Riyaa or Ikhlaas, let’s Decide for Ourselves

أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Let ikhlaas be always in the mind

It is incumbent on every Muslim that he has ikhlaas in his deeds and protects his deeds from riyaa (show off) as riyaa is shirk-e-asghar (hidden polytheism) done for fame and boasting. Or it can so said that something done for the dunya like to gain respect in the hearts of people and praise from their tongues. The worship with riyaa is not accepted by Allah . Ikhlaas is to do something for Allah’s pleasure and there is nothing other than that in one’s mind and there is just one objective that Allah is pleased with the act. This ikhlaas comes along the way. First the outer appearance becomes religiously inclined and then one gets the characteristics of eemaan like humility, politeness, forbearance, generosity, piety etc.  Out of all these, the last that comes is ikhlaas that nothing gets in mind while doing an act except the pleasure of Allah . O the honorable ones! As much as one’s ikhlaas is great, even if the amal might look small, it will be much greater. Similarly an amal might look big but as much as it has riyaa in it, it will be useless.

A small act with ikhlaas can mean a lot

There are many narrations and sometimes Allah informs to this world in a different way like through revelations to His Prophets or the information is put in the hearts of righteous people or through dreams, which is one of the forty ways of revelation. There was a righteous woman named Zubeida. She died and came in someone’s dream. She was asked how she was treated. She told she was treated really well and continued that although she took many righteous deeds with her, once while she was eating and as she was about to put the morsel of food in her mouth, she heard the azaan when her head was not properly covered with her dupatta (scarf). She left the morsel of food and corrected her dupatta to cover properly out of azmat of Allah . This act was so liked by Allah that He forgave all her sins based on this very act. This was purely done for Allah for none asked her to do so and it was merely that she cared for the azmat of Allah . The expense of an act depends on keeping Allah’s pleasure in one’s mind.

When dunya falls before our eyes, our mind will be inclined towards ikhlaas

Don’t we see in ahadeeth that one fed the hungry dog or one gave water to the thirsty cat and the act can be very precious? Why he fed the dog or the cat? There are three great acts: 1) to give one’s life in the path of Allah , i.e., Jihad. It is not an easy act to give away one’s life, 2) to spend in the path of Allah and 3) to spread one’s religious knowledge. What a blessed service to humanity to share the knowledge of deen! It comes in hadith some people belonging to the above three categories will be caught on the Day of Judgment. All are great acts but one wanted the people to think him as a great warrior when giving away his life, one wanted the people to think that he is a generous person and one wanted the people to think him as a great scholar. The people so called him and so there is no reward from Allah . O honorable ones!  Let Allah grant us all ikhlaas and grant us tawfeeq to do amal for purely His pleasure. When this world falls before our eyes and one gets the akhirat and Allah in his mind, then he gets the ikhlaas. This world is nothing and so what is to do with the praise of people or when they disgrace. The izzat (honor) and zillat (dishonor) are not in the hands of people but the treasure of these is in the hands of Allah and so what is there to do with this world. Till then the world which is worthless doesn’t fall before one’s eyes, he will not get ikhlaas. O the honorable ones! This is something which has to be asked all the time and one should have the concern of ikhlaas before starting an amal, while doing the amal and after doing the amal.

Preserve the amal by being cautious of riyaa

It sometimes so happens that initially the intention will be correct but then in the middle, it will turn bad. Sometimes the intention will be good even while doing the amal but at the end, the shaitaan will be so behind him as he has more wealth and tries to waste it by inspiring riyaa. He would have worked hard but all would have been wasted. The excellence is in doing the amal really well and then preserving it till he reaches the qabr (grave). It is not good if one doesn’t earn wealth at all or he earns but in a wrong way and one will be affected worst when he earns the wealth in a good way but it is all robbed in the end. So one does the amal, did it for the pleasure of Allah and finally wasted everything by riyaa. Let Allah grant us all His pleasure and be pleased with us all the time. Let the worthlessness of this world enter in one’s heart. The honor is not in the hands of people. Even if one wants the whole world to honor him, he cannot achieve it for the treasure is in hands of Allah alone. Even if you try 100,000 times to gain fame in the hearts of people, unless Allah wills you cannot obtain that. As much as this world and its worth is removed from one’s heart one will get the ikhlaas. One’s provisional matters and the matters of all his needs are in hands of Allah alone and not in the hands of dunya. So why should we please dunya but please Allah .

