Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Modesty without hypocrisy|
|09/07/01 at 00:40:36|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
[center]Modesty without hypocrisy
Dr Muhammad Kamal Al-Shareef[/center]
A person who grows up upholding moral values, eager to maintain self-respect and showing due respect to others, is naturally keen to avoid appearing in a bad light. Individuals of this type want to ensure that other people would not see them committing anything that is in conflict with recognized moral values.
It is their respect of others that motivates them to ensure that they earn their respect. The Arabic language describes everything that a person is keen to keep away from other people's eyes as awrah, or shame. This desire to earn other people's good opinion, motivated as it is by one's own respect of others, is the basis of modesty, which is described in Islam as part of faith.
But a person may go further than avoiding what brings him shame or criticism to set a goal for his good actions. That goal is to influence people by appearing, through his good actions, in highly favorable light. He does not do so because of any conviction that he should be so, but because he knows that other people believe that this is what he should be like.
The first situation is one of true modesty, motivated by a genuine belief in proper values and the need to uphold them. The second situation is one of hypocrisy, seeking to appease people and win their praise. Hence, the person who does it first tries to identify what people want or admire in order to do it. There is no genuine respect of other people in this case, not even a belief in proper values. There is a strong attempt to influence and deceive. This, in truth, means disrespect of others, resorting to lies and giving a false impression of oneself.
Deep at heart, a hypocrite is conceited, having no respect of others. Yet at the same time, he maneuvers himself into a position of being subjugated by others. As he tries his best to win people's approval and praise, he is always thinking of people's impression and reaction before he embarks on anything. This means that he may abandon what he likes or desires because he feels that other people may disapprove of it, or he may do what he dislikes because people approve of it.
People's judgment is not always based on observing moral values and high standards. Many communities uphold faulty standards and approve of deviant values. They do not like those who breach such values or show their absurdity. As hypocrisy would encourage a person to show respect for people's values, even when these are erroneous, a hypocrite finds himself in the untenable position of inner disrespect of other people, while, at the same time, he succumbs to their likes and dislikes.
By contrast, a true believer goes about doing what he wants to do, watching God and no one else. As such, he is the one who is truly free, master of himself, combining his own independence with a genuine respect of others. His modesty is not the result of weakness or fear of people. It is the result of a genuine belief in high morality and good values, and a keenness to enjoy other people's respect by doing nothing that brings him shame.
It is to protect us from being subjugated by others that God has forbidden hypocrisy. He warns those who resort to hypocrisy, behave arrogantly and give themselves airs. He also warns those who love to be praised for what they do not have: "Do not think that those who exult in their deeds and love to be praised for what they have not done; do not think that they will escape punishment. A grievous suffering awaits them." (3:188). The Prophet says: "God does not look at your physical shape or appearance; He looks at your hearts." (Related by Muslim). On the Day of Judgment, the fire of hell will rage on three types of people: a martyr, a scholar and a charitable person. That is due to the fact that whatever they did was done only to gain people's praise and admiration, not for God's sake. The Prophet says: "The first person to face judgment on the Day of Resurrection is one who fell a martyr. He is brought before God who will remind him of His blessings, and the man will recognize all these. God will ask him: 'So what have you done with them?' He answers: 'I have fought for your cause until I fell a martyr'. God will say: 'You lie! You have fought so that people would say that you are brave. This has been said'. The order will be given and he will be dragged face downward until he is thrown in hell.
"Another person had been a scholar, acquiring knowledge and teaching others until he had become well-versed in the Qur'an. He is brought before God who will remind him of His blessings, and the man will recognize all these. God will ask him: 'So what have you done with them?' He answers: 'I have learned all knowledge of the faith and taught and recited the Qur'an to please You.' God will say: 'You lie! You have learned so that people would say that you are a scholar, and you read the Qur'an so that people would say that you are a fine reciter. This has been said'. The order will be given and he will be dragged face downward until he is thrown in hell.
"A third person had been given affluence, with God granting him plenty of all types of wealth. He is brought before God who will remind him of His blessings, and the man will recognize all these. God will ask him: 'So what have you done with them?' He answers: 'I have donated money for every single cause You like people to support'. God will say: 'You lie! You have donated money in such ways so that people would say that you are generous and charitable. This has been said'. The order will be given and he will be dragged face downward until he is thrown in hell." (Related by Muslim)
Whether a person fights along with the believers, or spends his life pursuing scholarship and teaching the Qur'an, or gives plenty of money to poor and needy people is not that important. What is particularly important is that he should do all that for God's sake, and not to win people's praise and admiration.
He must not wear a guise that people like so that they accord him a position of respect, believing him to be sincere in his efforts as a fighter, scholar or benevolent person. God does not need our property, effort or blood. He only wants us to grow in purity through piety and good, sincere works done for His sake. Referring to the animals pilgrims sacrifice, God says in the Qur'an: "Never does their flesh reach God, and neither their blood. It is only your God-consciousness that reaches Him".(22: 37)
[i]"Islam in Perspective" - Arab News - 20 November 2000[/i]
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
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