In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Refrain From Portraying Yourself – to the Simple People Who Are Amazed By You and Do Not Know You Very Well- As One Who Has Achieved Such and Such or Did Such and Such, Whilst You Dare Not to Do So In The Presence of Those Who Know You Very Well!
Allaah [The Exalted] said:
لَا تَحۡسَبَنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَفۡرَحُونَ بِمَآ أَتَواْ وَّيُحِبُّونَ أَن يُحۡمَدُواْ بِمَا لَمۡ يَفۡعَلُواْ فَلَا تَحۡسَبَنَّہُم بِمَفَازَةٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡعَذَابِۖ
وَلَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ۬
Think not that those who rejoice in what they have done (or brought about), and love to be praised for what they have not done,- think not you that they are rescued from the torment, and for them is a painful torment. [Surah Aal Imran. Aayah 188]
Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [my Allaah have mercy upon him] said: From the benefits of the Noble Aayah: (a) A warning against the rejoicing (that one) is doing a favour to Allaah and His Messenger, or the rejoicing (accompanied with) deception and betrayal such as (what the) hypocrites (do). (b) A warning to the person against loving to be praised for what one has not done. This happens a lot, sometimes a person clearly states that he has, whilst he is lying, and sometimes he pretends (or play with words) so the listener thinks that he is the doer, whilst he is not. (1)
The Behaviour of The Pious Predecessors
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 (2)
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 [the pious predecessors] were far removed from praising a person for something he does not possess”. (3)
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 assume 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”. (4)
Al-Allamah 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, their eagerness for sincerity, being distant from showing off and adorning oneself with something one does not possess”. (5)
Strive Against The Desire to Boast and Raising Yourself!
Allaah [The Exalted] said:
وَمَا كَانَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لِيَنفِرُوا كَافَّةً ۚ فَلَوْلَا نَفَرَ مِن كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ مِّنْهُمْ طَائِفَةٌ لِّيَتَفَقَّهُوا فِي الدِّينِ وَلِيُنذِرُوا قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ
And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islamic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil). [Surah At-tawbah’ A ayah 122]
Al-Allaamah Rabee Bin Haadi Al-Mad’khali [may Allaah preserve him] said, “Look (at this)! There is an aim behind knowledge. The one who boasts to the people about knowledge will not be able to acquire it; (rather the goal behind knowledge) is to give warning to your people. You (should) seek knowledge for the sake of Allaah and sincerely. Therefore, your intention -after sincerity – should be to benefit the people, and those worthier – first and foremost – to be benefited are your close relatives and family. You owe them a right to be fulfilled before all the people”. (6)
Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Raising oneself can either be by way of the tongue and it can also be by way of sentiments [feelings, attitude, behaviour etc]. He (i.e. the student) might be walking with his teacher, whilst swaggering and saying, ‘I did this and I did this'”. (7)
Ibnu Jamaa’ah [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated about sincerity in seeking knowledge, “It is to have a good intention in seeking knowledge-seeking the face of Allaah by way of it; acting upon it; reviving the sharee’ah; enlightenment of the heart and (rectification) of its hidden affairs; seeking to get close to Allaah on the Day of Judgement, and putting one’s mind to that which Allaah has prepared for its people of His Pleasure and Great Favours”. (8)
[1: Tafseer Surah Aal Imran]
[2: Full hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim 220]
[3: An Excerpt from ‘Al-Qawlus Sadeed Sharh Kitaab At-Tawheed’. page 77. Slightly paraphrased]
[4:An Excerpt from ‘Al-Qawlul Mufeed Alaa Kitaab At-Tawheed’. Vol 1. Page 97. Slightly paraphrased]
[5:An Excerpt from ‘Sharh Fat-hul Majeed Li-Sharh Kitaab At-Tawheed. Vol 1. Page 162’. Slightly paraphrased]
[6: Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm. Page 249]
[7: An Excerpt from ‘Sharh Hilyati Taalibil Ilm’ pages 38-40. slightly paraphrased]
[8: Tadh-kirah As-Saami Wal-Mutakallim of Al-Kinaaniy: 67-70]