One should not praise himself for doing good
Fatwa No: 326695

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. If we are able to perform good deeds and refrain from sinning, then we thank Allaah for having enabled us to do that; however, if we sin, then we only blame ourselves. Why is that so? Given that Allaah gave man the free choice between good and evil, can we not praise ourselves if we do good deeds and refrain from sinning? In the end, are we not the ones who choose to do good or bad?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

If we do good, we thank Allaah for it, because it was by His grace that we were able to do it; indeed, every blessing is from Allaah. Allaah says (what means): {And whatever you have of favor - it is from Allaah.} [Quran 16:53] So Allaah has a right upon us that we thank Him for these blessings, as He ordered us to thank Him and be grateful to Him; Allaah says (what means): {Then eat of what Allaah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good. And be grateful for the favor of Allaah, if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.} [Quran 16:114]

However, we blame ourselves for the sins (evil deeds) that we commit as we are the cause for committing them; nevertheless, everything is predestined by Allaah Almighty. Allaah says (what means): {But if good comes to them, they say, “This is from Allaah”; and if evil befalls them, they say, “This is from you.” Say, “All [things] are from Allaah.” So what is [the matter] with those people that they can hardly understand any statement? What comes to you of good is from Allaah, but what comes to you of evil, [O man], is from yourself.} [Quran 4:78-79]

As-Sa’di  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

“{All} in the verse means: the good deed and the bad deed, and the good and evil. {From Allaah} i.e. by His Decree, His Predestination, and His Creation... and the saying of Allaah: {What comes to you of good}; meaning in religion and in worldly matters {is from Allaah}, it is He Who favored us with it and facilitated it by facilitating the means for doing it; {but what comes to you of evil}, in religion and worldly life, {is from yourself.}, meaning with your sins and what your hands have earned...

Praising oneself is Islamically forbidden, and it is naturally dispraised; Allaah says (what means): {So ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows best who fears Allaah and keep his duty to Him.} [Quran 53:32]

Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said while interpreting this verse, “{So ascribe not purity to yourselves}; this necessitates refraining from praising oneself with one’s own tongue, and knowing that the pure one who purifies himself is the one whose deeds are good and who is praised by Allaah Almighty. So there is no consideration for a person who is praising himself; but what is important is if Allaah praises him.

The righteous predecessors from among the Companions and those who came after them avoided praising themselves and hated when their good deeds were mentioned although they were praised by Allaah in His Book and praised by His Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). A man amongst them, when he was praised, used to say, “O Allaah do not hold me accountable for what they say, and forgive for me what they do not know.” [Al-Bukhari - Al-Albaani graded it saheeh (sound)]

Another narration reads: Whenever Abu Bakr was praised, he would say, “O Allaah, you know me better than I know myself, and I know myself better than they know me; O Allaah! Make me better than what they think (of me), and forgive for me what they do not know (of me), and do not hold me accountable of what they say (about me).

The fact that we have a choice about our deeds does not justify us praising ourselves. Moreover, praising oneself leads to evils, such as showing off and being proud of oneself, and this makes a Muslim lose his good deeds.

Al-Ghazaali  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in Ihyaa’ 'Uloom ad-Deen:

Pride is for a person to be deceived by his own self and thoughts and feel secure from the Wrath of Allaah and His Punishment, and he then thinks that he is of great status in the sight of Allaah and that he has a favor and a right upon Allaah with his deeds, which are in reality one of the blessings of Allaah. Pride leads a person to praise and thank himself and think that he is pure. If he is proud with his thoughts, his deeds, and his mind, then this will prevent him from benefiting himself and consulting others ...

Allaah knows best.

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