Undue Praise

I return once more to the word of our Prophet, peace be upon him, when he told his companions to throw dust in the faces of those who praised people in their presence. I was in Turkey, taking tea with our Muslim neighbours, when conversation turned to my conversion. People always assume that I converted because of my wife, but she was putting them straight, explaining that it all came to pass before we ever set eyes on one another. And suddenly all that hideous praise. It is humiliating, for I am the worst amongst them. They put you up on a pedestal which you do not deserve, oblivious to the pain within: that to be good is such a struggle, such a battle. They talk of you as a pious saint, when in truth you are a wretched sinner.

But worst is all that follows. Those words are so true: ‘You have destroyed the man’s back.’ There seems to be some strange metaphysical link between the act of praising and the well-being of the recipient. Thrown down on my face, all that follows the laudation is absolute proof that their kind words were unwarranted. And yes, my back is now killing me too. It causes a horrible sickness, both physical and spiritual. How many good men and women before us have been destroyed by the excessive admiration of their companions?

 

 

The Narcissist

May God preserve us from fame, celebrity and great acclaim. May He protect us from the attention-seeking ego, from the lust for admiration, from inflated self-regard.

If one day we should state our intention to head for the hills and disappear, may our words be true. Let not the lusts of the narcissistic self drive us back to the crowd, reinvented and redefined, to seek out undeserved praise once more. Let us not forever live a life seeking to be known, but grant us instead a hunger and thirst to know You.

May God protect us from leading others astray, and from being led astray, and from misguided followings, fan clubs, groupies and admirers. May He purify our hearts, keeps us straight, grant us humility, make us prayerful and gentle. May He not let us be a trial for others, may our words not be the cause of great harm. May He be the source of all our pleasure, may He tame our hearts and grant us peace. May He decree for us a blessed return.

May God preserve us from fame, celebrity and great acclaim.

Deify not mere mortals

Deify not mere mortals, for it is liable to end in tears, nor set out seeking their approval. This is the lesson we learned when we admired the writer too much and praised them beyond their station, forgetting mashaAllah and subhanAllah, forgetting that everything is by the will of God. When we forgot our manners, we slaughtered our friend.

Is it not the case that when the Prophet — peace be upon him — heard a man praise another man with exaggeration, he said, ‘You have destroyed the man’s back’? And did he not tell his companions to throw dust into the faces of those who praised people in their presence?

It is the case, but we were oblivious, building the author up, not realising that we were cutting them down. Who knows if it was you or I that destroyed the writer, with our admiring glances and praising words? Who knows the harm we caused when we overstepped the line? Who knows, except Allah?

Deify not mere mortals, for only One deserves our praise. Seek not the approval of mere mortals, for it is by Allah alone that we are judged. Look within to purify your words and, from this day forth, seek only the favour of your Lord.