In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Narrated Husayn bin Abdir Rahmaan, “I was with Sa’eed Bin Jubair when he said, ‘Who amongst you saw a shooting star last night?’ I said, ‘I did’. Then I said, ‘I was not in prayer, but was stung by a scorpion’ [i.e. the reason why I was awake and saw the shooting star was because I got stung by a scorpion]. He said, ‘Then what did you do?’ I said, ‘I performed Ruqyah'”… to the end of the hadeeth (1)
Husayn said, ‘I did’ [i.e. I saw the shooting star]. Then I said, ‘I was not in prayer, but was stung by a scorpion’ [i.e. that is the reason why I was awake and saw the shooting star].
Question: Why did Husayn Bin Abdir Rahmaan [may Allaah have mercy upon him] mention – in addition – that he was not in prayer after informing Sa’eed Bin Jubayr that he saw the shooting star last night?!
Answer: Imaam Sa’di [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “That is because Salaf [i.e. the pious predecessors] were far removed from praising a person for something he does not possess”. (2)
Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “He (i.e. Husayn) said this lest the people think that he was standing in prayer and thus he is praised for that which he did not do. This is opposite of what some people do, for they rejoice that people assumed that they were standing in prayer. This is tantamount to a deficiency in one’s Tawheed. Husayn’s statement is not viewed from the angle of show off, rather it is a good deed. And it is not like that one who abandons acts of obedience to Allaah out of fear of Riyaa, for indeed shaytaan plays about with a person (in this affair) and beautifies for him to abandon deeds out of fear of Riyaa; rather one should perform acts of obedience to Allaah, but nothing should be in your heart that you want to be seen by people. (3)
Shaikh Saaleh Aala Ash-Shaykh [may Allaah preserve him] said, “He (i.e. Husayn) made this statement out of fearing that those who were present would think that he saw the shooting star whilst he was in prayer (i.e. Tahajjud), so he negated that from himself. This shows the virtue of the Salaf [pious predecessors], their eagerness for sincerity, being distant from showing off and adorning oneself with something one does not possess. (4)
Al-Allaamah Rabee Bin Haadi Al-Madkhali [may Allaah preserve him] said, “O brothers! I warn you against harbouring intentions of seeking after the Dunyah, its status and authority in the affair of learning and seeking knowledge; for indeed (knowledge of the religion) is worship – amongst the best types of worship; rather the religion, acts of worship, Jihaad and a (successful) life cannot be established except by way of this knowledge. However, it is obligated on us to purify our intentions in this worship. “Whoever seeks knowledge by which the pleasure of Allah is sought, but he only acquires it for worldly gain, he will not smell the fragrance of Paradise”. This is a very important point and a great affair which the students of knowledge must be notified, for indeed many of them are heedless of it. And it may be that a person seeks knowledge for the sake of worldly gain or other goals that are not beloved to Allaah -neither legislated nor permitted by Allaah, and thus they fall into destruction. This affair enters into the rebuke directed at the Yahood. [Allaah (The Most High) said]:
مَثَلُ ٱلَّذِينَ حُمِّلُواْ ٱلتَّوۡرَٮٰةَ ثُمَّ لَمۡ يَحۡمِلُوهَا كَمَثَلِ ٱلۡحِمَارِ يَحۡمِلُ أَسۡفَارَۢاۚ بِئۡسَ مَثَلُ ٱلۡقَوۡمِ ٱلَّذِينَ كَذَّبُواْ بِـَٔايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِۚ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَہۡدِى ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
The likeness of those who were entrusted with the (obligation of the) Taurat (Torah) (i.e. to obey its commandments and to practice its legal laws), but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is as the likeness of a donkey who carries huge burdens of books (but understands nothing from them). How bad is the example (or the likeness) of people who deny the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah. And Allah guides not the people who are Zalimun (polytheists, wrong-doers, disbelievers, etc.).
I seek the protection [of Allaah] for myself and [ask Allaah to protect] you from these blameworthy traits – a person possesses knowledge and does not act upon it, so he is either included [amongst those mentioned in this] Aayah or some of it applies to him. May Allaah protect us and you, for indeed the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] has informed us about the destination of those who perform acts of worship only to be seen, whether it is a student of knowledge, a scholar, a Mujaahid or one who spends his wealth [in charity etc].
