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 23 – Concealing Deeds from People
قَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع مَا عَلَى أَحَدِكُمْ لَوْ كَانَ عَلَى قُلَّةِ جَبَلٍ حَتَّى يَنْتَهِيَ إِلَيْهِ أَجَلُهُ أَ تُرِيدُونَ تُرَاءُونَ النَّاسَ إِنَّ مَنْ عَمِلَ لِلنَّاسِ كَانَ ثَوَابُهُ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَ مَنْ عَمِلَ لِلَّهِ كَانَ ثَوَابُهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ إِنَّ كُلَّ رِيَاءٍ شِرْكٌ.
Hadith #22: Imam Sadiq (a) said – What would have happened if one of you would have escaped to the peak of a mountain until the time of your death arrived, instead you want to show off to people? One who does an act for people, then his reward is going to be from the people, and one who acts for Allah (swt) then his reward is going to be from Allah – every single act of showing off is polytheism.
Imam Sadiq (a) is telling his companions that it would have been better for you to have climbed up to the mountain peaks and away from people, because that would have kept you at bay from feeling the need to show off in your deeds. You wouldn’t have anyone to show off to, your acts would be concealed and hidden from the eyesight of the community. It is on the peaks of the mountains that you’ll find safety and protection from falling into the problem of riya’. The Imam (a) is not telling his companions to literally take refuge on the mountains and abandon their communities out of fear of showing off, rather this is figurative language being used to say one should make their heart like the peak of the mountain, where there is no presence of any human in that heart, it is just you in front of your Lord.
In Episode 21 we mentioned that an insincere act is of two types, one where an individual doesn’t get a reward for, but another where not only is there no reward, but there is even a punishment for it. Another fine detail that can be elaborated about insincere acts is that sometimes a person may decide to fast because they were intermittent fasting anyways, and they decided I might as well consider this from one of the recommended fasts – but their intention isn’t for Allah, it is just out of convenient. If this person decides to alter their intention and make it sincerely for Allah by noon time – or according to some opinions even until just before Maghrib – his fast for the rest of the day will be valid and it will count as a legitimate recommended fast.
This fast is valid because up until they make a sincere intention, their previous state is treated as the absence of any intention, and since it was the absence of any intention, when they decide to do a sincere intention for Allah (swt), the fast will count as valid.
But now imagine, someone who doesn’t eat in the morning and is fasting out of riyā’, they want to show off, if this person decides to clean their intentions by noon and want to continue fasting the rest of the day with a sincere intention, their fast will still be invalid. This is because the first part of their fast was actually them committing a prohibited act, an act that genuinely breaks the fast and cannot be fixed with the subsequent sincere intention later in the day.
To explain it in even simpler terms, for the fast to be valid, one needs to ensure they don’t eat from Fajr until Maghrib. Now if a person doesn’t eat from dusk onwards, but does not have the intention of a recommended fast for the sake of Allah, but for the fact that they want to lose some weight, then if they were to fix their intentions before Maghrib, this sincere intention is able to remedy the earlier intention of the day, since the only problem was that it was being done for some other purpose and not for the sake of Allah – it was an intention for which he would not have been rewarded, but it can still be fixed.
But in the second case, a person is actually engaging in a prohibited act of riyā’, as the narration puts it, it is polytheism! And so, when he fixes his intention later in the day, this sincere intention isn’t able to remedy the person’s earlier intention from the earlier part of the day, since that intention was severely polluted with the engagement of a prohibited and haram act – this intention cannot be remedied for that day.
In summary we can say, that a sincere intention can fix a previous insincere intention which isn’t being done to show off, but it cannot remedy an insincere intention that is made up of showing off to others.
In the next episode, we’ll see how the Prophet (p) explains that showing off is essentially polytheism that manifests itself into the practical world.
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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.