Ponder on the reality of this world and its people

So let Allah grant us ikhlaas. So let one think before every act why he is doing it. Sometimes one gets the waswasa (whispers) that he got the riyaa and because of this waswasa, he leaves the amal. This is also satanic wasawasa for he made you deprived of doing the act altogether. You should do the amal and you should also get rid of the riyaa. You can do that by asking Allah for ikhlaas in the beginning and when you get the thought of riyaa, brush away the thoughts and at the end pray to Allah to accept that amal. Don’t embrace such things through which one will get riyaa and one’s amal go wasted. The mere thought of riyaa won’t do anything as thoughts are not in our control but do not do things deliberately which are in our control. Riyaa is a baneful disease and so its treatment should be done with one’s complete ability. Remember that the base of riyaa is the love for admiration and desiring for the praise. Why does one do riyaa? Because he wants the people to praise him and he has the desire for praise. The purpose of riyaa is mostly not money but for praise.  Rather he spends in millions so people praise him. The praising has become a sickness. The purpose of riyaa is either the love for admiration or earning money. Riyaa can also be the result of brooding over people’s condemnation and fear. Some people do riyaa out of fear so they are saved from people’s criticism and ill talks about them. By doing riyaa they want to show themselves as very pious and righteous and be saved from them.

The honor and all the treasures are in hands of Allah alone

If a person in a battle field desires that people call him a great warrior and when a person worships, he desires people to call him a great worshipper, then this is the love and desire for admiration. The treatment for this is to ponder over the reality of life. Today one can be alive and tomorrow he might be dead. The one who praised and his praises will remain here and the real thing is that which remains with us after death and that which is praised by Allah and that which He is pleased with us. Today if we look for people to be called as great worshipper and honored here, tomorrow on the Day of Judgment, we will be called as libertine, deceitful and show off person and will be humiliated before the people. And all the deeds will go wasted and the deeds that were done with so much of hard work ploddingly will be seized. How foolish is to earn the anger of Allah , the disgrace of mahashar (Day of Judgment) and humiliation because of earning people’s pleasure and seeking for admiration from the worthless dunya? It is all possible that one from whom we want to earn the admiration, Allah might not put honor for us in their hearts and in place of praising us, they start disgracing us for the hearts and tongues are in the control of Allah .

How to protect oneself from Riyaa?

Why does one prefer the praises that lasts for only few days to the pleasure of Allah ? One of the reasons is he desires for the praises from people when the other reason is that he wants to save himself from people’s criticism and they will avoid doing so if one acts very pious. Just think that if we have honor in the sight of Allah , then why we should care about the creations’ criticism and why we should fear them. Remember that if one does something out of fear of people and thereby angers Allah , then Allah will humiliate and disgrace him. The third reason for riyaa is whims and lure. If this is the case, then remember that the one which we desire, it is not in our control to acquire it for we never know for sure if we will get that. But one thing is very certain that because of the riyaa, we will definitely be deprived of Allah’s pleasure. The riyaa with which we have the hopes from people, it is never known if we will get it or not but to earn Allah’s   anger is very certain and definite. Remember that Allah is muqallibal quloob (the turner of hearts). The riyaa we embrace to get the honor from people might not be achieved but instead we will get humiliation and disgrace in this world and our head will be bowed before them dependent on them. If we keep our heart free from this desire, then Allah will make us independent of His creations and in addition to this, we will get all the blessings of akhirah because of ikhlaas. If we instill these truthful words firmly in our mind then there won’t even be any sign of riyaa.

Instead of trying to please people to get honor from them or out of fear of them or to get something from them, if we turn to Allah in whose hands is the treasure of honor and needs without caring these creations, then Allah will make us independent of people. Not just in dunya we will get the blessings but even in akhirat for there is such a blessed reward awaiting there. When we have these thoughts, then there will be progress in ikhlaas. Now, one gets the hatred for riyaa but he worries that people gets to know his ibaadat, isn’t that riyaa? The solution for this is at least not to expose one’s worship done in solitude. Hide the worship in solitude as one would hide one’s flaws and sinful acts. Once in the gathering of Abu Haddad (RA), a man criticized the dunya and its people when sheikh told him not to sit in his circle anymore as he has exposed the things that he has to hide. These are great people. Remember that it will be initially difficult to hide one’s ibaadat but it will become a habit when one continuously does so. One will then start relishing the solitude and prayers. When one hides the worship in solitude, then he will start tasting the sweetness of that ibaadat. Do it just for Allah . Keep this in regard that in case people get to know your ibaadat and you get joy in your hearts, immediately remember the aforementioned words that getting my ibaadat known to the weak creation will not benefit me to the least. So whenever people get know your ibaadat, think this immediately that nothing will happen if they come to know. Neither will I be benefitted from it nor will their praises make a difference. The main thing is only Allah gets pleased and to get honor in His sight. It is useless to get too happy with these useless praises and it is dangerous to earn Allah’s anger because of this. When we think like this, then inshaaAllah the worry of riyaa will end.

