Can a Muslim Abandon Good Deeds to Avoid Showing Off?

21 October, 2016
Q As-Salamu alaykum. Can a Muslim abandon good deeds to avoid showing off?

Answer

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu waRahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.

Answering your question, Dr. Wael Shihab, PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University and currently the Imam of the Downtown Toronto Masjid in Canada, states:

In fact, Satan (Shaytan) tries to make a Muslim either to show off with his good deeds or to leave doing good under any pretext including fear of showing off (riya’).

So, abandoning doing good deeds for fear of showing off is one of the traps of Satan. A Muslim should not fall into such a trap. A Muslim should maintain sincerity and seek Allah’s face with his good deeds; he should pay no attention to Satan’s whisperings.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) educated us to seek Allah’s protection against riya’ and shirk by saying: “O Allah, I seek refuge in You lest I associate anything with You knowingly, and I seek Your forgiveness for what I know not.” (Ahmad)

It’s reported that Al-Fudayl ibn `Iyad used to criticize those who abandon performing good works because of the people, saying: “Abandoning deeds because of the people is showing off. Performing deeds for their sake is polytheism. Sincerity is where Allah protects you from both.”

Given the above, a Muslim should never stop doing good deeds for fear of showing off. Rather, he has to maintain sincerity in all his actions. If people praise him, it would not harm him. Such praise will then be as the Prophet (peace be upon him) described it: “… glad tidings being presented to the believer early.” (Muslim)

Allah Almighty knows best.