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HomeKhutbaA risk even greater than the False Messiah (Dajjal)

A risk even greater than the False Messiah (Dajjal)

Today, I’m going to share one of the most important warnings which the Prophet(SAW) brought to us. We read the first and last 10 aayaat of Surah al Kahf on Fridays as protection from the False Messiah (Dajjal), however, did you know that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, came to the Sahaba while they e were discussing the False Messiah and said, “Shall I not tell you about my greater fear for you than the False Messiah?” We said, “Of course!” The Prophet said, “It is hidden idolatry, that a man stands for prayer and beautifies his prayer when he sees another man looking at him.” [Sunan Ibn Mājah 4204]

In explaining the concept of riya Rasoolullah(SAW) said “Allah Almighty will say to those who were ostentatious in this life, on the Day of Resurrection, when people are being recompensed for their deeds: Go to those for whom you made a show in the world and look, do you find any reward with them?” [Musnad Aḥmad 23630]

عَنْ مَحْمُودِ بْنِ لَبِيدٍ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ إِنَّ أَخْوَفَ مَا أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ الشِّرْكُ الْأَصْغَرُ قَالُوا وَمَا الشِّرْكُ الْأَصْغَرُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ الرِّيَاءُ يَقُولُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِذَا جُزِيَ النَّاسُ بِأَعْمَالِهِمْ اذْهَبُوا إِلَى الَّذِينَ كُنْتُمْ تُرَاءُونَ فِي الدُّنْيَا فَانْظُرُوا هَلْ تَجِدُونَ عِنْدَهُمْ جَزَاءً

In fact, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Seek refuge in Allah from the pit of sorrow.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, what is the pit of sorrow?” The Prophet said, “It is a valley in Hell from which Hell itself seeks refuge one hundred times a day.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, who will enter it?” The Prophet said, “The reciters who only acted to be seen.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī, hasan, 2383]

Riya is spiritual showing off – doing an act of devotion in other words to God hoping that people see it for whatever reason. There are 2 types:

  • You don’t even care about God so you give charity just so people say he’s a generous man.

    Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, the first people to be judged on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who was martyred. He will be brought, the blessings of Allah will be made known, and he will acknowledge them. Allah will say: What did you do with them? The man will say: I fought in Your cause until I was martyred. Allah will say: You have lied, for you fought only that it would be said you were brave, thus it was said. Then, Allah will order him to be dragged upon his face until he is cast into Hellfire. 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 with 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, 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, thus it was said. Then, Allah will order him to be dragged upon his face until he is cast into Hellfire.”[Saḥīḥ Muslim 1905] 
  • The other one is where you genuinely want to do something for God but you find this desire and that’s something people have to struggle with. Imam Malik(rh) was asked about a man on the way to a mosque who when he set out from his house he set out solely for the sake of God but on the way he’s hoping somebody might see him, highlighting how this is a part of human nature 

There’s a famous story of a man who used to go to the prayer he was in the first line every single day for forty years before the prayer one day he went and he missed the opening takbir and he didn’t want people to see him and he realised that he’d had that react or forty years. The story goes on to say that on realising this he made up his prayers for 40 years at home. 

The point is here we are all a journey to know Allah(SWT) and to know ourselves, and there are many subtleties here. 

Isn’t it natural?

We all know people in our social group who like to show off. On the surface, they may seem cool, superior, and admirable because of what they possess. But the reality is totally different. In most cases, those who show off are feeling insecure inside. When they think that others don’t consider them important will they try to prove that they’re important.

If you know that you’re great, you don’t feel a strong need to tell anyone about it. They should already know. However, if you think that they don’t know you’re great, then you’ll have to make efforts to display your greatness. This can lead to an obsession with branded clothes, fast cars, high-end gadgets, and stuff like that which can allow them to grab people’s attention.

A martial arts master will never challenge you for a fight or show off his skills. He knows he’s a master. A beginner, however, will show off greatly and challenge anybody he can. He wants to prove to others, and to himself, that he’s good because he isn’t sure whether he’s good or not.

What are its signs?

The scholars have mentioned the signs of riyaa are:

  1. Laziness and lack of action for God’s sake when one is alone and out of view e.g. reading Quran at home, praying sunnah and nawaafil. (This is not to suggest that one should not respond to the inspiration one receives when in the company of people who are doing good deeds. The point here is guarding the motivation behind one’s acts, especially devotional ones, that they be for God and not for anyone else.
  2. Increasing one’s actions when praised and decreasing them in the absence of such praise. In Islamic Sacred Law, encouragement is not censured. When the Prophet saw somebody do something good, he would say, “You did well.” He also said, “When a believer hears somebody praising him, his faith [iman] increases,” not his pride. In this way he is encouraged to do more for the sake of God—not for the sake of praise. Scholars distinguish between this form of praise and the dishing out of empty flattery. One is encouraged to convey to someone that he has done a job well. This is especially true with young people.

    It is astonishing how much energy people expend seeking the pleasure of others, trying, for example, to seek prestige or promotion by pleasing someone in authority. Praise—especially as it is doled out to athletes, musicians, and actors—is almost always ephemeral. And as it is with the immutable nature of ephemeral existence, the culture of praise is utterly fickle and unworthy of the chase. When a person finds himself with great wealth and fame, friends start to appear everywhere. But if he were to lose his wealth and standing, those friends disappear. Traditionally in the Muslim world, knowledge was the spiritual wealth people wanted to be associated with, not material wealth. It is a remarkable fact about the Muslim world that there were impoverished scholars who achieved great status in the world solely because of their knowledge. Sadly, such is no longer the case

So why is riya so serious an evil?

