Leaving the acts of worship for the fear of Riya (showing off)

Question :

A person was praying and when the prayer was finished, suddenly there was next to him one of his mashayikh, he then became fearful of falling into Riyaa (showing off) so he did not pray his Sunnah prayer for fear of falling into Riyaa (showing off).  Therefore, is it permissible to do this? And is there anything upon him? And was his action correct?

Answer :

This action, at the very least, it is disliked and some of the scholars have considered it to be from Riyaa (showing off). Being that the one who decides to leave off an act of worship and leaves it off for fear that people will see then he is showing off.  This is because he left off a (good) deed for the sake of the people.

And leaving the (good) deeds for fear of showing off is from the traps of the devil.  For indeed if a person was to do this, he would be on the verge -if the devil came to know this (about him) – that he would hinder him in every action with notions and whispers until he leaves off all acts of obedience.

With Allaah is success and may peace and salutation be upon the Messenger his close family and companions.

Answered by The Permanent Committee for Knowledge based Researches and Islamic Verdicts, under the chairmanship of the Imam Abdul-Azeez bin Baz –may Allaah have mercy on them all-were asked the following question as found in the 27th Volume, page 361-362.
The following question was asked to the noble Shaykh Salih bin Fawzan al-Fawzan –may Allaah preserve him-:

Question :

How is it that leaving off a (good) deed for fear of showing off, showing off?

Answer :

He Responded:
It is Not Permissible to leave off a good deed for fear of showing off, as this is dissuading (done) by the devil.  Instead, it is upon the Muslim to do the good deed, and make sincere in it his intention for Allaah.

And he should strive in concealing his deeds from the people, except for that which it is legislated for him to perform openly such as the congregational prayer and manifesting the giving of charity to the needy.  So that people are aware of them and (then) follow his example and give charity to them.

Being that this is from the setting of a good precedent about which the Messenger -peace be upon and the salutation of Allaah be upon him- said:
(Whoever sets a good precedent in Islam will have the reward for that and the reward of those who do it after him)

[Reported by Muslim in his “Saheeh” (2/704-705) from the hadeeth of Jareer bin Abdillah -may Allaah have mercy on him-.

Answered by : The noble Shaykh Salih bin Fawzan al-Fawzan –may Allaah preserve him-:

Compiled by : Noble brother Abu ‘Atiyah Mahmood bin Muhammad