Unfortunately, one weakness, from many weaknesses, is that we look at our achievements and successes with an eye of vanity and conceit.
Our gaze falls on our efforts – that we are the ones who made the effort. We attribute our success and our achievements to our efforts, our sacrifice and our hard work. …What generally follows is a desire to announce and to boast – to publicize and make known.
The nafs asserts itself. It wants acknowledgement. It wants to be credited.
So many, in their quest for recognition, will exaggerate their achievements – even to the Shaykh. They exaggerate so that they may be distinguished above others, counted as pious and righteous, and become recipient of praise and applause.
Some get carried away by dreams and think that a few good dreams are a surety of their greatness.
This condition is not progress; it is a sickness.
This is what becomes a Hijaab or a barrier between us and Allah Ta’ala. The person’s gaze is on himself, on his obedience, his attributes, his efforts, his achievements and successes, forgetting The One Who blessed him with ability and capacity.
The gaze should be on the Fadhl and Grace of Allah Ta’ala.
The person’s good deeds, his Khidmat of Deen, his charity and welfare work, become a fitnah for him because he sees his effort and believes that he is deserving of acknowledgement and praise. As a result, there is no spiritual progress.
Ujub is vanity and conceit. The person admires himself and attributes importance to himself. The person considers himself superior.
Kibr or pride is looking down upon others, considering them as inferior.
Pride and vanity give rise to arrogance and haughtiness; even oppressing or treating people with contempt and disdain.
Both Ujub and Kibr cripple a person spiritually.
It is truly the Fadhl of Allah Ta’ala if a person increases in humility as his good deeds increase. And this will be so, if the person keeps his gaze on his shortcomings and he has such Ma`rifat (Recognition) of Allah Ta’ala, understanding that Taufeeq is from Allah Ta’ala alone.
The Ambiya (Alaihimus Salaam) had the highest degree of Ma’rifat, and we see this evident in their lives. In the words of Hazrat Shu`aib (Alaihis Salaam):
“…And my ability to do things comes from none except Allah…”
[Surah Hud 11 : 88]
From another view, we find in this world of fitnah, that the majority seek to display their achievements. Their photographs are published; they widely circulate their accomplishments on media platforms, proud of their successes. Everyone wants to be noticed; everyone wants the limelight.
Some say in no uncertain words, that their success is due to their work, their intelligence, their sacrifice…
Of course, happiness is different. It is natural. But the desire should be to conceal.
Whenever we are talking about ourselves, we must ask ourselves:
§ Why am I behaving in this manner?
§ Why do I talk about my experiences?
§ Is this Shukr and Tahdees-e-Ni’mat, or is it Riyaa which the nafs wraps up in the guise of Shukr?
Allah Ta’ala is All-Knowing. If we say and do for advertisement; to publicize and broadcast and announce over radio stations and other platforms, then we should remember that Allah Ta’ala is aware of our intentions.
“Allah knows the treachery of the eyes and that which the hearts conceal.”
[Surah Ghafir 40 : 19]
If it is for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala, and Allah Ta’ala wants to make it known, He will make it known.
All that a person becomes proud of are on account of the blessings from Allah Ta’ala’s side. Allah Ta’ala says in the Qur’aan Shareef:
“And you have no good thing but it is from Allah...”
[Surah an-Nahl 16 : 53]
If He gave, He can also take away. Recognize the One who has given and do not consider the bounties as your achievement. … Because every faculty and possession which is a medium of securing any achievement, is in itself, a bounty from Allah Ta’ala – our intelligence, hearing, speech, etc.
Keep addressing the nafs: All that I succeed in is due to Allah Ta’ala’s favour.
Whilst a person may be doing some meritorious work, much is left to be seen – as to whether such work has been accepted or not. …We will only know on the Day of Judgment as to what has been accepted or not.
Whatever work we carry out and whatever other good deed we do, then make Dua thereafter that Allah Ta’ala accepts it. Consider the Tawaadhu of Hazrat Ibraheem (Alaihis Salaam) and Hazrat Isma'eel (Alaihis Salaam), who, after building the House of Allah Ta’ala, and themselves being so accepted by Allah Ta’ala, still made Dua that Allah Ta’ala accept their efforts…
Allah Ta’ala relates in Surah Al-Baqarah:
“And (mention) when Ibrahim was raising the foundation of the house and (with him) Isma’eel, (saying): “Our Lord, accept (this) from us. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.”
This Dua clearly makes manifest that there was no trace of pride or vanity in undertaking and completing such a great task. There was just beautiful humility and deep concern that Allah Ta’ala accepts.
If there is spiritual progress in one’s efforts in treading the path to Allah Ta’ala, then we need to keep before us the Ayah:
“…And were it not for the Grace and Mercy of Allah on you, not one of you would ever have been pure: But Allah does purify whom He pleases…”
[Surah An-Nur 2 : 21]
Otherwise the nafs, in its true state would not gain in any good, on its own.
ِّْ“…the nafs is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord does bestow His Mercy…”
[Surah Yusuf 12 : 53]
May Allah Ta’ala grant us recognition of our nafs and the courage to strive against it, and may Allah Ta’ala bestow His Mercy upon us, that we may be successful on this path to Him.