O my brothers! Sincerity is a great affair. [Therefore], it is incumbent upon a Muslim to guard it and take himself to account at every moment of his life. One of the Salaf said: I used to hold that the hadeeth requires a Niyyah [i.e. sincere intention for seeking knowledge of hadeeth], but then I realised [or understood] that every hadeeth requires a [sincere] intention.
Therefore, when you narrate or speak, do you desire praise from the people or do you desire the Face of Allaah [The Blessed and Exalted]? Do you desire that it is said, “He is a scholar; he is intelligent; he is a learned person of sound, precise and robust understanding;” or do you desire the Face of Allaah and to fulfil the responsibility you carry [i.e. knowledge of the religion]. (5)
Imaam Ash-Shawkaanee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Among the reasons that leads to the abandonment of fairness and thus distances one from the truth -leads to concealment of truth and not clarifying that which Allaah has obligated – is love of high status and wealth. Both these affairs are a greater enemy to a person than two hunting wolves just as Allaah’s Messenger described (a), because indeed that was the reason that led the people of the scripture to distort Allaah’s Books and concealed that which came to them of clear proofs and guidance, such as what happened to the Jewish Rabis, and indeed Allaah informed us about this in His Mighty Book and the Messenger (also) informed us about it in the authentic narrations. (6)
Footnote a: “Two hungry wolves let loose among sheep are not more harmful than a person’s craving after wealth and status is to his eeligion”. [Saheeh Sunan Tirmidhee. Number 2376]
Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “He (i.e. the Prophet) clarified that the corruption (caused) through craving for wealth and high status in the religion cannot be lesser than the corruption (caused) by two hungry wolves let loose among a livestock and that is (something) manifest, because indeed there is (nothing) of this craving in the sound religion. That is because when the heart tastes the sweetness of servitude to Allaah and love of Him, nothing else becomes more beloved, and by way of this, evil and immorality are averted from the people who are sincere to Allaah”. [Majmoo Al-Fataawaa 10/215]
Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [may Allaah have mercy upon him] also said, “The seeker of leadership- even through falsehood- becomes pleased with a statement that contains an exaltation of him, even if it is falsehood; and becomes angered by a statement that contains a rebuke against him, even if it is truth. [As for] the believer [i.e. the one with strong Eemaan and fear of Allaah], he is pleased with a statement of truth whether it is for or against him; and he is angered by a statement of falsehood whether it is for or against him. That is because Allaah [The Most High] loves truth, truthfulness and justice, and He hates lies and oppression”. [Majmoo Al-Fataawaa: 10/600]
Imaam Muhamad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Two hungry wolves let loose on a flock! Then what will remain from the flock?! Even when a single wolf stops eating because its stomach is full, it still kills the rest of the flock; then what about two hungry wolves let loose on a flock!! Not a single will remain. Likewise, a person who craves for wealth or status will corrupt the religion. And because of this it is obligated on a person that his intention is far removed from this- far removed from craving for wealth and status in the religion. We ask Allaah to aid us to accomplish this. There are many people who do not give concern except to wealth or status, so that they are pointed at (i.e. recognized). This destroys the religion because one’s soul inclines towards wealth and status and as a result of this a person forgets what is more important – the affair of the religion (i.e. sincerity etc). [At-taleeq Alaa Siyaasah Shar’iyyah. pages 454-455. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 1: See the full hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim 220]
[Ref 2: An Excerpt from ‘Al-Qawlus Sadeed Sharh Kitaab At-Tawheed’. page 77. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 3: An Excerpt from ‘Al-Qawlul Mufeed Alaa Kitaab At-Tawheed’. Vol 1. Page 97. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 4: An Excerpt from ‘Sharh Fat-hul Majeed Li-Sharh Kitaab At-Tawheed. Vol 1. Page 162’. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 5: Source: Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm’ pages 53-55. abridged & slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 6: Adabud Talab Wa Muntahaa Al-Adab. Page 93. Slightly paraphrased]