Let’s talk about ar-riyyah (show-off)

The need to always want others have a feel or taste of our bestowments/endowments, by way of making them seen or observed to the eyes of either a targeted set of people or the community in general, is something known of the human’s natural inclination to desire for praise or eulogies from his environment. This becomes a show-off if such display is needless or triggered by an intention of arrogance, and it becomes even more resentment-worthy if it is done consistently.

We are naturally wired to desire to seek people’s good remarks on any favor Allah has bestowed on us, or when a sterling result of our hard effort surfaces. This cannot be said of something we are not proud of, because what makes us resent it ourselves – with a feeling of it being a fault which is largely accepted as bad – makes us inclined to keeping it away from people, as we feel they will feel negative about it too, or even worse than how we see it. As for that good achievement, which is believed to be a largely accepted good, it is ideal to rejoice over it and even invite the pleasure of close and trusted people, in a logical range of numbers, to join in felicitation, but now exceeding the limits of the appropriate celebration of a situation, beyond the ideal, is tantamount to show-off.

Show-off eventually renders an achievement valueless or ‘over-hyped’ because of the unnecessary ‘drama’ and immaturity that has been put to it, in order to just prove how one has been blessed. In Economics, when Marginal Utility – the additional utility to a consumer from an additional unit of an economic good – keeps increasing, it gets to a point where the economic good loses its value, and this is the case of when people over celebrate (with a show-off intention), the value of what they are celebrating tends to fade away, as what is needed to be seen of it, has now ‘overstayed its welcome’. This is where people get disinterested in what should have been something of value and respect, all through. That is why it is good to leave the stage when the ovation is at its highest.

Even the attitude of riyyah is negated by the Almighty and there are no places where it is mentioned, without it being scolded. In Surah Luqman (31:18), Allah says: “Do not turn your cheek [in pride] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.” Praising oneself beyond the appreciable limit crosses the line of respect to our Creator.

Another evil of this, is the potential damage of what has been achieved, through the eyes and envious mindsets of those who are not genuinely happy for it, and this can be said to be giving way to ‘Evil Eyes’. The current world of today has made this Evil Eye to easily thrive, through Social Media, for a large percentage of the world population now post virtually everything on this media, where there is a mixture of both genuine friends and haters. The Prophet (PBUH) said “The evil eye is real and if anything were to overtake the divine decree, it would be the evil eye.” (Muslim).

What we have been blessed with, is a decree from Allah, but we can act as the element of damage of such decreed blessing, through unnecessary show-off, that has its disadvantages outweigh any form of advantage, if any, it may possess. May Allah not make us agents of self-destruction, Aameen.

Read Also: Islamic Perspectives: “It is halāl (permissible) to celebrate academic achievements”- Ustahd Ibn Abdillah As-sudaisiy Al-Iloori

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