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Saturday 14 Al-Muharram 1446 H - July 20, 2024 G

Advice to a Pretentious

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.

The Muslim should not appear in an appearance which is not his, or contradict his bottom or his real state. He should not claim a position superior and higher than his. He should not affect things he has not, since this quality (i.e. the fact of not feigning something one has not) shows a sincere attitude. The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “The one who pretends that he has been given what he has not been given, is just like the (false) one who wears two garments of falsehood”(1).

And it is said:

Whoever affects what he has not

Will be disclosed at the test

For this reason, one should not pretend knowing something when he is not, or pretend perfection in things he does not master, or lead without qualification, since it is the flaw of knowledge and action. That is why some said:

“Whoever takes the leadership before time, will expose himself to humiliation”.

Some Andalusians also said:

We seek refuge from Allah, from people who put themselves in positions of leaders without knowledge.

It should be also known that someone who adopts the character of sincerity, that sincerity is one of the complements of faith and Islam, of which Allah عزَّ وجلَّ has ordered us and praised those who stick to it; Allah عزَّ وجلَّ said:

﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ﴾ [التوبة: 119].

The meaning of the verse:

O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).﴿ [At-Taubah (The Repentance): 119].

He also said:

﴿وَالَّذِي جَاءَ بِالصِّدْقِ وَصَدَّقَ بِهِ أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ﴾ [الزمر: 33].

The meaning of the verse:

And he (Muhammad صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم) who has brought the truth (this Qur'ân and Islamic Monotheism) and (those who) believed therein (i.e. the true believers of Islamic Monotheism), those are Al-Muttaqûn (the pious).﴿ [Az-Zumar (The Groups): 33].

He also عزَّ وجلَّ said in praising sincere people:

﴿رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللهَ عَلَيْهِ﴾ [الأحزاب: 23].

The meaning of the verse:

… men who have been true to their covenant with Allah﴿ [Al-Ahzâb (The Confederates): 23].

It is enough that truthfulness leads to righteousness, and that righteousness leads to Paradise, as in the agreed upon hadith: “Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. And a man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes a truthful person”(2).

It is evident that Paradise is the aim of every Muslim, and the most high of his wishes. Truthfulness in speech is a sign of respect, dignity of the self and an art of knowledge. None will have a high rank in knowledge but a truthful. Truthfulness as a character is prior to getting knowledge, and the Muslim should start by teaching himself truthfulness before getting knowledge, as it is reported in some Salaf traditions (traditions of the Predecessors).

Moreover, scholars should also be venerated, since their veneration and respect pertain to Sunna. They are certainly human beings and fallible, but the duty of the believer is to have a good opinion of people of faith, people of religion and people of righteousness and good. The student should not oppose people of knowledge, loyalty and justice, and call into question their opinions nor precipitate in contradicting them in cases of probabilities and Ijtihâd (jurisprudential effort), without verification and ascertainment, because accusing them of this is untrue; and when this accusation is emanated from an unknowledgeable person who does not know his own errors, so how could he judge others of committing errors, besides belittling them and correcting them. However, the student or the Muslim should trust knowledgeable people (in religion), and hold his tongue from disparaging or defaming them, for, this reduces their awe, and makes them subject to accusations. He should take care of their dignity, avoid arrogance, dispute and interpolations, particularly in public, because this induces vainglory and vanity…Yes, if they commit an error or have illusions about something, they should be warned, but without belittling them, and bringing out commotion and confusion and not be delighted by denigrating them. This attitude emanates only from a sciolist “Who wants to put kohl in his eyes but makes them blind!” or “He who wants to cure himself from a cold but causes a leprosy”!

However, I want to connect my speech with that previously said, which is that one should know that the source of grace, and the source of blessing is Allah عزَّ وجلَّ, and if Allah عزَّ وجلَّ grants today money, knowledge, strength and dignity, He May take them back in the future, He is عزَّ وجلَّ, the Preventer, the Distresser and the Giver, the Beneficial; He gives and withdraws, and whoever thanks Allah عزَّ وجلَّ for His favors duly, Allah will give him more:

﴿لَئِنْ شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ﴾ [إبراهيم: 7].

