Is Refraining from an Act of Worship a Kind of Showing Off?

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel


I’ve read that refraining from an act of worship (like commanding good and forbidding evil) because of people, like being too shy, is showing off and is minor shirk. Also, showing off by doing acts of worship such as praying and fasting is a minor shirk.

My question is that I want to repent from doing acts of worship to show off and do them with pure intentions, but I am still being too shy and refraining from some actions such as forbidding evil. Can I repent separately for doing acts with wrong choices while still in such a situation?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

Refraining from an act of worship, like commanding good and forbidding evil, because of people, like being too shy, is not showing off; neither is minor shirk. Also, doing obligatory worship such as praying and fasting is not minor shirk at all, as they are obligatory. One has to perform them. However, one has to seek and develop sincerity in them.

Ostentation (Riya)

Ostentation is when a person performs an act of worship to obtain praise in the hearts of others. The Prophet referred to this as lesser idolatry, as mentioned by Shaddad ibn Aws reported; the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever prays to be seen has associated partners with Allah. Whoever fasts to be seen has associated partners with Allah.” [Musnad al-Bazzar]

You have to ask yourself, is this why you are performing the acts? You just have affirmed in your heart and say to yourself; it is a command of Allah Most High.

Some signs of ostentation are if one is alone and in private, despite having time, one does not commit to worship, reading the Quran, remembrance of Allah (Most High), etc. However, in public, one does one’s utmost, but it also does not mean one should not respond to inspiration when in a company. Sometimes, people are more motivated in company and public than in private.

Cure from Ostentation (Riya)

One has to recognize that there is no harm or benefit except Allah Most High, and He purifies the hearts, and no one can give benefit or harm except He alone.

In your case, whenever you complete an act of worship, seek forgiveness; this is our command and sunna, after our daily prayers. Thawban reported, “When the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) finished his prayer, he would seek forgiveness from Allah three times, and he would say, ‘O Allah, You are peace and from You is peace. Blessed are You, Majestic and Generous.’” [Muslim]

Repentance (Tawba)

Repentance is the very soul of all spiritual works and actions we do and fuels our journey to Allah Most High. One should be continually repenting; it is an excellent habit to end the day by performing two raka’ of repentance (salat al-tawba). It has been narrated by both Abu Bakr and Ali (Allah be pleased with them both) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “No man commits a sin, then makes wudu and makes it well, then prays two raka’ and asks forgiveness of Allah Most High save that he is forgiven.”[Ahmad]

Check these links for further details:
What Is Riya (Ostentation)? – SeekersGuidance
Is Telling Others about One’s Obligatory Worship Considered as Showing-Off? (
How Do I Get Rid of My Anxiety About Praying To Show Off? – SeekersGuidance

Why not begin your search for knowledge by signing up for a course on Seekersguidance. SeekersAcademy (

May Allah (Most High) increase you in acts of worship and obedience, sincerely and continually, and make us all who constantly repent and ask for forgiveness from the Allah Most High, Amin

I pray this helps with your question.

[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied within UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.

He started his early education in UK. He went onto complete hifz of Qur’an in India, then enrolled into an Islamic seminary in UK where he studied the secular and Alimiyyah sciences. He then travelled to Karachi, Pakistan.

He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for a number of years. He has taught hifz of the Qur’an, Tajwid, Fiqh and many other Islamic sciences to both children and adults onsite and online extensively in UK and Ireland. He was teaching at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences.

He currently resides in UK with his wife. His personal interest is love of books and gardening.