The vice of show off
Bashir Ahmad Dar
Social media sites are often seen flooded with pictures of destitute lot of our society while receiving alms and charity from the affluent people. Capturing a poor in camera while receiving charity, is the most agonizing and embarrassing thing for him/her because it puts his/her self-esteem at stake.
Social media has become a sort of virtual hell for them. It inflicts humiliation on them. It exposes their helplessness to the world. It shakes their dignity, causes a painful commotion within their soul and shames them a lot. It makes them feel unworthy, degraded and guilty.
Charity is a heavenly deed which is encouraged in all religions of the world. Islam specifically lays a special emphasis on making charity and helping the needy. It is a Sunnah. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has liked it very much. But charity should be done only for the sake of Allah and to gain His pleasures. It should be done so secretly that your left hand may not know what your right hand has given away.
But it is sad to learn that publicizing a deed has become a new normal of the day. Some people go around and intentionally talk about the things they have done. Some fall even below to the level that they capture it in their cameras for later uploading on social media sites. They do it intentionally to boast about their virtues.
Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) once said, “Deeds are (a result) only of the intentions (of the actor), and an individual is rewarded only according to that which he intends.” So, it is the intention which decides the reward or wrath for a deed. Doing anything for show off comes under the category of ‘RIA’ in Islam.
Ria is very much disliked by Allah and His Messenger Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Islam denounces it in strong terms as can be inferred from the following hadith. Mahmud Bin Labid narrated that the holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “What fills me with the grave apprehensions about you is the minor Shirk. The companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah, what is minor shirk?” He said, “Riya (to do good deed just to show off).
How painful can the showoff be to the victim, will be better understood if my readers read the following tale of a destitute.
It is said that long ago a young man asked a poor wise man to narrate to him the bitter most experience of his life. The wise man was famous far and wide, for his unmatched quality of wisdom. The poor wise man replied that few years back he had spread his hands in begging before a very rich man at his home. The rich man was well attired and wearing a sagacious looks on face. The former begged for money and edibles.
The rich man gave him some money and a bowl of atta. The money he gave to the beggar (poor wise) was much less than what he needed. Finding the amount of money very meager, he decided to beg in the market to meet the required amount. So, he went straight to the market, sat along on the footpath and spread out his hand in begging. It was a very busy market. People came and went. Some would felt his presence there, drop a coin in the hand and others would just see him and leave without giving anything.
In the meanwhile, the same rich man also happened to pass through the market. He was accompanied by his friends. His eyes fell upon the beggar. He along with his friends came near the beggar. Many people were passing by since it was a busy market. The man called out the people around to gather. People gathered in a circle with poor wise beggar in the middle.
All of a sudden, the rich man caught hold of the beggar’s hand up and roared to his friends and people around, “This man has taken a handsome amount of money and atta from me early morning today. The money should be enough for him for a couple of weeks. His presence in the market and begging has perplexed me. I doubt he has spent the money in brothels or some other evil works. Give not a single penny to him.” There was smell of pride in his words, and by saying that he had helped him with some money and atta, he was not only boasting of his pious virtue of charity-making and generosity towards needy but also silently killing the beggar by his harsh words. His words were hitting him like stones and chiseling his heart deep.
Hearing him, a fierce ripple of laughter went around in the crowd. Their laughter was murderous. Finding himself deeply helpless and humiliated, the poor man lowered his face to the ground, daring not to lift and face the laughing faces around. He cursed his decision to spread his hands in the open market. He said to himself that how good it would have been if he had not begged before this rich man.
Dear readers, all people are equal in the scales of Allah. Nobody has a right to humiliate anybody or hurt anyone’s sentiments. Allah likes the one who spends on his slaves but equally hates the show off. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) has warned the people of severe punishment who resort to show off. They spoil their world and hereafter. And the punishment in this world will be that they will be exposed and their bad intentions will be known to others (Interpretation of a Hadith from Bukhari)
(The author is a teacher by profession. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)