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The Dangers of Self-Praise and Boasting

عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ  الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « مَنْ سَمَّعَ سَمَّعَ  الله بِهِ وَمَنْ رَاءَى رَاءَى الله  بِهِ


Ibn Abbass (Radi Allahu anhu) said Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:


 “Whoever wants to be heard of , Allah will allow him to be heard of and whoever wants to been seen Allah will let him been seen” [1]


 Commentary for this subject:


Allah’s speech about self-praise and boasting:


  • “ O you who believe! Do not render in vain yourSadaqah (charity) by reminders of your generosity or by injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men, and he does not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day. His likeness is the likeness of a smooth rock on which is a little dust; on it falls heavy rain which leaves it bare.” [2] 


  • “ And be not like those who come out of their homes boastfully and to be seen of men.” [3]


  • And We shall turn to whatever deeds they did, and We shall make such deeds as scattered floating particles of dust.” [4]– Ibn Hajr Al-Haytami said : “This refers to people who do deeds so people can talk about them, thus they have no reward in the Hereafter.” [5]



Meaning for self-praise and Boasting


  • There is a difference between being seen and being heard by the people. Being seen by people refers to publicly announcing one’s actions and being heard implies mentioning one’s speech. Ibn Abdis Salam said “ Desiring to be seen is when anyone does something for other than Allah and longing to be heard of is when a person does something privately then announces it to the people.[6]


  • “Whoever wants to be heard of…” The means a person says something hoping others will praise him for what he’s done. For example he gave admonitions, advised others, refuted falsehood, enjoined piety and forbade evil, or taught others, etc. He desires to be heard and known by means of anything he has said.[7]


  • Whoever wants to been seen…” wanting to be seen can either be major or minor Shirk. If it is done from the hypocrites then its major shirk and if it’s from a Muslim who starts off worshipping Allah in acts such as prayer or giving charity ,and then he improves those acts once he realizes people are watching him, it becomes minor shirk.[8]


  • Ibn Hajr stated the overall meaning of this hadith is a person does deeds seeking relevance and not Allah’s pleasure. Therefore his speech is circulated among the people he wants to fit in with and in the Hereafter he has no reward.[9]



Statements from the Salaf about broadcasting actions:


  • Abu Umamah Al-Baheli (radi Allahu anhu) came to a man in the masjid while he was in Sujud crying and making dua. Abu Umamah said: “If only you would have done this in your house.”[10]


  • Ali ibn Abi Talib (Radi Allahu anhu) said: “There are three signs of person desiring to known and seen.

1: He’s lazy when he’s alone.

2: He’s active when he’s around others.

3: He’s does extra deeds when he’s praised and reduces his deeds and efforts when he’s criticized.[11]


  • Ibrahim ibn Adham said : “The person who broadcasts his deeds seeking praise doesn’t truly believe in Allah”[12]


The verdict about Riya:


  • The Quran, Sunnah and Ijma mention showing off as a prohibited act in Islam. Ath-Thahhabi and Ibn Hajr both mentioned Riya in their book “ The Major Sins” . In fact Ibn Hajr Al-Haytami mentioned it as the 2nd major sin after Shirk.


 Exceptions to the rule :


  • There is no harm in beautifying your voice with the Quran for those praying behind you to make them cry and strengthen their concentration in the prayer. The Prophet heard Abu Musa Al-Ashari reciting and said  “O Abu Musa! You have been given one of the mazamir (sweet melodious voices) of the family of David.’ Following this Abu Musa said : “ If I knew that I would have beautified my recitation  even more better for you.”[13] & [14]


  • Allah said :[Yusuf (Joseph)] said: “Set me over the storehouses of the land; I will indeed guard them with full knowledge”[ Yusuf 55] Prophet Yusuf praised himself, for this is allowed when one’s abilities are unknown and there is a need to do so. He said that he is (Hafith), an honest guard and (`Alim), having knowledge and wisdom about the job he is to be entrusted with.


  • Yusef wasn’t seeking a diligently seeking a position of leadership, but rather he had the desire to benefit others             with his abilities and the integrity he possessed and other people didn’t know this about him.[15]


  •   After looking at the aforementioned exceptions for a person to mention their good deeds and abilities, we’re unable to find an instance when a person mentions his virtues ,he criticizes others for not being like him or doing the things he does. Allahu Musta’an






  • After reviewing the dangers and seriousness of self-praise and boasting how could a Muslim  publicly announce his deeds on twitter?  The salaf never considered their deeds of any true weight and value; since they didn’t know if they would be accepted on the Day of Judgment. Salamah bin Dinar said  “Hide your good deed like you hide your evil deed, and do not be amazed with your own action, for you do not know whether you are happy or wretched (in the Hereafter)”



Prepared by Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Batttle

Ph.D student (Hadith)

Doha, Qatar 1436©
















[1] Collected by Bukhari (6499) and Muslim(2986)

[2] Al-Baqarah 264

[3]  Al-Anfal 47

[4] Furqan /23

[5] Imam Ibn Hajr Al-Haytami ,Az-Zuwajir 1/76

[6] [ Ibn Hajr , Fath 11/344]

[7] Sh Abdul Aziz Rajhi, Minhatul Malikul Jalil, Vol 11/471-472

[8] ibid

[9] [ Fath 11/344-345]

[10] Nuzhatul Fudala’ 1/281

[11] ibid

[12] Nuzhatul Fudala’ 1/331

[13]Al-Bayhaqi 12/3

[14] Al-Alamah Salih ibn Ali Ghusson, Fatawa vol 2/471

[15] Tafsir Ibn Kathir & Tafsir Abdur Rahman ibn Sa’dee

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