The Delusion of Praise

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Imam ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.) said, “People praise you for what they imagine you are, so be sure that you blame yourself for what you know you are.”

Shaykh ibn Abbad ar-Rundi (q.s.) commented. “For a servant to blame himself and look at himself with disgust for the faults and defects that he knows he possesses is something that is sought from him because it helps him avoid having delusions about himself, which, in turn, allows him to improve his good deeds and his spiritual states.  If he does not look at himself in this manner, people’s praise will cause his deeds and states to wither away.”

The awliya’ have said that whoever rejoices when others praise him has allowed Shaythan to come into him.  If someone tells you what a wonderful person you are and you love this more than for them to tell you what an awful person you are, then by Allah (s.w.t.) what an awful person you have become.

With a proper understanding of tawhid comes the realisation that all praise Belongs to Allah (s.w.t.) alone.  All that happens and all that is accomplished is by His Will.  If someone sees something good in us, it is a reflection of Divine Attributes.  No one can claim knowledge when Allah (s.w.t.) is al-‘Alim.  And who can claim strength when He is al-Qawiyy?  The delusion of believing praise leads to the danger of hidden shirk.


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