Allah ﷻ said in the noble Qur’an:
“That home of the Hereafter We assign to those who do not desire exaltedness upon the earth or corruption. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous.” (28:83)
And the best creation of God Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is reported to have said:
“ Two wolves roaming freely among sheep are less destructive to them than the desire for wealth and fame is to a person’s religion” (Tirmidhi)
The other greatest desires of the Son of Adam is the lust for fame. The lover of fame is after the hearts of people, in order to gain their admiration, esteem, praise, exaltedness and satisfy his ego.
In addition, the seeker of fame often pretends to possess a perfect quality or trait to attract people with the sole purpose of gaining their hearts, then it becomes easier for him to manipulate them.
Among the many means the seeker of fame used, we will only deal with three most common in the present blog. They are:
- Religious knowledge
- Act of worship
- Physical beauty
This may be the most dangerous means of seeking fame because the religious scholar is using the knowledge which is supposed to be for the service of his Lord to impress people. One can recognize such religious zealots by their attitude in public, they often deliver lengthy interpretation of verses of the Quran and prophetic sayings to the point of betraying their original meaning.
They like to debate in public, not for the purpose of defending the truth, rather to satisfy their ego. Allah ﷻ and His Messenger ﷺ issue many warnings to such religious bigots,
“… So whoever hopes to meet the approval of his Lord, he should do his deeds for His sake and join no one in the service of his Lord.” (Kahf, 110)
Ibn Umar reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say,
“Whoever seeks knowledge in order to have recourse to something other than Allah, or for the pleasure of anyone except his Lord, might as well prepare himself for punishment in Hell. (Tirmidhi)
Abu Hurayra (RA) related that the Glory of humanity ﷺ said,
Whoever studies his religion in order to secure his livelihood and to benefit materially, or in order to seek fame, is bound to distort religious knowledge.
He will interpret it for his personal purposes, removing all that is holy in knowledge. Such a holder of knowledge will not have even a whiff of the perfumes of Paradise on the day of judgment. (Abu Dawud)
Physical beauty to gain the heart of people
This is the most delusional and deceptive way if one considers the fleeting and temporal nature of exterior beauty. In fact, physical beauty and fame fades and leave a person attached to it with a broken heart.
Let’ s ponder about the reality and vanity of physical beauty engrossed in the following passage from the “Path of Muhammad” written by Imam Birgivi (RA):
“Why do they not know that exterior beauty is but temporal and passes very quickly? Allah has created only animals to be attracted to exterior beauty.
Allah and the wise look at the beauty of the heart in human beings. The fact is that our beginning is a blog clot in our mother’s womb, and our end is a foul-smelling, decaying corpse thrown into a grave.
How attractive can that body be? Its belly is filled with excrement, its bladder with urine. Mucus comes from its nose, spittle from its mouth, blood from its veins, pus from its skin, its armpits stink.
Thinking on all this and more will reduce vanity. In any case, eventually our tight skin will sag and our shiny hair turn into a donkey’s tail, and make us feel humble. “
The above words of wisdom should suffice as a discouragement for those who use and sell their physical beauty in order to gain fame and status.
Indeed, we have enough people of fame, we need more people of faith and we have enough people of vanity, we need more people of virtue.
Act of worship to gain fame
Some people worship with the expectation that they may attain worldly or spiritual fame in this world.
These people engage themselves in substantial and lengthy worship but often it is spurious and ill-intended as they expect through this worship for the people to know them and revere them.
When these people do not attain the expected results they decline in their Ibadaah or abandon it all together. These people in doing so have indubitably distanced themselves from being Abdullah, in fact they are worshipper of fame.
May Allah ﷻ preserve us from such attitude, Amin Thuma Amin.
With regards to those corrupted worship and hypocritical actions, Allah ﷻ declared in the noble Quran,
“So woe to the worshipper, who are neglectful of their prayers. Those who wants to be seen (by men).” (107: 4-6)
And the Glory of humanity ﷺ is reported to have said,
“Shall I not inform you of what I fear for you more than the Masih ad-Dajjal? It is hidden shirk. It is when a man stands up for prayer, then beautifies his prayer for another to look at.” (Ibn Majah)
When fame becomes permissible
From all above, we can see than the love of fame is blameworthy and a true servant of Allah ﷻ should instead opt for anonymity and join no one in the service of his Lord.
However, attaining fame becomes permissible when the servant exercises no effort to try and gain fame and he doesn’t lust for it but rather it is bestowed on him by God’s leave.
Thus, we have two situations where seeking fame becomes permissible:
1.The first case is when a person is sure to possess a quality that people could benefit from, then it is permissible for him to make it known that he has the ability to carry out a particular task for the benefit of others. This was the case of Prophet Yusuf (AS) as mentioned in the Noble Qur’an, he (AS) said to the king of Egypt:
“Place in my charge the store-houses of the land; behold, I am a good and knowing keeper”.
2. The second case is for a person to hide his imperfect trait in order to safeguard his position. This is because it is forbidden to publicize one’s weaknesses or fault after Allah ﷻ out of His wisdom has covered it; Unless this could be harmful for the society. One case of this could be a sickness that could prevent a person to efficiently carry out a task for the public.
Story of scholars who disdain fame for the service to God the Exalted
One the most famous story related to our topic is about the great al-Ghazali (RA), also known as Hujatul Islam, the proof of submission to God the Exalted. In fact, Imam Ghazali after his years of study became the greatest scholar of Baghdad, which was the capital of knowledge of the world. Students were coming from all over the world to sit at his classes and learn religious knowledge from him.
Al-ghazali (RA) reached the apex of his career and was one of the best scholars of his time. But as times goes, Imam Ghazali (RA) came to realize that despite his knowledge of Islam and fame, he did not attain the pleasure and closeness of God which is our ultimate purpose of life.
This reality drove the great scholar to forsake his career and status of fame for the pursuit of the true knowledge which is the knowledge of God. After his eleven years of retreat from public attention in a spiritual quest, he wrote in his “al-Munquidh min al dalal”:
“It became clear to me during that period, for reasons that I cannot number- at one time my mystical experience, another by discursive proof, yet another by acceptance on faith- that man is created of body and heart, and by heart I mean the reality of his spirit which is the locus of the knowledge (ma’arifa) of Allah, not the flesh and blood which the corpse and brute animal share in.
And that the body possesses a health through which is its felicity, and a sickness in which lies its destruction; and that the heart too possesses a health and soundness, and no one is saved “but he who comes to Allah with a sound heart” (Noble Quran, 26:89)- and that it has sickness in which lies its next worldly, everlasting destruction, as Allah Most High has said, “In their hearts is sickness” (Noble Quran, 2:10).
And that ignorance of Allah is a deadly poison, and disobedience to Allah by pursuing selfish impulse (hawa) is its corrupting disease; and the knowledge of Allah is life-giving antidote, and obedience to Him by contravening selfish impulse is its healing medicine.”
This ultimate realization of Imam al-Ghazali (RA) reveals the importance of caring for the spiritual heart, because it is only its corruption that midwives the love of fame and status and any corruption in man’s nature.
Thus, the cure for such a disease of the heart lies in the education and purification of the heart through a course of self-purification.
The aim of the Prophetic Path course is to help Muslims in a unique and modern way to purify their heart and avoid being Abdul fame in order to truly become Abdullah, a servant of Allah Azawajal.
Register for free to gain access to our sophisticated website and our one of kind mobile App on the go, and strive for the purification of the body, mind and heart, with the assistance of our gender-specific and qualified mentors.
“He will indeed be successful who purifies it. And he will indeed fail who corrupts it.” (91:9, 10)