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R i y a a - Hidden Shirk

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The Cure – Ways to Avoid Riyaa’

1. Increasing Knowledge: One of the cures for the vast majority of the problems Muslims face, is to increase their Knowledge of the religion.  As Allaah says in the Final Revelation:
“Indeed, only those who have knowledge among His slaves truly fear Allaah.” [Sooarh Fatir (35): 28]

We must realize that attaining correct knowledge is the duty of every God-fearing Muslim, and not merely the administrators of the religion (Imams, Moulvis).

2.Invocations (Du’aa): Among the strongest repellents of riyaa’ and one of the easiest, is du’aa, Aboo Baker related that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said:
“Shirk amongst you is more hidden than the crawling of an ant, and I shall tell you of something which, if you do it, will remove from you both the minor and the major Shirk.

Say: Allaahumma innee a’oothu bika an ushrika bika wa ana a’lamu wa astagh-firuka limma laa a’lam
(O Allaah, surely I seek refuge in you from knowingly worshipping others besides you and I seek your forgiveness for what I don’t know).” {Sahih al-Jaami, no. 3731.}

Allaah, the Most High says in regards to the above
“Verily, those who are pious, when an evil thought comes to them from Satan, they remember (Allaah), and they see (aright).” {Soorah Al-A’raf (7): 201}
3. Reflection upon Heaven and Hell: Reflection on the Hereafter helps one develop more fear of Allaah, and increases one’s desire to stay away from sins. If a person realises that his purpose in life is not to gain fame and prestige, nor the acceptance or happiness of others, but rather to save himself from Hell and enter Paradise, he will try his utmost to avoid riyaa’.
Allaah says in the Qur’aan:
“So whoever hopes to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.” [Soorah Al-Kahf (18): 110]

General Causes of Riyaa:

Pride: Allaah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) stated that Allaah said:
“Pride is my Cloak and greatness my Robe, so whoever competes with Me, with respect to either of them, I shall cast him into Hell.” {Sahih Muslim, vol.4, p.1381, no.6349}

Allaah also warned against falling into this category as:
“Do not assume that those who rejoice in what they have done, think not that they are absolved from punishment, (but rather) for them is a painful torment.” [Soorah Al-Imran(3):188]
Show off: “Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allaah, but it is He who deceives them. And when they stand up to pray, they stand up with laxness, only to be seen of men, and they hardly remember Allaah at all.” [Soorah An-Nisa (4): 142]
Pleasing Allaah as well as others: The Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said:
“Allaah - the blessed, the transcendent - said, I am the most Self-Sufficient, without need of any associate. So, he who does an action for someone else’s sake, as well as Mine, I will leave him with whoever he associated with Me (i.e. he will get no blessings for that deed whatsoever).” {Sahih Muslim, vol.4, p.1538, no.7114.}
Clothing: This is the case of a person who does not care for his appearance, dresses shabbily in order to show that he does care for worldly appearance, rather is concerned for the hereafter, Or he may revert to the exact opposite; that is to dress up like a scholar in order to be said of or considered ‘a scholar’ by people.
Allaah says;
And when you look at them, their appearance pleases you; and when they speak, you listen to their words. They are like blocks of wood propped up. They think that every cry is against them.  They are the enemies, so beware of them. May Allaah curse them!  How they deviate from the Right Path!” [Soorah Al-Munafiqun (63): 4]
However, to maintain a good appearance for the sake of looking nice, (as opposed to the sake of attracting attention and praise), does not constitute riyaa’.

Other Related Issues:
Unintended Praise: If the people attend a lecture that greatly benefited them, it is likely they will go to the speaker and praise and thank him. This type of praise will not ruin a person’s actions as long as it did effect or alter his intention.  AbooTharr al-Ghifaaree asked the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam):
“O Messenger of Allaah! What do you think of a person who does good deeds, and the people praise him for it?” He responded: “This is part of the indications of the blessings of a believer (in store for him in the Hereafter).” {Sahih Muslim, vol.4, p.1388, no.6388.}

Discouraged to Praise: It is discouraged to praise a person to his face, as this act very easily leads to self-conceit on the part of the person who was praised. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said:
“When you see those who shower praises (on others), throw dust in their faces!” {Sahih al-Bukhari,vol.3, pp.512-3, no.830 & Sahih Muslim,vol.4, p.1542, no.7143}


The problem with the disease of riyaa’ is that it is not something that a person can detect in himself with ease, making it all more dangerous for the believers. It is, therefore, imperative that all Muslims ask themselves whenever they do any act of worship, “Why am I doing this?  Is really to please Allaah, and Allaah alone? Or do I desire the admiration and praise of people?”  In conclusion, the following Hadeeth of the Prophet  (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) summarises the blessing of sincerity. Anas bin Maalik mentioned that Allaah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said:
“Whoever sets the Hereafter as his goal, Allaah will give him richness of heart, gather his affairs for him (i.e. make things easy for him), and the world will come to him without even his wanting it! And whoever sets this world as his goal, Allaah will make him see his poverty before his very eyes, He will let his affairs become disunited, and nothing will come to him of this world except what Allaah had destined for him.” {Sahih al-Jaami, no.6516 and Sahih Sunan at-Tirmithee, vol. 2, p.300. no.2005}

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