Purification of the Soul
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Whoever knows Allah truly will make his deeds sincere to Him. For riya' occurs when someone lacks knowledge of His Creator, when he does not glorify Allah as should be, when the inner self seeks people's compliments and praise.

People vary in this disease, some seek praise from others only, some seek [the pleasure of] Allah in their deeds as well as people's praise, some do not seek people's praise at all, however when people see them doing good deeds, they improve their work to be praised. In the latter case it becomes a lesion that has affected a good deed.

The general cure for this disease is to know Allah truly. For whoever knows Him would make his actions sincerely for Him and would not see anyone besides Him. He would locate himself in the position of worshipper, who is humble to his Worshipped God, not in the position of the praised worshipped God. He would know that reward is given only for sincere deeds, therefore he should be aware of the wasted exhaustion (or performing acts for other than the sake of Allah).

Moreover he should know that punishment for riya' is severe. 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radiallahu 'anhu) narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, "Deeds are considered by their intention, and a person will be rewarded according to his intention." {qluetip title=[1]}Agreed upon. Reported by Al-Bukhari [1:2, 8:175, 9:29] and Muslim in the Book of Imarah hadith 155.{/qluetip}

Abu Musa (radiallahu 'anhu) narrated that a man came to the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and said, "O Messenger of Allah! Tell me if a man fights in the battlefield our of valor, out of zeal, and our of hypocrisy, which of these is considered fighting in the case of Allah?" The Messenger said, "He who fights in order that the word of Allah reigns supreme, is considered as fighting in the cause of Allah." {qluetip title=[2]}Agreed upon. Reported by Al-Bukhari [1:43, 4:25, 105, 9:166] and Muslim in the Book of Imarah hadith 149-150 and 151{/qluetip}

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (radiallahu 'anhu) that Natil Ashami said, "O Shaykh! Relate to us a hadith that you have heard from the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam)." Abu Hurayrah (radiallahu 'anhu) said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) say, 'The first to be judged on the Day of Judgement will be a man who died as a martyr. He shall be brought forth. Allah will make him recount His blessings (i.e. the blessings which He had bestowed upon him) and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his life). (Then) Allah will say: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I fought for you until I died a martyr. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You fought that you might be called 'a brave warrior'. And you were called so. (Then) orders will be passed against him and he will be dragged with his face downward and cast into Hell. Then will be brought forward a man who acquired knowledge, who imparted it (to others) and recited the Qur'an. He will be brought, Allah will make recount His blessings, he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Then Allah will ask: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I acquired knowledge and dissemenated it and recited the Qur'an seeking your pleasure. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You acquired knowledge so that you might be called a 'scholar' and you recited the Qur'an so that it might said: 'He is a reciter' and such has been said. Then orders will be passed against him, he shall be dragged with his face downward and cast into the Fire. Then will be brought a man whom Allah had made abundantly rich and had granted every kind of wealth. He will be brought, Allah will make him recount His blessings, he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Allah will (then) ask: What have you done (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I spent money in every cause in which you wished that it should be spent. Allah will say: You are lying. You did (so) that it might be said about (you): 'He is generous' and so it was said. Then Allah will pass orders, he will be dragged with his face dowward and thrown into Hell." {qluetip title=[3]}Reported by Muslim in the Book of Imarah hadith 152. He was mentioned as 'Qa'il Ashami' however it is a typing error and then correct name is 'Natil Ashami'. An-Nawawi said in his explanation of Sahih Muslim [4:568], "He is Natil ibn Qays al-Hazimi Ashami from Palestine. His father was a companion and Natil was the head of his clan." An-Nawawi said in his explanation of this hadith the generalities that are mentioned in regard to the excellence of Jihad is for the one who is sincere in it, as well as the praise of scholars and those who spend money for the sake of Allah in charity is attributed to those who do that sincerely for Allah's sake.{/qluetip}

Abu Hurayrah (radiallahu 'anhu) narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) narrated from his Lord that He said, "I am the best of partners, so whoever does an act of worship, commiting shirk in it, I am free from him, and he is left to the partner he associated Me with." {qluetip title=[4]}Reported by Muslim in the Book of Zuhd (Asceticism) hadith 46, Ahmad [2:301], Ibn Khuzaymah 938, Ibn Majah in the Book of Zuhd 21.{/qluetip}

Mahmud ibn Lubayd (radiallahu 'anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, "What I fear for you the most is minor Shirk!" They said, "O Messenger of Allah! What is that?" He said, "Riya'. Allah, Exalted is He, says on the Day of Judgement, after he recompenses people for their deeds: Go to those who you used to show your deeds off to and see if they have a recompense." {qluetip title=[5]}Reported by Ahmad [5:428].{/qluetip}

Abu Hazim said, "No servant (of Allah) betters what is between him and other servants, and he does not spoil what is between him and Allah, except that Allah spoils what is between him and the servants of Allah. Working for the sake of one face is easier than working for the sake of all faces. For if you work for the sake of that face (the face of Allah), all faces will turn to you but if you spoil it, all faces will detest you." {qluetip title=[6]}Reported by Abu Nu'aym in Al-Hilyah [3:239]. Through the chain of Ahmad ibn Hanbal from 'Ali ibn 'Ayash from Muhammad ibn Matraf from Abu Hazim, he said, "No servant of (Allah) amends what is between him and Allah, except that Allah amends what is between him and other servants. And he does not spoil what is between and Allah, except that Allah spoilts what is between him and the servants of Allah. Blandishing one face is easier than blandishing all faces. For if you blandish that face (the face of Allah), all faces will turn to you and if you spoil it all faces will detest you."{/qluetip}

Ibn Tawbah Abu Ja'far 'Abdullah said, "I saw Abu Bakr al-Adami, the reciter, in a dream after his death, begging. I told him, 'What did Allah do with you?' He said, 'I have stood in front of Him and I have suffered many tribulations.' So I told him, 'What about the nights, the good deeds, and the Qur'an?!' He said, 'There was nothing that was worse for me than them because I did them all for [the sake of] dunya!' I said, 'So what happened to you?' He said, 'Allah, may He be Exalted, told me, 'I took it upon myself not to tortue anyone who reached eighty years of age.' "

(s) Disciplining the Soul, Dār as-Sunnah Publishers
(t) Ayman ibn Khalid

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Be Mindful O Mankind!

There are three things that cannot be acquired by means of three other things: riches by means of desire, youth by means of khijab (dying of the beard) and health by means of medicine.
Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (d. 13H), may Allah be pleased with him