Riya (Showing Off) – Pretending Virtuousness

Riya (Showing Off)

Riya refers to the act of doing things that are pleasing to Allah with an intention of getting admiration from others. This implies that the primary intention in such cases is generally to show off one’s good deeds just to receive admiration and praises from others. It is equal to practicing virtue out of vanity, with the goal of becoming popular among people.

Riya makes people focus on gaining appreciation from people instead of seeking Allah’s acceptance and favor.  This means that unintentionally people give more importance to other people and not to Allah.

Bearing in mind the temporary nature of things, our main concern should be placed on long-term rewards, which can only be attained by pleasing Allah alone.

Satan constantly tries to deviate us from the right path. He knows how to fill our hearts with the love of this world and he arouses in us the desire for having good reputation and fame, making our deeds fruitless by distancing us from Allah.

In the Holy Quran Allah says:

“So woe unto those performers of Salat (hypocrites), Those who delay their Salat (from their stated fixed times). Those who do good deeds only to be seen (of men). And prevent Al-Ma’un (small kindnesses)” (Surah Al-Maauun 107: 4 – 7)


Performing a Righteous Deed or Worship for Worldly Reasons Is Considered As a Minor Shirk

The Messenger of Allah, (PBUH) said: “Verily, what I fear most for you is the lesser idolatry.”  “It is showing off. Allah the Exalted will say to them (who show off), on the Day of Resurrection when the people are being rewarded for their deeds: Go to those whom you wished to show off in the world and look for your reward with them.” (Musnad Ahmad Hadith 23119)


It is reported by Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri that while they were discussing the false messiah, the messenger of Allah (PBUH), entered upon us and said:

 “Shall I not tell you about what I fear for you more than the presence of the False Messiah?” We said, “Of course!” He said, “Hidden idolatry; that a man stands for prayer and beautifies his prayer because he sees another man looking at him.” (Ibn Majah Hadith 4202)


Punishment in the Hereafter for Practicing Riya (Showing off):

One must realize that Riya cancels out the rewards for good deeds and brings the wrath of Allah. This hadith mentions the punishment of practicing Riya:

Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated a hadith of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) that evidently reveals how the act of doing things for others can result some to be enflamed on the Day of Judgment. One of them, for example, will be a wealthy man who will be brought, and Allah will say to him: “Was I not so generous with you that I did not leave you without any need from anyone?” He will reply: ‘Of course O Lord!’ Allah will ask: “Then what did you do with what I gave to you?” He will say: ‘I would nurture the ties of kinship and give charity.’ Then Allah will say to him: “You have lied. Rather, you wanted it to be said that so-and-so is so generous, and that was said. (meaning that you wanted to get appreciated and that’s what happened.)” (Part of a long hadith in Sunan Tirmidhi Vol. 4, Book 10, Hadith 2382).

A person who shows off good deeds will not only be punished on the Day of Judgment, but he/she will be punished in this world also. Allah will expose the intentions of such people. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:

“If anyone wants to have his deeds widely publicized, Allah will publicize (his humiliation). And if anyone makes a hypocritical display (of his deeds) Allah will make a display of him.” (Sahih Muslim Book 42, Hadith 7115)


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We Can Avoid Committing Riya by Remembering That Allah Is Always Watching Us:

Abu Hurairah reported that in answer to a man’s question about ‘Ihsaan’ (perfection in worship) the Prophet (SAWS) explained, “Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you do not achieve this state of devotion, then (take it for granted that) Allah sees you.” (Sahih Bukhari Vol. 6, Book 60, Hadith 300).

Consciousness of the presence of Allah arouses in us the fear and respect of Allah, hence, what others think becomes completely insignificant. We need to realize that this world is temporary and no matter what we can never please others. The sole purpose of our existence is to please Allah alone. Only pleasing Allah will ensure our happiness in this world and life hereafter.

Don’t Make A Display Of Your Worship

The Prophet (SAWS) said: “He who lets the people hear of his good deeds intentionally, to win their praise, Allah will let people know his real intention (on the Day of Resurrection), and he who does good things in public to show off and win the praise of the people, Allah will disclose his real intention (and humiliate him).” (Sahih Bukhari Vol. 8, Book 76, Hadith 506)


Reflect Upon Your shortcomings

Instead of giving unnecessary importance to what the people say about us, we should keep a constant check on our own shortcomings.  Being aware of our weaknesses will not allow us to get carried away by any praises that come our way. Thanking Allah Almighty for all the good that comes our way makes us conscious that it is He alone who makes up capable for all that we might achieve. This curbs the desire to take credit for our good deeds.


Seek The Help Of Allah In Overcoming Riya

Supplicate to Allah and seek for His help.  Allah says that His believers should say (translation):

“You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything)” (Al-Fatihah 1:5)

This verse from Surah Fatihah is meant to strengthen our faith and make us steadfast. When we utter the words that we worship Allah Alone, we should follow up this assertion with our actions. It follows that all our good deeds should have Allah’s acceptance as their sole goal. The desire for worldly acknowledgement and appreciation should be discarded.

To stay away from Riya, we should recite:

Allaahumma innee a’oodhu bika min an ushrika bika shai’aun wa ana a’lamu wa astaghfiruka limaa laa a’alamu”

“O Allah, we seek refuge with You from knowingly associating anything with You, and we seek Your forgiveness for that which we do unknowingly.” (Musnad Ahmad Hadith 19171)


Niyaah Is The Deciding Factor

Ibraheem Al-Nakha’I said: “If Satan comes to you when you are praying and says, “You are showing off,” then you should make it even longer. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) suggested that seeking Allah’s refuge from the accursed Satan, one should go ahead with the good deed and not pay attention to his discouraging waswasaas (whispers from Satan). (Majmoo’ Fataawa Al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, Question No. 277)

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