Ikhlaas: Curing Riyaa


1. Knowledge of the Might of Allah, the Exalted, His Names and Attributes and acquaintances with the knowledge of tawheed as much as possible.

Know – O brother and sister Muslim – that among the causes of riyaa” is the magnification of people and a deficiency in the magnification of Allah the Exalted within one”s soul. Therefore, of the best types of cure for killing this disease is becoming acquainted with all the various categories of tawheed. This is a vast topic indeed and we shall mention here a small section as a lesson and a reminder.

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)

(a) That Allah the Exalted alone is the One who can give benefit and cause harm whenever He wills. So let this false belief that mankind can benefit you or harm you whenever they wish or desire fall from your soul to the ground. Shaytaan would otherwise make you beautify your worship in front of people due to your (false) belief that they have the capability to benefit or harm you. Look at what the Messenger of Allah ﷺ says and he taught this hadeeth to Ibn ”Abbas while he was a youth:

 “ “Young man I will teach you some words: Protect yourself from Allah and you will find Him in front of you. When you ask, then ask from Allah and when you seek help, then seek help from Allah. Know that if the Ummah gathered together to benefit you with anything, they would not benefit you except with what Allah has written for you. And (know) that if they gathered together to harm you with anything, they would not be able to harm you except with what Allah has written for you. The pens have been raised and the ink has dried.” (Reported Ahmad in his Musnad, at-Tirmidhi and others. It is also in Saheeh ul Jam”i no.7834).

(b) Know that Allah is the All-Hearer and All-Seer. He sees you, hears you and knows what you hide and what you make known. Allah the Exalted said:

  “There is nothing like Him and He is the All-Hearing and All-Seeing”. (42:11)

The Exalted also said:

  “Does (man) not know that Allah sees (all things)”. (96:14)

The Sublime also said;

  “Should He not know who created (everything)?” (67:14)

He the Sublime also (said)

  “Does not Allah know best what is in the hearts of all creation?” (29:10)

And the Exalted said:

  “And nothing is hidden from Your Lord from the weight of an atom in the earth or in the heaven nor anything smaller than that or bigger than that except that it is all in a Clear Book”. (10:61)

What then is the matter with you that you make yourself observant of people but you are not observant of Allah and yet He, the Sublime is fully conversant and acquainted with you (and all your actions): Does it not suffice you that He has complete knowledge of you and that He says:

  “Is not Allah sufficient for His servant?” (39:36)

(c) Know that Allah the Sublime is Mighty. So let your heart, senses and feelings magnify Him. Reflect upon His Grandeur and Might (which is evident) in the creation, and in the light of the following hadeeth:

Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said,

 “ “Indeed I see what you do not and I hear what you do not. The Heaven cries and is justified in doing so (due to the heavy load of angels prostrating). There is no space equal to the sapce of four fingers except there is an angel which places its forehead in prostration to Allah the Exalted. By Allah! If you knew what I knew you would have laughed little and wept in abundance and you would not (even) have sought pleasure with your wives in the bed. You would come out and run into the wilderness beseeching Allah!” (at-Tirmidhi, hasan)

He ﷺ also said:

 “ “The seven heavens by the side of the Kursi (footstool) are but like a ring thrown into a desert land and the excellence of the ”Arsh (throne) with respect to the Kursi is like that of the desert with respect to the ring”. (Silsilatul-Ahadeethis-Saheehah no.109).

He ﷺ also said,

 “ “I have been permitted to inform about an angel from among the angels of Allah the Exalted which bears His Throne. Between its earlobe and its shoulder is a distance equal to a journey of seven hundred years.”(Abu Dawood, at-Tabarani, in al-Awsat, Silsilatul Saheehah, no.151).

He ﷺ also said,

 “ “The Bayt ul-M”amur (Oft Visited House) is in the seventh heaven. Every day, seventy thousand angels it and they do not return to it (i.e. their nect turn does not arrive) until the Hour is established.” (Ahmad, Ibn Jareer, al-Haakim, and others, Silsilatus Saheehah, no. 477).

2. Knowledge of the punishment and bliss of the grave.

Know that one of the causes of riyaa” is not guiding the heart to the fear and awe of the punishment of the grave, the fire and the terrors of what comes after death. This is a vast area and if we were to mention a little it would be too little and if we were to mention a lot it would be too much. [Related ahadith avaliable on request]

  “So whoever hopes in the meeting with his lord, let him work righteousness and in the worship of his Lord associate none as a partner”. (18:110)

Allah the Exalted has linked the success due to righteous actions with hope in the meeting with Him. Therefore it is necessary to know what ensues and is necessitated by meeting with Allah with regard to punishment and bliss, happiness and misery.

3. Knowledge of the hadeeth which explain the punishment in the Fire

Again this topic is vast and each time the Muslim”s knowledge regarding it increases, his fear of Allah and his ikhlaas towards Him increases also. But we will only mention a few here.

Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said,

 “ “If one drop of Zaqqum (a tree in Hell) was to fall upon the earth the livelihood of all its inhabitants would be corrupted. So how then would it be to the one for whom it is made as FOOD?” (Ahmad in his Musnad, an-Nasa”i, Ibn Maajah and others, Saheeh ul-Jami” no. 5216).

Abu Hurayrah (ra) reports

 “ “We were with Allah”s Messenger ﷺ when we heard a noise and he ﷺ said, “Do you know what that was?” We said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “That was a stone which was thrown into the Fire. It reached the bottom of the Fire and you heard it”s noise”. (Muslim).

He ﷺ said,

 “ “People will perspire on the day of Judgement and their perspiration would sink seventy cubits into the earth and it will cover their mouths with swear until it reaches their ears”. (al-Bukhaari, Muslim).

He ﷺ also said,

 “ “There is not a single one of you except that his Lord will speak to him without any translator between you and Him. He will look to his right and will see nothing except what (actions) he sent forth, then he will look in front of himself and see nothing but the Fire facing him. Therefore, fear the Fire even if it is with half a date (for charity)”. (Muslim).

He ﷺ also said,

 “ “The molar tooth of a disbeliever (in the Fire) is like the Mountain of Uhud, and the thickness of his skin is like the distance of a three days (journey)”. (Muslim and others). [the greater the surface area, the more intense the torture will be felt].

4. Knowledge of what Allah has prepared for the Muttaqun (the God-fearing) in Paradise.

Amongst the causes of riyaa’ is feeling delighted with people’s admiration, their praise and appreciation and putting this ahead of the delight of Paradise. This naturally follows the lack of knowledge of the real worth of
Paradise. For this reason it is necessary to mention a few ahadeeth which will suggest the bliss and delight of what Allah has prepared for the Muttaqun.

 “ “Paradise has one hundred levels and what is between each level is like what is between heaven and earth” (Saheeh ul-Jami”, no. 3115).

 ““A man will be given the strength of a hundred (men) for (sexual intercourse with) women”. (at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah, Saheeh ul-Jami”, no. 7962 with saheeh isnad).

 ““Toobaa is a tree in Paradise whose expanse is equal to the distance travelled in a hundred years. The garments of the people of Paradise are made from its leaves”. (Ahmad in his Musnad, Ibn Maajah, Saheeh ul-Jami”, no. 3813, hasan isnad).

He ﷺ also said,

 “ “There would be an announcer (in Paradise) who would make this announcement: “Verily there is in store for you (Everlasting) health and that you should never fall ill and that you live (forever) and do not die at all. And that you would remain young and never grow old. And that you would always live in affluent circumstances and never despair (or become destitute).” (Muslim).

 ““I know the last person of the people of the Fire to come out of it or the last of the people of Paradise to enter it. A man will come out of the Fire crawling and Allah azza wa jall will say to him, “Go and enter Paradise”. So the man willcome to it and see that it is full. He will return and say, “O my Lord! I found it full.” Allah, azza wa jall, will say, “Go enter Paradise. For you is what is equal to the world and TEN times its like”. He will say, “You are mocking me”, or “You are laughing at me and You are the King.” He (the narrator) said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah ﷺ laugh until his molar teeth became visible and he said, “That is the LOWEST of the people of Paradise”. (al-Bukhaari, Muslim).

5. Remembrance of death

  “Every soul shall taste death and only on the Day of Judgement will you be recompensed in full. And whoever is removed from the Fire and admitted to Paradise is indeed successful. The life of this world is only a deceptive enjoyment” (3:185)
  “Until when death comes to one of them he will say, “O My Lord, send me back in order that I may do good in that which I neglected.” By no means! It is only a word that he says. And behind them is a partition until the day they are raised”. (23:99)

Ibn ‘Umar (ra) said,

 “ “The Messenger ﷺ took hold of me by my shoulders and said, “Be in the world as if you are a stranger or a traveller in his path.” And Ibn ‘Umar (ra) used to say, “When you reach the evening do not expect to live until the morning and when you wake up do not expect to live until the evening. Take from your health for your illness and take from your life for your death.” (al-Bukhaari).

6. Knowledge of the Value of the World and its Transitory Nature

  “O Mankind! The promise of Allah is true so do not let the life of this world deceive you and do not let the chief-deceiver (Shaytaan) deceive you about Allah”. (35:5)

Anas (ra) reports that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said,

 “ “O Allah! There is no life but the life of the aakhirah” (al-Bukhaari, Muslim).

Anas (ra) reported that the Prophet ﷺ said,

 “ “Of those who deserve to enter Jannah, the one who had been most afflicted in the first life will be brought (before Allah) and the command is issued, “Give him a taste of Jannah”. After this is done, “Allah asks him, “O son of Aadam, had you ever suffered from any misery or anything that you resented?” He replies, “No by Your glory my lord! I had never suffered from anything that I resented!”. Then of those who deserve to enter Hell, the one who had lived most comfortably in the first life will be brought (before Allah) and the command is issued,”Give him a taste of the Fire.” After this is done, Allah (swt) asks him, “O son of Aadam, had you ever enjoyed any pleasure or satisfaction?” He replies, “No, by Your glory my Lord! I had never enjoyed any pleasure or satisfaction!” (Muslim, Ahmad and others)

Thus being dipped into the hellfire once is enough to make you forget every single feeling of delight and pleasure due to riyaa’ and your love of people’s praise.

