Ep. 39 The Forties – Seeking Praise from Others

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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 39 – Seeking Praise from Others

أَبِي جَعْفَرٍ ع قَالَ: سَأَلْتُهُ عَنِ الرَّجُلِ يَعْمَلُ الشَّيْ‏ءَ مِنَ‏ الْخَيْرِ فَيَرَاهُ‏ إِنْسَانٌ‏ فَيَسُرُّهُ ذَلِكَ فَقَالَ لَا بَأْسَ مَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلَّا وَ هُوَ يُحِبُّ أَنْ يَظْهَرَ لَهُ فِي النَّاسِ الْخَيْرُ إِذَا لَمْ يَكُنْ صَنَعَ ذَلِكَ لِذَلِكَ.

Hadith #38: Zurarah said: I asked Imam Baqir (a) about a man who does a righteous act, and someone sees him do this act and that makes them happy. The Imam (a) replied: There is no issue, as there is no one who does not love for their goodness to appear for people, as long as they didn’t do the act specifically for that reason.

This narration from Imam Baqir (a) tells us that if a person initially intended to perform the act for the sake of people, so they can see it and he be excited and delighted for that reason, then that would be a clear case of riyā’. But the scenario presented in the narration says that a person was merely doing a good righteous act, they were perhaps engaged in worship, and it was only later that they realized someone had seen them and this made them happy. The Imam says this is not a problem, meaning this doesn’t invalidate the person’s worship, since they never did the act for people, but that later feeling of excitement and delight means that the level of sincerity was lower.

As for the statement where the Imam says everyone wants their goodness to appear for people, he is actually referring to the natural disposition and inclination humans have, not that this is something ideal and that can’t be changed, or that this is how it should be forever. From the previous two episodes we already know that such a disposition can be reduced and by that one can reach higher levels of sincerity.

The next narration will be our second last tradition for this first set of 40 aḥadīth, and in that we will see how Allah (swt) exposes the show-off

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