Riyaa’ – a Hidden Evil

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On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (ra), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say:

The first of people against whom judgment will be pronounced on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who died a martyr. He will be brought and Allah will make known to him His favours and he will recognize them. (The Almighty) will say: And what did you do about them? He will say: I fought for you until I died a martyr. He will say: You have lied – you did but fight that it might be said (of you): He is courageous. And so it was said. Then he will be ordered to be dragged along on his face until he is cast into Hell-fire. (Another) will be a man who has studied (religious) knowledge and has taught it and who used to recite the Quran. He will be brought and Allah will make known to his His favours and he will recognize them. (The Almighty) will say: And what did you do about them? He will say: I studied (religious) knowledge and I taught it and I recited the Quran for Your sake. He will say: You have lied – you did but study (religious) knowledge that it might be said (of you): He is learned. And you recited the Quran that it might be said (of you): He is a reciter. And so it was said. Then he will be ordered to be dragged along on his face until he is cast into Hell-fire. (Another) will be a man whom Allah had made rich and to whom He had given all kinds of wealth. He will be brought and Allah will make known to his His favours and he will recognize them. (The Almighty) will say: And what did you do about them? He will say: I left no path (untrodden) in which You like money to be spent without spending in it for Your sake. He will say: You have lied – you did but do so that it might be said (of you): He is open-handed. And so it was said. Then he will be ordered to be dragged along on his face until he is cast into Hell-fire.

(Sahih Muslim)

Subhanallah, if you think about it, this is one of the most profoundly frightening things. And this is a subtle matter. It is not so simple as just to utter the words “I intend to do this for the sake of Allah” and then suppose that everything is OK. Do you suppose that the mujahid in this hadith did not say this? Do you think that he was aware that his fighting for the sake of Allah (swt) was just for show? If he knew that, do you suppose for even one moment that he would have waged Jihad and sacrifice his life? Would the qari have spent all his years in pursuit of knowledge and teaching of it if he knew that it would be in vain? But instead we delude ourselves into thinking that we are sincerely for Allah (swt) whereas we are not. We convince ourselves utterly that we are sincere while this is not the case. So those who are afflicted with the disease of riyaa‘ are not even aware of that. And how can we be sure that are we safe from it? How can we be confident that we will not share the same fate as the people mentioned here? Even now as I am writing this, how do I do really know whether it is truly for the sake of Allah (swt) alone or for some other motive as well?

And this thing, riyaa‘, is what the Prophet (saw) feared the most for us. Out of all the evil traits and vices and sins out there, this is the one he (saw) singled out. So it is not a matter to be taken lightly. It is not something obvious or easy to spot, so we should guard carefully against it. Yet it seems some people are oblivious of this. They think that mere words are enough to ensure their safety from deception – deception of the devil and deception of the self.


So you should do your deeds in secret and hate that people should know of it. You should hate to be seen by people and be known amongst them as a pious person. You should be fearful of their praise of your goodness. If you become exultant at that, or if you become despondent at their indifference, then you should be afraid for yourself.

A’udhu billahi mina shaytaani rajeem. A’udhu billahi min shururi nafsee. A’udhu billahi min riyaa’.

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3 Responses to Riyaa’ – a Hidden Evil

  1. LiveIslam says:

    this is such a good artical actually mad me think about my site, if you dont mind brother can i use your artical for mine Inshallah so i can remind my self and others.

  2. the middle road says:

    Yeah sure. I hope it will be of some benefit insha Allah.

  3. LiveIslam says:

    Yer it was mashallah, Jazakallah khair

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