Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
People frequently praise me for my works. I feel uncomfortable due to the fear of haughtiness and arrogance rising within me. I have asked them to stop. One of my colleagues told me that it’s my problem if I don’t feel well when being praised, and that I shouldn’t ask people to stop. Is that true?
Answer: Wa alaykum assalam,
Jazakum Allah khayr for you question.
The issue of praising others and receiving praise has been discussed by Imam Nawawi in his Al-Adhkar and Imam Ghazali in his Ihya. The permission, recommendation, and dislike of it differs depending on who is receiving the praise. Below is a summary of the arguments from both Imams.
Praising another person
Numerous hadiths have been passed down that indicate the permissibility, recommendations, and prohibition of praising others.
In regards prohibition, it is reported that the Prophet ﷺ said, “If you see those who are excessive in their praise, then throw dust in their faces.” [Sahih Muslim]
As for its permissibility/recommendation, the Prophet ﷺ said (both narrations are weak),
“If anyone of you knows something good about his brother, then inform him, for indeed it increases the desire to goodness” [Daraqutni] and “If a believer is praised his faith grows in his heart” [al Tabarani].
The scholars have said that the way to bridge between the varying traditions is to say, if the person being praised is someone of complete faith and spiritually training, and there is no risk of him becoming deluded or tested through the praise, then praising such a person is neither prohibited or disliked.
If any of the above are feared, then praising such a person in his presence would be strongly disliked.
If the person exaggerates or lies in his praise, then it is prohibited, because of his lying, but not because of his praising.
Imam Ghazali further adds, that if the person who is being praised is someone who desires and seeks to be praised and thanked, then one should refrain from praising him publicly, while if the person is someone who genuinely dislikes praise and does not seek it, then it is recommended to thank and praise him publicly.
[Al-Adhkar, Iyha Ulum al Din].
Given the above, there is nothing wrong with praising another person in moderation, as long as there is no fear the praise will have a negative impact on the one being praised.
Asking others not to praise one
There is also nothing wrong with asking others not to praise one, if this comes from sincere humbleness and modesty.
If the person continues to praise or thank you, despite you telling them not to, then if they are exaggerating in their praise, then you may be request that they stop. However, if they are fittingly praising you and your work, and you know it doesn’t mean anything to you, then there is no point being harsh on them, just say Alhamdulillah, or La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah (There is no power or might except through Allah), to yourself each time and divert the conversation.
I hope this clarifies things for you.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.