Jaabir (ra) reports that

 “ The Messenger ﷺ passed by a market while the people were by his side. He passed by a young goat which was dead and had small ears. He picked it up and took hold of its ear and said, “Which one of you would like to buy this for one dirham?” They said, “We do not wish that it is ours for anything and besides, what will we do with it?” He ﷺ then said, “Do you wish that it should be yours?” They said, “By Allah! If it was alive it would be deficient due to its small ears. How then, if it is dead?” He ﷺ said, “Then by Allah! The world is more insignificant to Allah than this is to you.”” (Muslim).

Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said,

 “ “If the world was equal to the wing of a fly in the sight of Allah, He would not have given a sip of water to the disbeliever”. (at-Tirmidhi, hasan hadith).

And he ﷺ said,

 “ “The world is the prison to the believer and the paradise of a disbeliever”. (Muslim).

If you wish to be in the prison of the world and the Paradise of the Hereafter, then imprison your soul away from riyaa’, the love of fame and being talked about.

7. Supplication

This is one of the most beautiful cures so do not hesitate in making du’aa whenever you are able.

Allah’s Messenger has taught us a supplication to remove the greater and minor shirk. He ﷺ said,

 “ “Shirk is more hidden than a creeping ant and I will direct you to something which, if you were to do, would take you away from the minor and greater forms of shirk. That you say: “Allahumma inee a’udhu bika an ushrika bika wa ana a’alamu wa astaghfiruka limaa la a’alam” (O Allah! I seek refuge in You committing shirk with You while I am aware of it and I seek forgiveness from You from that which I am unaware of”. (Saheeh ul-Jami’, no. 3625, hasan isnad).

8. Fear that an instance of riyaa” is the seal of your deeds

He ﷺ said,

 “ “Every servant will be raised upon whatever (state) he died in”. (Saheeh ul-Jami, no. 7872).

9. Abundance of good actions which are not observed by others and not informing others about them.

For example: tahajjud, crying out of awe and fear of Allah when alone, voluntary fasting, giving charity in secret, supplicating for one’s brothers in their absence, prayers other than the obligatory ones in the house etc.

10. Accompanying those in whom you see ikhlaas, righteousness and taqwa.

Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said,

 “ “The example of good and bad company is like a musk seller and an iron-monger. You will not fail to receive any good from the musk-seller. Either you buy from him or his fragrance will remain with you. As for the iron-monger he will either burn your house or clothing or you will sense his foul smell”. (al-Bukhaari).

The mukhlis (sincere person’s) sincerity will not deprive you and the one who shows off or associates partners with Allah will either cause you to be burnt in the Hellfire on the Day of Judgement or you will receive the foul stench of riyaa’ – which will only increase your love and desire for riyaa’ – a’udhubillaah min thalik.

11. Fear of riyaa’

Allah said about a group from amongst His servants:

  “And some of them will draw near to others saying: “Aforetime, we were afraid with our families (from the punishment of Allah). But Allah has been gracious to us and has saved us from the torment of the Fire. Verily, we used to call upon Him (alone) before. Verily, He is al-Barr, the Most Merciful”. (52:25-8)

Fear of disobedience is what benefitted them by the success granted by Allah ta’ala. The one who fears something takes caution of it and is therefore saved. As for the one who feels secure he will fall into it. This is why our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to fear shirk. The supplication he ﷺ used to make the most was “Yaa muqalibal-qulub! Thabbit qalbi ‘ala deenik.” {O Establisher of the Hearts! Establish my heart upon Your Deen}.

12. Fleeing from the criticism and rebuke of Allah

One of the innermost realities and secrets of riyaa; is fleeing from the pain of being criticised by the creation. Are you really truthful in running away from critcism? Then run from the criticism and rebuke of Allah. When you please the people by angering Him, He will hate you and become angery with you. Do you fear the anger of the people when Allah has a greater right that you fear His anger? So which of the two will you give precedence:

  “Is One who creates like one who does not?” (an-Nahl:17)

13. Your love of being mentioned by Allah and putting that before being mentioned by the creation

  “Remember Me and I will remember you” (2:152)

Abu Hurayrah (ra) reports that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said,

 “ “Allah ta’ala said, “I am as My servant thinks I am, and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his self, I will remember him in Myself. If he remembers Me in a gathering, I will remember him in a gathering better than it. And if he draws near to Me by a handspan, I will draw near to him by an arm”s length. And if he draws near to Me by an arm’s length, I will draw near to him by a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I will go to him with speed.” (Saheeh ul-Jami’, no.7993, saheeh isnad).

Does it not please you that Allah should mention you in a gathering better than those upon the earth? Or do you prefer people’s mention of you over Allah’s mention of you? And do you prefer mankind over and above the angels?

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)

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