The root source of ostentation is desire, wanting something from a source other than God.

It is the opposite of ikhlas – pure sincerity. Sa’id ibn Jubayr, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “Sincerity is to not associate partners with Allah in one’s religion, and to not display ostentation in good deeds to anyone.”[al-Baḥr al-Muḥīṭ 2:139]

Ikhlas comes from the word khalasa which means to finish something with a clean break. We’ve heard so many lectures on ikhlas, what it is and why we should have it. Some ulema (scholars) said that ikhlas means to be intoxicated with the Creator to the extent that you forget creation. But this is rare.

Shaytan loves to play the reverse psychology on us. Someone might say, “I’m not going to the masjid to pray because I don’t want to show off with my actions.” or someone may say I wo’nt grow a beard or a sister wear her hijab so they are not perceived as pious. Look at this trap that Shaytan sets for us. As Imam Ibn Hazm (rh) mentioned, if you tell yourself you’re not going to the masjid because you don’t want the people to see you, isn’t this showing off? Yes, it is, because you’re thinking about the people.

If you go to the sixteenth chapter of the Qur’an, Allah (swt) says, “And indeed, for you in grazing livestock is a lesson. We give you drink from what is in their bellies—between excretion and blood—pure milk, palatable to drinkers.” (Qur’an 16:66)

If we want to have ikhlas we must endure hardships. We go through tests, like the grass that the cow eats. The cow eats the grass, and then the saliva starts to break it down with enzymes. Then it goes into the oesophagus, then into the stomach where the stomach acid starts working on it. The digestive process takes out the waste and toxins and sends the good part of the grass into the body of the cow where it can be used. From this comes milk.

As a Muslim or Muslimah, we will inevitable face many difficulties. We will face some blood, we will face some tests and challenges. But we have to go through the process to be like pure milk, to be a pure believer. That’s how you get ikhlas. Nobody can say, “I’m mukhlis (a sincere person).”

What’s its remedy?

It is actively and sincerely seeking out purification of the heart by removing four things:

  1. Love of praise
  2. Fear of blame
  3. Desire for worldly benefit from people
  4. Fear of harm from people. 

This is accomplished by nurturing the certainty (yaqeen) that only God can benefit or harm one. This is at the essence of the Islamic creed. Ibn Abbas reported: I was riding behind the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, when he said to me, “Young man,

Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. 

Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. 

If you ask, ask of God. 

If you seek help, seek help from God. 

Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. 

And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. 

The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried. [al-Tirmidhī 2516]

There is a story of a man who begins praying, says Allah Akbar and then he hears the mosque door open and he says I’ll pray longer so they’ll think I’m a really good person and then he goes a long prayer long such and then when he finished he looked to see who it is and it was a dog that slipped into the Masjid.

Ma’qil ibn Yasar reported: I departed with Abu Bakr to meet the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and the Prophet said, “O Abu Bakr, there is idolatry among you more hidden than the crawling of an ant.” Abu Bakr said, “Is there idolatry other than to make another god alongside Allah?” The Prophet said, “By one in whose hand is my soul, there is idolatry more hidden than the crawling of an ant. Shall I not tell you something to say to rid you of it both minor and major? Say: O Allah, I seek refuge in you that I associate partners with you while I know, and I seek your forgiveness for what I do not know.” [al-Adab al-Mufrad 715] Transliteration: “Allahumma inni a`udhu bika an ushrika bika wa ana a`lamu wa astaghfiruka lima la a`lamu”

Being aware of the harm associated with ostentation is an effective treatment in itself, since it is human nature to avoid what invites harm. A show-off is invariably discovered, humiliated, and then scorned. And ultimately, he is bankrupt because insincerity is not acceptable to God. This is a “theoretical treatment” that staves off ostentation. The “practical treatment” involves intentionally veiling one’s actions from the eyes of people. This way, one’s intentions are protected from vanity. This does not mean never do deeds in front of people; but do them also when others are not watching. Giving money toward charity, for example, should be done anonymously. But in order to encourage others, giving openly is not a problem: Those who spend their wealth by night and by day, secretly and openly (QURAN, 2:274). Each person is the shepherd of his or her own heart. The Nawaafil, Night prayers, dhikr, recitation and giving charity are excellent works to do in private. 

O God, You are my Lord, there is no God but You. You created me, and I am Your servant. I uphold Your covenant and Your promise to the best of my ability. I seek refuge in You from the faults of my own doings. I acknowledge the blessings You have showered upon me, and I acknowledge my shortcomings. So forgive me, for indeed, none forgives sins except You. 

Shaddad ibn Aws (radiAllahu anhu) relates that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said that he (Sayyid al-Istighfar) most superior way of asking for forgiveness from Allah is to say (the above du’a). That “If somebody recites it during the day with firm faith in it, and dies on the same day before the evening, he will be from the people of Paradise; and if somebody recites it at night with firm faith in it, and dies before the morning, he will be from the people of Paradise.”

Bilal ibn Sa’d (RA) stated “Do not be the friend of Allah in the public (eye) which you are His enemy in private” [Al Ikhlas wan Niyyah, 23]

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