Riya is showing off a good characteristic, deed or manners with the only intention of getting a positive response or praise from the people. Religion Islam stressed that one should enthusiastically go for performing noble actions without any delay as there might be a lack of willingness with the passage of time for one reason or another. But there is also a great deal of emphasis not publicizing either of the deeds when committed. Making sins not known to others is easily understood but also keeping one`s good acts secret is somewhat not realized by many. Regarding this Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran: “Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reminders [of it] or [other] injury will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.” (Quran, 2: 262)
A person who is reading his prayers or fasting just to let people know that he is a good practicing Muslim is an example of Riya or showing off. Riya makes us focus on earning appreciation from people rather than seeking Allah’s favor and acceptance. It makes us focus on people’s appreciation of our virtuous acts or good deeds, which means we give importance to them, not to Allah (SWT). Any good deed performed with the intention of showing off and pleasing people is not acceptable in the eyes of Allah. Therefore, we should do every good deed for the sake of Allah alone, and not enhance our status among people.
Riya is of many types its nature and tendency is that it invalidates the actions as stated in the Holy Book and the sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran: “Like those who spend from their wealth to be seen by men, and they do not believe in Allah and the Last Day. Their example is like the example of a hard rock on which is a little soil, then on it falls heavy rain which flows off it and they will not be able to do anything with whatever they have earned and Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.” (Quran,2:264)
Our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in hadith: “Shall I not inform you of what I fear for you more than the Masih ad-Dajjal? It is the hidden shirk. It is when a man stands up for prayer, then beautifies his prayer for another to look at.” (Ibn Majah)
Riya or showing off is greatly forbidden in Religion Islam. But unfortunately, most of us, knowingly or unknowingly, fall for this crime in our lives when we make informal conversations with others. We tend to forget that while we are doing something to acquire Allah`s pleasure, we are also wasting our efforts by making them public for the sake of self-esteem. It is stated in hadith that: “There are three (types of) people to whom Allah will neither speak on the Day of Resurrection nor look at them nor purify them, and they will have a painful chastisement.” The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) repeated it three times. Abu Dhar (May Allah be pleased with him) remarked: “They are ruined. Who are they, O Messenger of Allah?” Upon this, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “One who lets down his lower garments (below his ankles’) out of arrogance, one who boasts of his favors’ done to another; and who sells his goods by taking a false oath.” (Muslim)
Types of Riya
Riya is of many types or forms some of them are given below:
Showing off in one’s faith
Showing off with one’s appearance
Showing off through speech
Showing off through one’s deeds
Showing off through association
Showing off through actions
May Allah Almighty help us in getting rid of Riya before we leave this world. Ameen!