Ostentation is where a person does a particular thing in order to show off or to impress. As we can only see the apparent actions of a person it is impossible to determine who is doing actions in order to show people and who is doing it for Allah’s sake.
Allah has condemned those individuals who show off as He states: “So woe to those who pray [But] who are heedless of their prayer – Those who make show [of their deeds]” (107:4-6) Here Allah is telling us that these people who perform actions in order to gain the favor of people instead of Allah are indeed the losers. They in reality have not gained anything but have instead gained Allah’s wrath.
These people do not perform deeds for Allah so these deeds are worthless. Allah informs us about them: “And when they stand for prayer, they stand lazily, showing [themselves to] the people and not remembering Allah except a little” (4:142) These people may be performing their obligatory actions but they are not doing it for Allah. They only do it for some worldly gain. Only Allah knows who these people are, they are those who will be dealt with on the Day of Judgment.
Allah warns us not to emulate these people: “And do not be like those who came forth from their homes insolently and to be seen by people and avert [them] from the way of Allah .” (8:47) This is why, regardless of our situation we should solely perform deeds for Allah. It does not matter about the deed, be it tremendous or insignificant, it should only be for Allah. Only then will it be worth something. How many people will be entered into the Garden for a small action which the people overlooked but which was accepted in the Court of Allah?
We should not think any deed to be worthless, if it has sincerity, if it was done for the pleasure of Allah; then what a beautiful deed it was! The Prophet has advised us: “Do not belittle any good deed, even meeting your brother (Muslim) with a cheerful face.” (Muslim) How fortunate is a believer? Even such a simple action will allow him to attain the closeness of the Creator.
Do not be fooled! On the Day of Judgement Allah will know the reason you performed your actions. The Prophet of Allah has informed his nation: “The first person to have judgement passed on him on the Day of Rising will be a man who was killed as a martyr (shahid) and he will be brought, and He will show him His blessings and he will acknowledge them. He will say, ‘So what did you do for them?’ and he will say, ‘I fought for You until I was killed as a martyr (shahid).’ He will say, ‘You lie! But rather you fought so it might be said, “[He was] daring,” and that has been said.’ Then the command will be given and he will be dragged on his face and thrown in the Fire. [Then there will be] a man who learnt knowledge and taught it and who recited the Quran. He will be brought, and He will show him His blessings and he will acknowledge them. He will say, ‘So what did you do for them?’ and he will say, ‘I learnt knowledge and taught it, and recited Quran for You.’ He will say, ‘You lie! But rather you learnt knowledge so that someone might say, “[He is] a man of knowledge,” and you recited Quran so that someone might say, “[He is] a Quran reciter,” and it has been said.’ Then the command will be given and he will be dragged on his face until he is thrown into the Fire. [Then there will be] a man to whom Allah was enormously generous giving him all kinds of wealth. He will be brought and He will show him His blessings and he will acknowledge them. He will say, ‘So what did you do for them?’ and he will say, ‘I didn’t leave any way in which You love wealth to be spent but that I spent in it for You.’ He will say, ‘You lie! But rather you did it so that someone might say, “He is very generous,” and it has been said.’ Then the command will be given and he will be dragged on his face until he is thrown in the Fire.” (Muslim) This Hadith illustrates the reality of deeds on the Day of Judgement, how can any of us think that we can fool the One who is All-Knowledgeable. This is sheer idiocy, rather the only people we fool are ourselves.
Whenever we think of carrying out a deed for other than Allah let the saying of the Prophet penetrate our hearts’: “Someone who prays showing off has ascribed a partner [to Allah], and someone who fasts showing off has ascribed a partner [to Allah], and someone who pays sadaqah showing off has ascribed a partner [to Allah]. Truly, Allah says, ‘I am the best divider of the shares for the one who associates anything with Me, because all of his action, whether it is much or little, is for his partner whom he associated as a partner with Me; I have no need for it.'” (Ahmad) Who can reward action apart from Allah? We must choose which is more important to us; this transient life or the bliss of the hereafter.
Allah has given you a choice; oh dear brothers and sisters, will it be fleeting, fake distractions of this world or the King of King’s reward in the Garden? Allah asserts: “Whoever desires the life of this world and its adornments – We fully repay them for their deeds therein, and they therein will not be deprived. Those are the ones for whom there is not in the Hereafter but the Fire.” (11:15-16) Allah has given you the choice, choose carefully as the ramifications will be severe.
May Allah give us the ability to perform our actions with the correct intention. May Allah forgive those actions we did to please others than Him. May he allow us to enter the Garden. Ameen.