Riyaa: The Hidden Shirk
AUTHOR: al-'Allaamah 'Abdurrahmaan as-Sa'dee (rahimahullaah)
SOURCE: ‘Al-qawlu–s-sadeed fee maqaasidi at-Tawheeed , Sharh kitabu-tawheed’
Say (O Muhammad ): "I am only a man like you. It has been inspired to
me that your Ilâh (God) is One Ilâh (Allâh). So whoever hopes for the
Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as
a partner in the worship of his Lord."
Whosoever desires the life of the world and its glitter; to them We
shall pay in full (the wages of) their deeds therein, and they will
have no diminution therein. They are those for whom there is nothing in
the Hereafter but Fire; and vain are the deeds they did therein. And of
no effect is that which they used to do.”
The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said;
said, ‘ I am most independent and free from needing partners. Whoever
does a deed associating something in it with me, he and his shirk are
From Abu Sa’eed al-Khudhriyy (radhiyAllaahu ‘anhu) that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:
I not inform you of what I fear most for you than al-maseeh ad- dajjaal
?” They said, “Yes O Messenger of Allah! ” He said, “ Hidden shirk
(riyaa). A man stands to pray, so he beautifies his prayer when he
notices someone looking at him.”
From Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllaahu ‘anhu) that he said the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said;
for the worshipper of the dinar, Ruin for the worshipper of the dirham,
Ruin for the worshipper of the khamisah! Ruin for the worshipper of the
khamilah! If he is given, he is pleased, and if he is not given he is
displeased. Ruin and humiliation! He can not even find relief from the
slightest prick! But toobaa is for the worshipper taking the reins of
his horse in the cause of Allaah: his hair flying, his feet dusty. If
he is assigned the watch, then he remains on watch. If he is assigned
the rear guard, he guards the rear .Yet if he asks permission, he is
not permitted, And if he intercedes, his intercession is not granted.”
Commentary by al-‘Allaamah ‘Abdur-Rahmaan as-Sa’dee (rahimahullah):
Know that sincerity for Allaah is the foundation of the religion, and the essence of tawheed
and worship. It is when the worshipper intends all of his deeds for the
Face of Allaah, for His rewards, and His favours. So he maintains the
six foundations of faith, the five signs of Islaam, and the fulfillment
of faith – ihsaan – as well as the rights of Allaah and the
rights of His worshippers. In this way his intention is perfected for
the Face of Allaah and for the abode of the Hereafter. He does not
intend by this to be seen, nor to be heard of, nor does he do it for
position, or for worldly matters. By this he will have completed his
faith and tawheed.
the worst behaviors that diminish the sincerity is to perform deeds
just to be seen by people, for their praise, or to honour them, or
doing deeds for the sake of worldly matters. This degrades sincerity
There are some details about riyaa:
a worshipper does a deed with the goal of having people see it , and he
remains with this evil intention , then his deed is disgraced , and he
commits shirk, and he runs the risk of it leading him to major shirk.
a worshipper does a deed intending the Face of Allaah and with that, he
is also intending it for the sake of people – if he does not remonve
the riyaa from his deed – then the texts are clear that this deed is also false.
When a worshipper does a deed for the sake of Allaah alone , but riyaa
surfaces for an instant during his deed , if he wards it off and
purifies his sincerity for Allaah, then there is no harm in that deed.
But if he settles for that – becoming tranquil with it – then the value
of the deed diminishes, resulting in a weakening of his faith in
proportion to the amount of riyaa that survived in his heart.
Still, the deed remains for Allaah , but whatever portion of it he
mixed up and was confused about is riyaa.
is a dangerous disease which requires the soul to hasten to
disciplining itself in sincerity , to wage war in defence against the
destruction caused by riyaa, to oppose its assault , seeking
Allaah’s help to defend against it , so that perhaps Allaah will purify
the worshippers’ faith and complete his tawheed.
for deed done merely for worldly reasons or for the attainment of
things in the world : if the worshippers’ intent is always for this
goal , without having the objective of doing things for the Face of
Allaah and the abode of the Hereafter , then there will be no reward
for him in the Hereafter for these acts.
characterized in this manner will not be found in the hearts of the
believers , as the believer – even if his faith is weak – will
certainly bring the goal of Allaah and the abode of the Hereafter in
As for the
one who does such acts for the Face of Allaah , as well as for the sake
of the world ; these objectives being equal or approximately so , then
these will – if he is a believer – diminish his faith , tawheed and sincerity . His deed will be diminished because he has forsaken complete sincerity in them.
who does a deed for Allaah alone , and he is most sincere in his deed –
having complete sincerity in it – but for that deed recieves wages
designated to help in work for the religion , wages that are to be
spent on good deeds – such as the mujaahid who deserves some
spoils of war or provisions for his struggling , or like in the case of
an endowment that is responsible for paying the salaries of those who
work in the masjids , schools , and other religious positions – then
there is no harm on the worshipper’s faith and tawheed to
accept such wages , since it is not being used for worldly work , it is
only intended for the religion , and the objective is that the
individual who recieves it does work in the religion.
this reason Allaah designated a great portion of the sharee’ah wealth ,
like zakaah and the spoils of war , for those who work for religious
endowments , as well as helping to benefit in the world. This topic is
previous examples help to make the rulings for these many important
issues clearer to you , it is up to you to judge similar cases in the
proper light. And Allaah knows best.
 Qur'aan 18:110
 Qur'aan 11:15-16
 Ibn Maajah, al-Bayhaqee, Saheeh al-Jaami' (No. 2607)
 Al-Bukhaaree and a shorter version with Ibn Maajah. The examples
given in the hadeeth are intended to be clear opposites : the first
person can only be pleased by things, and he is never satisfied. The
second remains in the utmost sincerity for Allaah , without any
compliant , although he is the kind of person whose requests are not
commonly granted by people , nor his intercession. In this way , he is
opposite of the person who is always used to getting his way , doing
all that he does with that goal in mind.