Al-Salam ‘Alaykum, this is Syed Ali Imran – and you are listening to the Forties podcast, brought to you by Mizan Institute.
This is episode 22 – Showing Off Nullifies the Rewards for Good Deeds
وَ قَالَ ص إِنَّ أَوَّلَ النَّاسِ يُقْضَى يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ عَلَيْهِ رَجُلٌ اسْتُشْهِدَ فَأُتِيَ بِهِ فَعَرَّفَهُ نِعَمَهُ فَعَرَفَهَا قَالَ فَمَا عَمِلْتَ فِيهَا قَالَ قَاتَلْتُ فِيكَ حَتَّى اسْتُشْهِدْتُ قَالَ كَذَبْتَ وَ لَكِنَّكَ قَاتَلْتَ لِيُقَالَ جَرِيءٌ فَقَدْ قِيلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ أُمِرَ بِهِ فَسُحِبَ عَلَى وَجْههِ حَتَّى أُلْقِيَ فِي النَّارِ
Hadith #21: The Prophet (p) – The first person to be judged on the Day of Judgement will be a man who sought martyrdom. He will be brought forth and the blessings of Allah will be made known to him and he will acknowledge them. Allah will say: What did you do about them? The man will say: I fought in your cause until I was martyred. Allah will say: You have lied, for you fought only with the intention so that people would say you were brave, and thus it was said. Then, Allah will order him to be dragged upon his face until he is cast into Hellfire.
وَ رَجُلٌ تَعَلَّمَ الْعِلْمَ وَ عَلَّمَهُ وَ قَرَأَ الْقُرْآنَ فَأُتِيَ بِهِ فَعَرَّفَهُ نِعَمَهُ فَعَرَفَهَا قَالَ فَمَا عَمِلْتَ فِيهَا قَالَ تَعَلَّمْتُ الْعِلْمَ وَ عَلَّمْتُهُ وَ قَرَأْتُ فِيكَ الْقُرْآنَ قَالَ كَذَبْتَ وَ لَكِنَّكَ تَعَلَّمْتَ لِيُقَالَ عَالِمٌ وَ قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ لِيُقَالَ قَارِئُ الْقُرْآنِ فَقَدْ قِيلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ أُمِرَ بِهِ فَسُحِبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ حَتَّى أُلْقِيَ فِي النَّار
Another man studied religious knowledge, taught others, and recited the Quran. He will be brought, the blessings of Allah will be made known and he will acknowledge them. Allah will say: What did you do about them? The man will say: I learned religious knowledge, taught others, and I recited the Quran for your sake. Allah will say: You have lied, for you studied only that it would be said you are a scholar and you recited the Quran only that it would be said you are a reciter, and thus it was said. Then, Allah will order him to be dragged upon his face until he is cast into Hellfire.
Another man was given an abundance of blessings from Allah and every kind of wealth. He will be brought, the blessings of Allah will be made known and he will acknowledge them. Allah will say: What did you do about them? The man will say: I did not leave any good cause beloved to you but that I spent on it for your sake. Allah will say: You have lied, for you spent only that it would be said you are generous, and thus it was said. Then, Allah will order him to be dragged upon his face until he is cast into Hellfire
In the previous episode the Prophet hadith mentioned how a person who shows off in their acts will not be rewarded and their acts will not be accepted. This narration however goes further and shows us that people who show off will also be punished for it, since riya’ is a sin.
It is for this reason that people of knowledge, students or knowledge need to be very careful, it should not be the case that one engages in their studies, or wishes to learn about Islam with the intention that they may be recognized as scholars one day, so that they can become popular celebrity figures and gather a large following and fans. If this is the reason for one’s studies, then not only will their efforts be in vain, they will also be punished for it.
In fact, the more knowledge you gain, the more precautious you will get since your knowledge is binding upon you, and so the more you know the more things becoming binding on you – as we also alluded to in episode 16. Not only does the gaining of knowledge need to be out of sincerity, but as well as acting on this knowledge requires sincerity.
As Sayyid Ahmad Zanjani puts it, religious knowledge requires acting on it, acting requires sincerity, and sincerity requires effort. It requires one to overlook their egos, their individual selves, it requires one to ponder over the hereafter, one’s fate, to strike a balance between fear of Allah and hope in Allah and a strong trust in Allah (swt).
In the next episode, we will read a narration from Imam Sadiq (a) in which he speaks of the notion of concealing one’s righteous acts from others in order to avoid the risk of riya’.
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Sayyid Ali Imran studied in the seminary of Qom from 2012 to 2021, while also concurrently obtaining a M.A in Islamic Studies from The Islamic College of London in the summer of 2018. He continued his seminary studies in legal theory, jurisprudence and philosophy, eventually attending the advanced kharij of Usul and Fiqh in 2018. He is also a regular instructor for Mizan Institute.