The worry about riyaa and some clarification

When we start hating riyaa, then automatically our ibaadat will turn towards ikhlaas inshaaAllah, which is the real purpose. One is not accountable beyond this and there is nothing to fear even if he gets thoughts and if someone praises and if still there is joy in the heart, there is no use of thinking about it as it is not in our control and we are not accountable for that which is not in our control. Our work is only not to expose our worship in solitude, to spread among the people and make it popular. If people get to know this and one gets the joy because of this, try best to get disgust towards it and see that it doesn’t affect your ibaadat. Beyond this, whatever the condition remains and to get rid of it which is not in your power, you do not have to worry about it. Now as far as the aamaal like salaah, sawm, zakaat etc., it is not allowed to abandon them fearing for riyaa. Sometimes, shaitaan attacks us in the other way making us fear that people are watching and there is riyaa. One should not leave the amal because of this and it is not allowed. But if there is no ikhlaas at all from the beginning when it comes to salah, sawm and zakaat and there is no intention of worshipping Allah  ﷻ and seeking His pleasure from beginning to the end and it is done purely for the creation, then it is forbidden to do so and so do not do it. And if there is intention to please Allah and one is making duaa to Allah for His pleasure and such thoughts come, then that should not make any difference and one should not abandon the deed.

If one is habitual of doing certain deed and people get to gather and witness the deed by any chance, then do not abandon the deed considering the riyaa but do that deed as per the habit and try to bury the riyaa as far as you can and it should not come near you. Then Alhamudlillah you are doing your ibaadat, you are doing your ma’mulaat (prescribed aamaal), people have seen your righteous deeds and there is even a big talk on that but your aim was not that and so you should not leave that amal. O honorable ones! Whichever ibaadat Allah has granted us tawfeeq to do, let Him grant ikhlaas too in those ibaadat. This indeed is a great wealth that Allah grants us ikhlaas in every single amal. Let the azmat (greatness) of dunya and its people get removed from the heart. Let their importance be removed for neither my needs are fulfilled by them nor I can get any material benefits from them nor I can get any praise from them for all these treasures are with Allah . If Allah wills, their hearts can turn; their tongues which are praising me can start criticizing me. Allah might turn their hearts from whom we are hoping to fulfill our needs for everything is in Allah’s hands. When everything is with Allah , then why shouldn’t I make Allah as the main purpose of the ibaadat? One should give high importance to this intention. Prophet feared for his ummah about shirk that they will get immersed in shirk. And he mentioned that it is shirk about riyaa, shirk-e-khafi, where one won’t even know that his deeds are getting lost, a hidden shirk.

The evil influence of riyaa on one’s life

One knows that prostrating before qabr is shirk and devotions for ghairullah is shirk but the creations are sitting inside the heart and to do ibaadat to get praise from them too is shirk for you have associated others with Allah in your ibaadat. To get name and fame from people, to save from people’s criticism and to gain wealth and status from them, one associated them in ibaadat and this is also shirk. Generally aiming for people’s praise takes over other priorities like wealth and status. The desire for praise is more. If we look at our lives from building house to anything, we want people to praise. The reason for all customs and traditions is this praise from people and one doesn’t leave those fearing what people will say and that people will taunt. The whole or our life is either to get the praise from people or to save from their criticism. Our entire life goes around this that what people will say. Believe it for this is the case. This has made our life far from fitrat (natural state) and our legs have come out of chador either fearing people or desiring for their praise. What do these creations have? Nothing! If you try to please them the whole of your life, it won’t happen if Allah doesn’t will. There might be some flattering but there won’t be any respect in their hearts. The makhlooq has so sat in the heart that everything is being done for their sake. They want only their praises and they want only to be saved from their criticism. They never care that they don’t get dishonored before Allah . They don’t have any realization that they should have honor in the sight of Allah . Think before every amal, why I am doing this.

How ignorant is to lose one’s deeds for this worthless dunya!

It is because of ikhlaas, the noble Companions (RA) reached a very high status. The world was nothing before their eyes. Our beloved Prophet said that the whole of this dunya and all its treasure, from under the earth and above it, does not have worth equal to even a mosquito’s wing to Allah .  If this world has any worth then Allah wouldn’t have given even a drop of its water to the kuffaar. This is the merit of this dunya. Then how ignorant is to waste one’s hard work and righteous deeds for its sake? So O honorable ones! Ikhlaas is very much necessary that we should correct our intention before doing a deed, after doing a deed and in the middle of it that we do it for seeking Allah’s pleasure.  If you are doing some favor to someone, do some good to someone and whatever be the good deed, even be it a small act, the ikhlaas will make it a great act. Ask for Allah’s pleasure before every single act. Let Allah grant us all the wealth of ikhlaas. Ameen

-Morning Tarbiati Majlis dated on 13.5.2012

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1 Response to “Riyaa or Ikhlaas, let’s Decide for Ourselves”


  1. 1 Hizam September 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    excellent piece. just what i needed. thank u.


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