Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
Question: Is it permissible to show off if it’s not done out of contempt?
Answer: Assalamu alaykum,
It is not permissible to show off in religious or worldly works, even if one is not doing it out of contempt or arrogance.
It says in the Reliance of the Traveler, (p33):
Allah Most High says:
(1) “The hypocrites are trying to fool Allah, while it is He who is outwitting them. And when they stand to pray they do so lazily, showing off to people, remembering Allah but little.” (Qur`an, 4:142)
(2) “0 you who believe: do not nullify your charity by reminding recipients of having given it and by offending them, like someone who spends his money as a show for people.” (Qur`an, 2:264)
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said,
(1) “The first person judged on Resurrection Day will be a man martyred in battle.” He will be brought forth, Allah will reacquaint him with His blessings upon him and the man will acknowledge them, whereupon Allah will say, ‘What have you done with them?’ to which the man will respond, ‘I fought to the death for You.’ “Allah will reply, ‘You lie. You fought in order to be called a hero, and it has already been saying.’ Then he will be sentenced and dragged away on his face to be flung into the fire.” Then a man will be brought forward who learned Sacred Knowledge, taught it to others, and who recited the Koran. Allah will remind him of His gifts to him and the man will acknowledge them, and then Allah will say, ‘What have you done with them?’ The man will answer, ‘I acquired Sacred Knowledge, taught it, and recited the Koran, for Your sake.’ “Allah will say, ‘You lie. You learned so as to be called a scholar, and read the Koran so as to be called a reciter, and it has already been saying.’ Then the man will be sentenced and dragged away on his face to be flung into the fire. “Then a man will be brought forward whom Allah expansively provided for, lavishing varieties of the property upon him, and Allah will recall to him the benefits bestowed, and the man will acknowledge them, to which Allah will say, ‘And what have you done with them?’ The man will answer, ‘I have not left a single kind of expenditure You love to see made in Your cause, save that I have spent on it for Your sake.’ “Allah will say, ‘You lie. You did it so as to be called generous, and it has already been saying.’ Then he will be sentenced and dragged away on his face to be flung into the fire.” [Muslim]
(2) “The slightest bit of showing off in good works is as if worshipping others with Allah.” [Hakim]
(A: When there is an act of obedience the servant intends to conceal but Allah reveals, then it is merely gratitude for His blessings to admit it to others and thank Him for it. When asked if one is fasting, for example, and one is, then one should say “Praise be to Allah” (alhamdulillah).)
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.