The meaning of the verse:

If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings)﴿ [Ibrâhîm (Abraham): 7]. And whoever denies His favors overtly, inwardly and behaviorally, who does not act according to what Allah عزَّ وجلَّ Has ordered, does what He prevented him from and denies His Grace, the Grace will turn to reprobation for him. And among the most destructible things – now and later – the fact of being pride of oneself and actions, haughtiness and self-assumption and what results from them in the matter of knowledge by neglecting benefiting from it. Pride and conceit lead one to sciolism, disdaining people and belittling them. These handicaps and hindrances are among great retardants and among the greatest obstacles that prevent the perfection of the Muslim or the student. They transform glory to humiliation, strength to weakness and grace to reprobation. That is why the Book and the Sunna warn us against self-assumption and vanity because they are harms that reduce deeds to nothing. Indeed, vanity is the scourge of sincerity and whoever admires his work, will have it reduced to nothing, as well as someone who is proud of his deeds. Besides, if ostentation comes with the scope of associating the action with people, self-assumption comes with the scope of associating the action with oneself, as it is stated by Sheikh Al-Islâm Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Al-Qayyim(3). So, self-assumption is tightly related to ostentation. Indeed, he who shows of does not realize the meaning of the verse:

﴿إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ﴾ [الفاتحة: 5].

The meaning of the verse:

You (Alone) we worship﴿ [Al-Fâtihah (The Opening) :5].

The self-important, pride of himself and his deeds does not realize:

﴿وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ﴾ [الفاتحة: 5].

The meaning of the verse:

You (Alone) we ask for help﴿ [Al-Fâtihah (The Opening): 5].

The Holy Qur'an warns against this evil. Allah عزَّ وجلَّ said:

﴿وَغَرَّتْكُمُ الأَمَانِيُّ حَتَّى جَاءَ أَمْرُ اللهِ وَغَرَّكُمْ بِاللهِ الْغَرُورُ﴾ [الحديد: 14].

The meaning of the verse:

…and you were deceived by false desires, till the Command of Allah came to pass. And the chief deceiver (Satan) deceived you in respect of Allah.﴿ [Al-Hadîd (Iron): 14].

He also عزَّ وجلَّ said:

﴿وَيَوْمَ حُنَيْنٍ إِذْ أَعْجَبَتْكُمْ كَثْرَتُكُمْ فَلَمْ تُغْنِ عَنْكُمْ شَيْئًا﴾ [التوبة: 25].

The meaning of the verse:

and on the Day of Hunain (battle) when you rejoiced at your great number, but it availed you naught﴿ [At-Taubah (The Repentance): 25].

He also عزَّ وجلَّ said:

﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الإِنْسَانُ مَا غَرَّكَ بِرَبِّكَ الْكَرِيمِ﴾ [الانفطار: 6].

The meaning of the verse:

O man! What has made you careless about your Lord, the Most Generous?﴿ [Al-Infitâr (The Cleaving): 6].

And in the hadith: “Three things lead to perishment (in Hell): Obeying one’s greed, following one’s desires and being pleased with oneself”(4).

The Muslim should behave correctly with others, acknowledge their rights and keep from harming them, especially if they are older than him, or are more knowledgeable and more honorable, or they are at the origin of his orientation, or he benefited from them. So, he owes them favor and are like his parents to whom he owes righteousness and kindness, he should not harm them, but should invoke Allah for them, ask forgiveness for them and fulfill his commitments toward them, because all that is beneficence, and beneficence – as we know – is a part of the Muslim’s belief, it is even an integral part of his Islam, because Islam is based upon three principles : Îmân (faith), Islam and Ihsân (beneficence) as it is narrated in the agreed upon hadith of Jibrîl (Gabriel); the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said after the departure of Jibrîl عليه السلام: “He was Gabriel (the angel). He came to you in order to instruct you in matters of religion.”(5). The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم considered Al-Ihsân (beneficence) a part of religion.

Whereas, the expressions used by those students are heinous: insults, immoralities, obscenities and other words such as backbiting, defamation and other defects of the tongue which are not at all of beneficence. Indeed, Allah عزَّ وجلَّ said:

﴿وَقُولُوا لِلنَّاسِ حُسْنًا﴾ [البقرة: 83].

The meaning of the verse:

Speak good to people [i.e. enjoin righteousness and forbid evil, and say the truth about Muhammad صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم]﴿ [Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 83].

Allah عزَّ وجلَّ also said:

﴿إِنَّ اللهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ﴾ [النحل: 90].

The meaning of the verse:

Verily, Allah enjoins Al-`Adl (i.e. justice and worshipping none but Allah Alone - Islamic Monotheism) and Al-Ihsân [i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allah, totally for Allah’s sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم in a perfect manner]﴿ [An-Nahl (The Bees): 90].

Pious and righteous people avoid this kind of words; the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “A believer is not given to accusing others or to cursing them, nor is he immoral or shameless”(6).

But Islam invites to good manners, and to foster and inculcate them in Muslims. Allah عزَّ وجلَّ praised His Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم for his good character and said:

﴿وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَى خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ﴾ [القلم: 4].

The meaning of the verse:

And Verily, you (O Muhammad صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم) are on an exalted (standard of) character.﴿ [Al-Qalam (The Pen): 4] and ordered him to have good manners:

﴿ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ﴾ [فصِّلت: 34].

