“I fear for my Ummah a hidden shirk and that shirk is Riyaa – Pride, Hypocrisy. Beware of this Shirk Khafiya – Hidden Shirk, as it is like a black ant walking on a black rock on a dark moonless night.” – Rasulullah (SalAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam)
When the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said this to his companions, each and every one of them became worried about their internal state. They asked Rasulullah (salAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) that if this was truly the case, how could any of them be safe from hidden shirk – Riyaa? The Messenger of Allah shared with them this very important du’a:
اللّهُـمَّ إِنّـي أَعـوذُبِكَ أَنْ أُشْـرِكَ بِكَ وَأَنا أَعْـلَمْ، وَأَسْتَـغْفِرُكَ لِما لا أَعْـلَم
Allahumma innee a’oothu bika an ushrika bika wa-ana ‘alam, wa-astaghfiruka lima la ‘alam.
O Allah, I take refuge in You lest I should commit shirk (associate partners) with You knowingly and I seek Your forgiveness for what I do unknowingly.
La tushriku bihi shay’aa… When we hear ayaat or ahadith highlighting the importance of worshipping Allah alone, we should make an effort to pay close attention and internalize the message at a more personal level. We all know what shirk is, and some may even think it’s elementary to talk about it constantly since, well, we’re not worshipping idols or anything. But the hadith above exposes the reality and pervasiveness of hidden shirk – when a person does an act of ‘ibadah, not seeking Allah’s pleasure, but to be noticed by someone, to be praised in front of people, to maintain a positive reputation, etc. Think about it: a Hafidh, a Martyr, and a man who spends from his wealth, will all be questioned and thrown into the Hell Fire for lack of sincerity in their niyyah. In a few quick moments, all the time and energy they exhausted in dunya will be turned to absolutely nothing in front of all of Allah’s creation. Can you imagine the mental torment of experiencing that and realizing there will be no end to the Fire? How much pain, regret, sorrow, and complete and utter hopelessness they will experience? It’s really a scary thought. Allahummaj ‘alna minal muhsineen, Ameen.
- Learn the du’a above to seek protection from hidden shirk. Recite regularly.
- Hide your good deeds just like you hide your bad deeds.
- Perfect your duties and acts of ‘ibadah in public and private.
- Welcome advice and constructive criticism from others.
- Constantly remind yourself of your shortcomings and flaws and work towards excellence.
- Wish well for others
- Always consider your contribution as minimal
- Elongate your prayers in private. Longer Qiyaam, ruku’, sujood, etc..
- Don’t mention a good deed repeatedly or openly
- Engage in Muhasabah or self-scrutiny
- Doubt your sincerity. A scholar once said that if you see ikhlaas in your deed, then your ikhlaas itself needs ikhlaas.
- Study the concepts of niyyah, ikhlas, ihsaan, etc. Have a proper understanding of who Allah is and what He wants from you.
- Make a niyyah for anything and everything.
- Begin every task with Bismillah.. If you can’t say Bismillah before doing it, then that’s a pretty clear indication you should be doing something else.
- Learn this du’a as well:
اللهم أجعلني خيرا مما يظنون ولا تواخذني بما يقولون واغفر لي مالا يعلمون
O Allah, do not call me to account for what they say and forgive me for what they have no knowledge of (and make me better than they imagine) [Bukhari]