Al-Salam ‘Alaykum, this is Syed Ali Imran – and you are listening to the Forties podcast, brought to you by Mizan Institute.
This is episode 37 – The Signs of a Show-off
قالَ أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ع ثَلَاثُ عَلَامَاتٍ لِلْمُرَائِي يَنْشَطُ إِذَا رَأَى النَّاسَ وَ يَكْسَلُ إِذَا كَانَ وَحْدَهُ وَ يُحِبُّ أَنْ يُحْمَدَ فِي جَمِيعِ أُمُورِهِ.
Hadith #36: Imam ‘Ali (a): There are three signs of a show-off: 1) He behaves energetically when he sees others, 2) he is lazy when he is alone, and 3) he loves to be praised in all of his actions.
In episode 35 we spoke about the sign of sincerity, which was that a person sees others around themselves as if they are camels, meaning they wouldn’t show off or do anything special to impress or show off in front of other people. In this narration we are being told three signs of a show-off, and the first of these is that a person behaves and acts out of excitement and is energetic when they see people – a complete contradiction to what is expected when one is doing acts sincerely.
But I want the listeners to know that there are two situations in which you can be happy and energetic when you see people: 1) one time a person gets excited by seeing people, but it is a genuine excitement – lets say a person goes to the mosque and sees many people engaged in worship and prayers; this person will become delighted and excited and will be motivated to pray and engage in worship as well, not because he wants to show off, but rather the presence and atmosphere has given him or her that energy, that motivation, that push.
This is something we observe and experience ourselves, like in the month of Ramadhan in the nights of Qadr, especially when you are doing the recommended acts for the night of Qadr at the mosque, there is more energy, there is this thought that we are all in this congregation together and one is a bit more motivated in such an environment. As opposed to being at home alone, one may still be engaged in worship, but that energy might not be there. Nevertheless, this is not a case of a person showing off.
2) But there are times that a person by merely seeing people, gets excited not because they are also now motivated to worship for the sake of Allah (swt) or that people’s worship is having an impact on this individual, but rather they get excited as they now have an opportunity to show off and impress people in a gathering. Such a person may not even engage in worship at all if they are alone, but the moment they are in public they will engage in it, that is the only time they feel any need and reason to do so – or else they won’t. This is a sign of a show-off; it is something each of us can reflect upon ourselves and determine for ourselves as to which category we fall into.
Finally, another sign of a show-off that the hadith mentions is that such a person loves to be praised and spoken about in positive light all the time and in all the things they do. There is delight they feel in it and a boost in their ego. Just remember, these are all signs we need to be aware of and be able to keep ourselves in check with.
Speaking about the love of being praised, in the next episode, we’ll read a short narration by the Prophet (p) on how a person who loves to be praised for everything will never perceive the reality of sincerity.
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Sayyid Ali studied in the seminary of Qom from 2012 to 2021, while also concurrently obtaining a M.A in Islamic Studies from the Islamic College of London in 2018. In the seminary he engaged in the study of legal theory, jurisprudence and philosophy, eventually attending the advanced kharij of Usul and Fiqh in 2018. He is currently completing his Masters of Education at the University of Toronto and is the head of a private faith-based school in Toronto, as well as an instructor at the Mizan Institute and Mufid Seminary.