The meaning of the verse:

Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah orders the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly) then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.﴿ [Fussilat (They are explained in details): 34].

The Islamic message is restricted to this meaning of purification. The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “The only reason I have been sent is to perfect good manners”(7). From this hadith, we know that the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم has perfected this purification, theoretically and practically, because, Allah عزَّ وجلَّ Has perfected His religion and His Favor upon His Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم and upon believers. So, purification, which is the aim of the [divine] messages and its fruit, is considered among the principles of the Salafi Da`wa (call of Predecessors), and one of its principal pillars.

Finally, my advice is to say that Islam is not only creed and adoration, but also good manners and behaviors. Immoralities are in Islam a heinous crime, and something heinous cannot be an Islamic character or an attribute of it in any case, because inner purity is acquired from Al-Îmân (Faith) and righteous deeds are in disharmony with bad attributes and bad morals which are a pure evil, devoid of good. So, we should avoid evil and near good, be righteous and pious, for, it is the measure of preference and the balance by which men are weighed.

O Allah! We seek refuge from You, from an undesirable character and a useless deed, and Allah rewards according to intentions and it is He who guides to the right path.

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم, his Family, his Companions and Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.


Algiers: Rabî` Ath-Thâni 29, 1429H

May 04, 2008

(1) Reported by Al-Bukhâri (hadith 9/317) in the chapter of “Marriage” on boasting about what one does not have and what is forbidden of the boasting of a co-wife, Muslim (hadith 14/110) in the chapter of “Garments” concerning the prohibition of wearing the garment of falsehood, Abu Dâwûd (hadith 5/269) in the chapter of “Manners” concerning boasting about what one does not have, from the hadith of Asmâ' Bint Abu Bakr رضي الله عنهما. The meaning of the hadith according to scholars is:” Someone who affects what he has not and tries to show it to people and beautify himself by falsehood, so he is condemnable as is condemned the one who wears two garments of falsehood” [(Sharh Muslim by An-Nawawi) (14/110)].

Ibn Hajar said in “Al-Fath” (9/318) “ The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم used (two garments) in order to say that the person who pretends these things has doubly lied; he lied to himself by something he has not taken and to others by something he has not been given, as a false witness, he commits an injustice toward himself and toward others by his false witness”.

(2) Reported by Al-Bukhâri (hadith 10/507) in the chapter of “Good behavior” concerning Allah’s عزَّ وجلَّ saying:

﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ﴾ [التوبة: 119].

The meaning of the verse:

O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds)﴿ [At-Tauba (The Repentance): 119] and what He prohibits of lies and Muslim (hadith 160/16) in the chapter of “ Virtue, good manners and joining of the ties of relationships” concerning the evil of a lie and the goodness of truth and its merit, from the hadith of Ibn Mass`ûd رضي الله عنه.

(3) “At-Tafsîr Al-Qayyim Lima Jumi`a Libn Al-Qayyim” of Ibn Al-Qayyim (48).

(4) Reported by Ibn `Abd Al-Barr in “Jâmi` Bayân Al-`Ilm Wa Fadhlih” (1/143) from the hadith of Anas Ibn Mâlik رضي الله عنه. This hadith has many ways. It is judged by Al-Albâni as Hassan (good) by considering its different ways, and that is what Al-Mundhiri affirmed. [See “Silsilat Al-Ahâdîth As-Sahiha” by Al-Albâni (4/412-416)].

(5) Reported by Muslim (hadith 1/150) in the chapter of “Faith” concerning the explanation of faith, Islam and Ihsân (beneficence), Abu Dâwûd (hadith 5/69) in the chapter of “As-Sunna” concerning preordainment, At-Tirmidhi (hadith 5/5) in the chapter of “Faith” concerning the description of Al-Îmân (faith) and Islam by Jibrîl to the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم (hadith 1/24), Ibn Mâjah in the introduction of his “Sunan”, chapter of faith, from the hadith of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattâb رضي الله عنه.

(6) Reported by At-Tirmidhi (hadith 4/350) in the chapter of “Virtue, good manners and joining of the ties of relationship” concerning curse. It judged as authentic by Al-Hâkim (hadith 1/12), Al-Albâni in “As-Sahiha”(hadith 320) and in “Sahih At-Tirmidhi”: (hadith 2/370), Al-Arna'ût judged its Isnad (chain of narrators) as strong in “Sharh As-Sunna”: (hadith 13/134).

(7) Reported by Ahmad (hadith 2/318), Al-Bukhâri in “Al-Adab Al-Mufrad” (hadith 273) from the hadith of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه. This hadith is judged as Sahîh (authentic) by Al-Albâni in “As-Silsila As-Sahîha” number (45).