Characteristic of righteous (28)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ بِجَمِیعِ مَحَامِدِه کُلِّهَا عَلَی جَمِیعِ نِعَمِهِ کُلِّهَا… اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ مالِکِ الْمُلْکِ مُجْرِی الْفُلْکِ مُسَخِّرِ الرِّیاحِ فالِقِ الاْصْباحِ دَیّانِ الدّینِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمینَ اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی حِلْمِهِ بَعْدَ عِلمِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی عَفْوِهِ بَعْدَ قُدْرَتِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی طُولِ اَناتِهِ فی غَضَبِهِ وَهُوَ قادِرٌ عَلی ما یُریدُ
ثم الصلاه و السلام علی محمد عبده و رسوله ارسله بالهدی و دین الحق لیظهره علی الدین کله و لو کره المشرکون
اوصیکم عبادالله و نفسی بتقوی الله و اتباع امره و نهیه، و اخوفکم من عقابه
Twenty-fifth virtue: not welcoming flattery
إِذَا زُكِّيَ أَحَدٌ مِنْهُمْ، خَافَ مِمَّا يُقَالُ لَهُ، فَيَقُولُ أَنَا أعْلَمُ بِنَفْسِي مِنْ غَيْرِي وَ رَبِّي أَعْلَمُ بِي مِنِّي بِنَفْسِي، اللَّهُمَّ لَا تُؤَاخِذْنِي بِمَا يَقُولُونَ وَ اجْعَلْنِي أَفْضَلَ مِمَّا يَظُنُّونَ وَ اغْفِرْ لِي مَا لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
When anyone of them is spoken of highly, he says: “I know myself better than others, and my Lord knows me better than I know. O Allah, do not deal with me according to what they say, and make me better than they think of me and forgive me (those shortcomings) which they do not know.”
Flattery is one of the pests and disasters of social life. Honest praise also has a negative effect on human beings, then think about flattery which is unjustified praise. The human soul naturally enjoys being praised. There are many people who spend their money to be praised by others. How many poets throughout history have flattered poets for powerful and kings and got prizes because of that.
The one who says flattery is a weak person, and the one who likes flattery and prizes it, is poor and selfish. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says: Sprinkle soil to the face of who says flattery and drive them away from yourself. It is stated in the “sahih muslim” book that:
أَنَّ رَجُلاً جَعَلَ يَمْدَحُ عُثْمَانَ فَعَمِدَ الْمِقْدَادُ فَجَثَا عَلَى رُكْبَتَيْهِ -وَكَانَ رَجُلاً ضَخْمًا- فَجَعَلَ يَحْثُو فِي وَجْهِهِ الْحَصْبَاءَ، فَقَالَ لَهُ عُثْمَانُ مَا شَأْنُكَ؟ فَقَالَ: إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: «إِذَا رَأَيْتُمُ الْمَدَّاحِينَ فَاحْثُوا فِي وُجُوهِهِمُ التُّرَابَ» (صحیح مسلم، حديث 5434)
A men was praising Osman. Meghdad who was a powerfull men stood up on his feet and sprinkled soil and small stones to his face. Osman said what are you doing? Meghdad said: the prophet has told us to sprinkle soil to the face of people who falttter.
Someone who enjoys flattery and encourages flattery will soon become conceited and become unconsciously a pharaoh. And this flattery, is of course, as long as he is in power and glory.
Amir al-muminin wants his people to know that he doesn’t like or accept theire flattery. He says:
إِنَّ مِنْ أَسْخَفِ حَالَاتِ الْوُلَاةِ عِنْدَ صَالِحِ النَّاسِ أَنْ يُظَنَّ بِهِمْ حُبُّ الْفَخْرِ وَيُوضَعَ أَمْرُهُمْ عَلَى الْكِبْرِ وَقَدْ كَرِهْتُ أَنْ يَكُونَ جَالَ فِي ظَنِّكُمْ أَنِّي أُحِبُّ الْإِطْرَاءَ وَاسْتِمَاعَ الثَّنَاءِ وَلَسْتُ بِحَمْدِ اللَّهِ كَذَلِكَ (نهج البلاغه، خطبه216)
In the view of virtuous people, the worst position of rulers is that it may be thought about them that they love glory, and their affairs may be taken to be based on pride. I would really hate that it may occur to your mind that I love high praises or to hear eulogies.
Many flatterers do not really believe what they say, but only to make the person with the power or wealth gald with fault sayings. Instead when someone really likes you, he will remind you of your imperfections and fault deeds in order to find more perfection by removing them.
Amir al-muminin urges the people under his rule not to speak flatteringly with him as they spoke to the powerful, and not to hide the facts of community affairs from him:
فَلَا تُكَلِّمُونِي بِمَا تُكَلَّمُ بِهِ الْجَبَابِرَةُ وَلَا تَتَحَفَّظُوا مِنِّي بِمَا يُتَحَفَّظُ بِهِ عِنْدَ أَهْلِ الْبَادِرَةِ وَلَا تُخَالِطُونِي بِالْمُصَانَعَةِ وَلَا تَظُنُّوا بِي اسْتِثْقَالًا فِي حَقٍّ قِيلَ لِي وَلَا الْتِمَاسَ إِعْظَامٍ لِنَفْسِي (نهج البلاغه، خطبه216)
and do not address me in the manner despots are addressed. Do not evade me as the people of passion are (to be) evaded, do not meet me with flattery and do not think that I shall take it ill if a true thing is said to me, because the person who feels disgusted when truth is said to him or a just matter is placed before him would find it more difficult to act upon them. Therefore, do not abstain from saying a truth or pointing out a matter of justice because I do not regard myself above erring.
According to the sermons of the pious, the righteous, if they are flattered, are worried that they will become such conceited:
إِذَا زُكِّيَ أَحَدٌ مِنْهُمْ، خَافَ مِمَّا يُقَالُ لَهُ،
So first they remind themselves not to be fooled by flattery, because they know themselves better and know more about themselves than others do:
فَيَقُولُ أَنَا أعْلَمُ بِنَفْسِي مِنْ غَيْرِي
And God knows them better than they do:
وَ رَبِّي أَعْلَمُ بِي مِنِّي بِنَفْسِي
And then they seek God and they ask God for three things:
- May God not reproach them for the flattery that has been said about them
- May God give them a higher status than what the flatterer is about
- May God forgive the sins that the flatterer doesn’t know about