InPoint number 12, we wrote: “These (i.e. moments of being alone) are the moments during which the person can be sure that – in connecting with his Lord - he is not showing off or putting a face for others.” A question was then raised: “So is it really impossible to show off and put a face when we are alone?” and we promised that this will be addressed in Tazkiyah Tip 13.
The sad reality is that the answer to the above question is, “No”. Often our understanding of showing off (Riya) is that this only applies when we show off to others. While showing off to others is the worst kind of showing off, perhaps the most tricky showing off and the one that is more difficult to avoid is “one showing off to oneself”.
The following example might help appreciate the point:
Brother X has done his best to make sure he remains humble in front of others and that he never talks too much about himself. He tries not to even do what he ordinary does (in terms of non-obligatory worship) when with others, in a fear that it might result in showing off.
This is all good so far, but read on:
Brother X is now very ”proud” of himself, thinking that he has managed to be better than what others know about him and that he can manage to be so humble in front of others. In other words, brother X is using “being humble outside” as a tool to become “arrogant inside”! He is still suffering from the arrogance that he was tried to avoid by being humble, only the type of arrogance is different!
In a broad sense, we all have three personalities:
A. The personality that we allow others to see
B. The personality that we allow ourselves to see
C. The personality that we really have
In the moments of loneliness, the first of the above does not apply, however the second one applies even more forcefully. The problem is that a person needs to be very strong and brave as well as ruthless to himself in order to realize and appreciate - within his own personalities - the existence of personality B and its difference with personality C. There comes a point in the path of Tazkiyah that little progress is possible if one cannot realizes the difference between B and C in himself.
Personality C can only be noticed if we can do a regular, acidic reality check. One of the ways that we can achieve this is by doing a rigorous examination of our feelings, actions and strength of belief by reviewing our behaviour and reactions to different events in and aspects of our life (this is sometimes referred to as ‘Muhasiba’). This itself can be done during our moments of loneliness. Examples (other than the one that was illustrated above) are:
- The feeling that my belief is strong: Where is it coming from? Has my subconscious made me forget about those situations where I realized that my belief was not that strong after all?
- My perception that I enjoy my prayers: Do I really enjoy my prayers or do I merely think I am enjoying them since this is how I like to feel about them?
- The emotional feeling that I manage to get when I think about my relationship with God: Is this a real feeling or do I simply project that by dramatizing myself as a hidden precious thing? In other words, do I really cry as the result of my fear/love of my Lord and my shortcomings as his servant OR, do I cry simply because I am thinking “look how good I am and no body knows!”
(Dr Abdullah Rahim)