Adapted from the book, Min Akhlaaq Salaf of Shaykh Ahmad Fareed; rendered into English by Ishaaq bn AbdirRaheem
Allâh the Most Great has said:
“Surely, the religion (i.e. the worship and the obedience) is for Allâh only.” [Az-Zumar 3].
And the Prophet said,
إن الله عز وجل لا يقبل من العمل إلا ما كان له خالصا و ابتغي به وجهه
‘Verily Allâh does not accept from deeds except that which is for Him purely and which is done to seek His Face.’
Ibrahîm At-Taymî (rh) used to say:
‘The sincere one is he who hides his good deeds the way he hides his sins.’
While Sha’bî (rh) used to say:
‘From the etiquette of the scholars is that when they know they act, and when they act they become busy with that from people, and when they are busy they become lost (forgotten), and when they are forgotten they are sought (after), and when they are sought after they will run away, fearing for their Dîn from the Fitnah.’
And Fudayl bn Iyâdh (rh) used to say:
‘When you see a scholar or a worshipper becoming happy because of his being mentioned as a result of his good acts in the presence of the leaders and the people of (this) world, then know that he (is the type) that shows off.’
This is so because sincerity is that a slave should seek with his knowledge and his deeds what is with Allâh, therefore that he becomes happy because of people’s praise or when people become aware of his deeds is one of the signs of hidden form of showing-off. The Salaf used to consider showing-off as the most heinous of the Major Sins (al-Kabair), because it is one of the Minor Shir’k, and Shir’k is the most heinous of the Major Sins. So watch your soul, O my brother, as regard your knowledge and your deed, cry over it whenever you see showing-off in it, for he that shows off (with his deeds), Allâh will show off with him, and whoever evokes people’s audience Allâh will evoke people’s audience as regard him. We beseech Allâh for safety in the world and the Hereafter.