showing off

Why Do We Forget That Showing off Is a Grave Sin?

Without a question, I love my culture and my Islamic religion, but there are certain practices that are unfortunately very common in the former with which I disagree. At times, some Muslims think worldly matters must take precedence over religious instructions.

We, at times, will deviate from Islam in specific aspects of life with nothing more than a little shrug saying, “That level of purity gets crushed in the evil Dunya like today.”

I am talking about showing off, something many Muslims sadly fail to acknowledge is a severe sin in Islam. Muslim parents commonly engage in exhibiting this when discussing the praiseworthy achievements of their teenagers. They boast about their teenager’s excellence in academics, from their level of Islamic involvement to their leadership in society. It is one thing sharing happiness and cheerfulness over accomplishments and a completely different thing to incessantly brag in a way that instills a feeling of inferiority and inadequacy in the listener’s mind and heart. I am obviously concerned with the latter.

At times, some Muslims think worldly matters must take precedence over religious instructions.

Of course, there are many Muslim parents who refrain from such worldly practices and are, in fact, role models for many of us, but others do it oh-so-often without realizing its impact.

To elaborate, I will share a short anecdote. One of my aunts is blessed with plentiful money and time to invest in the extraordinary education of her children. Her admirable efforts have produced wonderful results in her children’s academic careers. Nonetheless, she fails to realize that not every child in her social circle has parents with sufficient money and time to invest in them. Disregarding this reality, she heartlessly publicizes her children’s successes to the less fortunate. And I am saying “heartlessly publicizing” because again, it is one thing to express one’s happiness and another degrading a listener’s self-esteem.

Can you imagine how the less-fortunate must feel?

If you know someone will become dejected and gloomy rather than elated and delighted upon hearing news, then how much heart and sense does it take to not express that news?

…it is one thing to express one’s happiness and another degrading a listener’s self-esteem.

This question I posed will not cause some mothers who show off to rethink, for they do not even consider showing off as an actual sin. When I once questioned one of them, she responded: “In a world like today, humble ones easily get walked over. In fact, it is difficult and nearly impossible to attain that level of spiritual humbleness. One has to cleverly broadcast their children´s accomplishments to earn respect and status, in this dunya.” She does follow Islamic guidelines in many aspects of life, but regrettably, she does not understand the gravity of showing off.

Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:

“It is showing off. Allah the Exalted will say to them (who show off), on the Day of Resurrection when the people are being rewarded for their deeds: Go to those whom you wished to show off in the world and look for your reward with them.”

Many Muslims remain unaware of the punishment of showing off in the Hereafter, causing them to commit this common sin. One must realize that not only does it cancel out the rewards for our good deeds, but it also brings the wrath of Allah (SWT). 

Considering that the action is a recurrent sin, it can understandably be difficult to deal with the temptations of showing off. However, constantly remembering that Allah (SWT) can see one’s actions can effectively alleviate the struggle. Even if one can not see Allah (SWT), He can undoubtedly see His servants, including their intentions.

Fate, in addition, can take a change any moment; what you are proud of today may not be yours tomorrow and you may find yourself in the place of those whom you once attempted to degrade as a result.

May Allah (SWT) help us all realize the gravity of this issue and prevent us from engaging in this sin, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Ameen.