless. A good deed aimed at drawing applause from people – and which is not for Allah exclusively – is a deed not acceptable in the sight of Allah. In hadeeth, it has been declared as shirk as we discuss below.

Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) instructs mankind in the Quran:

“Surely, Shaitan (Satan) is an enemy to you, so take (treat) him as an enemy.” [Surah Fatir, 35:6]

Allah further quotes Satan as saying:

“(Iblis) said: “Because You have sent me astray, surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You).”” [Surah al-A’raf, 7:16-17]

In another verse, Allah identifies Satan’s weakness with regard to those people whom he will be unable to mislead.

“[Iblis (Satan)] said: “O my Lord! Because you misled me, I shall indeed adorn the path of error for them (mankind) on the earth, and I shall mislead them all. Except Your chosen, (guided) slaves among them.”” [Surah al-Hijr, 15:39-40]

One of the ways that Satan comes to us to destroy our deeds is by changing our intentions when we attempt to worship Allah alone – when we try to fulfill the very purpose of our creation. Satan does this by whispering false promises to us which cause us to change our intentions for worship and lead us to strive for the praise of other created beings instead of the praise and pleasure of the Creator! This is what is known as riyaa’.

Dua’a, the repellents of riyaa’

Among the strongest repellents of riyaa’, and one of the easiest, is dua’a.

Abu Musa al-Ash’aree related that one day Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) gave them a sermon and then said,

“Fear this hidden shirk, for it is even less conspicuous than the crawling of an ant.” Someone asked, “O Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam), how can we avoid it when it is more hidden than the crawling of an ant?” He (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) answered: “Say: “Allaahumma innaa na’oothu bika an-nushrika bika shay’an na’lamuhu, wa nastaghfiruka limaa laa na’lamuh.” (O Allah, we seek refuge in You from committing Shirk knowingly, and ask Your forgiveness for the Shirk that we may commit unknowingly).” [Reported by Ahmad (Musnad Ahmad, Vol. 4, Pg. 403), and others, and authenticated by al-Hilaalee in ar-Riyaa]

The dangers are numerous – so numerous that the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) showed that he feared riyaa’ harming his followers even more than the dangers of Dajjaal (anti-Christ).

Abu Sa’eed reported that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) came to us while we were discussing about Dajjaal and said, “Should I not inform you of that which I fear for you even more than the dangers of Dajjaal? It is the hidden Shirk: A person stands to pray, and he beautifies his prayer because he sees the people looking at him.” [Sahih Sunan ibn Majah, vol. 2, p. 410, no. 3389]

May Allah guide us in saving whatever little we do to please Him. May Allah bless us.

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